PGA Member Sean Palmer Headlines 2021 Philadelphia PGA Section Award Recipients
- PGA Golf Professional of the Year: Sean Palmer, PGA; The Union League of Philadelphia, Lafayette Hill, Pa.
- PGA Teacher & Coach of the Year: David Zimmaro, PGA; Overbrook Golf Club, Villanova, Pa.
- Bill Strausbaugh Award: Jeff Kiddie, PGA; Aronimink Golf Club, Newtown Square, Pa.
- PGA Professional Development Award: Lou Guzzi, PGA; Lou Guzzi Golf Academy, Ambler, Pa.
- PGA Patriot Award: Jeff Breiner, PGA; Country Club of Harrisburg, Harrisburg, Pa.
- PGA Player Development Award: Justin Rinas, PGA; The Skramble House of Golf, Horsham, Pa.
- PGA Youth Player Development Award: Chris Young, PGA; Philadelphia Cricket Club, Flourtown, Pa.
- PGA Merchandiser of the Year – Private Category: Mike Wood, PGA; Saucon Valley Country Club, Bethlehem, Pa.
- PGA Merchandiser of the Year – Resort Category: Eddie Perino, PGA; Eagle Rock Resort, Hazle Township, Pa.
- Justin Riegel PGA Assistant Golf Professional of the Year: Jeremy Marino, PGA; Applebrook Golf Club, Malvern, Pa.
- Salesperson of the Year: Jerry McGoey; Titleist, Glenside, Pa.
Sean Palmer, PGA, the PGA General Manager and Director of Golf for The Union League of Philadelphia in Lafayette Hill, Pa., is the recipient of the 2021 Philadelphia PGA Golf Professional of the Year Award. This is the highest annual honor given to a Philadelphia PGA Professional, awarded for qualities of leadership, strong moral character and a substantial record of service to the Philadelphia PGA Section and the game of golf.
A PGA Member since 2011, Palmer has spent the last seven years leading The Union League of Philadelphia’s expansion into the golf market, first as PGA Director of Golf at The Union League Golf Club at Torresdale in Philadelphia, and now as PGA Director of Golf for all of the Union League’s properties, including Torresdale, Union League Liberty Hill in Lafayette Hill, Pa., and Union League National Golf Club in Cape May Court House, N.J. In 2015, Palmer’s first task with the Union League was to create a golf program, staff, and retail brand from the ground up, in addition to establishing a golf membership culture for the then 153-year-old organization. At the outset, the league had over 4,000 members, many of whom did not play golf, so Palmer created a lesson program where members were provided complimentary private or group golf instruction with PGA Professionals once per week, resulting in over 11,000 lessons given, with an average of 2,100 taught annually.
In 2017, the Union League of Philadelphia purchased Sand Barrens Golf Club near the Jersey shore, now known as Union League National Golf Club. Palmer assisted in evaluating the new golf market and large capital investment, in addition to the club’s golf course renovations. Union League National now has over 250 people on its waiting list to join. Palmer also used the new property to promote the league’s PGA Assistant Professionals to leadership positions, and expand internship offerings.
Palmer’s role expanded yet again in 2020 when the Union League purchased its Union League Liberty Hill property, formerly known as the Ace Club and Chubb Hotel and Conference Center. He was actively engaged in sale negotiations and wrote a detailed business plan for the league’s board of directors, banks, and staff. The facility reaches over 2,500 existing league members, and provides another golf option in a separate part of the greater Philadelphia area. As part of the Liberty Hill acquisition, Palmer moved into the PGA General Manager position for that facility, while doubling as the PGA Director of Golf for all the Union League’s three golf properties.
Under Palmer’s leadership, the club has hired over 10 PGA Professionals and over 160 caddies, while providing 22 caddie scholarships through their own funds. Additionally, five PGA Professionals have accepted PGA General Manager or PGA Head Professional positions in the golf industry.
“My goal is to mentor [PGA] Professionals, golf service team members, caddies, and our retail team by making them better at their tasks, work ethic, and character by the time they are ready to progress and move forward in their career,” says Palmer. “I follow up with staff members who have left our operation, to show I care and have always cared about their best interests. This effort creates a positive team culture that our club benefits from for years to come by attracting high-character individuals.”
Beginning in 2019, Palmer started the Union League University initiative to allow the club’s interns to benefit from the Union League’s knowledge base. The program teaches the students about every facet of the operation and requires cross-training with other departments, including the league’s downtown club. Additionally, Palmer currently serves as Penn State’s PGA Golf Management (PGM) Alumni Board President, a role in which he has presented to PGM students and alumni on several occasions. In 2019, he won the program’s Pride of the Lions Alumnus of the Year award on the same day that Jacob Hoffer was presented with their Emerging Professional Award, following his promotion to PGA General Manager at Union League National Golf Club.
Palmer’s contributions to the game of golf are not limited to his roles with the Union League and Penn State; he has served the Philadelphia PGA Section in various ways, including as a member of the Section’s Membership Committee. Palmer is also a staunch supporter of PGA REACH Philadelphia, the Section’s 501(c)(3) charitable foundation, helping to raise funds through his role with the Union League. This year, Palmer helped launch a member-veterans program at Liberty Hill in which three Union League members were paired together with a recent combat veteran in a golf tournament. One-hundred percent of the tournament’s proceeds were donated to PGA REACH Philadelphia for its PGA HOPE (Helping Our Patriots Everywhere) Philadelphia program and its veterans. The club plans to host this event annually to help U.S. military veterans. Furthermore, Palmer serves as a mentor for PGA REACH Philadelphia’s Philadelphia PGA Junior Tour Diversity Scholarship recipients. He has been coaching scholarship recipient Brayden Mitchell (along with his grandfather), and secured a new set of golf clubs for Mitchell, with the assistance of the foundation.
Palmer was named the Section’s Justin Riegel Assistant Golf Professional of the Year in 2014.
David Zimmaro, PGA, a PGA Assistant Professional and the Youth Golf Director at Overbrook Golf Club in Villanova, Pa., is the recipient of the 2021 Philadelphia PGA Teacher & Coach of the Year Award for his “outstanding services as a golf teacher, innovator and coach.” Zimmaro won the Section’s Youth Player Development Award in 2017 and 2020.
Hailing originally from Philadelphia, Zimmaro has dedicated his career to guiding youth golfers in the Delaware Valley, not only through his current role as Overbrook’s Youth Golf Director, but through other organizations, such as the First Tee of Philadelphia where he served as site director. Over the course of six years, he also worked with PGA REACH Philadelphia’s Golf in Schools initiative and the First Tee’s School Program, reaching over 10,000 school students during their physical education classes, and created and managed a PIAA team. His additional work does not stop there either, as he works or has worked with the Middle Atlantic Blind Golf Association, Widener Memorial School, Overbrook School for the Blind, La Salle Academy, AIM Academy, the Bridge School, Fort Dix Military Base, the Department of Justice’s Students for Juvenile Justice, conducts Overbrook’s Appreciating Diversity and Accepting Adversity weekend, and learned American Sign Language to work with the Pennsylvania School for the Deaf.
Zimmaro has also served as a PGA Jr. League captain for four years, fielding a team from Overbrook, which has been undefeated for three seasons and advanced to the Section Championship in 2021, and coached their division’s All-Star team. Two of Zimmaro’s students also advanced to the Drive, Chip & Putt Regionals at Pinehurst Resort in North Carolina in 2017 and 2021. Additionally, three of his students have competed in the U.S. Kids World Championship over the past three seasons.
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way golf facilities operate, and teachers and coaches like Zimmaro were not immune to these adjustments. He worked hard to create a “pod system” to allow for responsible and socially-distanced learning for Overbrook’s youth golf clinics in 2020. The system worked so well that the club saw 105 youth golfers participate in 2020 and another 120 this year.
Not shy to share what he has learned and how he has been successful, Zimmaro has been featured in PGA Magazine’s PGA Professionals’ Best Practice Series and The Philadelphia Inquirer, and has appeared on Golf Channel’s “Golf Fix with Michael Breed” television show, on Philadelphia’s Fox 29, and in videos produced by Temple University and the Department of Justice. He also has presented at a Youth Player Development Workshop with other Youth Player Development Award winners, and is actively involved with Penn State PGA Golf Management’s mentoring program.
Jeff Kiddie, PGA, the PGA Head Professional at Aronimink Golf Club in Newtown Square, Pa., and Philadelphia PGA Honorary President, is the recipient of the 2021 Philadelphia PGA Bill Strausbaugh Award. The award recognizes a PGA Professional who demonstrates exceptional character, integrity and leadership, by way of teaching and mentoring other PGA Professionals. As a PGA Assistant Professional, Kiddie says he was fortunate to work for tremendous PGA Head Professionals who took great interest in his career, and that inspired him to do the same when he earned his first PGA Head Professional position in 2001. Since then, 12 of his assistants have accepted head professional positions, including five in the past five years. Kiddie says he is very proud to have watched past staff members grow as head professionals at their facilities, and feels that some of the best mentoring has included helping staff members establish careers in other areas of the golf industry, or even in another industry, which better aligned with their skill sets. Kiddie’s reach does not end at his place of business, as he has volunteered for the Section and other organizations throughout his career, including serving as the Section’s President in 2020-21 following his two-year terms as Vice President, Secretary, and Director of Section Affairs. He was a District 6 Director in 2007-11, and has served on the Section’s Education, Mentoring, Rules, Awards, and Youth Golf Committees, in addition to being a member on the PGA of America’s Rules Committee, he has been an instructor for PGA / USGA Rules Workshops and served as a trustee for the J. Wood Platt Caddie Scholarship Trust. Kiddie was previously named the 2011 PGA Merchandiser of the Year – Private Category, 2012 Philadelphia PGA Golf Professional of the Year, 2007 and 2010 Section Merchandiser of the Year – Private Category, and 1999 Section Justin Riegel Assistant Golf Professional of the Year, in addition to winning the Section’s 2016 Professional Development Award.
Lou Guzzi, PGA, is the owner of and PGA Director of Instruction at Lou Guzzi Golf Academy at Talamore Country Club in Ambler, Pa., and the Philadelphia PGA’s 2021 Professional Development Award recipient. This honor goes to a PGA Member who displays commendable contributions to the education of PGA Professionals. Entering his 25th year as a PGA Member, Guzzi has never shied away from getting in front of his peers to help elevate their own knowledge bases and businesses. He currently serves as the PGA of America’s Teaching & Coaching Summit Committee Chair, and was co-chair for the national Coaching & Player Development Committee in 2016-20. He has also served on various other committees at the national and Section level, including the PGA’s Instruction and Awards committees, PGA Magazine and the Golf Range Association of America’s advisory boards, and vendor boards such as Bobby Jones, FlightScope, and AboutGolf. Furthermore, Guzzi has presented at dozens of local, regional, and national instruction and coaching seminars for PGA Professionals and has been published by industry publications such as PGA Magazine, Golf Magazine and Golf.com, SIGolf+, Golf Range Magazine, and more. He understands the importance of helping his fellow PGA Professionals become better teachers and business people, as such, the doors to his academy are always open to any PGA Member, Associate, or Student who wants to grow as an instructor. Guzzi was named the PGA’s 2013 PGA Teacher & Coach of the Year, in addition to winning the same honor at the Section level in 2003 and 2010; he previously received the Section’s Professional Development Award in 2014.
Jeff Breiner, PGA, the Philadelphia PGA’s 2021 PGA Patriot Award recipient, is the PGA Head Professional at the Country Club of Harrisburg in Harrisburg, Pa., and the lead PGA Professional for PGA HOPE (Helping Our Patriots Everywhere) Philadelphia’s Harrisburg Chapter. The PGA Patriot Award bestows special recognition on a PGA Professional who personifies patriotism through the game of golf and demonstrates an unwavering commitment and dedication to the men and women who have valiantly served and protected our country. Having had a father who served in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War, and two uncles who served in the Air Force and Navy, Breiner always aligned himself with military and veteran programs whenever he could. So, in conjunction with the launch of PGA REACH Philadelphia in 2018, he approached his club’s Board of Governors about creating a PGA HOPE Philadelphia chapter at the Country Club of Harrisburg. In the first year, the new chapter had over 65 veterans participate in the clinics, a number which as grown ever since, thanks to Breiner’s coordination with local VA hospitals, VFW and American Legion posts. He has also worked hard to secure partnerships for his chapter, providing participants with perks such as a home improvement package contest, NFL tickets, and more. Each year on Veterans Day, Breiner opens up his club to any military veteran who would like to bring a foursome to play the normally private golf course. Never one to stop assisting veterans, Breiner also worked with PGA REACH Philadelphia to offer club jobs to PGA HOPE veterans, which resulted in the hiring of a veteran as outside supervisor. While the true scope and reach of his dedicated work may be hard to quantify, Breiner has had several veterans in his chapter who have said PGA HOPE Philadelphia has helped save their lives after battling PTSD, depression, and other ailments. Breiner was also named the Section’s Justin Riegel Assistant Golf Professional of the Year in 2011.
Justin Rinas, PGA, is the PGA Owner and Director of Operations of the Skramble House of Golf in Horsham, Pa., and the recipient of the 2021 Philadelphia PGA Player Development Award. This honor bestows special recognition to a PGA Member who has displayed extraordinary and exemplary contributions and achievements in the area of player development. Rinas opened his 24/7 indoor golf facility, the Skramble House of Golf, during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in October 2020, a risk which has paid off both for Rinas, his students and members, and the game of golf. Since opening, the facility has dispensed over two million golf balls, and realized over six figures of golf club sales. His goal of offering an indoor golf facility that operates 24 hours a day, seven days per week has been embraced by many in the Delaware Valley, as the club has reached its membership capacity (over 200); furthermore, 92 percent of his members with a golf handicap saw improvement in their first year of membership. Throughout the pandemic, Rinas has developed ways to remain engaged with his members, teaching and coaching virtually as an example. The Skramble House of Golf also hosts events and groups to reach women, youth, and disabled golfers, as well as beginner and non-golfers. His facility also helps create a sense of ease and comfort via its relaxed dress code; golfers are allowed, even encouraged, to wear sweatpants and hoodies during their sessions.
Christopher Young, PGA, a PGA Teaching Professional and Junior Golf Coordinator at the Philadelphia Cricket Club in Flourtown, Pa., is the 2021 Philadelphia PGA Youth Player Development Award recipient. The award is given annually to a PGA Professional who has made extraordinary and exemplary contributions and achievements in the area of youth player development. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Young established an after-school golf program, named 30 and 3, for beginner youth golfers. The program is designed for children ages six to 17 participating monthly in a 30-minute instructional clinic and three holes of golf. It proved to be an instant success, with participation numbers nearly doubling each month. He also separates his programs into six squads based on skill level to encourage upward movement through the program. As a parent himself, he empathizes with parents and their kids and their situations, while making sure to always remain upfront and upbeat. He also considers the mentoring of younger PGA Professionals to be one of the greatest contributions he can offer the Association and game of golf. Young has served on the Section’s Youth Golf Committee for the past two seasons, in addition to the Instruction Committee in 2016-18.
Mike Wood, PGA, the PGA Director of Golf at Saucon Valley Country Club in Bethlehem, Pa., is the recipient of the 2021 Philadelphia PGA Merchandiser of Year Award – Private Category. The award recognizes PGA Professionals working at a private golf facility who have excelled in business and merchandising in the promotion of golf. Wood assumed all of Saucon Valley’s merchandise buying responsibilities in 2018, which now consumes 75 percent of his offseason tasks, and 30 percent in-season. He developed golf shop policies and procedures which detail daily, weekly, and monthly merchandising duties for his staff. Merchandise displays are changed biweekly, and a schematic of his design helps his staff plan their creations and maximize the use of floor space. As a result of his diagram plan, he was able to nearly double the number of women’s SKUs and added approximately 30 percent more men’s merchandise, resulting in a steady rise of sales over the past several seasons. A similar exercise is in place at the club’s Weyhill golf shop. Wood also utilizes three core partners each season for both men’s and women’s merchandise, with their own dedicated areas, allowing the rest of the shops to highlight new lines and categories. Wood also implemented a bonus structure for his team, with one of the main criteria stemming from the merchandise concession.
Eddie Perrino, PGA, is the PGA Head Professional at Eagle Rock Resort in Hazelton, Pa., and the recipient of the 2021 Philadelphia PGA Merchandiser of Year Award – Resort Category. The award recognizes PGA Professionals working at a resort golf facility who have excelled in business and merchandising in the promotion of golf. Perrino, a PGA Member for nearly 30 years, spends at least half his days in the merchandising area at Eagle Rock Resort, implementing a philosophy that he describes as quite simple: provide the highest quality merchandise at the best possible price. This philosophy allows him to keep the shop inventory at healthy levels throughout the year, adjusting certain products for seasonal and weather changes. Perrino develops his buying plan based on past successes, current trends, customer demands, and perceived value from buyers and the resort. He also believes that relationships between PGA Professionals, sales representatives, and customers should work together seamlessly in order to provide the best possible experience. Additionally, Perrino is careful to offer an equitable mix of apparel and merchandise that appeals to different genders, as well as to provide those customer bases with equitable floor space. Since taking over the merchandise operation in 2015, the resort’s slowest sales season was still nearly 60 percent higher than the best season prior to his hiring. Perrino also believes in the power of a team effort, and as such, includes his entire shop staff in various decisions throughout the year.
Jeremy Marino, PGA, is a PGA Assistant Professional at Applebrook Golf Club in Malvern, Pa., and the 2021 Philadelphia PGA Justin Riegel Assistant Golf Professional of the Year. The award recognizes PGA Professionals who have excelled in business and merchandising in the promotion of golf, and is named for the late Justin Riegel, a past Section Assistant Golf Professional of the Year. Marino, who has worked at Applebrook since 2007, believes that PGA Professionals should be visible to members and guests at all times and should make being service-oriented a main priority, in addition to making their PGA Head Professional’s job easier. His main role at Applebrook is running the club’s tournament program, which has also allowed him to assist younger assistants in learning the trade. Marino also volunteers in his free time, participating in fundraising events for the J. Wood Platt Scholarships, and serving on several committees at his local parish and school.
Jerry McGoey is a sales representative for Titleist and the 2021 Philadelphia PGA Salesperson of the Year. This award recognizes a sales representative who contributes to the Section and is involved with sponsoring Section events. They are also respected among their fellow Section clubs and have implemented new ideas to assist growing the game of golf. As a 26-year golf industry professional, McGoey knows that an outstanding salesperson needs to know the pivotal part they play in the PGA Professionals’ role to service their membership and the importance of timely and accurate service. McGoey says he views every PGA Professional and their respective facilities as business partners, and that he manages their business as his own. Some of his most rewarding initiatives is to make sure that his current Titleist staffers, and other PGA Professionals, participate in Titleist University’s online modules, which educate them on golf equipment and custom clubfitting. McGoey was named Callaway’s national Sales Representative of the Year in 2017, and won numerous regional awards for Adams Golf and Mizuno Golf.
Due to the ongoing global pandemic, the Philadelphia PGA Awards Committee has not yet scheduled a date for the 2021 awards to be formally presented.
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.
Contact: Matt Frey, PGA, Communications Director, Philadelphia PGA Section, firstname.lastname@example.org