Month: January 2021

Ashley Grier Earns Women’s PGA Professional Player of the Year Award for 2020

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. (Jan. 22, 2021) – Jason Caron of Oyster Bay, New York; Ashley Grier of Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania; and Omar Uresti of Austin, Texas, persevered through the unique circumstances associated with a global pandemic to capture respective 2020 PGA Professional, Women’s PGA Professional and Senior PGA Professional Player of the Year awards.

The trio will be honored in conjunction with the PGA of America’s Annual Meeting, Nov. 2-5, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Caron, the PGA Head Professional at Mill River Club, Inc. in Oyster Bay, began his year in strong fashion, emerging from a three-player playoff to win the 2020 PGA Stroke Play Championship. Caron authored two other wins in Metropolitan PGA Section play, winning the Section’s PGA Professional Championship in September, also in a playoff, before claiming a wire-to-wire, two-stroke victory in the 96th Long Island Open in October. He was subsequently named Metropolitan PGA Section Player of the Year.

Caron, 48, collected 625.000 total points, while Rod Perry of Port Orange, Florida, was runner-up with 590.350. Scott Berliner of Lake Luzerne, New York (565.000), was third and Ryan Vermeer of Omaha, Nebraska (548.750) 一 the 2018 and ‘19 PGA Professional Player of the Year 一 finished fourth.

“I’ve been playing well for about two and a half years now, but I feel like I really broke through in 2020,” said Caron, who was a member of the PGA Tour in 2000 and ‘03 and finished T-30 in the 2002 U.S. Open. “To (earn the PGA Professional Player of the Year award) means a ton. Just to have this on my playing resume, it’s a special accomplishment. It’s an honor to represent my fellow 29,000 PGA Professionals, the Met Section and Mill River, all who have encouraged me to play this game. My hats off to them.”

A PGA Assistant Professional at Overbrook Golf Club in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, Grier tallied 327.500 points to earn her award. The bookend highlights of Grier’s year came with a T-3 finish in the Women’s Stroke Play at PGA Golf Club in February and a November victory in the Philadelphia Assistants Organization Open Championship at Kimberton Golf Club in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania. She was later named the Philadelphia PGA Section’s Assistant Player of the Year.

Jennifer Borocz of Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida (255.000), was runner-up to Grier, 36, while Sherry Andonian of La Quinta, California (230.000), and Joanna Coe of Lutherville-Timonium, Maryland (185), finished third and fourth, respectively. In 2019, Coe won the inaugural Women’s PGA Professional Player of the Year award.

“Anyone that knows me knows how much I love the game of golf and love competing,” said Grier, a member of the victorious 2019 Women’s PGA Cup Team and a seven-year veternan of the Duramed Futures Tour. “To see all of the hard work payoff is a great achievement that I am very proud of. I couldn’t have achieved this if it wasn’t for the support I received from (Overbrook PGA Head Professional) Eric Kennedy, all of my co-workers, and the membership at Overbrook. I know they are always there to cover for me or cheer me on when I am away at an event. It’s nice to win this award and to have something to show or share in a year that wasn’t (what we all expected it to be).”

A PGA Life Member, Uresti won eight times in 2020 一 four in his home Southern Texas PGA Section, four at his home away from home at PGA Golf Club 一 to garner his first player of the year citation from the PGA of America. Uresti’s top Section triumph came by two strokes in the Senior PGA Professional Championship at the Golf Club of Houston in May. At PGA Golf Club, the 52-year-old Uresti won the Quarter Century Championship in early January, the 32nd Senior PGA Professional Championship in October, then tacked on twice in a four-day span in early December, winning Events #1 and #2 of the PGA Tournament Series.

Uresti’s 733.800 points outpaced the 622.950 accumulated by runner-up Bob Sowards of Dublin, Ohio. Mike Small of Champaign, Illinois (645.000), took third and Scott Hebert of Traverse City, Michigan (587.000), fourth.

“It’s a real honor to earn this award because of all of the talented players that have won it in the past,” said Uresti, the 2017 PGA Professional Champion. “I know Bob (Sowards) was leading the points list late in the year and was dealing with a hip injury that was obviously hindering his play. We’re close friends and it was difficult to see him held back. He’s so talented. He won last year. To put my name on that same list, well, it feels great.”

Celebrating Our Centennial: 100 Years of the Philadelphia PGA Section

As the Philadelphia PGA Section turns 100, we take a look back at the people and events that helped make the Section what it is today, with the help of Section Historian Pete Trenham, PGA, and his website Trenham Golf History.

1942 PGA Championship: In the last week of May Seaview Country Club and its head professional Bruce Coltart hosted the PGA Championship. Seaview had two very dissimilar nines in architecture. There was the Bay Course with 18-holes designed by Donald Ross and 9-holes in the pines designed by Bill Flynn. It was decided that the back nine of the Bay Course would be played first and then the pros would finish on the Pines nine. In the later rounds the Bay nine was played last to accommodate the gallery. In the previous PGA Championships all the players received mileage money, which was based on how far they lived from the tournament site. In 1942 only those who failed to qualify for the match play were paid the mileage money. Hershey CC professional Ben Hogan, who hit more practice balls than anyone, hurt his wrist practicing the day before the championship started and had to have x-rays taken. Fred Corcoran, the PGA Tournament Manager, told the press that Hogan’s starting time for the next day would be pushed back a few hours from his scheduled time. Because the country was now at war, the pros were qualifying for only 32 places in order to shorten the championship by one day. All the matches were scheduled for 36 holes. PGA of America president Ed Dudley led the 100 starters on the first day of qualifying with a six-under-par 66, which tied the record for the lowest qualifying round in the PGA championship. At the end of qualifying Harry Cooper was the medalist with a 138, while Sam Byrd tied for second at 139. Dudley and Hogan were part of a three-way tie for fifth at 141. Coltart (142), Jug McSpaden (143), Jimmy Thompson (143), Dutch Harrison (144), Sam Snead (144) and Joe Kirkwood, Sr. (147) were the other members of the Philadelphia Section who made it into the match play. Kirkwood had to survive a playoff to win one of the last spots. Corporal Elwood Brey, Corporal Ed Oliver, Felix Serafin, Clarence Ehresman and Leo Diegel failed to qualify.  Byrd, Coltart, Thomson and Harrison lost in the first round. In the second round Kirkwood lost to Byron Nelson and McSpaden lost to Jim Turnesa. Three Section members; Snead, Dudley and Hogan made it into the quarter-finals. Hogan then lost to Turnesa one-down and Dudley lost to Snead, who was the Shawnee Inn & CC playing professional, one-down. Dudley lost to Snead when his tee shot on the last hole hit a spectator and bounced into the woods for an unplayable lie. Snead beat Jimmy Demaret 3&2 in one semifinal match and Turnesa defeated Byron Nelson in a match that went 37 holes. Snead went on to defeat Turnesa, who was stationed at Ft. Dix, New Jersey, in the 36-hole finals 2&1. Snead took his first prize of $2,000 in a war bond, which would have been worth $1,500 in cash. The total purse was $7,550. Turnesa was granted leave to compete in the championship with the understanding that any money he won would go to the Army Relief Fund. Turnesa won $750 in cash and wore his army uniform while playing in the tournament. The total purse was $7,550. Two days later Snead was in the U.S. Navy as Seaman First Class Snead. The draft board had given Snead a 10-day extension on his reporting date so he could play in the PGA. Snead’s caddy was a young man named Tony DeSimone who went on to own an automobile dealership and a golf course in South Jersey. DeSimone became one of the Philadelphia Section’s most faithful sponsors. All profits from the tournament were donated to the Army and Navy relief funds. This was the last major golf championship played until the end of the war.

The PGA Championship final was played on Sunday May 31. That evening the PGA of America held a meeting of its executive committee. The Atlantic City Golf Association and Seaview Country Club had issued an invitation for the PGA to hold its championship at Seaview again in 1943. Due to the war the PGA wasn’t sure when it might hold its championship again. The PGA executive committee did vote to hold its championship at Seaview again and publicly stated that when it was played again it would be held at Seaview. There would be no PGA Championship held in 1943 and by 1944 when it was held the commitment to Seaview had apparently been forgotten.

George Jerome Fazio: George Fazio was born in Norristown, Pennsylvania in 1912. He had a varied and outstanding career in golf. He worked as a golf professional, leased courses and driving ranges, won golf tournaments and designed golf courses. His career in golf began as a caddy at the Plymouth Country Club. He worked as a professional at six different golf courses in the Philadelphia area including the Pine Valley Golf Club in New Jersey and he played the PGA Tour on and off during the late 1940s and most of the 1950s. For a number of years Fazio owned a Ford automobile agency in Conshohocken that was set up for him by William Clay Ford. Locally Fazio won the Philadelphia Section Championship in 1941 and from 1949 to 1959 he won five Philadelphia Opens along with finishing second twice. In 1950 while working in the Middle Atlantic Section Fazio won their Section championship. He won twice on the PGA Tour, which included winning the Canadian Open in 1946, and finished second seven times. In 1950 he tied with Ben Hogan and Lloyd Mangrum for the U.S. Open title at Merion Golf Club and lost in an 18-hole playoff. He also finished fifth in the 1952 U.S. Open and tied for fourth in 1953. During his career he played in 14 U.S. Opens, 14 PGA Championships and 7 Masters Tournaments. Fazio also knew golf talent. When Gary Player first ventured to America to try his hand on the PGA Tour he wasn’t very successful. Fazio gave Player some money, which allowed him to stay on the tour. At the time Fazio was leasing Flourtown Golf Club and Langhorne Country Club so to return the favor Player agreed to represent Langhorne on the PGA Tour. In the mid 1950s television was in its infancy and a young Jack Whitaker was doing ten minutes of sports at 11:00 pm on WCAU TV. Whitaker could see that golf was becoming very popular so he invited Fazio to be a guest on his show each Wednesday evening. The Wednesday show with Fazio was a hit as hundreds of viewers sent in postcards and letters with golf questions. Some of the shows featured Fazio demonstrating various golf shots at the Presidential Course, which was what remained of the Philadelphia Country Club’s original course. In 1955 the city of Philadelphia hired Fazio to make changes that would tighten up its Cobbs Creek Golf Club for the PGA Tour’s Daily News Open that the course was hosting that year. That got him started in course design and in 1960 he shifted his career over to building golf courses. Fazio gained more fame as a golf course architect than he had from playing tournaments. He designed 64 courses and redesigned 20 more. Nine of the courses he created were in the Philadelphia Section. Several of his courses quickly made Golf Digest’s list of “America’s 100 Greatest Golf Courses. A number of golf courses that Fazio designed and golf courses that he redesigned hosted national championships and PGA Tour events. The list included the 1972 Masters, six U.S. Open courses and the 1968 U.S. Women’s Open. Fazio was inducted into the Philadelphia Section PGA Hall of Fame in 2008. For more of Trenham Golf History’s Leaders & Legends, visit https://trenhamgolfhistory.org/philadelphia-pga-leaders-legends/leaders-legends-1950-1959/

Philadelphia Assistants’ Organization Announces New Board Roles

Lower Gwynedd Township, Pa. (January 13, 2021) — The Philadelphia Assistants’ Organization (PAO), an arm of the Philadelphia PGA Section for Assistant Professionals, has announced new roles for its 2021 board, effective immediately:
  • Co-Chairs: Ron Pine, PGA, Aronimink G.C.; and John Rogers, PGA
  • Tournament Chair: Michael Congdon, PGA, Aronimink G.C.
  • Education Chair: Steve Frederick, PGA, Overbrook G.C.
  • Youth Golf / Charity / Finance Chair: Tony Shields, PGA, The ACE Club
  • Communication / Mentorship Chair: Ashley Grier, PGA, Overbrook G.C.
“On behalf of the entire PAO, Section, and our members, we would like to thank outgoing PAO Co-Chair Steve Frederick, PGA, for his service and willingness to continue to serve as the PAO Education Chair,” said current PAO Co-Chair Ron Pine, PGA. “We look forward to getting started with our new board to make the 2021 season as successful as ever.”About the Philadelphia PGA Section
The Philadelphia PGA Section, covering eastern Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey and Delaware, is one of 41 geographical managing entities of the PGA of America. This Section manages nearly 900 PGA Members and Associates who are employed at over 590 golf facilities in our region. Founded in 1921, the Section celebrates its centennial in 2021.

Contact: Matt Frey, PGA, Communications Director, Philadelphia PGA Section, mfrey@pgahq.com