On March 6 Luther B. (Barney) Lanier will be honored with the Alabama Golf Association’s signal award, the Joe H. King Award.
The Joe H. King Award is named after King, who died in 2008, and was a key person within the United States Golf Association, Southern Golf Association and Alabama Golf Association, all for many, many years. In 1993, the AGA created an award in King’s name to be given periodically to amateur golfers in Alabama for their contributions to golf. It is akin to their “Hall of Fame.”
To date, there have been 17 recipients: King, Ann Upchurch, Elbert Jemison, Charley Boswell, Buddy Walker, Sam Farlow, Frank Campbell, Bob Lowry, Jackie Cummings, Art Gleason, Fred Stephens, Bee McWane Reid, Sadie Roberts, Buford McCarty, Jean Miller, Martha Lang and Derrel Curry.
Lanier has long been associated with the game of golf in Alabama and the Country Club of Birmingham.
A fine player in his own right, he has competed in three U.S. Amateur Championships (1982, ’83 and ’84), won the 1971 BGA Junior Championship and has won the Country Club of Birmingham Invitational.
He has served on numerous Alabama Golf Association committees, and was AGA president in 1997-98. He has also served various roles at the Country Club of Birmingham including chairman, as well as chairing multiple golf course renovation committees at the club over the years.
Lanier is a member of the Country Club of Birmingham and will receive his award at a recognition dinner at the club.
“It is such a humbling thing to receive an award named for someone who was such a mentor to me. He was a person I always looked up to. He was ‘Mr. Golf’ when I was coming up in the game.
“This award is the highest award given by the Alabama Golf Association and it is not given every year. When I look at the names who have been humbled to receive the award, I’m not sure I belong in such esteemed company.
“Golf has been good to me, as Joe King was always good to me. I’ve been delighted to be involved (playing the game and administratively) for wow, what must be 30 years now. And I hope to be involved for many more to come. Long may it continue.”
Lanier, who grew up playing junior golf at Birmingham and played on the golf team his freshman year at Auburn, has always had a deep love of golf, particularly amateur golf. After his freshman year, he decided to concentrate on his Building Construction degree, which has served him well in the family business, John H. Lanier Co., started by his father in 1958.
“I made the right choice. I couldn’t do both in school.”
As he progressed in the work place, he continued to play golf and enjoy golf. Richard Anthony invited him to be an AGA Associate Director, around the same time as long-time AGA Executive Director was getting involved in the same role.
“I learned (the ropes) from some greats including Joe (King), Elbert Jemison, Dr. Buddy Moss, Buddy Walker, Bob Lowry, and others.
“But, to me, Joe was always the man. He was so entrenched in Alabama golf. We became good friends. I always respected the quiet way he went about his business. He commanded everyone’s respect.”
One role led to another and Lanier began serving on the AGA’s Executive Committee. There followed his roles as vice president and president. He’d always help with championships at the Country Club of Birmingham and Willow Point as tournament chairman and was involved in junior golf when his son, Luke, was a junior golfer.
In more recent times, he along with Anthony and Jim Gorrie, helped head up the committee that facilitated the 2013 U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship at the Country Club of Birmingham.
“The club really had a great camaraderie for this championship and we had over 500 volunteers help us with what was a great, great week.”
He was also inducted into the the Birmingham Golf Association’s Hall of Fame last year, along with that year’s class of long-time AGA Executive Director Buford McCarty and John Gibbs.