PGA of America

2019 PGA of America Awards Recipients

2019 PGA of America Awards Recipients

Country Club of Birmingham - Birmingham, Ala.

Eric Eshleman, PGA, a 24-year PGA Member in the Alabama-NW Florida Section and Director of Golf at the Country Club of Birmingham, is the recipient of the 2019 PGA Golf Professional of the Year Award. This award, the highest annual honor given to a PGA Professional, awarded for qualities of leadership, strong moral character and a substantial record of service to the PGA and the game of golf. Eshleman has demonstrated a passion and commitment to training and mentoring fellow PGA Professionals throughout his career and has served in advisory roles on several golf committees. Eshleman has demonstrated a passion and commitment to training and mentoring fellow PGA Professionals throughout his career and has served in advisory roles on several golf committees. Eshleman currently serves as the Honorary President of the Alabama-NW Florida PGA Section, after a two-year term as President. During his time as a Section Officer, he helped raise the image and status of the Section and established a fundraising program for its foundation, while his stint as president included the approval of the section name change (formerly the Dixie Section). He has trained many PGA Professionals to become outstanding golf instructors, stemming from his devotion to bettering the golf community and fostering relationships with the individuals he mentors. Under his leadership, the Country Club of Birmingham has averaged more than 2,400 lessons annually since 2014. Eshleman is also a member of the PGA Adjunct Faculty, teaching golf to beginners and assisting students and staff in developing their skills and shaping their career paths. Additionally, Eshleman oversees one of the largest junior golf programs in the country, with 200 kids playing in CCB’s Junior Club Championship in 2018. Well known as a teaching professional for students, such as Graeme McDowell, Patton Kizzire, Paul Dunne and the 66th U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Eshleman has been honored by the Alabama-NW Florida PGA Section on several occasions. He received the Section’s: PGA Golf Professional of the Year Award in 2010 and 2017; the Teacher of the Year Award (2000 and 2004); the 2011 PGA Bill Strausbaugh Award; and 2014 Youth Player Development Award.

The Woodlands Golf Performance Center - The Woodlands, Texas

Kevin Kirk, PGA, a 26-year PGA Member in the Southern Texas Section and Director of Golf Instruction at The Woodlands Country Club in The Woodlands, Texas, is the recipient of the 2019 PGA Teacher of the Year Award for his “outstanding services as a golf teacher, innovator and coach.” Kirk, a PGA Master Professional and a GOLF Magazine Top 100 Teacher in America, has taught an impressive list of students, highlighted by three-time United States Ryder Cup Team Member and 2018 Masters Champion Patrick Reed, LPGA TOUR star and Major Champion Lexi Thompson and three-time PGA TOUR winner Jhonattan Vegas, among others. Kirk also works with professional golfers Maria Verchenova and Rodolfo Cazubon, making him the coach of five Olympians. Committed to player development, Kirk’s holistic approach to teaching caters to individuals of all ages and skill levels, from newcomers to Tour stars. A sought-after presenter and instructor, Kirk is a member of the PGA of America’s Coaching & Player Development Committee and has delivered numerous insightful presentations at PGA meetings, workshops and education programs at the Chapter, Section and National levels, as well as coaching summits in England, Australia and New Zealand. He is an advocate for the Aspen Institute Project Play and strongly supports the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee and the PGA of America in the advancement of the American Development Model. Fluent in Spanish, Kirk is a valued consultant for several golf federations, Olympic Committees and private clubs throughout Latin America. Highly regarded as a mentor, educator and role model for fellow PGA Members, Kirk’s passion is reinforced by his commitment to inclusiveness and sharing both his experience and knowledge with peers. His recognition as 2019 National PGA Teacher of the Year follows a long list of awards at the Section level including: Southern Texas PGA Section Harvey Penick Teacher of the Year five times (1998, 1999, 2008, 2011 and 2017); the Horton Smith Award in 2006; and the Bill Strausbaugh Award in 2012.

Ridgewood Country Club - Paramus, N.J.

David Reasoner, an 18-year PGA Member in the New Jersey PGA Section and Head Professional at Ridgewood Country Club in Paramus, N.J., is the recipient of the 2019 Bill Strausbaugh Award. This award recognizes a PGA Professional who demonstrates exceptional character, integrity and leadership by way of teaching and mentoring other PGA Professionals. Reasoner embodies what it means to be a PGA Member and is regarded as a model Professional. He fully embraces his leadership role and has made it his mission to mentor other PGA Professionals. In his 17 years as Head Professional at Ridgewood C.C., Reasoner has helped counsel PGA Assistant Professionals to greater success, and many have gone on to become Head Professionals, Directors of Golf and General Managers. The current Honorary President of the NJPGA Section and Board Member of the New Jersey Golf Foundation, Reasoner has won multiple awards at the PGA Section Level, including: New Jersey PGA Golf Professional of the Year (2015, 2018); its Bill Strausbaugh Award (2012, 2013, 2016, 2017); and the PGA Merchandiser of the Year Award (2013, 2015).

Todd Sones Impact Golf School - Vernon Hills, Ill.

Todd Sones, a 34-year PGA Member in the Illinois PGA Section, is the recipient of the 2019 Horton Smith Award. This honor goes to a PGA Member who displays commendable contributions to the education of PGA Professionals. An accomplished teacher and a sought-after presenter, Sones is a PGA Master Professional who currently serves on the National Coaching and Teaching Committee and the Illinois PGA Section Education Committee. A passionate advocate for continuing education, Sones devotes considerable time to mentoring his fellow PGA professionals, including an interactive teaching series in the Illinois Section for younger members. Sones launched the Impact Golf School in 1997, and it is now one of the top-ranked golf schools in the country. In 2016, Impact Golf School was recognized with the Editor’s Choice Award for Best Golf Schools in America by Golf Digest. A multiple award winner at the PGA Section Level, Sones is a three-time recipient of the Illinois Section Horton Smith Award (2003, 2014, 2017); two-time recipient of the Teacher of the Year Award (1994, 1996); and has been one of the Top 100 Teachers in America, as chosen by Golf Magazine since 1996. Currently, Sones serves as a subject matter expert on the committee that is developing the new Level 1, 2 and 3 PGA 3.0 Teaching and Coaching curriculum.

Club Car – Richmond, Texas
PGA Professional Randy Jones’s life-changing moment came in January 2011, when the then-33-year-old visited a dermatologist and was diagnosed with Stage II melanoma skin cancer. That began a nearly four-year-long battle: His cancer elevated to Stage IV in January 2015, spreading to his kidneys and brain. Supported by the renowned team at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Jones underwent nearly three years of treatment, 47 doses of immunotherapy, nine chemotherapy doses and multiple surgeries. By December 2015, Jones was cancer-free. He changed his career path, from PGA Head Professional to South Texas Territory Manager for Club Car, in Richmond, Texas. He also volunteered for MD Anderson’s Advance Team as an At-Large Member and Sun Safety Ambassador. Jones is one of golf’s leading advocates for skin cancer awareness. With 70,000 new cases diagnosed each year, Jones has delivered his story and message to more than 3,000 junior golfers, parents and patrons. Among his community outreach efforts was hosting a Sun Safety Clinic at the 2017-‘18 Tour Championship in Atlanta. In 2016, Jones teamed with Topgolf and World Golf Hall of Famer Colin Montgomerie to raise funds for cancer research. He also joined The AIM at Melanoma Foundation, assisting with fundraising events. At the Section level, Jones was named 2016 Southern Texas PGA Golf Professional of the Year. He has also been a guest on Golf Channel and in a CBS Special, “Making Cancer History,” which aims to keep Skin Cancer Awareness a year-round focus for golfers.

Monarch Country Club, Palm City, Fla.

In 1993, Judy Alvarez, PGA/LPGA, was elected to PGA Membership and accepted the Head Professional position at Southwinds Golf Course in Boca Raton, Fla. It was a milestone moment for the native of Seattle, as her job involved coaching people with physical challenges more than a decade before the creation of today’s adaptive golf programs for military veterans. Alvarez is the PGA of America’s National Lead Instructor Trainer for PGA HOPE (Helping Our Patriots Everywhere). She splits her golf season as the PGA Teaching Professional at Monarch Country Club in Palm City, Florida, and a PGA Head Professional at Sunken Meadow Golf Course in Kings Park, New York. For more than 25 years, Alvarez has spearheaded programming to local military organizations nationwide, featuring sensitivity training and golf fundamentals to deliver life-changing golf experiences. In the post-9/11 era, Alvarez has conducted more than 65 training sessions for over 2,200 PGA Professionals and 5,000 veterans. She helped establish six PGA HOPE programs in South Florida and has led seminars and free clinics for local military organizations nationwide. A board member for the National Alliance for Accessible Golf, Alvarez has earned numerous honors, including: the 2018 South Florida PGA Horton Smith Award; the 2011, 2016 and 2018 Section Player Development Award; a four-time (2013, ’14, ’16, ’18) Golf Range Association of America (GRAA) Top 50 Growth of the Game Professional; the 2018 LPGA Southeast Section Professional of the Year; and she was named to the 2012 Golf Digest roster of Top Women Golf Instructors in the United States. In 2011, Alvarez authored “Broken Tees and Mended Hearts – A Life’s Journey Serving Wounded Warriors and Injured Spirits.”

Springfield Golf & Country Club - Springfield, Va.

Liz Cooper, PGA, a Member of the Middle Atlantic PGA Section and Head Golf Professional at Springfield (Va.) Golf & Country Club, is the recipient of the 2019 PGA Player Development Award. This honor bestows special recognition to a PGA Member who has displayed extraordinary and exemplary contributions and achievements in the area of player development. Cooper’s philosophy is to create a positive atmosphere in which golfers feel welcomed and comfortable. She strives to help golfers improve their skills through programs fit to their skill levels. In 2017, she created the first all-girls PGA Jr. League program in the country at the Army Navy Country Club in Arlington, Va. The result of the league was an improvement in the girls’ golfing skills, as they enjoyed the experience of playing on a team and making lifelong friends. This also led to a 50% increase in LPGA/USGA Girls Programming participation from 2017-2018. As a result, she plans to create an All-Girls Team at Springfield Country Club in 2020. One of Cooper’s most successful programs is the 101ers Ladies Academy, an eight-week class that teaches and improves the skills of women golfers. Implemented at Springfield, this program has led to incredible increases in rounds played and overall spending. Among her many awards, Cooper was named one of the LPGA’s top 50 teachers in 2017-2018 and the 2014 and 2016 LPGA Teaching & Club Professionals Northeast Section Professional of the Year.

Bay Meadows Family Golf Course – Traverse City, Mich.

Scott Wilson, PGA, a PGA Professional at Bay Meadows Family Golf Course, in Traverse City, Mich., is the recipient of the 2019 “PGA Youth Player Development Award,” given annually to a PGA Golf Professional who has displayed extraordinary and exemplary contributions and achievements in the area of youth player development. A 21-year PGA Member, Wilson has played an integral role in elevating youth-player development at Bay Meadows, while also re-energizing the Traverse City Junior Golf Association’s programming. His passion and commitment for player development is contagious: The Golf in Schools program he plays a major role in has reached more than 2,000 kids at 17 schools; Drive, Chip & Putt participation continues to increase; and the growth of PGA Jr. League has been incredible. Starting with 28 kids upon Wilson’s arrival in 2015, PGA Jr. League now has enrolled more than 90 boys and girls at Bay Meadows. Additionally, his Junior Elite program, which takes on 18 juniors each year, is one of his most fulfilling programs: 40 graduates have gone on to play collegiate golf, including a three-time “Miss Golf” in the state of Michigan. Wilson has twice been honored with the Michigan Section Youth Player Development Award (2017, ’19); the Player Development Award three times (2007, ‘08, ‘18); and he’s a multi-award winner for Northern Michigan Chapter. He has also been recognized on Golf Digest’s “Best Teacher in the State” list.

The South Florida Section of the PGA of America is the 2019 recipient of the Herb Graffis Award, recognizing the depth and quality of its player-development programs and positive impact on its widespread communities. Led by Section President Karl Bublitz and South Florida PGA Foundation President Tom Wildenhaus, these development programs have three purposes: Youth, philanthropy and diversity, with 10 different programs and more than 120 events to help juniors improve their skills. Last year, the Section’s Prep, Championship and Challenge Tours grew nine percent, now operating at 94 percent capacity; and its PGA Jr. League increased participation by 50 percent. The South Florida PGA Section is heavily involved with two charities, Parkland Buddies and Smiling Fore Life, both of which use PGA Professionals to teach golf to young children: Some 1,200 children participated in Smiling Fore Life and approximately 15 special needs children have graduated from an eight-week Parkland Buddies program in the past year. The South Florida PGA Section also prides itself on offering four programs aimed at women golfers and its involvement with PGA HOPE since 2015—last year, 11 programs served 485 veterans and 25 PGA Professionals. This involvement in PGA HOPE has helped grow the program not only in their Section, but nationally as well, with 80 new veterans involved this spring at the SFPGA Section level. Through its many partnerships with local businesses and organizations, including The Honda Classic and Jupiter Medical Center, the Section continues to positively affect its communities.

Hershey Country Club – Hershey, Pa.

Sara Muldoon, PGA, a Philadelphia PGA Section Member and Director of Golf at Hershey (Pa.) Country Club, is the recipient of the 2019 PGA Merchandiser of the Year Award - Resort Category. The award is designed to recognize those PGA Professionals who have excelled in business and merchandising for the promotion of golf. A three-time winner of the Philadelphia PGA Section Merchandiser of the Year Award – Resort Category (2015, ’16, ‘18), Muldoon has worked at Hershey Country Club since 1995. Her commitment and passion has helped the Club record an 11.4 percent increase in total sales over the last four years. Her implementation of creative promotions, combined with her belief in the importance of training her staff in customer service, have been key to the shop’s success.

Oak Creek Golf Club- Irvine, Calif.

Duncan Simms, PGA, a Southern California PGA Section Member and Director of Golf at Oak Creek Golf Club in Irvine, Calif., is the recipient of the 2019 PGA Merchandiser of the Year Award - Public Category. Since Simms assumed responsibilities for the Oak Creek golf shop in 2015, it has experienced an increase of 46 percent in total merchandise sales. This was achieved by consistently adapting the product mix in the shop, empowering staff to make decisions and implementing creative sales promotions. The operation also has a Cool Clubs fitting station, and its revenue-sharing agreement brings additional merchandising revenue to the facility. As a result, Simms and his staff work closely with Cool Clubs to promote the service to customers and students in their golf program. Simms is extremely proud to have a strong sales team supporting him and has found a way to generate a sales environment where his team members are entrusted to make decisions, while equipped with a number of creative tools to close a sale.

Ocean Reef Club – Key Largo, Fla.

Scott Kirkwood, a 12-year PGA Member in the South Florida PGA Section and Golf Director at the Ocean Reef Club, in Key Largo, is the recipient of the 2019 PGA Merchandiser of the Year Award - Private Category. The award recognizes PGA Professionals who have excelled in business and merchandising in the promotion of golf. A native of Gullane, Scotland, Kirkwood’s golf shop at Ocean Reef Club has consistently grown its sales, making an impressive $2.2 million in 2018 alone. Kirkwood has created new programs and offers for Ocean Reef’s Membership, increasing merchandise dollars per round from $29 in 2010 to $69 in 2018. In addition, he has increased hard-goods sales by $295,000 over the past three years, actively competing with online retailers. He is recognized for his intense commitment to Member satisfaction, building loyalty with both customers and staff.