The 2015 PGA of America National Award recipients were honored during a gala event, held in conjunction with the PGA Annual Meeting in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.
Note: time stamp is in parenthesis following the inductee's name.
NEW JERSEY PGA SECTION – HERB GRAFFIS AWARD (7:12)
The New Jersey PGA Section (NJPGA) was named the 2015 Herb Graffis Award recipient, as a PGA of America Section that has shown extraordinary and exemplary contributions in Player Development. Led by NJPGA President Scott Paris, the Section hosted a variety of successful youth golf programs this year that helped grow the game of golf among all demographics. The Section also won the Award in 2012. The New Jersey Golf Foundation (NJGF), the Section’s charitable arm, played an integral role in supporting youth player development programs throughout the state, highlighted by the growth of PGA Junior League Golf and the operation of one of the nation’s largest Golf In Schools Programs. PGA Junior League Golf expanded to more than 500 boys and girls in 2015, spread out over 60 teams. The league, which started with 12 teams in 2012, provides an outlet for beginners in the game to play in a “team” scramble format. The NJPGA/NJGF operates one of the nation’s most prolific Golf In Schools programs, impacting more than 110,000 boys and girls (K-8th grade) at over 200 schools. Under the guidance of PGA Professionals, the program is fully funded by the NJGF and offered at no cost to school districts. Additional NJPGA programs that have seen overwhelming growth in 2015 include: PGA HOPE, the flagship military program that introduces golf to Veterans with disabilities; Els For Autism golf programming for children; Special Olympics NJ; Goddard School Program; Father English Community Center; and High School JV Programming.
BILL CASTNER, PGA – PGA YOUTH PLAYER DEVELOPMENT AWARD (16:32)
Plainfield West 9 Golf Club – Edison, New Jersey
Bill Castner, a PGA Master Professional, and the Head Professional at the Plainfield West 9 Golf Club, in Edison, New Jersey, has been named the recipient of the 2015 PGA Youth Player Development Award—an honor that recognizes a PGA Professional who has displayed extraordinary and exemplary contribution and achievement in the area of youth player development in golf. Castner, a PGA member for more than 30 years, also serves as Program Director of The First Tee of Plainfield. Since the chapter’s inception in 2009, when Plainfield Country Club became the first private club to establish a First Tee program, the program has grown to more than 650 participants. Additionally, Castner has led several First Tee initiatives, including the Path to College Scholarships for graduating high school students. Castner served as the Junior Golf chairperson for six years on the New Jersey PGA (NJPGA) Section Board of Directors and also has been involved extensively with the New Jersey Golf Foundation – the charitable arm of the NJPGA. He earned his PGA Master Professional certification in 2003, and has won five NJPGA Section Youth Player Development Awards.
TIM KREBS, PGA – PGA PLAYER DEVELOPMENT AWARD (27:30)
East Potomac Golf Course – Washington, D.C. (now at Butterfield Trail Golf Club in El Paso, Texas)
PGA Professional Tim Krebs, the former General Manager at East Potomac Golf Course, in Washington, D.C., was honored with the 2015 PGA Player Development Award for his commitment to growing the game of golf at the Section and national levels. The 18-year PGA Professional has been a member of the Middle Atlantic Section Player Development Committee since 2012. He received the Player Development Award at the Section level in 2013—and has led numerous development programs over his career that have attracted nearly 20,000 participants and driven nearly $2 million of revenue growth since 2009. In 2014, his Get Golf Ready program, which introduces new players to the game over six weeks of instruction, attracted more than 1,500 participants. Over the past five years, nearly 6,500 students have participated. Krebs’ 2015 national award is his first. He currently serves as PGA General Manager at Butterfield Trail Golf Club in El Paso, Texas.
DAVID WINDSOR, PGA – PATRIOT AWARD (36:40)
Adaptive Golf Academy – Sarasota, Florida
In recognition of his personification of patriotism through the game of golf, David Windsor, PGA Director of Golf at the Adaptive Golf Academy in Sarasota, Florida, was honored with the 2015 Patriot Award. He has instructed adaptive golf classes every week for the past 15 years, designed for physically or cognitively challenged juniors, adults and disabled Veterans. The idea was sparked after being invited to work alongside a local therapist to introduce golf as a means of rehabilitation. Gaining extensive knowledge and program experience in these processes, Windsor developed the Adaptive Golf Academy in 2006, as the education platform to train PGA Professionals (and physical/occupational and recreational therapists) on the underlying attributes of the game. He also gave instruction on how to conduct community programs with continuity, safety and effectiveness. Ultimately, the developing programs allow for veterans and individuals with mobility and cognitive challenges to enjoy golf and seamlessly assimilate into their communities. The Adaptive Golf Academy often collaborates with PGA REACH, the charitable foundation of the PGA of America. As golf is a proven activity that positively impacts the lives of military veterans nationwide, Windsor was integral in the growth of PGA HOPE (Helping Our Patriots Everywhere), the signature military program of PGA REACH. Windsor is often responsible for training PGA Professionals in new PGA HOPE markets, to ensure all instructors are comfortable working with Veterans that may be dealing with challenges, such as TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury), PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), SCI (Spinal Cord Injury) or the loss of limbs. Windsor began the Tampa VA Hospital adaptive golf programming in 2007, with the help of PGA Professional Ken Juhn of Terrace Hill Golf Club, and has since expanded programming to 11 locations across the country, including eight VA hospitals. Windsor received the North Florida PGA Section (NFPGA) Patriot Award in 2011 and 2014, along with recognition as NFPGA Teacher of the Year in 2008.
MILES BLUNDELL– PGA MERCHANDISER OF THE YEAR (RESORT FACILITIES) (47:44)
Turning Stone Resort Casino – Verona, New York
Miles Blundell, PGA Director of Golf Operations at Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, New York, is the recipient of the 2015 PGA Merchandiser of the Year for Resort Facilities. Blundell is a two-time winner of the Central New York PGA Section Merchandiser of the Year Award, taking home honors in 2010 and 2011. In addition, Blundell has previously won the Section's Bill Strausbaugh Award (2014) and Junior Golf Leader Award (2011). Blundell is in charge of Turning Stone’s five separate golf shops, ranging from 945-square feet up to roughly 5,000-square feet. In 2014, the shops’ total gross merchandise sales set another facility record, bringing the average increase in sales to more than eight percent in Blundell’s tenure at the resort. His current position at Turning Stone is his second stint at the resort, and he has served at four different facilities. From 2009-2012, Blundell served as its PGA Head Golf Professional. He became a PGA member in 2005, and a PGA Master Professional in 2011.
JIM HAJEK – PGA MERCHANDISER OF THE YEAR (PUBLIC FACILITIES) (57:23)
Fossil Trace Golf Club – Golden, Colorado
In his 13th year as PGA Head Professional at Fossil Trace Golf Club in Golden, Colorado, Jim Hajek was named the winner of the 2015 PGA Merchandiser of the Year in the Public Facilities category. Hajek was the recipient of the 2007, 2012 and 2014 Colorado PGA Section Merchandiser of the Year Awards and has employed nine assistants who have since advanced to PGA Head Professional positions. Including Hajek, 12 members make up the staff of the 790-square-foot golf shop at Fossil Trace. The shop is open year-round to the public and includes four large apparel displays, spacious vertical shelves for displaying golf bags and a clubfitting program, among other features. According to Hajek, merchandising is a role that he happily embraces, due to the opportunity it gives him to make substantial financial differences at the club, while positively affecting its members’ loyalty and satisfaction. In 2014, Fossil Trace saw a 16 percent increase in sales over the previous year. Prior to Fossil Trace, Hajek was PGA Head Professional at Foothills Golf Course in Denver from 1994-2003. He was also a PGA First Assistant Professional at The Meadows Golf Club in Littleton, Colorado, from 1992-1994; and a 2nd Assistant Professional at Foothills, from 1990-1992.
JASON EPSTEIN – PGA MERCHANDISER OF THE YEAR (PRIVATE FACILITIES) (1:07:07)
The Club at Las Campanas – Santa Fe, New Mexico
Jason Epstein, PGA Director of Golf at The Club at Las Campanas, in Santa Fe, New Mexico, is the recipient of the 2015 PGA Merchandiser of the Year for Private Facilities. Epstein is in his fifth year at Las Campanas. Winner of the past three Sun County PGA Section Merchandiser of the Year-Private Facilities Awards, Epstein manages a 2,000-square-foot golf shop that is open year-round and is composed of an eight-member internal staff. Under Epstein’s management, the golf shop has undergone major changes in product mix, fashion and quality of displays, which Epstein believes presents a more professional presentation that helps speak to the club’s “credibility, integrity and attention to detail.” With constant alterations in display appearances and the elimination of excessive inventory, Las Campanas has seen increased sales each year that Epstein has worked at the facility. Epstein has been able to effectively mentor his staff, while ensuring that his entire team is involved in the retail process from beginning to end. Moreover, to ensure that members continue to feel at home at Las Campanas’ golf shop, Epstein has developed a buying plan and attends numerous merchandise shows annually, including the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, PGA Fall Expo and local Sun County PGA Section Shows. Prior to joining Las Campanas in 2011, Epstein was PGA Director of Golf at Tucker’s Point Club from 2008-2011, in Bermuda and PGA Head Professional at Pawley’s Plantation in Pawley’s Island, South Carolina, from 2007-2008. He began his career as PGA Head Professional at the Biltmore Hotel in Miami in 1995. Under his employment at all four clubs, six of his assistants have gone on to become PGA Head Professionals. Epstein fully embraces mentoring, as 12 assistants have achieved PGA membership status while working at Las Campanas. Similarly, Epstein is a strong advocate of PGA internship programs, with 40 interns assisting with the operation over the past five seasons.
RUSS LIBBY, PGA – HORTON SMITH AWARD (1:17:00)
Hidden Hills Country Club – Jacksonville, Florida
Russ Libby, PGA General Manager at Hidden Hills Country Club in Jacksonville, Florida, is the recipient of the 2015 Horton Smith Award. The Award recognizes PGA members who exhibit exemplary contributions toward the education of PGA Professionals. Libby has spent 12 of his 23 years as a PGA Professional at Hidden Hills, where he has earned four North Florida PGA (NFPGA) Section Awards, including PGA Professional of the Year (2000), the Bill Strausbaugh Award (2012) and the Horton Smith Award (2014, 2015). He was elected to the NFPGA Hall of Fame in 2011, for his ongoing contributions to the Section. Libby has served for 19 years continuously on the Chapter, Section and National levels of the PGA of America. He has been the chairman of the Mentoring and Education committees of the Northern Chapter of the NFPGA since 2011, and has held all of the governing chairs at the Chapter and Section level. From a national standpoint, Libby has served on the Board of Control (2007-2011) and is in his first year on the PGA Employment Committee. He also has taken past roles on the PGA Special Awards Committee, Golf 2.0 Strategic Team and PGA PerformanceTrak Committee, among others.
BRAD CLAYTON, PGA – DEACON PALMER AWARD (1:27:38)
Puzzle Duck Golf – Oxford, North Carolina
Brad Clayton, a PGA Master Professional in Teaching, at Puzzle Duck Golf, in Oxford, North Carolina, is the recipient of the 2015 Deacon Palmer Award that honors a PGA Professional’s special display of integrity, character and leadership, in an effort to overcome a major obstacle in his or her life. After 13 years of either working as a PGA Assistant Professional, teaching or competing in various U.S. mini tours and competitions in Europe, Clayton lost his hand in an accident in 2000, when his shirt was caught in an auger that was digging holes for the net posts of his new Teaching and Learning Center. Clayton was transported to Duke University Hospital where he was able to keep his elbow after five surgeries and a week of four hours per day in a hyperbaric chamber. Despite the accident and the difficult journey that ensued, Clayton maintains that losing his hand, behind the birth of his two children, Nickolas and Winona, was the best thing that ever happened to him. His reasoning was the accident has provided opportunities for him to bond with individuals with similar circumstances – especially veterans – and spread a positive message through golf and horseback riding. A PGA member since 1992, Clayton is now a full-time teacher, maintains his golf range and is a volunteer in many events within the Carolinas PGA Section. He currently serves on the Section’s Teaching and Coaching Committee, was named Carolinas PGA Section Teacher of the Year in 2008, and has been actively involved with many clinics and programs focusing on veterans in golf.
BILL HUGHES, PGA – BILL STRAUSBAUGH AWARD (1:38:11)
TPC Sawgrass – Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida
Bill Hughes, PGA Master Professional and the General Manager at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, is the winner of the 2015 Bill Strausbaugh Award, which acknowledges a PGA Professional’s outstanding display of integrity, character and leadership in their commitment towards mentoring others within the Association. Hughes, a PGA member for 32 years, and a PGA Master Professional since 1995, has served at TPC Sawgrass for the last nine years. A two-time winner of the Bill Strausbaugh Award at the North Florida PGA Section level, Hughes has mentored hundreds of aspiring and current PGA Professionals. Hughes has maintained a strong voice on local advisory councils, which includes serving on the North Florida PGA Foundation Board for the past nine years. During his tenure on the Foundation Board, Hughes has aided in transforming it into one of the nation’s leading non-profit junior golf organizations. He helped shape the current junior tour, which provides numerous levels at an affordable cost. Drawing from his own experiences in junior golf as a teenager, Hughes credits the enjoyable and educational benefits of the program as key factors in contributing to the growth of the game of golf. Hughes also serves as a board member of several non-profit organizations in North Florida, such as Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), Heal Every Autistic Life (HEAL) and True Blue: Navy Families Benefactors.
CAMERON MCCORMICK – PGA TEACHER OF THE YEAR (1:47:36)
Brook Hollow Golf Club – Dallas, Texas
Cameron McCormick, PGA Professional and Director of Instruction at Brook Hollow Golf Club in Dallas, has seen his 12 years of instruction pay off nicely in 2015, as the newly-minted PGA Teacher of the Year has also seen one of his highest-profile students excel on the game's biggest stages. For the past nine years, McCormick has worked with second-ranked golfer Jordan Spieth, winner of the 2015 Masters and U.S. Open, as his exclusive instructor in all aspects of the game. With Spieth’s mounting success this year, the golfer has given much of the credit to McCormick.
“I have complete trust in anything he says, he’s my swing coach, putting coach, short game coach, mental coach, everything,” said Spieth. “He’s a very special teacher, somebody who I think is just going to get bigger and bigger, and you’re going to see him with a lot of Tour players in the future.”
McCormick, an Australian native, has been a member of the PGA since 2003 with a certification in Teaching & Coaching. He was hired at Brook Hollow Golf Club in 2004, and has since built a client base of more than 350 students, while averaging approximately 1,800 hours of instruction per year.
Among his various teaching initiatives at Brook Hollow, McCormick runs a junior development program that cultivates skill development from basic-to-advanced levels with a long-term outlook toward fostering the growth of the game’s next generation of competitive elite. In addition, McCormick co-founded Birdies for Kids, an initiative that promotes golf to a diverse group of kids in North Texas. Since its founding in 2004, Birdies for Kids has raised $1.42 million for children charities – mostly the Northern Texas PGA Junior Golf Foundation – with McCormick serving as the leading fundraiser in 10 of 11 years.
McCormick will begin a new position this year as PGA Director of Instruction at Trinity Forrest Golf Club.
In addition to Spieth, McCormick has taught a wide range of ranked golfers from the PGA Tour, LPGA and amateur circuits, including Nathan Green (Winner of the 2009 Canadian Open), Mina Harigae (LPGA), Austin Connelly (Amateur, No. 17) and Will Zalatoris (2014 U.S. Junior Amateur Champion). Six of the current top 75 ranked juniors in the United States also work with McCormick, including 2015 U.S. Junior Amateur Champion Philip Barbaree.
For his long track record of successfully developing golfers at all levels, McCormick continues to receive national recognition from top golf media outlets. In addition to this latest honor by the PGA of America, he was named one of GOLF Magazine’s Top 100 Teachers in 2015.
TOM HENDERSON – PGA GOLF PROFESSIONAL OF THE YEAR (2:00:53)
Round Hill Club – Greenwich, Connecticut
In almost three decades serving as PGA Head Professional at Round Hill Club, in Greenwich, Connecticut, Tom Henderson has played an integral role in the growth and development of the facility, the Metropolitan PGA Section and the PGA of America as a whole. At Round Hill, Henderson has promoted numerous initiatives, with the goal of developing golfers at a young age. Most recently, Henderson introduced PGA Junior League Golf to the club, offering a well-structured way to socialize the game for both boys and girls. Throughout his 29 years at Round Hill, Henderson has also encouraged play among new women golfers through the Young Women’s Golf Association and has helped develop high school and college-level golfers via his seven-week Junior Golf School. One of Round Hill’s most recent junior students, Matt Camel, competed in April’s Drive, Chip, & Putt competition at Augusta National and finished fifth in his age division.
Nationally, Henderson serves on the PGA Board of Control. He has also served on the Player Development Committee, which upholds the PGA’s goal of promoting golf’s enjoyment and development nationwide. Henderson co-chaired the PGA Instruction Committee from 2009-2011, and helped successfully revive the PGA Teaching & Coaching Summit, by returning it to Orlando during the PGA Merchandise Show week. In 2013, Henderson also co-chaired that same Summit.
Henderson’s leadership skills have been showcased at the Section level since 1995, as he’s held office in the Metropolitan PGA Section as Honorary President, President, 1st Vice President, Treasurer and Secretary. Currently, Henderson serves as the Chairman of the Section’s Nominating Committee, where he is tasked with helping select, and to an extent, mentor some of the PGA’s future leaders. Since 2009, Henderson has also served on the Board of Rush Creek Golf Club in Maple Grove, Minnesota, after being personally nominated by one of his members who purchased the club. In this unique role, Henderson is given the opportunity to share his own knowledge and experiences as a PGA Head Professional, in order to ensure the club’s continued growth.
Henderson has been a PGA member since 1984. He earned the first-ever PGA Certified Professional Program (CPP 2.0) designation in the area of Player Development in 2013. With the help of his mentoring, eight of his former assistants have become Head Professionals.
For his contributions to his Section, Henderson was awarded the 2011 Metropolitan PGA Professional of the Year and has garnered five consecutive nominations from the Section for that same national award. He was also awarded the following Metropolitan PGA Section awards: 2013 Player Development Award; 2008, 2009 Ely Callaway Awards; and the 1997 Horton Smith Award for his dedication to professional education. His achievement as the 2015 PGA Golf Professional of the Year is his first national honor.
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