Connie Ballard didn't start playing the sport of golf until she became an adult, playing on the military courses where she and her husband, the late Dr. Marvin K. Ballard Jr., were stationed. And once she did, there was no putting down the clubs for …
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Connie Ballard didn't start playing the sport of golf until she became an adult, playing on the military courses where she and her husband, the late Dr. Marvin K. Ballard Jr., were stationed. And once she did, there was no putting down the clubs for a very, very long time.
"I was addicted," Ballard said. "I enjoyed it, the challenge of it."
And while any golfer will tell you that you never overcome the challenge the game presents, Ballard was able to win her share of battles while trying. Among her many victories, Ballard won two South Carolina Women's Open Golf Championships in the 1980s Association and was part of a foursome that won a national tournament.
Because of her success being able to put a little white ball in a hole, Ballard will be inducted into the Sumter Sports Hall of Fame on Thursday.
"I really enjoyed my time in the golf game," she said.
Ballard will be inducted along with Lisa Ard, the late Buddy Hodge, Garon Jackson, Stacy Martin, Brooks Shumake and Travis Yates beginning at 6 p.m. at the Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club of Sumter located at 630 South Sumter Street.
Tickets are $25 a person for the event and can be purchased at the Boys & Girls Club. Its offices are open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, call Jean Ford at (803) 775-5006.
Ballard said one reason she was able to improve at such a rapid pace as a player is because she loved all aspects of the game.
"I worked at the game, trying to get better," she said. "I enjoyed playing, but I enjoyed practicing the game too. I didn't mind the practice, working at the game and getting better."
When Ballard and her family moved to Sumter, she began playing at Sunset Country Club. After winning numerous club championships, Ballard moved on to playing in regional and national competitions. As part of a foursome representing the state, Ballard won the National Walter Hagen Memorial Women's Golf Tournament in Orlando, Fla. She won several several Virginia-Carolinas Women Golf Championships match play events.
Ballard won her South Carolina Women's Open Golf Championships in consecutive years. The first one came in 1986 in Beaufort in a match play format. The next year she won in a stroke play event in Anderson.
Ballard obviously enjoyed the competitive side of the events, but there was more to it for her than just that.
"My best friends had become golfers," said Ballard, who has four career holes-in-one. "I played all of the tournaments for the enjoyment of it. It was fun."
As a senior golfer, Ballard went on to gain victories in the South Carolina Women's Championships and the Carolinas Women's Championships. She also served as the board president for both organizations and has helped rated over a third of the courses in the state for the PGA of America.
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