Tributes Paid After Stephanie Sparks - Former Pro And Golf Channel Host - Dies Aged 50

Sparks was well known for her long-time role as the host of Golf Channel's reality series 'Big Break'

Stephanie Sparks, of The Golf Channel, smiles after making a birdie on the second hole during the first round of the Ginn Open at Reunion Resort April 17, 2008 in Reunion, Florida
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Former professional and Golf Channel host, Stephanie Sparks has died at the age of 50. Sparks - whose full name was Mary Stephanie Sparks - passed away on April 13.

Her obituary page on Kepner Funeral Homes' website lists Sparks as an advocate for hospice care over the last several years of her life. It reads that she also supported Libby’s Legacy Breast Cancer Foundation and the Barber Fund in Orlando.

Sparks is survived by her parents, Robert and Janie, as well as her sister Susan and brother-in-law, Scott - plus their children and many aunts, uncles and cousins.

The one-time Golf Channel host worked alongside Tom Abbott on reality series 'Big Break', the show which gave aspiring players their chance at becoming a professional via a handful of starts on higher tours or full cards on satellite circuits.

Paying tribute to his colleague via Golfweek, Abbott - who worked with Sparks for several seasons on the show - said: “She had been a professional golfer herself so she knew what it was like for the contestants, and she wanted them to succeed.

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

Ex-Golf Channel anchor Lisa Cornwell also shared some kinds words. She said: "I’ll forever be grateful for the friendships I made in junior golf. Last week, we lost one of our best @AJGAGolf mates. God bless you, Sparky… and thanks for being you."

Meanwhile, another of Sparks' former colleagues, Kraig Kann, said: "Broken heart today. RIP Stephanie Sparks … one of the kindest, sweetest, hardworking people. Always a smile. She earned her perfect professional place on Golf Channel‘s Big Break and our great respect, support and friendship inside that building. Prayers to her family."

Born in Wheeling, West Virginia, Sparks was an All-American collegiate golfer at Duke and went on to enjoy an excellent amateur career despite being regularly blighted by injuries.

She won the 1992 North and South Women’s Amateur at Pinehurst before scoring a hat-trick of victories the following year - triumphing at the Women’s Western Amateur, the Women’s Eastern Amateur, and the West Virginia State Amateur.

Sparks represented the U.S. in the 1994 Curtis Cup and later began her professional career on what is now the Epson Tour. Although she made it to the LPGA Tour, Sparks played just one season prior to chronic back issues forcing her to retire from playing professionally.

Away from the course, Sparks appeared in 2004 movie 'Bobby Jones: Stroke of Genius' as three-time US Women's Amateur champion, Alexa Stirling. And once she began working for Golf Channel, sometimes fulfilling on-camera reporting duties at tournaments, Sparks also went on to host the 'Golf With Style' as well as 'Playing Lessons With The Pros.'

On Sparks' obituary page, it also states that "In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in her name to Valley Hospice, 10686 State Route 150, Rayland, OH 43943."

Jonny Leighfield
Staff Writer

Jonny Leighfield is our Staff News Writer who joined Golf Monthly just in time for the 2023 Solheim Cup and Ryder Cup. He graduated from the University of Brighton with a degree in Sport Journalism in 2017 and spent almost five years as the sole sports reporter at his local newspaper. An improving golfer who still classes himself as ‘one of the worst players on the Golf Monthly team’, Jonny enjoys playing as much as he can and is hoping to reach his Handicap goal of 18 at some stage. He attended both the 150th and 151st Opens and is keen to make it an annual pilgrimage.