2013 Colorado Golf Hall of Fame Inductee
James W. "Jimmy" Vickers, a golfer for all courses, every season and any reason, has chased golf balls from his native Kansas to Colorado to Oklahoma, California, New York and the United Kingdom Come with such eclat that he's bouncing back to the Rockies tonight right into the Colorado Golf Hall of Fame.
Jim's Colorado ties are immense and tight. Born in Wichita, KS, 83 winters ago, he spent summers in Colorado Springs, mostly on Broadmoor courses where he jump-started a sparkling golf career. His first of countless tournament victories was the 1949 Colorado Amateur Championship while he was kicking off a college career at Regis University. He repeated as Colorado Am champ in 1950, then lost in the semifinals of 1951 trying for a three-peat that would have retired the trophy.
His Colorado Amateur triumphs, victory in the 1950 Western Amateur in Dallas where he whipped highly-touted Frank Stranahan in the finals and medalist honors in the Kansas Amateur dotted the eyes of Oklahoma University, which lured him from Regis. Jim captained the 1952 Oklahoma team and won the NCAA Championship, defeating Eddie Merrins in the finals at Purdue University. In 1953 Jim defeated Gene Littler in the semifinals of the prestigious Trans-Mississippi at Kansas CC before losing the final to Joe Conrad.
Business ventures, many with Hall of Fame brother and Castle Pines Golf Club founder Jack Vickers, and raising five great children with wife JoDee may have short-circuited any thoughts of a pro golf career for Jim, but never did it diminish his prowess or thirst for the game.
Jim's vision in golf is astronomical. He's long held Colorado memberships at the Broadmoor, Cherry Hills, Lakewood and Castle Pines, at the latter club stirring his creative juices deviously to concoct the Modified Stableford scoring system that made The International Tournament a breath of fresh air for the PGA Tour for 21 years.
Home is Indian Wells, CA., though he has lived in Castle Pines and the Broadmoor for many summers, though in reality any golf course is home to Jimmy.
Fiercely competitive, Jim's a factor very time he puts a peg in the ground, even deep into his senior moments, of which he's quick to make a mockery.
In 1958 Vickers made the semifinals of the Western Am, qualified for the U.S. Open at Southern Hills and qualified again for the 1959 Open at Winged Foot. Jim won the 1964 Kansas Amateur on his home Wichita course, finished fifth in the 1965 U.S. Amateur, which earned a spot in the 1966 Masters. Paired with Gene Sarazen, he shot 82 in the first round, rallied for 72 the second round paired with Henry Picard, but missed the cut by one shot.
A raconteur who can command an audience like Phil Harris, Jimmy found a true comfort zone in the Bing Crosby National Pro-Am at Pebble Beach where he might have been a fifth for the Rat Pack if he could sing. A putter nut with pizzazz, Jimmy could play the crowd and spin a yarn with the best, but stuck to golf. He played the Crosby 40 times, winning the 1977 Pro-Am, with Leonard Thompson.
Always game for action, Jim prevailed as a senior three times winning the World Seniors, was co-champ with Ed Updegraff in the U.S. Senior Association's championship, he competed in virtually all of the now defunct Gerald Ford Vail Charity Pro-Ams, a regular in the Hills Dilly at Cherry Hills and the annual senior matches against Great Britain and Canada.
Devoted to the game like he invented it, Jim has served as a director on the TransMississippi Golf Association, the Western Golf Association and the Evans Scholarship Foundation.