Golf Channel Host, Ex-LPGA Player Stephanie Sparks Dies at Age 50

Golf Channel Host, Ex-LPGA Player Stephanie Sparks Dies at Age 50

Stephanie Sparks, a star junior golfer who made it to the LPGA and was a host of the Golf Channel reality show “Big Break,” is dead.

Sparks, a former U.S. Curtis Cup golfer, was 50, the New York Post reported Saturday. She died April 13. No cause of death was given.

“She had been a professional golfer herself, so she knew what it was like for the contestants, and she wanted them to succeed,” Golf Channel commentator Tom Abbott, who worked with Sparks on “Big Break” for seven years, told Golfweek.

“She kind of rode their emotions in a way when we were doing the show,” he said. “She knew how tough it was.”

Sparks began her career in the 1990s with victories in the  1992 North and South Women’s Amateur and the 1993 Women’s Western Amateur and Women’s Eastern Amateur, according to Golfweek.

While playing in college for Duke, she was a first-team All-American honors as a freshman and a second-team as a sophomore.

In 1994, she was on a Curtis Cup team that tied Great Britain and Ireland in a competition played near Chattanooga, Tennessee, according to the Post.

Her career in the LPGA career lasted only one season due to injuries, most of all back pain, according to the Post.

Before hosting shows for the Golf Channel, Sparks appeared in the role of golfer Alexa Stirling in the 2004 movie “Bobby Jones: Stroke of Genius.”

In 2008, she was given a sponsor’s exemption that allowed her to play in the Ginn Open in Reunion, Florida, NBC reported at the time.

“Having had the opportunity to get a taste of the LPGA in 2000 was definitely a lifelong dream come true for me,” she said then.

“I am so appreciative to the people at Ginn for giving me this opportunity to play again on the Tour. After my second back surgery I thought I’d never have a chance of being inside the ropes again,” she said.

“Having this opportunity is unexpected, and I will be enjoying every single second of it.”

Her obituary noted that Sparks had been living in Orlando, Florida, at the time of her death.

“The last several years of her life Stephanie spent her time being an advocate for hospice care,” it stated. “She supported Libby’s Legacy Breast Cancer Foundation and the Barber Fund in Orlando.”

She was born in Wheeling, West Virginia.

She is survived by her parents, Robert and Janie Sparks, a sister, Susan and brother-in-law, Scott, six nieces and nephews and numerous other relatives.

A private family service will be held in Wheeling.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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