Archives for March 2014

Spring Meeting Well Attended!

The Section held its Spring Meeting on Monday, March 24 with over 320 members and apprentices in attendance. President Doug White welcomed everyone to Eagle Eye Golf Club. He also welcomed special guests Bob Baldassari, PGA, Director Youth Golf Development, Frank Chieppa, PGA, Player Development Regional Mgr, Gilles Gagnon, PGA, Director of Golf Operations at Casa de Campo, Brent Kerstetter, Stanford Financial Services, Tim Marks, PGA, Employment Services Consultant and Chad Seymour, PGA, District 5 Director.

President White gave a brief recap of the recently attended Super Regional Meeting the officers and Kevin Helm attended. He also spoke about how the Drive, Chip and Putt Championship has expanded to Michigan, and the new pro am site, Casa de Campo. The Section is very excited to once again host the 2014 Senior PGA Championship.

Vice President Ron Osborne, along with Executive Director Kevin Helm, reviewed year end financials. Brent Kerstetter reviewed the Section’s investments.

Secretary Kevin McKinley explained the MSR requirements needed by June 15, 2015, and acknowledged and welcomed new members and quarter century members.

Guest speaker Tim Marks gave a brief statistical overview of consultations and resume critiquing he gave through the winter with Section Members. He also urged those that have not completed the compensation survey to do so. Frank Chieppa and Bob Baldassari spoke about growing the game of golf through strategic initiatives and National programming.  Former MSU grad Gilles Gagnon showed a brief slide presentation about the Section’s new travel pro am in November, Casa de Campo in the Dominican Republic.

Each of the Chapters and Committees gave a brief report, which can be found on, Members Only, Section Meeting area.

Special Awards Chair Paul Lehnert presented the 2014 Special Awards winners in attendance their plaques:

Bill Strausbaugh – Dick Stewart
Merchandiser of the Year – Public  – Ian Ziska
Merchandiser of the Year – Resort – Scot Cucksey
Merchandiser of the Year – Private – Doug Brody
Assistant Golf Professional – Jeff Rachar
Junior Golf Development Award – Brian O’Neill
Golf Professional of the Year – Ron Beurmann
Patriot Award – Bob Bales
Player Development Award – Jason Guss
Teacher of the Year – Charles Vandenberg
Horton Smith Award – Aaron Waltz
Distinguished Service Award – Harry Barrett

As part of the Patriot Golf Day report, Chair Kevin McKinley introduced a Folds of Honor Scholarship recipient Rebecca Braxton, whose father was wounded while serving our country.

A luncheon was sponsored by Attendees had a chance to see some of what WholesaleGRIPS has to offer.

The afternoon education seminar consisted of past Michigan PGA Merchandisers of the Year Doug Brody, PGA, Adrian Jolliffe, PGA and JP Westbrook, PGA, discussing skills in planning and promotion of sales by presenting products on a timely basis, and the use of specialized merchandising techniques that include display and advertising.

The second portion of the seminar featured Frank Chieppa and Bob Baldassari talking about Growth of the Game Best Practices, overcoming barriers and all of the programs offered through the PGA.

Over 110 Michigan PGA members were in attendance for the afternoon session.

PGA Life Member Jack Fleck was competitive up to his death at age 92

By john.holmes

Jack Fleck

Montana Pritchard/The PGA of America

Jack Fleck won the 1979 Senior PGA Championship more than two decades after his career-making U.S. Open victory, and was active in golf throughout his life.

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Jack Fleck had planned to return to the Masters this April and compete once more in the traditional par-3 contest. He grinded his way through the nine holes last year at Augusta National Golf Club despite equilibrium issues that would have forced a lesser man to stay home in bed.

The former PGA club professional from Bettendorf, Iowa, was disappointed when he learned that K.J. Choi, in the final pairing of the day, beat him by 1

Valhalla Golf Club inducted into Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame


Valhalla Golf Club

Photo: Courtesy The PGA of America

Valhalla Golf Club will host the 2014 PGA Championship.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Valhalla Golf Club, home to some of the game’s most dramatic major championships and the site of the last victorious United States Ryder Cup Team, has been selected to a rare berth in the Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame.

Valhalla follows Hillerich & Bradsby, makers of the famed “Louisville Slugger” (2006) and Churchill Downs (2012) as the only entities to be selected into the Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame. Valhalla is part of a seven-member class that will be inducted June 18, in a ceremony at the Crowne Plaza in Louisville. The other 2014 honorees are: sportscaster Paul Rogers, triathlete Susan Bradley-Cox, basketball coach Stan Hardin, boxer Rudell Stitch, baseball coach Bill Miller and horse trainer/breeder Charles “Redd” Crabtree.

“The PGA of America is honored that Valhalla Golf Club, synonymous with historic moments in the game, is receiving this recognition by the Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame,” said PGA of America President Ted Bishop. “The PGA has a great appreciation for the outstanding sports fans in Louisville and throughout the Commonwealth of Kentucky. To have Valhalla, a PGA of America property, enshrined alongside the state’s greatest legends is testament to those who have worked hard to bring the best in golf to Kentucky and showcase it to the world.”

Founded in 1963, the Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame recognizes athletes and sports figures who were born in or who have played their respective sport in the State of Kentucky. Past inductees include Muhammad Ali, Pee Wee Reese, Pat Day, Denny Crum and nine with golf connections, including 1964 PGA Champion Bobby Nichols and Valhalla founder Dwight Gahm. Overall, the current class brings the total Hall of Fame membership to 267. Hall of Fame honorees are perpetually enshrined in Freedom Hall at the Kentucky Exposition Center.

“We’re very proud of all the great sports facilities in Kentucky, and proud that Valhalla Golf Club joins the Hall of Fame,” said Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame member and current board member Dan Neal. “It is up there in its own class for the great excitement that it has generated and the championships it has hosted over the years. Valhalla brings out the best of Louisville and Kentuckians.”

Opened in 1986 and designed by legend Jack Nicklaus, Valhalla Golf Club is listed by Golf Digest as one of “America’s 100 Greatest Courses.” It was the site of the 1996 and 2000 PGA Championship, and will host the 96th PGA Championship, Aug. 5-10.

The PGA of America assumed full ownership of Valhalla after the 2000 PGA Championship and the club’s legacy in history-making events included hosting the 2008 Ryder Cup, the 2004 and 2011 Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid and the 2002 PGA Professional National Championship.

All net proceeds from the Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame luncheon and ceremony benefit Kosair Charities. To purchase tickets, visit

About Kosair Charities
Since 1923, Kosair Charities has had one primary mission – helping children in need. Kosair Charities knows that the quality of a child’s tomorrow depends largely on the quality of health, medical treatment, and support a child receives today. For more information please visit or call 502.637.7696.

For more about the PGA of America, visit

Julius Mason, PGA of America 561/624-8444
Erin Jones 502/774-0767
Vicky Weber 502/637-7696


Dottie Pepper’s new mission: Growing Golf


Dottie Pepper

Photo: Courtesy The PGA of America

Dottie Pepper’s new golf mission – getting more people involved.

Dottie Pepper has always been passionate about golf.

Her fierce drive and her steely determination led to 17 LPGA titles including two major championships. Her candid and straightforward views have earned her numerous accolades as a broadcaster and analyst. And her experience at every level of golf has made her an invaluable “Director-at-large” member of the PGA of America Board of Directors.

That same drive and determination is now being channeled into a new golf mission: Growing the Game. Golf, as a sport and industry, faces some tough and unique challenges. Pepper was recently invited by the PGA of America to join a special task force that will brainstorm ways to grow golf using some non-traditional routes and outside-the-box thinking. As someone who knows golf at the highest professional level and has spent so much time encouraging it from the entry-level, it seems to be a perfect fit.

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Pepper spoke with about the biggest challenges facing golf’s continued growth – and shared some ideas on how to address them.

Access: “I was lucky because I had access to a golf course and had family that invited me, at times – dragged me – out to play. My grandmother bought me clubs, bought me a junior membership, gave me all the support I could ask for. The guys who owned McGregor Links (Saratoga Springs, NY) also recognized my passion for the game and that I had some talent at it. At the time, the club had a rule that prohibited children from playing before 2pm on weekends. But they relaxed the rules so I could not only play, but play with (and against) the better players. It made a tremendous difference in my development. How much talent are we leaving undeveloped because we’re not allowing, or creating the proper environment for attracting new players?”

Pepper joins special PGA Task Force

Compete for the kids: “The one thing we can’t do is create more time. 24 hours is 24 hours. So how do we convince kids that they should be spending time playing golf? We have to make it cool, we have to make sure that the fun side of golf is emphasized. I look at what the ski industry did, combining resources, lift passes, marketing dollars, etc. We have lots of unused tee times now, why not find ways to use those times to attract more kids into the game? Half price or free options could do wonders on the local and national level. Find some alternative golf ideas to use the space. Get kids excited to come to the course. That should be goal number one.”

Motivate the kids to excel: I think it’s very important for golf to be “fun” but that’s quite different than promising that all golfers will excel at it. While it’s perfectly acceptable to enjoy golf at any level, I do have a problem with kids – or parents more often than not – thinking that every junior golfer should be the next Tiger Woods. Golf is a game of ownership. It’s one of the great life lessons that it teaches. Let’s embrace that. You win on your merit, you lose on your own. There’s no entitlement in golf, not everybody gets a gold medal. That’s not how the real world works. One of the greatest things about golf is how it teaches important life lessons – it teaches how to deal with adversity, and challenges and overcoming disappointment. We can make golf fun and still embrace that important principle. And then, when you do it well, it’s the greatest feeling in the world.”

Reverse the architecture trend: “The trend in golf now has been to make courses longer and more difficult. How is that helping to grow the game? As our core golfers get older, we’re actually giving them reasons to not play more. And this isn’t helping bring new golfers into the game. We can find ways to keep the beauty and challenge in golf and make the game easier to play. New tee complexes, slower greens, wider fairways, less rough – the ideas are there, they just need to be put into practice.”

Dottie Pepper is currently a member of the PGA Board of Directors. She is also an ESPN analyst/reporter and author of books “Bogey Tees Off Vol 1: a lesson about being truthful” and “Bogey Ballton’s Night Before Christmas. You can follow Dottie on Twitter at @DottieandBogey or join her on Facebook


PGA of America launches ‘Growth of Game’ task force


Growth of Golf Task Force

Photo: Courtesy PGA of America

Growing the game, especially among youth, is a major priority for the PGA of America

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. — In response to the changing face of America and downward participation trends, the Board of Directors of the PGA of America has announced the creation of a PGA Task Force to grow the game through non-traditional means. Comprised of a diverse group of millennial, multicultural, female, industry, and non-industry experts united in their common interest to grow the game, the Task Force will develop and evaluate non-traditional concepts harnessing the unmatched network of the 27,000 men and women PGA Professionals.

“There is nothing that I have been part of to-date that is more important and has greater opportunity,” PGA of America President Ted Bishop said. “The golf experience needs to be redefined. For many people the traditional 18-hole round simply doesn’t work. With the industry at a critical juncture of growth it is our responsibility to consider any and all potential alternatives to enhance the consumer’s enjoyment of the game.”

Members of the Task Force include Arlen Kantarian, who while CEO spearheaded the USTA’s efforts to reverse downward participation trends of tennis; Mark King, CEO of TaylorMade-adidas Golf and recent architect of, which the commission will utilize to crowd source many of these cutting-edge concepts; Bode Miller, who helped spark a resurgence of skiing as the winningest American skier; and Damon Hack, recent entrant to the game and co-host of Morning Drive on the Golf Channel.

These four will be joined by Editor of Audience Engagement at Golf Digest Ashley Mayo; part owner of the innovative golf experience Top Golf Tom Dundon; former NFL player Melvin Bullitt; former LPGA Professional and PGA Board Member Dottie Pepper; CEO of the PGA of America, Pete Bevacqua; and PGA President Bishop.

Although this PGA-led Task Force will maintain a long-term lens, its efforts will focus on developing concepts that can be quickly actioned against and implemented by PGA Professionals and the industry at large.

For more information about the PGA of America and members of the Task Force, visit


Graeme McDowell regales employees during first vist to PGA Headquarters

By john.holmes

Graeme McDowell and Pete Bevacqua at PGA Headquarters

Bob Denney/The PGA of America

Graeme McDowell received a PGA of America membership card from Chief Executive Officer Pete Bevacqua during his visit to PGA Headquarters.

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Graeme McDowell needed a memorable bunker shot Friday to salvage his round and make the cut in the Honda Classic. Europe’s Ryder Cup hero of 2010 didn’t need help, however, in regaling an audience of PGA employees about his life, family, charitable foundation and opinions about the future of golf.

McDowell marked his appearance in the nearby Honda Classic while making his first visit to PGA Headquarters.

The 2010 U.S. Open Champion from Northern Ireland splits his residency between Lake Nona, Fla., outside Orlando, and Portrush, Northern Ireland. Among his “fireside chat” comments was the announcement that he and wife, Kristin, who married last September, are expecting a baby girl.

“The news was just breaking today,” said McDowell. “There’s a lot more princesses in my future.”

McDowell, who has the nickname “G-Mac,” joined a partnership to open a restaurant in March 2013, Nona Blue, not far from his new home.

“I always had a flame in me to be part of a restaurant, and if any of you know the business, it is not always easy,” he said. “But it is a great place and we are looking good. Personally, I like the G-Mac and Cheese sandwich. Recently, we won the ‘Best Burger in Orlando.'”

McDowell later confirmed his business in spreading south. Another Nona Blue location will open in Jupiter, Fla., at a time to be announced.

McDowell had opinions about many topics during his PGA of America visit.

On what makes the Ryder Cup special:

“The intensity, the focus and the will to win is unlike any other. It brings out the best in a player. You see someone miss a green, you expect them to chip it in.”

“I have been in three Ryder Cups and if I could put them in a box, they would easily qualify for the three greatest times in my life.”

On the possibility of becoming a Ryder Cup captain someday:

“I like to think that I have a few more rounds under the belt to play, but I certainly would not overlook having a crack at serving someday as captain.”

On the potential for an overseas PGA Championship:

“Going global is a necessity in the modern game. You [the PGA] have the opportunity to give the rest of the world something special. Three majors already in the U.S. This is an opportunity to do something unique for the game. I support it.”

On the G-Mac Foundation:

“Our foundation work is very close to my heart,” said McDowell. “I’ve always wanted to do something to help children in need of medical care on ‘both sides of the border’ in Ireland.” The foundation, which also has supported medical research in the U.S., raised more than $2 million last year.

McDowell said the funds helped “dramatically improve existing facilities” in his homeland and takes great pride in special trips presented to families in need to Florida to enjoy holidays at such sites as Disney World.

On Game Golf, a joint partnership with The PGA of America and Golf Channel he endorses:

“I have seen a lot of golf gadgets come and go, but this is one that really has it all going for it,” he said of Game Golf, a wearable device that tracks and displays a golfer’s stats in real time. The product launched at the PGA Merchandise Show in January. “Our sport is all about measurability, and I really love the product, and hope that more golfers do, too.”