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PGA Professionals Honored During Special Night

In an emotional and inspiring ceremony, a class of eight PGA Members were spotlighted for their career achievements, as the annual PGA of America National Awards Night kicked off the 102nd PGA Annual Meeting at Renaissance Indian Wells (California) Resort & Spa.

Dan Pasternak, the PGA General Manager at Essex Fells (New Jersey) Country Club, was presented the 65th PGA Golf Professional of the Year Award. In addition, James Sieckmann, a 23-year PGA Member in the Nebraska Section and the PGA Director of Instruction at The Golf Academy at Shadow Ridge Country Club in Omaha, was the recipient of the 2018 PGA Teacher of the Year Award for his “outstanding services as a golf teacher, innovator and coach.”

The night also featured two prominent PGA Members battling significant physical setbacks among the Awards class.

Monty Elam, PGA Director of Golf at Whiteford Valley Golf Club in Ottawa Lake, Michigan, was presented the Deacon Palmer Award for overcoming a hardship to work at a high level. Elam was blinded during what was supposed to be a routine eye surgery. A procedure later restored partial sight in one eye. When asked what motivated him to continue in golf, Elam said, “Being told that I couldn’t do it ... People inspire me every day.”

In addition, Patriot Award recipient Ken Juhn, PGA Head Professional at Terrace Hill Golf Center in Temple Terrace, Florida, is battling Stage 4 cancer. Yet, he regularly continues his work with military veterans through the PGA HOPE (Helping Our Patriots Everywhere) program, which provides golf instruction to military veterans as a means of assimilation and rehabilitation.

“It is extremely special and humbling to receive this award,” said Juhn. “With PGA HOPE, we have an opportunity to express the value of the game and its importance as a rehab tool. We need more programs to help the men and women coming out of battle.”

“In my 30-plus years with the PGA of America, I’ve never experienced a more meaningful moment than the Awards Night last evening,” said PGA President Paul Levy. “It was a moving night and a remarkable ceremony. Congratulations to this outstanding class of PGA Members who serve as consummate PGA Professionals and an inspiration to us all.”

In winning the highest annual honor given to a PGA Golf Professional, Pasternak headed the 2018 PGA National Awards class for “qualities of leadership, strong moral character, and a substantial record of service” to the PGA and the game of golf overall. The first New Jersey PGA Section Member named PGA Golf Professional of the Year, he has served as a New Jersey PGA Section Officer and on virtually every committee in the Section, as well as at the national level on the PGA of America’s Board of Directors. This commitment to volunteerism and service is reinforced by his role as President of the New Jersey Golf Foundation, which he helped launch in 2004, as the charitable arm of the NJPGA. Pasternak was also the national Bill Strausbaugh Award recipient in 2013.

“I’m a big believer in the PGA,” said Pasternak, who offered advice to the next generation of PGA Members. “I believe there’s a lot of opportunity in the business, and people looking to get in this industry should not limit themselves.”

Sieckmann currently instructs 14 PGA Tour, LPGA Tour and Web.com Tour players, including Stewart Cink, Ben Crane, Anirban Lahiri, Cameron Tringale, Ben Martin, Tom Pernice Jr., Duffy Waldorf and 2017 Ricoh Women’s British Open Champion In-Kyung Kim, among others. He has also been named to Golf Digest’s “50 Best Teachers in America” list from 2015-2018.

“Many have inspired me but [PGA Tour Professional] Tom Pernice was the first to say to me, ‘You’re my guy,’ explained Sieckmann. “Golf is a lot like life. You are always working on yourself.”

A total of eight PGA Members were honored throughout the evening:* (Click on the links below to watch the winner's presentation and video)

In addition, the Herb Graffis Award will be officially presented Thursday, Nov. 8, to the Colorado PGA Section during the 2018 PGA Annual Meeting. The three PGA Merchandisers of the Year will be honored at the 2019 PGA Magazine Merchandiser of the Year Conference in January, prior to the 2019 PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando. 

  • Private Facilities: Nick Muller, PGA, C.C. of Lincoln (Neb.)
  • Public Facilities: Mark Rashell, PGA, The G.C. at Newcastle (Wash.)
  • Resort Facilities: Erik Wilson, PGA, Fairmont Grand G.C.- San Diego

For bios and information on the individual award winners, click here