Bill Eschenbrenner, a former caddie at Worth Hills Municipal Golf Course in Fort Worth, Texas, made a career path to professional golf through his association and friendship with many of the premier players in the Lone Star State, including legends Ben Hogan and Byron Nelson.
"I was fortunate to have known top Professionals, and I just wanted to be like them," said Eschenbrenner. "Had I not had golf, I'm sure I would have been in the pool halls forever. I was friends with Ben Hogan, and knew him well. Just as I am a friend of Byron Nelson, and individuals like Ernie Vossler (1967 PGA Golf Professional of the Year), Fred Hawkins and Orville Moody. They guided me. The PGA of America card meant a lot to me, and being a member, I was able to set goals and pretty high standards. I am very honored to win this national award. I always tried to give back, and that feeling comes from those PGA Professionals who got me started."
Eschenbrenner, a PGA member since 1965, was also the 1994 national Horton Smith Award winner for contributions to PGA education. He has served as both a premier instructor and mentor to many of the game's premier players. He is credited by the legendary Lee Trevino for helping him gain a PGA Tour berth.
Eschenbrenner helped Trevino attain PGA membership in the late 1960s, during a period when PGA membership was required to compete on the PGA Tour.
The list of Tour professionals under Eschenbrenner's tutelage features eight current players, including 2002 PGA Champion Rich Beem, a former PGA assistant professional at El Paso (Texas) Country Club, where Eschenbrenner served 35 years as PGA director of golf and five years as consultant.
Peter Krause of Independence, Minn. – PGA Teacher of the Year
Will Reilly of Huntingdon Valley, Pa. – PGA Junior Golf Leader
Tom Nieporte of Bayville, N.Y. – Bill Strausbaugh Award
Warren Bottke of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. – Horton Smith Award
Ronald Dunham of Jackson, Wyo. – PGA Merchandisers of the Year - Resort Facilities
Fabian McIntyre of Kissimmee, Fla. – PGA Merchandisers of the Year - Public Facilities
John Buczek of Winston-Salem, N.C. – PGA Merchandisers of the Year - Private Facilities
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