The standing ovation cascading throughout the Indian Wells Renaissance Resort came in waves, as Suzy Whaley, the first woman elected president of the PGA of America, made her way to the stage, on Nov. 9.
Whaley, a PGA/LPGA member, whose career is a series of milestones in Association history, was elected a day before her 52nd birthday. She is the PGA Director of Instruction at Suzy Whaley Golf in Cromwell, Connecticut; and the PGA Director of Instruction at The Country Club of Mirasol in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.
Delegates at the 102nd PGA Annual Meeting also elected Jim Richerson as PGA Vice President. He is also the Vice President of Operations for Troon®, in Scottsdale, Arizona. John Lindert of Grand Ledge, Michigan, the PGA Director of Golf at The Country Club of Lansing (Michigan), was elected PGA Secretary. Also, Paul Levy, President and CEO of PKL Golf Management and Club Services, in Indian Wells, California—who served as the 40th PGA President—assumes the role of PGA Honorary President. He succeeds Derek Sprague, PGA, who completed his two-year term.
As Whaley found her seat, outgoing PGA Honorary President Derek Sprague – who was overseeing the officer election – looked at the 41st PGA President and his voice slightly cracked. “There aren’t enough adjectives...to describe this week. So, I will use one that we all came to know: ‘Amazeable.’ ”
It could be a novel way to describe Whaley’s meteoric rise within the PGA and golf industry. But its origin was traced for attendees at the PGA National Awards ceremony. PGA Player Development Award recipient Marvol Barnard of Green Valley, Arizona, said her nephew, Cody Putzier, then a precocious age 6, had difficulty with “amazing.” So, he latched upon “Amazeable.”
Meanwhile, Whaley recalled her “journey to this moment,” which began with her mother, who opened the door to golf for her; and then led to her first coach, PGA Hall of Famer Joe Tesori of Syracuse, New York, who presented opportunities for women in golf.
Then, there were trailblazers like Sue Fiscoe, the first woman PGA Member to attain PGA Section presidency (Northern California); Mary Bea Porter King, the 2011 PGA First Lady of Golf; Alice Dye, the first woman member of the PGA Board of Directors; and PGA Hall of Famer Renee Powell, PGA/LPGA, of East Canton, Ohio, the first African-American female PGA Member, who is also in the first class of women honorary members of the Royal & Ancient Golf Club in St. Andrews, Scotland.
“Renee encouraged me, but more than that, challenged me to sit at a table where no one else looked like me,” said Whaley. “We had a conversation about the importance of giving back to the PGA, and again, she looked at me and said, ‘You need to do this; you can do this. Let’s go!’
“It’s a turning point in our history that affords all of us a chance to play and lead. Now, I’m here for you and for the long haul,” added Whaley. “Together, I know that we can all get clubs in people’s hands. We must come together and focus on what we have in common – a love of golf and a shared obligation for what is best for the PGA of America.
“Thank you for putting your trust in me. I’m ready, and as Renee would say, ‘Let’s go!’ ”
As Whaley’s march to history played out, PGA Delegates were presented a vision for teaching golf’s next generation, as Development Consultant Dr. Stephen Norris addressed the “Future of Coaching.”
“Evolving to fit the changing world of consumers leads to success,” said Norris, who worked with Team Canada’s Olympic Hockey program. “Communication allows groups to find solutions. With the collective experience of your 29,000 PGA Professionals and the Association, you should be able to solve every golf issue. It just requires effective communication and the opportunity for all your diverse minds to share your experiences.”
Will Robins, a PGA Certified Professional of Granite Bay, California, then outlined “Coaching Success,” which emanates from his WRGolf Coaching program. He is also the CEO of Robins Golf Logistix, overseeing 80 coaches across 12 countries. “If the PGA wants to successfully lead the golf industry for the next 100 years, we must be willing to change, to adapt, to stay relevant…You have to transform the industry, if you want to continue to lead it.”>
Diversity and Inclusion expert Tara Jaye Frank challenged delegates to learn how we can all think about inclusion—relative to our everyday lives and work. “In order to grow the game, you need to include people who have traditionally not been well represented… As demographics continue to shift, that will be required to get clubs in people’s hands.”
Delegates overwhelmingly approved the one Resolution put forth, modifying the deadline to submit resolutions from July 1 to Sept. 1. A task force discussion on the future makeup of PGA governance was held. Conversations on the subject will continue.>
PGA Board of Directors
Five PGA Members - Bill Troyanoski, John Bridgeman, Nathan Charnes, Terry Russell and Tony Martinez - were elected to the Board of Directors. Each Director will serve a three-year term. Also sworn in as an Independent Director was Andrea B. Smith, Chief Administrative Officer for Bank of America. The Board is composed of the Association’s President, Vice President, Secretary, Honorary President, and 17 Directors. The Directors include representatives from each of the PGA’s 14 Districts, two Independent Directors and a member of the PGA Tour. New District Directors are elected by their local PGA Sections.
Emotion-filled PGA National Awards Ceremony
In an emotional and inspiring ceremony, a class of eight PGA Members were celebrated for their career achievements at the annual PGA of America National Awards Night.
Dan Pasternak, the PGA General Manager at Essex Fells (New Jersey) Country Club, was presented the 65th PGA Golf Professional of the Year Award. 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 Colorado PGA Section was presented its first Herb Graffis Award, on Nov. 8, which capped off a year in which its Members–led by Section President Ty Thompson—collaborated with state golf organizations to benefit youth, military Veterans, and diversity and inclusion. Colorado’s Golf in Schools program, a joint effort with the Colorado Open Golf Foundation, introduces the game to more than 10,000 kids each year. Additionally, Colorado oversees a PGA Jr. League that features more than 132 teams and involving more than 2,000 boys and girls.
To read about the award recipients and watch video of the award presentations, click here.
Presentations from the Annual Meeting
Additional videos will be posted here within the week.
- Lifelong Learning and PGA Journeys (40:08)
- Task Force (72:49)
- Rules Presentation (64:40)
- A More Inclusive Future (45:23)
- Future of Coaching
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