PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Celebrated golf instructors Bob Toski and Michael Hebron, the late pioneers in diversity Jimmie DeVoe and William Powell, and PGA of America Honorary President Allen Wronowski head a class of eight inductees to be enshrined in the PGA Golf Professional Hall of Fame.
The 2013 class, which will be honored March 12 at the PGA Education Center in Port St. Lucie, Fla., also includes 2011 PGA Golf Professional of the Year Donald “Chip” Essig of Westfield, Ind.; 2010 PGA Golf Professional of the Year Jim Mrva of Pittsford, N.Y.; and the late Bill Ogden, formerly of Glenview, Ill., who was one of the most prolific player-instructors in Illinois PGA Section history.
“It is with a great deal of pride that The PGA of America welcomes a special eight-member class into the PGA Golf Professional Hall of Fame, who by their life’s work have made significant and lasting contributions to our Association and the game of golf,” said PGA of America President Ted Bishop. “This class features those who battled social injustice, renowned instructors, and leaders who exhibited a passion for serving others beyond their job description. Their names will be forever inscribed among those who have made golf the greatest game.”
Toski, of Boca Raton, Fla., was inducted into the World Golf Teachers Hall of Fame in 1990, and is the first among that elite roster to capture a PGA Tour money title (1954). Toski, now 86, won 11 events between the PGA Tour and Champions Tour, and competed in 21 majors. Leaving the Tour at age 30 to be closer to his young family, Toski utilized his animated style and showmanship to become a premier instructor. His students have included Tom Kite, Bruce Crampton, Judy Rankin and Ken Duke. He was a pioneer in video golf instruction, started the Golf Digest Schools in 1971 with late PGA teaching legend Jim Flick, authored multiple books, and served as a regular contributor to national industry publications.
Hebron, of St. James, N.Y., was the catalyst for the largest educational forum in the golf industry – the PGA Teaching Coaching Summit – and went on to promote to his peers how to understand learning the game. Hebron earned the 1991 PGA Teacher of the Year Award and in 2008 was inducted into the Metropolitan PGA Section Hall of Fame.
Jimmie DeVoe, who passed away five days short of his 91st birthday in 1979, was the first African-American to be elected to membership following the rescinding of the “Caucasian clause” in 1962. At age 74, DeVoe also became the oldest to be elected to the Association. Among his many accomplishments, DeVoe operated the first African-American golf school in the 1930s in the basement of a pharmaceutical store in Harlem. He would eventually settle in Los Angeles, becoming a skilled player and popular teacher.
William Powell, the 2009 PGA Distinguished Service Award recipient before his death at age 93 on Dec. 31, 2009, remains the only African-American to build, own and operate a golf course in the United States. In 1946, Powell began breaking down barriers by building a “color blind” course, Clearview Golf Club of East Canton, Ohio. Clearview is among the National Register of Historic Places. Powell was 83 when he was granted PGA Life Membership status, retroactive to 1962, a year when The PGA of America dismantled another social barrier.
Allen Wronowski, the 37th president of The PGA of America (2010-2012), first made an impact in the Middle Atlantic PGA Section in business management and governance before rising to national office. Wronowski, the PGA director of member and player development at Hillendale Country Club of Phoenix, Md., joined the facility in 1979. Wronowski was mentored by the late William “Bill Clarke, who served as PGA president from 1973-74. Hillendale remains the only facility in the country to have employed two PGA presidents.
A closer glance at the 2013 PGA Golf Professional Hall of Fame inductees:
JIMMIE DEVOE, PGA
An unheralded pioneer in the growth of the game of golf, James R. “Jimmie” DeVoe was among the generations of African-Americans who were denied equal opportunity in all aspects of social life, not to mention civil rights. His career exemplified the fundamentals of growing the game more than 80 years before The PGA of America promoted its Golf 2.0 initiative.
DeVoe was the first African-American to gain PGA of America membership after the rescinding of the “Caucasian clause” in 1962. He was 74, which according to PGA membership records, made him the oldest to be elected to the Association.
Born James R. DeVoe on March 24, 1888, in Dowagiac, Mich., DeVoe was influenced by Jerry Travers, Ernest Jones and John Duncan Dunn, the latter two among the most influential golf instructors of the first half of the 20th century. In the 1930s, DeVoe partnered with John Shippen, the first African-American golf club professional in the U.S., and together they operated and sponsored numerous events. DeVoe went on to operate a golf school in a pharmaceutical store in Harlem and later operated a golf and tennis shop in Blumstein’s department store.
DeVoe traveled between New York and Los Angeles, and by the early 1940s became a fixture in Southern California golf as a player and teacher. Among his students were William “Bill” Spiller and Althea Gibson, who first made her fame in tennis and would become the first African-American woman to compete on the LPGA Tour. In 1944, DeVoe became the first African-American to compete in the Los Angeles Open. He developed the reputation as golf instructor to the stars, with a glittering list of students that included Jackie Robinson, Mayor Tom Bradley, former Congresswoman Yvonne Braithwaite Burke, Mrs. Nat King Cole and the Mills Brothers. He also drew praise for instructing underprivileged youth, along with students of all races, ages, gender, and class. In 1953, DeVoe finished fifth in the United Golf Association Championship. DeVoe was 65.
DeVoe passed away March 19, 1979; five days shy of his 91st birthday. He still had lessons on the books.
DON “CHIP” ESSIG, PGA
Don “Chip” Essig IV extended a family tradition in Section leadership, administering the Rules of Golf and managing golf facilities, and was the 2011 recipient of the PGA Golf Professional of the Year.
Essig, a 22-year member of The PGA of America, is the PGA director of golf and owner of Hickory Stick Golf Club in Greenwood, Ind., and is the third member of the Indiana PGA Section to be named PGA Golf Professional of the Year. Essig, 47, who achieved PGA Master Professional status in 2004, follows the late Don Padgett I, formerly of Selma, Ind. (1961), and Jack Barber of Indianapolis (2009), as the other Indiana PGA Section members to receive the Association’s highest annual honor for PGA Professionals.
Born in Indianapolis as the only son of the 1957 U.S. Public Links Champion, Essig grew up playing the game at a course his father owned and operated, the former Hoosier Links in New Palestine, Ind. By the time he graduated from high school, Essig had performed virtually every job at the course. He also served as an unpaid instructor for one of the largest growth-of-the-game instruction programs in the country, involving more than 900 students annually.
Essig graduated in 1987 from Purdue University and earned PGA membership in 1990. He is the co-owner of Essig Golf LLC, a golf course management company that oversees three facilities in the Indianapolis area – Hickory Stick Golf Club, Heartland Crossing Golf Links in Camby, and Pebble Brook Golf Course in Noblesville.
Essig has been a member of the Indiana PGA Section board of directors since 1998, serving from 2006 to 2008 as Section president. Since 2000, he has been a board member of the Indiana Golf Foundation, and a member of the USGA Men’s Amateur Public Links Committee.
In 1998, Essig was appointed to the PGA Rules Committee. His high-profile assignments have included every PGA Championship since 2001, the Ryder Cup, two Masters, three U.S. Senior Opens, two PGA Cups, a Senior PGA Championship and four PGA Professional National Championships.
Essig and his wife, Stefanie, live in Westfield, Ind., and are the parents of a daughter, Cameron Nicole, and a son, Travis Ryan.
MICHAEL HEBRON, PGA
In 1988, Michael Hebron proposed to PGA of America officials the need to bring together teaching professionals to share best practices and consolidate ideas. “Let’s have a Woodstock, a Summit,” Hebron recalled his pitch for the event. As a result, the PGA Teaching Coaching Summit was born. Last month in Orlando, Fla., the 13th Summit attracted 625 attendees representing 48 states and 12 countries.
A native of New York City, Hebron was inspired by Metropolitan PGA Professionals Bob Joyce and Gene Borek, and later attended the first PGA Business School featuring an instructor who would inspire an industry – the late Bill Strausbaugh. Hebron was elected to PGA membership in 1970, and in 1991, was the recipient of the national PGA Teacher of the Year Award.
Hebron, 70, has been a golf instruction consultant to both PGA Professionals and golf teachers in 16 countries. Over the years, Hebron also founded two international Summits, the Canadian PGA Teaching Conference (1989) and the inaugural European PGA Teaching Conference (1990). His career student list features PGA and LPGA Tour professionals, several national champions in the U.S. and overseas, along with many prep and collegiate players. One of the most respected Metropolitan PGA teaching professionals, Hebron was named to GOLF Magazine’s first “Top 50 Teachers in America” roster. He was recipient of the 1990 national Horton Smith Award for excellence in PGA education. He was the 1982 Metropolitan PGA Golf Professional of the Year, and in 2008, was inducted into the Metropolitan PGA Section Hall of Fame.
Hebron has authored six books and is a longtime contributor to numerous national publications. Hebron presented “See and Feel the Inside Move the Outside,” the first golf instruction book to be accepted as a PGA Master Professional thesis, and has sold more than 100,000 copies. Among his community contributions are providing three continuing education scholarships in three New York high schools, and sponsoring the Metropolitan PGA Women’s Championship and the Long Island Golf Association Amateur Stroke Play Championship.
Hebron and his wife, Patricia, live in St. James, N.Y. They are parents of a daughter, Tracy, a son, Michael, who is a PGA assistant professional in Smithtown Landing, N.Y., and have three grandchildren.
JIM MRVA, PGA
Jim Mrva, the PGA head professional at Monroe Golf Club in Pittsford, N.Y., who for more than 30 years has mentored aspiring PGA Professionals and countless youth, was the 2010 recipient of the PGA Golf Professional of the Year Award. A 34-year member of The PGA of America, Mrva joins Craig Harmon of Rochester, N.Y. (2004) as the members of the Western New York PGA Section to be honored as PGA Golf Professional of the Year.
One of the most decorated Western New York PGA members, Mrva was named the 1998 Section PGA Professional of the Year; served 12 years on the Section board, including 2002-03 as president; was a three-time Section Merchandiser of the Year recipient (1988, ’93, 2006); Section Junior Golf Leader (1986); Horton Smith Award (1996-97); Bill Strausbaugh Award (2008); and the 2003 Community Service Award. In 2007, Mrva was inducted into the Western New York PGA Section Hall of Fame.
Mrva, 62, is a native of Endicott, N.Y., and was introduced to golf by his father, who worked for the Endicott Johnson Shoe Company. He began as a caddie, and later became a club champion. Mrva went on to graduate from Rutgers University in 1972.
Mrva was elected to PGA membership in 1978. A year later, he earned his first PGA head professional position at Yahnundasis Golf Club in New Hartford, N.Y. In December 1982, he was named Monroe Golf Club’s PGA head professional, and set out to make an impact upon both his facility and the Western New York PGA Section.
On the course, Mrva has distinguished himself by competing in three PGA Professional National Championships and five Senior PGA Professional National Championships. He has won the Section Senior Championship (2000, ’01), Section Match Play Championship (1987, ’88), and the 1992 Western New York Open Championship. Since he arrived at Monroe Golf Club, Mrva has more than 30 assistant professionals, of whom 25 remain employed in the golf industry. He has served on the board of The First Tee of Rochester since its founding in 2003, and since 2007 as a board member of the Reach for the Green Scholarship Committee, which provides academic aid to underprivileged children in Rochester.
Mrva and his wife, Susie, a Monroe Golf Club shop manager since 1983, live in Fairport, N.Y. They are the parents of a son, Matt, and daughters Stacey and Jessica.
BILL OGDEN, PGA
Considered one of the most inspiring and engaging members in Illinois PGA Section history, Bill Ogden took great pride in mentoring young PGA Professionals. Ogden, who turned professional in 1950, spent 40 years at North Shore Country Club in Chicago, and completed a special term of service within the Illinois PGA Section. Throughout his career, he had 43 PGA assistant professionals go on to earn head professional positions. He was a Professional who made an impact in two parts of the country, during the spring and summer at North Shore Country Club and in the winter in Southern California. He served as PGA head professional at four different golf clubs in the Palm Springs, Calif., area from 1970-80.
Ogden was the 1970 Section PGA Golf Professional of the Year and served as Section president. In 1990, Ogden was inducted into the Illinois Golf Hall of Fame and the Chicago Sports Hall of Fame. He captured a record six Illinois PGA Player of the Year titles and competed in 31 major championships between 1953 and 1972.
One of Ogden’s golf practice partners in the 1950s was a professional from Iowa, Jack Fleck, who was struggling the week of the 1955 U.S. Open at Olympic Club. Ogden took Fleck out after the round to help him. Later that week, Fleck made golf history by winning the Open in a stunning 18-hole playoff over legendary Ben Hogan.
Among Ogden’s playing accomplishments was tying for third in the 1956 Bing Crosby National Pro-Am and sharing fourth in the 1968 Tucson Open. He won 18 Illinois PGA titles, and is the only Illinois golfer to win the Illinois Open, PGA Medal Play, PGA Match Play, and Assistant Championship.
Ogden retired in 1994 and passed away at age 78, on June 24, 2005, in Indian Wells, Calif. He is survived by his daughters, Lori Ogden Moore of San Francisco and Shelly Ogden Sage of Seattle, Wash.
WILLIAM “BILL” POWELL, PGA
William J. “Bill” Powell was the leader of a resolute campaign to make the game of golf “color blind” by building Clearview Golf Club of East Canton, Ohio. He remains the only African-American to build, own and operate a golf course in the United States.
In 1945, following his return from serving in World War II, Powell was denied access to local golf clubs due to the color of his skin. In 1946, Powell began breaking down barriers by building Clearview. Now listed among the National Register of Historic Places, Clearview opened with programs that are mainstream today, including women’s leagues, junior tournaments, adult after-work leagues, and group lessons.
Powell was 83 when he was granted PGA Life Member status, retroactive to 1962, a year when The PGA of America dismantled another social barrier, the “Caucasian clause” in its by-laws.
Born Nov. 22, 1916, the grandson of Alabama slaves and in the birth year of The PGA of America, Powell’s life journey began as his family moved to Minerva, Ohio, when he was 3. Powell discovered a love for golf at age 9, by playing and caddying at Edgewater Golf Course. He became a multi-sport athlete at Minerva High School.
At age 16, Powell hitchhiked 42 miles round trip to compete in a junior event at Orchard Hills Country Club (now Arrowhead Country Club) in north Canton. Though initially denied entry, he waited two hours before officials granted him access. He went on to finish third in the tournament.
Powell attended Wilberforce University in Xenia, Ohio, where in 1937 the school’s men’s golf team traveled to face Ohio Northern University at Lost Creek Country Club in Lima, Ohio. It was the first inter-racial collegiate golf match in American history. Wilberforce returned home triumphant and captured the rematch. Sixty-five years later, the two schools gathered for another match, this time at Clearview Golf Club.
Powell served in the U.S. Army Air Corps, attaining the rank of Tech Sergeant. Returning home after the war, Powell found clubhouse doors were not open to him. Powell received the financial support of two black physicians in Canton and Massillon, Ohio, to break ground on a public golf course.
In April 1948, nine holes opened for play on what was once dairy farmland. Powell said of Clearview, “It is where the only color that matters is the color of the greens.”
Powell was the recipient of the 2009 PGA Distinguished Service Award.
In 2001, Clearview Golf Club established the Clearview Legacy Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization for education, preservation, and turfgrass research.
Powell, passed away at age 93 on Dec. 31, 2009. He is survived by his daughter, Renee, and a son, Larry. He was preceded in death by his wife, Marcella, and a son, Billy.
BOB TOSKI, PGA
One of the most popular and unforgettable golf instructors of any era, Bob Toski has always been a competitor, whether on the course or challenging students on the practice tee. At age 86 and celebrating 65 years as a PGA Professional, Toski continues to be a remarkable ball striker. He has lost little of his skills from his youth, recently posting a 73 on a 6,400-yard, par-72 course.
Inducted in 1990 into the World Golf Teachers Hall of Fame, Toski is the only one among that elite roster of instructors to capture a PGA Tour money title (1954). Though checking in at 118 pounds in his youth, Toski was considered one of the longest pound-for-pound drivers. He competed in 21 major championships, and won 11 overall events on the PGA and Champions Tours.
Leaving the Tour at age 30 to be closer to his young family, Toski utilized his animated style and showmanship to become a premier instructor. His students include Tom Kite, Bruce Crampton, Judy Rankin, Bruce Fleisher and Ken Duke. He was a pioneer in video golf instruction, starting the Golf Digest Schools in 1971 with late PGA teaching legend Jim Flick. He has authored multiple books and served as a regular contributor to national industry publications. His love of teaching is admittedly addictive. “If I don’t give a lesson today, I feel like I’ve missed something,” said Toski.
Born Robert Algutoski, the eighth of nine children in Haydenville, Mass., Toski was one of four brothers who became a golf professional. His parents, Walenty and Mary Algutoski, were immigrants from Warsaw, Poland. Toski graduated from Williamsburg (Mass.) High School before being inducted into the Armed Forces.
Toski was elected to PGA membership in November 1947. When he won the 1954 World Championship of Golf at Tam O’Shanter Country Club in Chicago, Toski pocketed $50,000, the largest first-place prize in golf at that time.
Toski’s wife, Jacqueline, passed away in 2011. He has three sons, Robert, Bruce and Scot; and a daughter, Karin, and four grandchildren.
ALLEN WRONOWSKI, PGA
PGA Honorary President Allen Wronowski served as The PGA of America’s 37th president from November 2010-12. He is the PGA director of member and player development at Hillendale Country Club in Phoenix, Md., a facility that he has served since 1979, beginning as an assistant professional, then PGA head professional (1990), before being named PGA director of golf (2010). Among his mentors was the late Bill Clarke of Hillendale Country Club, making the facility the first to have employed two PGA of America presidents.
During Wronowski’s term as PGA president, the Association launched and guided Golf 2.0, an industry-supported initiative to grow participation in the game by broadening access and appeal to diverse audiences, especially minorities, women and junior golfers.
Wronowski’s record of service to the Association also includes a term as District 10 Director on the PGA Board of Directors from 2000-04, when he demonstrated his passion to enhance player development. As a national officer, Wronowski, 58, expanded upon his initiative by supporting the core values of PGA Professionals and their impact upon junior golf, minorities and diversity.
A native of Baltimore, Wronowski began golf as a high school junior and started his golf career as an assistant professional at Rocky Point Golf Course in Essex, Md. He turned professional in 1976, and was elected to PGA membership in 1981. Among his many accomplishments within the Middle Atlantic PGA Section were creating a business plan for the Board and committees that is standard today; implementing a mentoring program that is utilized by all Section chapters; and building an investment fund that increased Section reserves on the way to a permanent headquarters in Stafford, Va. Wronowski was named the 1999 Section Golf Professional of the Year; the 2002 Section Bill Strausbaugh Award recipient for his behind-the-scenes work on employment efforts; and was the 1984 Section Assistant Golf Professional of the Year.
Wronowski and his wife, Gail, live in Bel Air, Md.
About the PGA Golf Professional Hall of Fame
Originated in 1940 at the suggestion of famed sportswriter Grantland Rice, the PGA Golf Professional Hall of Fame was relocated in 2005 at the PGA Museum of Golf at PGA Village in Port St. Lucie, Fla. The Hall of Fame recognizes all PGA members who have made significant and lasting contributions to the building of The PGA of America and the game of golf. The inductees include PGA Presidents, PGA Golf Professional of the Year award winners as well as those PGA Professionals who also distinguish themselves as competitors while in service to The PGA of America.
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.