A native of North Carolina’s Sandhills, born in Pinehurst and raised in Southern Pines, Bill Fields yielded to the lure of the game that defines the area and made it his life’s work with his proficiency in telling its stories.
Fields, 60, has been writing about golf since 1984, including two stints with Golf World magazine, one of them spanning nearly 22 years. His distinguished career includes four first-place awards in the Golf Writers Association of America’s annual writing contest.
In recognition of his skill and enduring contributions to the industry, Fields has been named the 2020 recipient of the PGA of America Lifetime Achievement Award in Journalism. He will be honored at the GWAA Awards Dinner in Augusta, Ga., on the eve of the Masters.
Fields ranks it first among his career honors, “because it celebrates the quality of the body of work and longevity,” he said.
“It’s humbling and an honor to join those writers, broadcasters and editors who have previously received this award. I’ve been lucky to work in this industry. Those of us who have done this for a long time, take a lot of pride in it. You try to tell the best stories you can about the events and the golfers playing in them.”
Fields was 14 when he was introduced to the game by Michael Dann, a writer, editor and photographer for Golf World, then based in Southern Pines. Dann was giving golf lessons through the town’s recreation department.
“Michael and I developed a nice friendship,” Fields said. “He was a mentor. He traveled around the country, and the world, and it looked pretty fun.”
Fields studied journalism at the University of North Carolina and eventually was the sports editor of the Daily Tar Heel.
After a few years as a sports writer at newspapers, Fields joined Golf World as associate editor in 1984. In 1986, he became a senior editor and staff photographer for Golf Illustrated. He rejoined Golf World (by then located in Connecticut) in 1993 and was a senior editor there through 2014.
Fields has covered 109 professional major championships—60 as a writer, 47 as a photographer and two as a television researcher. In addition, he has covered approximately 60 LPGA and PGA Tour Champions majors.
Among other honors accorded Fields: His profile of Gene Sarazen was included in the 1996 edition of the Best American Sports Writing, and he won the LPGA Global Media Award in 2011. He also authored the book, “Arnie, Seve, and a Fleck of Golf History,” an anthology of his magazine articles, and collaborated on the book, “Mind Over Golf,” with Dr. Richard Coop.
“Bill Fields is one of the few writers who gives the reader that special insight into learning more about golf’s legendary and contemporary stars,” PGA of America president Suzy Whaley said in a news release. “Bill’s passion for golf—whether it is covering a major, researching a statistic or adding his byline to an award-winning story—elevated his profession. The PGA of America is very proud to celebrate Bill among the most honored journalists in the game.”
Fields is still active in golf journalism. He is a columnist with the Met Golfer, the publication of the Metropolitan Golf Association, and for PineStraw Magazine in Southern Pines. He also is a contributing researcher for NBC/Golf Channel tournament broadcasts, providing information to the main booth announcers.