Folks, Jim (2010)

About Folks, Jim (2010)

The MAPGA conferred Hall of Fame honors to James Folks for his career-long contributions to the organization’s development as a leading Section in The PGA of America.  He either served or chaired the important committees and rose through the officer ranks, reaching the Presidency in 1986.  Beginning in 1975, when elected a Regional Vice President, he steadfastly brought innovation and leadership to the MAPGA for over thirty-five years, and will continue to do so in retirement.   In the past, the Section honored him with the Horton Smith Award (1981), the Bill Strausbaugh Award three times (1982, 1984 and 1985), Merchandiser of the Year (1986), Professional of the Year (1987), and the prestigious President’s Award (1994).

Originally from Georgia, a family relocation took him to Ocala, Florida, as a young boy.  Playing with his father at Ocala Golf Club turned his interest from baseball to the links.  Jim quickly picked up the nuances of the game under the tutelage of PGA Professional Lou Bateman.  Within a short duration, he captured the Men’s Club Championship twice, the Ocala City Junior Championship three times, the Florida State Junior Jaycee title twice.  And, winning the Henry N. Camp Invitational at age twenty highlighted his amateur career up until then.

While attending Central Florida Junior College, the collegiate golf powers, the University of Florida, Florida State and Houston, pursued him with scholarship offers.  However, Mississippi State University succeeded in the recruiting battle.  He finished his bachelor’s degree there in 1964.   Jim turned professional almost immediately, returning to Ocala Golf Course as an assistant to his original teacher and mentor, PGA Professional Lou Bateman.

Following five years in the Florida Section, Jim came to Congressional Country Club in 1968 as the first assistant to Wiffy Cox, a MAPGA Hall of Fame member.  However, later that year he sojourned back to Florida for the Winter Tour.  But, by the spring of the next year, Jim returned to Maryland as Max Elbin’s assistant at Burning Tree.  Three years later, Bethesda CC named him Harry Griesmer’s successor and he began what became thirty-nine years of service to the club and the MAPGA.

From 1975 on, there is a considerable catalogue of contributions and leadership.  To begin with, in 1975, 1976 and 1981, Jim served as a Regional Vice President.  The Club Relations Committee Chairmanship took up his time between 1981 and 1983.  That committee led the way in establishing area employment representatives throughout the Section’s expansive boundaries.  Jim focused on compiling a compensation statistical database.  He and Bill Strausbaugh, a MAPGA Hall of Fame member, collaborated on developing employment programs for the membership.  In fact, subsequently as President, he hired MAPGA Past President and Hall of Famer Carl Rasnic as the Section’s first “Employment Director.”

As an officer of the Association, Jim started out on the path to the Presidency as the Treasurer in 1982 – 1983, Secretary during 1984 – 1985 and then the top spot in 1986 – 1987.   While President, Jim led the effort to centralize the handicap program and negotiated the contracts with the Virginia State and Maryland State Golf Associations thereby establishing the continuity of the program.  Additionally, he brought to fruition the MAPGA branch office in Richmond attempting to allay the effects of the geographical expanse with all its attendant difficulties.

And in the world of the professional tours, Jim played a major part in bringing the women’s tour stop to Bethesda CC in 1988 and 1989 with the $500,000 Greater Washington Open   In 1990 and 1991 it was the Mazda LPGA Championship with the first million dollar purse on the their tour in 1990.

On the competitive side of golf, not only did Jim win Section events, but he also led Bethesda CC to the Maryland State Team Championship in 1977 and 1986, and the Washington Metropolitan Golf Association Team Championship in 2004.

Jim Folks’ contributions to and leadership of the MAPGA over the length of his career established him as one the most important figures in the Association’s history. (rev. 2011)