Malvern, Pa. – The 2016 Philadelphia PGA Fall Meeting was held on Monday, October 31 at White Manor Country. Attended by more than 200 Philadelphia PGA Professional the meeting was highlighted by the presentation of the year-end award winners as well as the announcement of the newest members of the Philadelphia PGA Hall of Fame. Additionally, the Philadelphia PGA presented the inaugural Ben Witter Courage Award posthumously to Ben Witter whose family was on hand to accept the award. The final highlight of the meeting was the keynote speaker and President of the PGA of America, Derek Sprague.
With presentations from each of the Section’s Executive Committee the members in attendance were brought up to date on all aspects of Philadelphia PGA operations. However, the meeting also served as the perfect opportunity to recognize the individuals who performed at the highest level throughout the tournament season.
Finishing atop the Omega Player of the Year points list was first time winner Michael Little (Lookaway Golf Club). Little notched two wins in 2016 (Delaware Valley Open, Shawnee) as well as numerous top-five finishes. Based on his performances in the Philadelphia PGA Championships, Little also qualified for both the National Car Rental Assistant PGA Professional Championship and the PGA Professional Championship. Finishing in second place on the Omega Player of the Year leaderboard was 2016 Haverford Philadelphia PGA champion Dave McNabb (Applebrook Golf Club). Rounding out the top three was George Forster (Radnor Valley Country Club).
In the Omega Robert “Skee” Riegel Senior Player of the Year race, Stu Ingraham (M Golf Range) ran away with the title en route to his seventh consecutive crown. Ingraham had senior victories at the 31st Burlington Classic, the Jack Jolly / Golf Pride Championship, the William Hyndman Memorial Classic, and the Philadelphia Senior PGA Championship. Ingraham’s 2,686.50 points were 1,000 points ahead of second place finisher. However, rounding out the top three was a pair of individuals who also claimed prizes in other divisions. George Forster and Dave McNabb finished second and third respectively. McNabb would also take home the DeBaufre Scoring Average title with season-long average of 70.90.
The Section’s Howard “Ike” Turner Most Improved Player was awarded to Jordan Gibbs (Gulph Mills Golf Club). In 2016, Gibbs lowered his scoring average by one full shot as well as improved his position on the Omega Player of the Year leaderboard by more than 40 spots. Gibbs was won the 95th Philadelphia PGA Professional Championship, his first Philadelphia PGA title.
The meeting was highlighted by keynote speaker and President of the PGA of America Derek Sprague. A few weeks short of the PGA of America annual meeting and the centennial celebration of the PGA of America, Sprague touched on several topics that affected all PGA Professionals. Sprague highlighted the impact the Ryder Cup had to the Association as well as what the potential for global expansion for the PGA brand would have. Sprague also noted that the success of the PGA of America would always be the PGA Professionals and the direct impact they have with golfers. As a note, Sprague also conducted a small “fire-side” chat the evening prior to the formal Fall Meeting.
The Philadelphia PGA Hall of Fame also gained two new members as Ted Sheftic and Bob Thatcher became the 39th and 40th Hall of Fame inductees respectively. With both having careers spanning decades in the Philadelphia Section each have left their mark on future PGA Professionals. After his receiving his award, Sheftic was on hand to thank his mentors and acknowledge the PGA Professionals who helped him along the way. Accepting the award for Thatcher were his daughters Tina and Tracy who were able to read the prepared speech sent by their father. For a complete biography of Ted Sheftic or Bob Thatcher visit the Hall of Fame page on philadelphia.pga.com.
The final award presented was also the Section’s newest award. The Ben Witter Courage Award named in honor of the PGA Professional of the same name will be given to an individual who in spite of difficult circumstances always managed to give back the game and the people around him. Witter, a PGA Professional himself, entertained endless crowds with his trick shots and overall golf abilities despite multiple battles with his health. The award will serve as a reminder of his perseverance through any and all obstacles. Witter’s family was on hand to receive the award and spoke to the PGA Professionals in attendance on what the award meant to the family.
The Fall Meeting puts a bookend to the 2016 Philadelphia PGA season. As the Section heads to the off-season it will focus on providing education opportunities to the membership through multi-day seminars as well as district roundtables. For a complete list of education opportunities and to stay up-to-date on Section’s event be sure to visit philadelphia.pga.com.