|2009 PGA National Award Recipients|
|The 2009 PGA Award recipients will be recognized at The PGA of America Awards, Thursday, Jan. 28, 2010, during the 57th PGA Merchandise Show at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla.|
PGA Golf Professional of the Year
The PGA head professional at Meridian Hills Country Club in Indianapolis, Ind., Jack Barber follows the late Don Padgett II as the only Indiana PGA Section Professionals to receive the Association's highest annual honor.
Barber is a native of Ashland, Ky., who grew up as an ardent fan of the Cincinnati Reds and didn't begin playing golf until age 14.
Playing golf until dark, putting under the lights of a car, Barber was unable to afford golf lessons. He gave up a dream to be a professional baseball player while he improved his golf skills and went on to help Russell High School finish runner-up in the 1968 Kentucky State High School Golf Championship. He then earned a golf scholarship to Eastern Kentucky University where he competed all four years and graduated in 1972. During the summer, Barber competed in the U.S. Amateur and Western Amateur Championships.
Barber married his high school sweetheart, Becky Salyer, and began his professional career as a non-member head professional at nine-hole Ironton (Ohio) Country Club, where he handled all duties with the exception of course superintendent. In 1974, he accepted an invitation from a former Eastern Kentucky assistant coach turned PGA Professional, John Dunham, to serve as an assistant at Highland Golf and Country Club in Indianapolis.
After two years at Highland, Barber was hired at age 27 as the head professional at Lexington (Ky.) Country Club. One month on the job, Barber was faced with a career-challenging moment.
"One member of the club complained to a board member that they had hired a kid to do a man's job," said Barber, now 59. "I heard that and was more determined than ever to show that they had made the best decision. After one year, that member came to me and apologized. He became a close friend during the next eight years and one of my biggest supporters at the club."
Barber was named the 1981 Kentucky PGA Horton Smith Award winner and the 1985 Kentucky PGA Golf Professional of the Year. He also served on the Kentucky PGA Board of Directors, and as Section president in 1984-85.
When the Meridian Hills Country Club post opened in late 1985, Barber was asked to submit an application one day before the deadline. The following morning, Jack went to work as usual while Becky made the three-hour drive from Lexington to Indianapolis to deliver her husband's résumé. Barber was interviewed, hired, and began work on Jan. 1, 1986. He has been there ever since.
"Becky is definitely the pillar of strength for our family," said Barber. "The demanding job of golf professional requires long hours from me and unlimited patience and understanding from my wife. In my absence, she provided the strength and guidance for our two sons of whom I am most proud. My wife and sons have always been there supporting me every step of the way."
One case of interacting with his club personnel, Barber says, helped enrich his career. Two weeks after being hired at Meridian Hills, Barber took the lead in guiding a longtime club employee, 25 years his senior, out of alcoholism and into a rehabilitation program.
Barber would give the eulogy at the employee's funeral and later established a fundraising tournament in memory of the employee.
"I was blessed to be in the position that I was, to show compassion for others," said Barber. "One of my concerns about the golf business is that we need to get back to the business of taking care of the people. We need to get out from behind the counter or from behind the desk and take care of golfers who have come to enjoy our facilities and our game. I stress how important that is to anyone I've hired. We can have such a tremendous influence on people's lives."
Since taking the job at Meridian Hills Country Club, Barber has mentored 20 assistant professionals and countless club personnel. Currently, nine of Barber's former assistants are now PGA head professionals.
In the Indiana PGA Section, Barber is a three-time Section Merchandiser of the Year award recipient; the 1993 Section Teacher of the Year; 1996 Golf Professional of the Year and the 2003 Bill Strausbaugh Award winner. Barber has served on multiple Indiana PGA Section committees and the 1985 PGA Education Committee.
Among Barber's on-course successes include his winning the 1978 Kentucky State Open, and finishing runner-up in 1979; competing from 1979 to 1986 in the PGA Professional National Championship; and capturing the 1983 Kentucky PGA Match Play Championship and the 2002 Indiana Senior PGA Championship.
During his tenure at Meridian Hills Country Club, Barber is often asked to speak to various groups, and he often uses his "Hat" presentation. "One of the things that excited me is the number of hats that PGA Professionals wear," said Barber.
"I brought a variety of hats and pulled them out one at a time and put them on my head while speaking about being a teacher, player, merchandiser, businessman, Rules official, accountant, etc. Of all the hats we wear, it is vitally important that I wear each of them very well."
Jack and Becky, who have been married for 38 years, live in Indianapolis, and are the parents of sons, Jason, 30, and Jesse, 27. Jason and his wife, Jenny Ann, are parents to Barber's first granddaughter, Addisyn Brooke.
PGA Teacher of the Year
Mike Bender, 53, is the owner and Master Instructor of the Mike Bender Golf Academy in Lake Mary, Fla. An 18-year member of The PGA of America, Bender is the second member of the North Florida PGA Section and first native Iowan to be named recipient of the PGA Teacher of the Year Award. The award was established in 1986, honoring outstanding teachers of golf among The PGA of America membership.
Born in Waterloo, Iowa, Bender was the 1986 Iowa PGA Section Player of the Year, and later earned the 1995 North Florida PGA Player of the Year honor. He is a five-time North Florida PGA Teacher of the Year, being recognized in 1995, '96, '98, 2005 and '07.
Since 1996, Bender has been recognized as one of GOLF Magazine's Top 100 Teachers, and is currently ranked No. 9 on Golf Digest's Top 50 Greatest Teachers list. Over the past two years, GOLF Magazine has rated the Mike Bender Golf Academy one of the Top 25 Golf Schools in America.
Bender's award-winning teaching style comes from a childhood as a "tinkerer." He would dismantle, then reassemble, radios, televisions, bicycles and anything that could be taken apart and put back together. It was this mechanical aptitude, an eye for detail and a passion for golf that have combined to allow him to become one of the top instructors in the game.
Bender further developed his skills at California State-Stanislaus, a Division III program. During his three years competing for the school, he won back-to-back NCAA Division III national individual titles. In 1979, Bender's Division III national champion status earned him a berth in the NCAA Division I Championship. He finished third, beating players such as Fred Couples, Bob Tway and Joey Sindelar.
Bender turned professional later that year and played on the mini-tours for several years. In 1985, he worked for PGA Professional Ed Schumann at Sunnyside Country Club in Waterloo, Iowa, where he held his first teaching position.
At the 1986 PGA Tour Qualifying School, Bender earned his playing privileges and went on to play on the Tour for three consecutive seasons, from 1987-89.
While he was competing, Bender spent significant time with teaching professionals Mike Adams, Ben Doyle, David Leadbetter and Mac O'Grady, all of whom have been ranked among the 50 Greatest Teachers in America by Golf Digest. It was while working with these teachers that Bender's swing theories were refined.
After his PGA Tour career, Bender returned to Iowa for two seasons to pursue a teaching career as PGA director of instruction at Brooks Resort in Spirit Lake, Iowa. Bender ran the junior golf program, group clinics and golf schools. In 1992, he opened his own academy at Timacuan Golf and Country Club in Lake Mary, Fla.
In 2006, Bender opened the Mike Bender Elite Golf Academy at Sarabande Golf Club in Howey-in-the-Hills, Fla., for competitive junior golfers from around the world. Earlier this year, he opened the second Mike Bender Elite Golf Academy in Korea's largest practice facility, the Sky72 Dream Range, near Seoul, South Korea.
Bender has taught nearly two dozen PGA, Champions and LPGA Tour professionals. Leading this list is his decade-long coaching relationship with Zach Johnson, the 2007 Masters Champion.
Other Tour professionals who have utilized Bender's counsel include: two-time U.S. Open Champion Lee Janzen; Mark Hensby; Jonathan Byrd; Robert Damron; 2008 Futures Tour leading money-winner Vicki Hurst; four-time LPGA Tour winner Seon Hwa Lee; and Nationwide Tour standout D.J. Brigman. Bender's expertise also has crossed into other professional arenas, attracting major league baseball greats Jim Kaat and Hal Morris; and NBA stars Matt Goukas, Brad Dougherty and Jason Williams.
Bender and his wife, Mary Anne, live in Lake Mary, Fla., and are parents of Jason, Emily and Hannah.
Horton Smith Award
A contributor to PGA education for more than four decades, PGA Teaching Professional Derek Hardy is the third member of the Southern California PGA Section to be named the national Horton Smith Award winner. The award, established in 1965 and named for the late Past PGA President and inaugural Masters Champion, gives special recognition to an individual PGA Golf Professional for outstanding and continuing contributions to professional education.
Hardy, 76, shares a PGA history with his older brother, John, a PGA Life Member from Murrieta, Calif. As of March 2009, the "Hardy Boys" officially became the first brother combination on the West Coast – and third in PGA of America history – to reach PGA Half Century Membership. Derek was elected to PGA membership on Feb. 1, 1958, while John, 82, earned membership on March 16, 1959.
Born in London, England, Derek Hardy came to the United States in 1957 with his brother. While John remained in Southern California, Derek moved on to spend two years working with Dutch Harrison at Old Warson Country Club near St. Louis, site of the 1971 Ryder Cup. When Harrison, a member of three Ryder Cup Teams, received the PGA head professional position at The Olympic Club in San Francisco, he invited Derek to follow as his first assistant.
Hardy's first head professional position came at Sunnyside Country Club in Fresno, Calif., where he served seven seasons. From there, Hardy moved east to the Country Club of Charleston (S.C.) in the early 1970s. He spent 13 years in South Carolina, including six at Snee Farm Country Club in Mount Pleasant.
While in the Carolinas, Hardy became heavily involved in teaching, and spent almost two decades working with The PGA's Business Schools as a faculty member. Hardy also served as a board member, education chairman and won the 1977 Section Horton Smith Award. He would go on to serve 22 years (1974-1992) as a member of the PGA of America Education faculty; was the Carolinas PGA Section representative to the first Employment Conference in 1974; served as instructor at the first PGA Golf Schools (Golf Discovery Schools) in 1985; and was a presenter at the inaugural PGA Teaching & Coaching Summit in 1988.
Hardy later returned to Southern California and became a member of the Section Board of Directors. He won the Section's 2004 Horton Smith and 2007 Bill Strausbaugh Awards, and founded the first Teaching Summit for the Metropolitan Chapter of the Southern California PGA Section. He is now in his third season at Talega Country Club.
Hardy worked for 13 years at Pelican Hill Golf Club in Newport Coast, Calif., and from 1995 through 2000 at The Vintage Club in Indian Wells. He also was head instructor for seven years at the Golf Academy of Japan before arriving at Talega Golf Club.
Hardy and his wife, Diana, live in Santa Ana, Calif. Hardy has a son, Darren, of Charleston, S.C., and a daughter, Doneen.
Bill Strausbaugh Award
Dennis Satyshur, PGA director of golf at Caves Valley Golf Club in Owings Mills, Md., is the recipient of the 2009 Bill Strausbaugh Award for distinguished efforts in mentoring other PGA Professionals and supporting them in both employment and through community service.
Satyshur, 59, is a 30-year member of The PGA of America and is the second member of the Middle Atlantic PGA Section to be named recipient of the national Bill Strausbaugh Award. The award was established in 1979, and named for the late Middle Atlantic PGA Master Professional.
Born in Erie, Pa., and one of seven children, Satyshur was a standout in football and basketball in high school. He caddied for his father at Lawrence Park Golf Club near Erie, but didn't take up golf in earnest until he was about 12 or 13 years old. He was an all-state quarterback and basketball point guard, and in his senior year also won the Pennsylvania State High School Golf Championship.
He attended Duke University on a football scholarship and captained his team his senior year, leading his squad to a 6-3 record over that period until he suffered a season-ending injury. He also competed on the Duke golf team.
After leaving Duke, Satyshur turned professional, competing on the mini-tours in Florida and making two attempts to earn a PGA Tour playing card. During the summer of 1972, he met Tom Kite, and the two became lifelong friends. In 1997, Kite was named U.S. Ryder Cup Captain and asked Satyshur to be his assistant captain.
Satyshur spent three years, 1977-79, at Columbia Country Club under the direction of Strausbaugh before taking a position as PGA head professional at Bent Pine Golf Club in Vero Beach, Fla. In 1984, Satyshur was hired as PGA head professional at Baltimore Country Club at Five Farms, where he remained until 1990, when he accepted his current position at Caves Valley Golf Club.
Satyshur has had 29 former assistants under his direction who have gone on to work as either PGA head professionals or PGA directors of instruction.
During Satyshur's term of service at Caves Valley, the club has hosted premier national events, including the 2002 U.S. Senior Open, the 1995 U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship and the 2005 men's and 2009 women's NCAA Division I Championships. Additionally, Caves Valley has set up a Caddie Scholarship Fund, in which he has been very involved since its inception.
The past 12 years, Satyshur has been a member of the board of directors of the Mother Seton Academy, an inner-city school, and is the chairman of the board of the Baltimore Youth Alliance, which specializes in tutoring inner-city youngsters on how to successfully approach and improve on college board exam scores. There are more than 80 children attending the after-school and weekend classes, a program which has produced six college graduates and two graduate school students.
Satyshur and his wife, Connie, live in Timonium, Md. He is the parent of a daughter, Nikki, 32, and a son, Michael, 29.
PGA Junior Golf Leader Award
Vikki Vanderpool, a PGA Professional and president of Approaching the Green, a golf consulting company in Murfreesboro, Tenn., has been named the recipient of the 2009 PGA Junior Golf Leader Award.
Vanderpool, 38, is an 11-year member of The PGA of America and is the second member of the Tennessee PGA Section to be named recipient of the national PGA Junior Golf Leader Award. The award was established in 1988, recognizing the PGA Professional who is a leader in junior golf and who reflects the ideals of those who work with youth.
Born in Nashville, Tenn., Vikki (Valentine) Vanderpool, is the daughter of a military officer and who first picked up a golf club at age 8, while her father was stationed in Guantanomo Bay, Cuba. She would go on to spend most of her youth in Virginia Beach, Va.
She attended the University of South Carolina on a golf scholarship and graduated with a degree in retailing while also competing in the Virginia State Amateur and several U.S. Amateur and U.S. Girls' Junior Championships. In 1999, Vanderpool captured the Carolinas Women's Open.
Vanderpool made three attempts to advance through LPGA Qualifying School, before accepting a position in 1992 at Fords Colony Country Club in Williamsburg, Va. During the next two years, she also served as golf coach of the women's team at The College of William & Mary.
In 1995, Vanderpool joined PGA Head Professional Roy Pace at Wee Burn Country Club in Darien, Conn., where she served until 1996, and also assisted Pace in his winter golf schools at Windsor Golf Club in Vero Beach, Fla.
Vanderpool accepted an assistant professional position in 1997 at Siwanoy Country Club in Bronxville, N.Y., and also assisted PGA Professional Grant Turner in winter golf schools. Vanderpool moved to the Carolinas PGA Section in 1999, spending two seasons at Carolina Trace Country Club in Stanford, N.C., and followed with three seasons under the guidance of the legendary Peggy Kirk Bell at Pine Needles Resort in Southern Pines, N.C.
In 2003, Vanderpool began a five-year term at The Little Course at Conner Lane in Franklin, Tenn., a facility affiliated with Golf House Tennessee and owned by the Tennessee Golf Foundation.
While working at The Little Course, Vanderpool met her future husband, Matthew Vanderpool, the executive director of the Tennessee Golf Association.
Among the many programs that Vanderpool has helped start include the Tennessee Girls Golf Network, featuring an advisory staff that includes coaches, PGA Professionals and college golfers; The Little Course Junior Golf Association and the Fall Golf League, an eight-week program to encourage intermediate golfers to take their game to the next level.
Vanderpool's previous honors include winning the 2005 and 2006 PGA of America President's Council Awards; and the 2006 Tennessee PGA Junior Golf Leader and Middle Tennessee Chapter Junior Golf Leader Awards. U.S. Kids Golf named Vanderpool a Top 50 Master Kids Teacher in 2008.
Beginning this year, Vanderpool started her own consulting company, Approaching the Green, which supports women's golf, merchandising and junior programs.
Vikki and Matthew live in Murfreesboro, Tenn.
Kyle Heyen, PGA head professional since 1985 at Hiwan Golf Club in Evergreen, Colo., is the recipient of the 2009 PGA President's Plaque for extraordinary and exemplary contributions in player development. Heyen, 52, is a 27-year member of The PGA of America and is the first member of the Colorado PGA Section to earn the President's Plaque, which was established in 1982, and in 2006 became a special award that supports Play Golf America initiatives.
Born in Hastings, Neb., Heyen spent most of his youth in Westminster, Colo. His first exposure to golf was at age 14 at Hyland Hills Golf Course in Westminster. After graduating from high school, Heyen went to work at Indian Tree Golf Course where he started his apprenticeship in The PGA of America. He would gain invaluable counsel, he said, under the direction of former national Horton Smith Award winner Jim Bailey and past PGA Golf Professional of the Year Vic Kline.
He was elected to PGA membership at age 25 in 1982, which came two years after being hired at Hiwan Golf Club, where he has steadily guided the club into featuring one of the most successful list of player development programs of any private club in the country. In 1991-92, Heyen coordinated the Colorado PGA Golf Academy, which included five past PGA Teachers of the Year and attracted amateurs as well as Section PGA Professionals.
Heyen, one of the most active members of the Colorado PGA Section, would serve from 2004-06 as section president, and from 2006 to 2008 as co-chairman of the PGA National Governance Committee. He has been a member of the President's Council since its inception in 2003. He also is a current member of the PGA Board of Control.
Heyen was the recipient of the 2005 and '06 Colorado PGA Golf Professional of the Year award, the 2007 Section President's Plaque and is a four-time Section Horton Smith Award winner.
While maintaining a heavy schedule of Play Golf America programs at Hiwan Golf Club, Heyen also initiated several programs on his own, including a high school program in the winter months, junior golf lessons for non-members and a three-hour program in 2006 for inner-city youth in which 30 at-risk teenagers from the Shaka Franklin Foundation received two hours of instruction along with partial sets of golf clubs donated to the Foundation.
Heyen met his wife, Cheryl, at a golf course and would soon begin to share her interest in running on the open road. Cheryl encouraged her husband to attempt a marathon, and the 5-foot-11, 160-pounder steadily increased his stamina to have run the grueling 26-mile, 285-yard event multiple times throughout the past 30 years.
Heyen and Cheryl live in Arvada, Colo., and are the parents of daughters Lynnette and Holly, and have a granddaughter, Jessalyn.
PGA Merchandiser of the Year – Private Facilities
Brian Morrison, 56, PGA head professional at Olympia Fields (Ill.) Country Club, is the third member of the Illinois PGA Section to be named a recipient of the PGA Merchandiser of the Year since the award was established in 1978 to recognize PGA Professionals who have excelled as businesspersons/merchandisers in the promotion of golf.
A native of Kirkwood, Mo., Morrison grew up some 50 yards from the 16th green at Greenbrier Hills Country Club in St. Louis. He began caddying at age 12 and developed his game steadily before he attended the University of Arizona. He majored in radio and television journalism and graduated in 1975.
The day after graduation, Morrison began a club professional career by first serving at Westmoor Country Club in Brookfield, Wis. He moved in 1976 to Oakland Hills Country Club in Bloomfield Township, Mich., and later served under Labron Harris Sr. at Orange Tree Golf Resort in Scottsdale, Ariz. Morrison competed on the mini-tours in Florida and Arizona during the winter.
Elected to PGA of America membership in 1980, Morrison's first head professional position was at Canoe Brook Country Club in Summit, N.J. from 1983-89, followed by one season (1990) at Westchester Country Club in Rye, N.Y., before serving seven years as head professional (1991-97) at Baltimore Country Club at Five Farms.
In 1998, Morrison moved to The Landings Club in Savannah, Ga., where he spent three seasons before arriving in 2001 at Olympia Fields Country Club, some 30 miles southwest of the "Loop" in Chicago. Morrison currently oversees a nine-member golf shop staff.
Morrison and his wife, Catherine, live in Flossmoor, Ill., and are the parents of Caitlin, 22, Derek, 19, and Madeline, 12.
PGA Merchandiser of the Year – Public Facilities
Nevin Phillips, in his third season as PGA director of golf at Mahogany Run Golf Course in St. Thomas, V.I., is the first African-American recipient and first from the Virgin Islands to be named a PGA Merchandiser of the Year.
Phillips, 48, also is the second South Florida PGA Section member to be so honored, following 1992 recipient Tim O'Neal, formerly of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
A native of St. Thomas, Phillips' journey to PGA membership began at age 21, at Mahogany Run Golf Course, a public facility on one of the celebrated resort destinations among the four U.S. Virgin Islands. His introduction to the golf industry in 1980 started in outside services as a golf cart attendant, then moved to outsider service manager and official starter by 1990. Phillips spent the next three years as a sales associate and golf shop buyer.
Phillips was named head golf professional in 1993, which included tournament coordinator and cart fleet manager responsibilities.
In 2002, Phillips was promoted to director of golf while he went through the requirements of attaining PGA of America membership, which he achieved in 2006. Phillips then hired three apprentice professionals, who are currently working toward PGA membership.
Phillips said that his journey to the golf industry was long due to his first trade goal of becoming an electrician. He also loved music, and from age 18 to 30, served as a disk jockey at the St. Thomas nightclub extension of "Studio 54 and Club Z."
Among the highlights of Phillips' term at Mahogany Run has been the opportunity to play golf with special guests, including former President Bill Clinton. But, Phillips listed his PGA membership as perhaps his most memorable accomplishment in his professional career.
Phillips said that Mahogany Run Golf Course's merchandising philosophy in the Caribbean is not that different from other golf facilities.
Dealing with the changes that occur in business, Phillips said, "is what any manager or director must adapt to in staying successful and viable in challenging economic times."
Phillips and his wife, Lourdes, live in St. Thomas. He is the father of a daughter, Tiffany.
PGA Merchandiser of the Year - Resort Facilities
Caroline Basarab-Dennison, PGA manager of retail since 1998 at Sea Pines Resort in Hilton Head Island, S.C., is the first female PGA Professional recipient of a PGA Merchandiser of the Year Award. She is the eighth member of the Carolinas PGA Section to be so honored.
Born in Burlingame, Calif., and the daughter of a Texas metal recovery expert, Basarab-Dennison spent most of her youth in Missouri City, Texas. She played golf at Quail Valley Golf Course and learned the game well enough to earn a full scholarship to compete on the Texas A&M University women's golf team. She was Most Valuable Player her final two years, graduating in 1991.
Basarab-Dennison was an intern at Four Seasons Resort near Dallas from 1991-92, where she learned the golf merchandising trade. She moved to Pine Needles Resort in Southern Pines, N.C., and spent three seasons there. She returned to Texas in 1993, working as an assistant professional at Kingwood Country Club, and in 1996, spent two years as retail manager at TPC the Woodlands Conference Center and Resort near Houston. In November 1998, and having earned PGA membership four months earlier, Basarab-Dennison arrived at Sea Pines Resort.
She oversees two retail managers and works alongside 12 golf professionals at the resort.
Sea Pines Resort features three golf courses, two golf shops, a beach club and a racquet club. During the PGA Tour event, the Verizon Heritage, there is a 4,000-square foot merchandise pavilion along with three satellite pavilions that she oversees.
Basarab-Dennison, 40, and her husband, Danny, a musician and member of "The Headliners" band, live in Hilton Head Island, S.C.
Andy Weissinger, PGA head professional at The Pines Golf Course at Fort Eustis, Va., has been named the recipient of the 2009 Patriot Award.
The award originated in 2008 following the inspiration of Patriot Golf Day founder Major Dan Rooney, a PGA Professional from Broken Arrow, Okla. It is presented by The PGA of America to PGA Professionals who personify and demonstrate unwavering commitment and dedication to the men and women who have valiantly served and protected the United States of America.
Weissinger, 32, who was elected to PGA membership in 2001, will be honored in November at the 93rd PGA Annual Meeting in New Orleans, La.
Weissinger, the recipient of the Middle Atlantic PGA President's Plaque for outstanding contributions in player development, has developed a wide-ranging schedule of programs over the past six seasons at The Pines Golf Course.
In 2007, his success was recognized by the U.S. Army, which selected him to coach its men's and women's golf teams. His innovative programs at Fort Eustis incorporate enlisted soldiers and their families, and the wide-ranging choices of events and programs include: "reintegration clinics" for those service men and women returning from duty; Wounded Warrior golf; a new player mentor program; junior and women's clinics; Couples Golf; a Summer Skills Challenge; "Friday Afternoon Beat the Pro" event; P.T. for Active Duty Soldiers, which has attracted some 100 participants this year; and a pilot fitness program focusing on "speed golf," in conjunction with the Fort Eustis Sports Department.
"Whether or not a person has played golf before, our efforts have been to find a way to help everyone enjoy the game," said Weissinger. "From the very beginning, golf was an outlet for me to get away from things. I can see the same release and feeling of enjoyment for the young enlisted soldiers to the officers who just want to be one of the guys out playing golf and having fun. The opportunity I have to work with these soldiers and their families is so rewarding, and I get energy from seeing them playing the game.
"I remember one soldier who had suffered several strokes, and to see him so excited to be able to hit the ball again was amazing. We have therapists who have worked with the soldiers and they are welcome to be on our range. Their work has helped me learn so much about what we can do in adaptive golf."
Born in Norfolk, Va., Weissinger began playing golf at age 10, when his father, George, drove by a course on a vacation to Cape Cod, Mass, and they stopped for a nine-hole round. Weissinger gradually developed his skills in the game and played two years for the golf team at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va. He graduated in 1998 and turned professional.
His first professional position was as an assistant at Ivy Hill Golf Club in Lynchburg (1997-99), and he later spent two seasons in a similar post at Chesapeake (Va.) Golf Club. He accepted the PGA head professional position at Lake Wright Golf Course in Norfolk in 2001, where he spent a half-season and gained valuable experience before being named to a new post at Honey Bee Golf Club in Virginia Beach, Va. He would remain there for 2½ years before arriving at The Pines Golf Course at Fort Eustis.
Weissinger and his wife, Jennifer, live in Portsmouth, Va., and are the parents of Alex, 8, and Caleb, 5.
Herb Graffs Award MIDWEST PGA SECTION
The Midwest PGA Section, composed of 280 members and apprentices, celebrates its first Herb Graffis Award, presented annually to a PGA Section for extraordinary or exemplary contributions in player development, whether by conducting or supporting Play Golf America initiatives.
The Herb Graffis Award is named in honor of the late golf historian, author, founder of golf magazines, the National Golf Foundation and co-founder of the Golf Writers Association of America. Graffis died at age 95 in 1989.
As of June 23 of this year, the Midwest PGA Section ranked No. 1 among 41 nationwide Sections in participating facilities in Play Golf America programs and PGA Free Lesson Month. The Section was No. 2 in total registered events, President's Council participation and Free Fitting & Trade-Up Month participation.
The Midwest PGA Section excelled in Play Golf America initiatives that included "Play Golf Kansas City," when 41 PGA Professionals gave 21 hours of free 10-minute lessons to more than 6,000 golf enthusiasts at the Kansas City Golf Show.
The Women's Golf EXPO has grown from 120 attendees in its inaugural year (2006), to 272 this year. Twenty-six PGA Professionals teamed with Play Golf America spokesperson Donna Richardson Joyner at Tiffany Greens Golf Club in Kansas City, home club for Section Player Development Committee Chairman Michael Zadalis.
Additionally, Midwest PGA Section members have utilized a Section Business Site as a working tool to promote PGA Professionals and growth of the game initiatives.
Section Executive Director Brad Demo said that his job is made easier by the teamwork he witnesses throughout the year.
"The members of our Section truly understand the importance of player development," said Demo. "We all know the challenges of getting sponsors in this economy, but we continue to work hard in that area. I was at a mall recently, wearing a Midwest Section PGA logo shirt, and a lady approached me and told me that she attended the Women's Golf Expo at Tiffany Greens, and wanted to know when the next event was being held. And, she was a beginning golfer. That makes all our work so worthwhile."