Archives for December 2012

Haigh named Chief Championships Officer of The PGA of America

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. — Kerry Haigh, widely recognized as one of the leading authorities in tournament golf course set-up and operations, has been named chief championships officer of The PGA of America.

Haigh, who joined The PGA in 1989, was most recently the Association’s managing director of Championships and Business Development. He will continue to lead the overall operation, administration, golf course set-up and success of the PGA Championship, Ryder Cup, Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid and PGA Grand Slam of Golf. His responsibilities also include the managing of more than 20 PGA Club Professional, amateur and junior tournaments throughout the year.

“The golf industry looks to Kerry Haigh as an innovator and a master of championship set-up and management, and we are delighted that he will continue to lead the way,” said Pete Bevacqua, chief executive officer of The PGA of America.

After graduating from the University of Leeds, Haigh worked for the Professional Golfers’ Association in Great Britain, organizing events throughout Europe. In 1984, he became a tournament official for the LPGA Tour, working more than 30 tournaments a year. In 1988, he was hired by Kemper Sports to be the tournament director for the 1989 PGA Championship, held at Kemper Lakes in Chicago.

Following the 1989 PGA Championship, Haigh was hired by The PGA of America to oversee the entire Tournament Department. Promoted to managing director in 2004, he is widely considered one of the foremost experts on The Rules of Golf.

“Kerry is such an incredibly valuable leader on our team, and The PGA is most fortunate to have him as the caretaker of our championships,” added Darrell Crall, The PGA of America’s chief operating officer.

“It is an honor to be named chief championships officer for The PGA of America,” said Haigh. “The PGA stages some of the most compelling and drama-packed championships in all of golf. It is a privilege to manage these prestigious, world-class competitions that feature the finest players in the game.”

In addition to naming Haigh chief championships officer, The PGA of America promoted Kevin Carter to serve as managing director of Business Development. While serving as its senior director since 2006, Carter has steered The PGA’s continued relationships with an extensive list of sponsors, partners and licensees, including Official Patron sponsorships with American Express, Mercedes-Benz, OMEGA and RBC.

About The PGA of America
Since its founding in 1916, The PGA of America has maintained a twofold mission: to establish and elevate the standards of the profession and to grow interest and participation in the game of golf. By establishing and elevating the standards of the golf profession through world-class education, career services, marketing and research programs, The PGA enables its professionals to maximize their performance in their respective career paths and showcases them as experts in the game and in the multi-billion dollar golf industry. By creating and delivering world-class championships and innovative programs, The PGA of America elevates the public’s interest in the game, the desire to play more golf, and ensures accessibility to the game for everyone, everywhere. As The PGA nears its centennial, the PGA brand represents the very best in golf.

Perry and Skinner named 2012 PGA Professional Players of the Year

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. — Rod Perry of Port Orange, Fla., and Sonny Skinner of Sylvester, Ga., whose consistency carried them throughout the season to success in both Section and national events, have earned the respective 2012 PGA Professional and Senior PGA Professional Player of the Year Awards.

It was the first national award for Perry, 39, who has set several milestones with his season-ending honor. He is the first left-handed player, the first PGA Golf Management University graduate and the second North Florida PGA member to be named PGA Professional Player of the Year.

Skinner, 52, earned his third consecutive Senior PGA Professional Player of the Year Award after a campaign that included winning last winter’s PGA Senior Stroke Play Championship and passing on a berth in the PGA Professional National Championship last summer in order that one of his fellow Georgia PGA Section members could compete for the first time.

Perry and Skinner will be honored June 21, 2013, in Sunriver, Ore., at the 46th PGA Professional National Championship presented by Club Car, Mercedes-Benz USA and OMEGA.

The final Player of the Year standings were determined based on a point system involving both national and PGA Section competitions from Jan. 1 through Dec. 17, 2012. Perry, in his first season as a PGA head professional at Crane Lakes Golf and Country Club in Port Orange, finished tied for second in the PGA Professional National Championship at Seaside, Calif. He also won his third North Florida PGA Section Championship in August, and two PGA Tournament Series titles in Port St. Lucie, Fla., and was the No. 1 Series money-winner.

Perry earned 1,377.5 overall points, including 362.5 for sharing runner-up in the National Championship, 300 for Section Player of the Year and 200 additional points for winning the Section Championship and Section PGA Professional Championship. He also gained 200 for leading the PGA Tournament Series money list and 100 for capturing two Series events. Three-time PGA Professional Player of the Year Bob Sowards of Dublin, Ohio, was runner-up with 1,190 overall points, followed by Danny Balin of Rockville, Md., with 1,135; Mitch Lowe of Modesto, Calif., with 886; and Kelly Mitchum of Southern Pines, N.C., with 862.5.

“It has been quite a year, a big job change for me going from director of instruction to head professional,” said Perry, a native of York, Pa., who has served since April as PGA head professional at Crane Lakes Golf and Country Club in Port Orange. “With the new job, you’re playing expectations are less. I ended up with a good National Championship finish, tying for second at a place in the country that I absolutely love going to play.”

Perry, a 1996 graduate of Mississippi State University, said that his goals were to “play well enough to finish in the Top 20 and have a good chance of making the PGA Cup Team. I enjoyed playing a course like (Bayonet Black Horse), which was tough, but was the type of golf that favors me. I have been able to play better on the tougher courses.”

Perry follows former North Florida PGA member Brett Upper (1990), then of Clearwater, Fla., to win the national award. Perry credited his surge to the top of the final standings after receiving the endorsement of his employer, the Becks family of Daytona Beach, Fla., owners of Crane Lakes Country Club, and from Director of Business Development Craig Wells.

Cleared to compete in the season-ending PGA Tournament Series, Perry went on to cap his big season in style. “It was a tough three weeks, traveling two hours to compete in Port St. Lucie in the PGA Tournament Series and head back after each event,” said Perry. “Thankfully, my club gave me the opportunity to compete for a once-in-a-career opportunity. It is an honor to join the many decorated players who have their names on this award. I started getting serious for golf later than most, around 18 of 19 years old. I ended up doing something I love.”

Skinner of River Pointe Golf Club in Albany, Ga., finished with 999.49 overall points for Senior PGA Professional Player of the Year honors. With his award, Skinner matches Chris Starkjohann of Oceanside, Calif., who won titles in (2006, ’07, ’09).

Tom Byrum of Sugar Land, Texas, was runner-up in the 2012 campaign with 856.55 points, followed by Jeff Coston of Blaine, Wash., with 730; Craig Stevens of Dallas, Ga., with 685.67, and Stuart Smith of Reno, Nev., with 647.21. Skinner remains the only Georgia PGA Section member to win the award. Skinner was the 2008 PGA Professional Player of the Year, and is the only PGA of America member to win both awards.

Skinner boosted his chances for a third national award by dominating the majority of his peers below 50 years of age by winning a second Georgia PGA Section Championship. He collected 225 Section Player of the Year points, an additional 100 for winning the Section Championship; 168.5 for a share of third place in the Southworth Senior PGA Professional National Championship; and 115 points through PGA Tournament Series. He collected 125 points by winning the PGA Senior Stroke Play Championship and finished as the low PGA Club Professional and a share of 44th place in the Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid.

“I like to think that I am getting better as I get older,” said Skinner. “When you get older, you do see some parts of your game diminish. I just work to get better every day in some way, which isn’t that different from any other golfer. I could be in better shape physically, and will work harder to stay in good shape. All I ever wanted to be coming out of college was to be a PGA Professional. I am blessed to have had the support of several PGA Professionals growing up and for the support of my club and my family.”

Last summer, despite having earned another PGA Professional National Championship trip, Skinner saw an opportunity to play in a Champions Tour event and ensure that fellow Section PGA Professional Bill Murchison III of Canton, Ga. – who had never played in the National Championship – gain a spot in the field. Murchison replied by finishing among the Top 20, and advancing to play in the PGA Championship.

“That was great the way things turned out,” said Skinner. “Next year, I am excited about getting back to the PGA Professional National Championship at Sunriver (Ore.), and to be in the Senior PGA Championship at Bellerive (in St. Louis). Both are excellent venues, and I am grateful that The PGA of America allows PGA club professionals the opportunity to compete in a major championship.”

The PGA Professional Player of the Year award began in 1984, while the Senior PGA Professional Player of the Year honor made its debut in 1995.


PGA of America offers condolences to those affected by Newtown tragedy

Editor’s Note: In the wake of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown Conn., on Friday, PGA of America President Ted Bishop issued this statement:

“The PGA of America and our family of golf professionals across the country express our deepest condolences to the Newtown community and our Connecticut PGA Section. Many of us are parents ourselves and we grieve with those who have lost loved ones and friends because of this tragedy. It is difficult for all of us to comprehend such immeasurable pain. This act will sadly change our society forever. Our thoughts and prayers are with all who are suffering at this extraordinarily sad time.” –Ted Bishop, President, The PGA of America

PGA of America Year in Review to premiere on Dec. 17 on Golf Channel

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. — Storybook performances by PGA Champion Rory McIlroy and Senior PGA Champion Roger Chapman; a Ryder Cup thriller to the end; and an award-winning roster of PGA Professionals fill the script for “A Season of Glory, The 2012 PGA of America Year in Review,” featuring events and personalities that shaped the 96th anniversary year of the world’s largest sports organization.
Championship moments along with growth of the game endeavors that touch thousands fill an hour-long Golf Channel special that debuts Monday, Dec. 17, from 9:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. ET. The PGA of America is composed of 27,000 men and women professionals who serve as ambassadors to the 26 million Americans who play the game of golf.
Narrated by NBC Sports commentator Jimmy Roberts, “The PGA of America Year in Review” will have additional airings Tuesday, Dec. 18, from 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., and Wednesday, Dec. 19, from 8:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. ET. Golf Channel has a viewership of 84 million domestic households.
The program reflects The PGA’s championship year beginning with McIlroy’s remarkable march to the PGA Championship at the Ocean Course in Kiawah Island, S.C., a performance that would lead to his taking over the No. 1 world ranking and ultimately capturing his first PGA Player of the Year and Vardon Trophy.
As remarkable as McIlroy was, his story was preceded by a stunning chapter written by England’s Roger Chapman nearly three months earlier in the Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid. Chapman, winner of only one small European Tour event a dozen years ago in Brazil, put on a shotmaking clinic at Harbor Shores in Benton Harbor, Mich., finishing with a two-stroke triumph in senior golf’s most prestigious and historic event.
The year’s crowning weekend of drama in golf was reserved for a Sunday in September in Medinah Country Club outside Chicago, where Europe staged a record-matching comeback to stun the United States and retained the Ryder Cup.
The “PGA’s Year in Review” also features a segment on how PGA Professionals have made significant strides to bring more players into the game through the “Get Golf Ready” program. PGA of America President Ted Bishop highlights the success along with PGA Director Instruction Katherine Marren of Pacific Grove, Calif.
The program also includes HLN “Morning Express” host Robin Meade, who took advantage of Get Golf Ready instruction with PGA Professional Suzy Whaley of Farmington, Conn. Also featured is PGA Past President Will Mann of North Myrtle Beach, S.C., now an instructor at Coastal Carolina University of Conway, S.C., one of 20 accredited PGA Professional Golf Management Universities throughout the country.
The PGA’s Year in Review also features:
–The PGA building golf’s next generation of players through the National Minority Collegiate Golf Championship, Junior PGA Championship, and the Junior Ryder Cup.
–PGA Professional National Champion Matt Dobyns of Sea Cliff, N.Y., making his debut in the PGA Professional’s showcase event look effortless by posting a record eight-stroke triumph.
–Jim Woodward of Oklahoma City executing one of the clutch golf shots of the year to become the Southworth Senior PGA Professional National Champion.

A review of the 2012 PGA of America national award winners:
–PGA Golf Professional of the Year: Mike Schultz, Hazeltine National Golf Club, Chaska, Minn.
–PGA Teacher of the Year: Michael Breed, (formerly of Sunningdale Country Club, Scarsdale, N.Y), now Michael Breed Golf Academy, Manhattan Woods Golf Club, West Nyack, N.Y.
–Horton Smith Award: Carl Alexander, Golf Club of Purchase, N.Y.
–Bill Strausbaugh Award: Harry Hammond Jr., Penn Oaks Golf Club, West Chester, Pa.
 –PGA Junior Golf Leader: Don Law, Club Med Academies, Port St. Lucie, Fla., and Don Law Academy (Boynton Beach and Boca Raton, Fla.)
–PGA Player Development Award: Mark Holiday, Bridger Creek Golf Course, Bozeman, Mont.
–Patriot Award: John Kennedy Jr., Westchester Country Club, Rye, N.Y.
–Herb Graffis Award: The 452 Professionals of the New Jersey PGA Section

PGA Merchandisers of the Year:
–Resort Facilities: Amy Pendergast, Bandon Dunes Golf Resort, Bandon, Ore.
–Public Facilities: Dale Smigelsky, Collindale Golf Club, Fort Collins, Colo.
–Private Facilities: George Kahrhoff, The Country Club at Castle Pines, Castle Rock, Colo.

Watson selected as captain of 2014 US Ryder Cup team heading to Scotland

NEW YORK — Tom Watson, one of America’s greatest performers and the winner of eight major championships, has been selected by The Professional Golfers’ Association of America to captain the 2014 United States Ryder Cup Team. Watson becomes the seventh U.S. golfer to serve more than one term as Ryder Cup Captain, returning to duty after guiding a U.S. Team in 1993 to its last victory overseas.

Watson will lead a 12-member team in the 40th Ryder Cup, Sept. 26-28, 2014, at Gleneagles’ PGA Centenary Course in Perthshire, Scotland. At age 63, Watson is the oldest to be named a Ryder Cup Captain for either an American or European Team, surpassing British legend J.H. Taylor, who was 62, when he guided Great Britain to victory in 1933.

Watson will be 65 when the 40th Ryder Cup convenes in Scotland, a country where he won four of his five Open Championships between 1975 and 1983. In 2014, Watson also will share the longest period between Captain roles with another legend, Ben Hogan, who served in 1947, ’49 and ’67.

“Tom Watson is one of the most respected players and ambassadors in the game of golf, and The PGA of America is excited that he has accepted the task of once again guiding a United States Ryder Cup Team,” said PGA of America President Ted Bishop. “The 40th Ryder Cup at Gleneagles will mark 21 years since the U.S. has won a Ryder Cup on foreign soil. Tom was the last American Captain to accomplish this feat and we hope that he can do it again.”

Watson is one of 27 individuals to guide a U.S. Team in one of the world’s most compelling sports events. Inducted in 1988 into the World Golf Hall of Fame, Watson owns 70 worldwide professional championships since becoming a Tour professional in 1971. His eight major titles include five Open Championships (1975, ’77, ’80, ’82, ’83), two Masters (1977, ’81), and the 1982 U.S. Open. He shared runner-up honors in the 1978 PGA Championship.

“In 2014 in Perthshire, Gleneagles will host the Ryder Cup for only the second time in golf’s birthplace – Scotland – a place that has been very special to me during my career,” said Watson. “It’s hard to believe that it was nearly 20 years ago that I enjoyed one of the most thrilling experiences in my career in being Captain of the winning 1993 Ryder Cup Team. The memories I take from there are forever imprinted, especially Davis Love’s winning putt to seal the victory for our team late in the singles matches.

“As the 2014 Captain, it is my task to add a sense of calm and organization to the boiling pot of nerves and emotions the players experience in playing for our country and their fellow teammates. I will do all I can possibly do to see that the outcome of these 2014 Matches will be the same as in 1993.”

Since joining the Champions Tour in 1999, Watson has won 14 times, including the 2001 and 2011 Senior PGA Championships among six senior major titles. In 2009, at age 59, Watson became the oldest player to hold a 54-hole lead in a major championship. He is the only golfer to post a round of 67 or lower in all four majors at least once in four different decades.

A native of Kansas City, Mo., Watson is a 1971 graduate in psychology from Stanford University, where he was a three-time All-American (1969-71) selection. He went on to become a six-time PGA Player of the Year (1977-80, ’82, ’84), and was a three-time Vardon Trophy winner (1977-80).

Watson competed on four U.S. Ryder Cup Teams (1977, ’81, ’83 and ’89), compiling a 10-4-1 overall record. In 1993, he was Captain of the American Team that defeated Europe, 15-13, at The Belfry in Sutton Coldfield, England.

In September 2014, Gleneagles joins Muirfield (1973) as the only Scottish venues to host golf’s most compelling event. The PGA Centenary Course at Gleneagles, a Jack Nicklaus design, has served as host to the Johnnie Walker Championship, and is set in the heart of Scotland.

The Ryder Cup began in 1927 when enterprising English seed merchant Samuel Ryder commissioned the casting of a gold chalice that bears his name. The U.S. Team defeated Great Britain, 9½ to 2½, in the inaugural matches in Worcester, Mass.

Since then, except for a span (1939-45) during World War II and following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks upon America, the Ryder Cup has been held biennially with the U.S. and Europe alternating as host. Since 1985, Europe owns a 9-4-1 advantage in golf’s pre-eminent event.

About The PGA of America

Since its founding in 1916, The PGA of America has maintained a twofold mission: to establish and elevate the standards of the profession and to grow interest and participation in the game of golf. By establishing and elevating the standards of the golf profession through world-class education, career services, marketing and research programs, The PGA enables its professionals to maximize their performance in their respective career paths and showcases them as experts in the game and in the multi-billion dollar golf industry. By creating and delivering world-class championships and innovative programs, The PGA of America elevates the public’s interest in the game, the desire to play more golf, and ensures accessibility to the game for everyone, everywhere. As The PGA nears its centennial, the PGA brand represents the very best in golf.

E-Z-GO Golf Car pioneer Dolan to receive 2012 Ernie Sabayrac Award

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. — B.F. “Bev” Dolan of North Palm Beach, Fla., who sparked a competitive boom in the game of golf in 1954 with the introduction of the E-Z-GO golf car, has been named the 2012 recipient of the PGA Ernie Sabayrac Award for lifetime contributions to the golf industry.

Dolan, 85, will be honored at The PGA of America Awards, Jan. 24, 2013, in conjunction with the 60th PGA Merchandise Show at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla. The program, featuring 2012 PGA national award winners, will be conducted in the Convention Center’s Linda W. Chapin Auditorium.


“Bev Dolan’s commitment to excellence resulted in one of the remarkable success stories in the business of golf,” said PGA of America President Ted Bishop. “Bev’s vision for a piece of equipment that we take for granted today had a monumental impact upon the golf experience and how PGA Professionals elevate their respective businesses. We thank Bev for energizing the industry by his craftsmanship and business acumen, and it is with great pride that we present him with the PGA Ernie Sabayrac Award.”

Born in Augusta, Ga., Dolan graduated with a degree in physics from the University of Georgia in 1952, and was serving in the U.S. Army two years later when he and his late brother, Billy, were sitting behind the clubhouse at Augusta National Golf Club during the Masters. They observed an “Autoette” model golf car arrive at the clubhouse for legendary Bobby Jones. The scene inspired Billy Dolan to comment, “You know, somebody is going to make a lot of money out of those things one of these days.”

After returning to duty at Fort Jackson, S.C., Dolan called his brother two weeks later to say, “When I get out in July, I’m going to start building golf cars. Would you like to join me?’ “

Dolan served in the U.S. Army until June 12, 1954, and the following day used $200 from “mustering out pay from the Army” to help begin the business in a one-room machine shop. The only money invested at the time, said Dolan, was $103 for a B-17 24-volt electric motor that operated B-17 wind flaps.

“We hooked up a 36-volt battery pack and away we went,” said Dolan. “We purchased them at an Army surplus store in Los Angeles (Pearson Electric). We had more than we needed at the time.”

Often considered “the father of the modern golf cart,” Dolan is quick to note that he and his brother’s efforts were not alone within the marketplace. The 1950s featured approximately 1,000 golf cars in use. The numbers ballooned to 120,000 a decade later, and more than 2 million are in use in America.

“I wasn’t a pioneer in building a golf car, because there were many different models around about the time we started our business,” said Dolan. “What I am proud of is that our efforts opened doors to a whole new source of income for a golf professional. That is significant. The golf car replaced the caddie, and for about the same price.”

When E-Z-GO was born, there were a small number of golf facilities using golf cars. By 1967, industry statistics proclaim that 92 percent of all U.S. golf courses featured rented golf cars.

In 1961, Rhode Island-based Textron purchased the company and Dolan became CEO of Textron before his retirement in 2002. With Textron’s infusion, E-Z-GO evolved into a global leader in golf cars and utility vehicles, and is the oldest continuous manufacturer of golf cars in the United States.

E-Z-GO was launched the same year as the inaugural PGA Merchandise Show, which began in the parking lot of the former PGA National Golf Club in Dunedin, Fla. Dolan said that he remembers that event, which blossomed decades later into the world’s largest golf industry gathering. Dolan also remembers his time meeting the late Ernie Sabayrac, regarded as a legend in golf shop merchandising.

“Those of us who attended the early days of the Show remember card tables being stretched out on the slope near a white bungalow and how it began to grow into tents and beyond that,” said Dolan. “We all got to know Ernie Sabayrac; he was hard not to miss, because he was everywhere and knew everybody. As for this award, I am very humbled.”

Dolan and his wife, Ada Alice, live in North Palm Beach, Fla. They are the parents of sons Frank of Augusta, Ga., and William of Charlotte, N.C.

Begun in 1994, The PGA of America’s Ernie Sabayrac Award for Lifetime Contributions to the Golf Industry was first presented to its namesake, the late Ernie Sabayrac, of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. A prominent figure in the origin of the PGA Merchandise Show and a pioneer in the development of the golf shop, Sabayrac revolutionized merchandising among PGA Professionals, introducing golf shoes, soft goods, and logoed products in golf shops nationwide.

The Ernie Sabayrac Award was created to reflect The PGA of America’s commitment to golf industry manufacturers and distributors and to recognize the mutually beneficial relationship that has thrived for more than 50 years.

2013 PGA Winter Championships

PGA of America
Experts in the Game and Business of Golf

Founded in 1916, The PGA of America is the largest working sports organization in the world, comprised of more than 27,000 dedicated men and women promoting the game of golf to everyone, everywhere.

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