Emil Beck, who served the Soo Golf Club in Sault Ste. Marie for five years and Black River Country Club in Port Huron for 25 years, was a founder, national committee chairman and for 11 years director of the PGA Business School, which started as the Dunedin Educational and Professional Training Program. In 1975 he was the national Horton Smith Award winner, served as the Michigan PGA President in 1951-52 and was Michigan PGA Golf Professional of the Year in 1962. Beck, a Nebraska native, was also a life member of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America.
Joe Devany, a Grosse Ile golf professional, served two stints as Michigan Section President (1931-32 and 1948-50) and in 1956 was Michigan Section Golf Professional of the Year. In 1957 he became one of the original teachers of the Dunedin Educational and Professional Training Program, which later became the PGA Business School. He was active nationally with the PGA of America as a chairman of national committees, such as the War Program in 1952, the Annual Meeting in 1953 and the Active Services and Veterans Programs in 1954. The Michigan PGA Pro-Assistants Championship Trophy is named the Joe Devany Trophy in his honor.
Wilfrid E. Reid, a world-class golfer and renowned golf course designer from England, visited the United States with golf legends Ted Ray and Harry Vardon in 1914 to play in the U.S. Open Championship, and later emigrated and worked at several golf clubs as a professional, including Country Club of Detroit. He was one of the original members of the PGA of America, served on the National Executive Committee of the PGA of America as vice-president at large, vice-president in 1920 and 1921 and was a member of the organizing committee of the Philadelphia Section of the PGA of America. He was president of the Michigan Section from 1928-30.
Alex Ross, a world class player from England, the third golf professional at Detroit Golf Club and the brother of famed course designer Donald Ross, was the first president of the Michigan Section in 1922. He first came to the U.S. to play in the U.S. Open and in 1907 was the champion at Philadelphia Cricket Club. He went on to have five top 10s in U.S. Open play. He is most famous at Detroit Golf Club for giving Horace Rackham, a charter member of the club, his first golf lesson.
Don Soper, a golf professional who also designed golf courses like Royal Oak Golf Club, which is on Don Soper Drive, was president of the Michigan Section 1961-63, and three times was Michigan PGA Golf Professional of the Year (1966, ‘76 and ’78). Also in 1978, he was named the PGA of America’s Golf Professional of the Year and is enshrined in the national PGA of America Hall of Fame.
Frank Sprogell, who served as a golf professional and superintendent at several Michigan courses including Meadowbrook and Blythefield, was working as the Head Professional and General Manager at PGA Golf Club in Dunedin, Fla., in 1954 when he organized a group of sales representatives to show merchandise in his parking lot. By 1957 the sale had grown large enough for him to rent a tent. This annual gathering later became the PGA Merchandise Show. He also served golf as president of the Michigan Section from 1941-47 and nationally was secretary of the PGA of America from 1941-46.
Gary Whitener, a caddie at age 11 at Western Country Club, an Evans Scholar at Michigan State University, golf professional at Tam O’Shanter and Knollwood, ran the Livonia municipal courses and the driveway at Whispering Willows is named Gary Whitener Drive. He also was involved in golf course ownership in Plymouth and Monroe. He served the Michigan Section from 1978-89 as a board member, officer and committee chairperson while also serving the PGA of America as a District 5 Director for two years, chairman of the Special Awards Committee, vice-chairman of the Education Committee, at-large member of the Section Affairs Committee and others. He was the Michigan PGA Golf Professional of the Year in 1989. A Farmington Hills resident, he passed away unexpectedly in May. He was 77.