RALEIGH — Donna Andrews won six tournaments on the LPGA Tour, including a major. And yet, when you ask her to choose the most satisfying moment in her professional golf career, she’ll probably tell you that it took place that very morning when she worked with a group of amateurs as the lead teaching instructor at Pine Needles Resort in Southern Pines.
“I loved my time on tour, but the time I spend teaching golf now is much more rewarding because it’s not about me,” Andrews, 51, said last month upon her induction into the N.C. Sports Hall of Fame. “It’s about their improvement and giving back to the game that gave me so much. So for me, the teaching is much more rewarding than the playing ever was.”
Andrews, who enjoyed a successful college career at North Carolina before turning professional, oversees two to three three-day golf schools per month.
What makes the job all the more meaningful is the connection it gives Andrews to one of the true legends of her sport and the state or North Carolina.
Fellow Hall of Famer Peggy Kirk Bell was a champion in her own right and a pioneer in women’s golf who went on to become one of the most influential personalities in the game both for her teaching ability and her family’s ownership of Pine Needles — which has served as the host of three U.S. Women’s Opens.
Andrews has lived at the Sandhills resort since she left UNC and considers it an honor to have the opportunity to follow in Bell’s footsteps and carry on her legacy.
“She was such a great mentor and role model,” Andrews said of Bell, who died in 2016. “She always had positive things to say, not only to her students, but to her staff and to anybody who was there.
“The slogan at Pine Needles is, ‘Once you’ve been there, you’re part of the family,’ and that’s the way everybody feels. I feel like I’m part of the family. In fact, people ask me if I’m one of Peggy’s daughters, and I’ll say, ‘No, but I wish.’ I love being included in everything the family does.”
As much satisfaction as she gets from her teaching and being part of the Pine Needles “family,” it’s her performance on the course that earned Andrews her spot in the N.C. Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2018.
A native of Lynchburg, Va., she came to Chapel Hill partially because she loved the campus and partially because the weather there was conducive to playing all year around.
She had a standout career at UNC, earning second-team All-American honors as a senior and finishing third in the 1989 NCAA Championship, the highest finish ever for a Tar Heel. Andrews twice won the prestigious North and South Amateur at Pinehurst, and in 2003, she was selected as a member of the ACC’s 50th anniversary women’s golf team.
Her first win as a professional came at a tournament in Portland, Ore., in 1993, her third year on the LPGA Tour. The following year, she won three times — including the Nabisco Dinah Shore, one of women’s golf’s four major championships.
Andrews made a birdie on the final hole to beat England’s Laura Davies by a stroke. She called the victory the highlight of her playing career. But what she did immediately after the holing out her final shot may have been even more significant than the victory.
Three years earlier, Amy Alcott celebrated her win at the tournament by holding hands with Shore — a famous television personality at the time — and jumping into the pond adjacent to the 18th green.
It’s a ritual Andrews helped restore by taking the plunge herself. Every tournament champion since has celebrated her title with a similar splashdown.
“I won the year Dinah passed away,” Andrews recalled. “She’d just passed away, so when the crowd started chanting, ‘Jump in the water,’ I was the one that jumped in and restarted the tradition.”
Another of her favorite traditions is the Solheim Cup, an international team competition that is the women’s version of the men’s Ryder Cup. She was selected to represent her country twice, in 1994 and 1998 — the year she finished second on the LPGA money list — and said she got goosebumps when she heard her name announced on the first tee as a representative of the United States.
It’s similar to the feeling she got last month when she was recognized as one of the newest N.C. Sports Hall of Fame members.
“It’s such a humbling experience to be here with all these great athletes, to look at all the people that have gone in before and be included with all the greats,” she said. “I’m just honored to be a part of it.”