PGA of America Celebrates 100th Birthday

The birth of the PGA of America and those who guided it with a steady hand …

By Bob Denney

As America awakened on April 10, 1916, the nation was less than a year from entering World War I.  General John Pershing’s troops were chasing the wily Pancho Villa in Mexico.

It was 10 days before Weeghman Park (Wrigley Field) celebrated its grand opening with a Chicago Cubs victory and the New York Times’  “Comment on Current Events in Sports” proclaimed that the country’s golfers should adhere to the Rules and “count straight from the beginning.”

That April morning in New York City also brought the Organizing Committee for the Professional Golfers’ Association of America to the second-floor boardroom of the Hotel Martinique on 32nd and Broadway. After a series of preliminary meetings,  sparked by a luncheon on Jan. 17, at the Wanamaker Store some eight blocks south of the Martinique, organizers had arrived at a name for the nascent national body.

It was time to ratify a Constitution and bylaws.

Ninety-two applied for PGA membership, and 78 members elected, including 35 charter members – 27 of whom had been born overseas. The PGA of America began with seven Sections: Metropolitan, Middle States, New England, Southeastern, Central, Northwestern and Pacific. It would be another five years before those Sections would significantly change their boundaries and PGA Magazine would begin reporting the newly-titled entities.

An Executive Committee of 24 members, a forerunner to a Board of Directors, was assembled from the seven Sections to operate the PGA.  Among the notables of that group were future PGA Presidents Jack Mackie (Metropolitan) and George Sargent (Northwestern); and an enterprising assistant professional, James Maiden, employed at Nassau Country Club in Glen Cove, New York. It was at that club that Maiden sold a putter, nicknamed “Calamity Jane,” to a young prodigy, Bobby Jones. James and his brother, Stewart, were credited with helping teach Jones the golf swing.

The Executive Committee appointed Robert White, a former schoolteacher from St. Andrews, Scotland, as the first PGA President. A former schoolteacher turned head professional at Wykagyl Country Club in New Rochelle, New York, White was a multi-talented man and his experience enabled him to bring people together. He also was a skilled clubmaker and co-founder of the Professional Golf Company in suburban Chicago. When White emigrated to the U.S. in 1894, he pursued agronomy and began laying out golf courses.

White became the first turf expert among the professional greenkeepers of his time. By 1947, he was one of 13 founders of the American Society of Golf Course Architects. His reputation as a course builder put him in position to recommend professionals for employment.

Author Herb Graffis speculated in 1975 that it was “quite possible that either by blood, marriage, or occupational sponsorship White was related to about a third” of the PGA’s founding members.

What White represented was the necessity for a PGA Professional to be a symbol of versatility, resourcefulness and guidance. Such professional influence enabled a club or public facility to survive as the country moved through two World Wars and a Great Depression.

From that humble 1916 gathering in a New York City boardroom, the PGA of America began a remarkable journey to build leaders for an expanding golfing public. The PGA’s founding fathers, had they survived to celebrate today’s Centennial, might be uplifted by their mission.

By their passion, vision and organization,  they had elevated the standards of the profession, promoted interest in golf nationally and laid the seeds for what would become one of the world’s largest sports organizations.


In addition, Wanamaker would donate both a cup and $2,580 in prize money. That “cup” became the Rodman Wanamaker Trophy, and the tournament the PGA Championship.

Former British PGA Secretary James Hepburn suggested that the 32 lowest finishers in the U.S. Open would be paired for match play, following Robert White’s contention that the U.S. was too large for sectional qualifiers. Hepburn’s suggestion was met with objections, since many could not earn a U.S. Open berth.

Annual Spring Meeting Kicks-Off PPGA Tournament Season

Annual Spring Meeting Kicks-off
Philadelphia PGA Tournament Season

Leadership highlights theme of season opening event.


(Lafayette Hill, Pa.) – Despite the roller coaster ride which has led to unseasonably cold weather in the Delaware Valley, the Philadelphia PGA held their annual Spring Meeting on Monday, April 4 at Whitemarsh Valley Country Club. This year’s annual meeting brought together more than 300 Philadelphia PGA Professionals all wanting to shake off the cobwebs of the winter months and look forward to the season ahead. Before the members could get to the tournament season’s opening event the Section had business to conduct including presentations from the Section’s Executive Committee, recognition of our special award winners, addressing the state of the game through member breakout sessions, and hearing from distinguished guest speaker Rear Admiral Brad Williamson.

As the doors closed to start the 2016 Spring Meeting, Clark Luis, PGA (Valley CC) once again gave a stirring rendition of the National Anthem to get things underway. After Luis, John Caprinteta, PGA (Bensalem Township CC) gave the meeting’s invocation before yielding the podium to Section Executive Director Geoffrey Surrette, PGA to discuss the business at hand. After Surrette shared information of the state of the Philadelphia PGA each member of the Executive Committee followed suit giving updates on each area of the Section. Ultimately the meeting concluded with a presentation from Section President Ian Dalzell, PGA (Huntingdon Valley CC). Dalzell spoke about what everyone as PGA Professionals must continue to do to ensure growth of the game as well as personal growth as a PGA Professional.

A couple of new wrinkles for the 2016 Spring Meeting were featured key-note speaker Rear Admiral Brad Williamson, Commandant Joint Forces Staff College and the member breakout session. As a non-PGA presenter, Admiral Williamson was able to speak to the spring meeting attendees on the importance of leadership in an organization. Throughout his career, Admiral Williamson has witnessed firsthand the trickle-down effect a leader has on his/her employees and how this can positively affect the organization as a whole.

Following the key-note address, the members in attendance were broken up into smaller groups in order to come together to address the state of the game from their perspective. Although they may all be PGA Professionals, these smaller groups enabled the members to interact with new faces while sharing their best practices and personal concerns for the game moving forward.

Although the special award winners were formally announced in late January, the Spring Meeting was the first opportunity for them to be recognized in front of their peers. Each of this year’s award winners were announced by Director of Section Affairs Patrick Shine, PGA (Commonwealth National GC) before posing for a photo with Section President Ian Dalzell, PGA. However, the Spring Meeting was just the start of this year’s special award winner’s public recognition. All award winners will be honored at a special ceremony to be held at Huntingdon Valley Country Club on Sunday, November 6. The ceremony will be open to all members and will feature a formal awards presentation. For the complete Special Awards release.

On a special note, Bob Hennefer (Indian Spring CC) was surprised to learn he had been selected as the 2016 Conrad Rehling Award recipient. The award, named in honor of Conrad Rehling, recognizes a PGA Professional who continually gives back to individuals with intellectual and physical disabilities.

After the meeting attentions turned to golf as participants teed it up in the Section’s first event, the Spring Meeting Pro-Pro Scramble. Because of the size of the field participating, separate events were held at both host facility Whitemarsh Valley CC as well as The ACE Club. However, no one team was able to pull away from the field at either venue. With a low score of 9-under-par (63) seven teams shared the top spot at Whitemarsh Valley while at The ACE Club a four-way tie at 12-under-par (60) led the way. Tournament Leaderboards

The Section will continue tournament play on Monday, April 18 when Commonwealth National Golf Club hosts the season’s first points event, The Callaway Golf TPD Championship.

Kennedy Captures Callaway Golf TPD Championship

On a sun-splashed spring day the Philadelphia PGA held their season-opening event, The Callaway Golf TPD Championship. The tournament serves as the first event in the chase for the Omega Player of the Year presented by The Haverford Trust Company.

More than 120 Philadelphia PGA Professionals, all members of the Section’s Tournament Players Division (TPD), traveled to Commonwealth National Golf Club for today’s event. The TPD Championship was played as a modified stableford tournament with players earning 1 point for any par, 3 points for birdies, 6 points for eagles, 9 points for double eagles, and -1 point for any bogey or worse.

Playing in the tournament’s morning wave, one competitor proved too much for the competition. Eric Kennedy (Overbrook Golf Club) made his way around the 6700 yards long golf course without a blemish adding three birdies along the way to finish in solo first place with a total of 24-points. Kennedy finished two shots clear of second place finisher Bill Sautter (Philadelphia Cricket Club) and four shots ahead of third place finisher and Section newcomer Rick LeBeau (Gulph Mills Golf Club) who totaled 20 points. With this being the season’s first points event Kennedy will begin the year in first place on the Omega Player of the Year presented by Haverford Trust Co standings with his win.

“It is an honor to win this tournament for the second time (2012). In fact this is the only Philadelphia PGA event I’ve won,” said tournament champion Kennedy. “I want to thank Patrick Shine and the members of Commonwealth National for hosting us at such an outstanding facility. I also want to thank Laura Manchester and Kevin Martin from Callaway Golf for supporting this great event.’

Despite falling two points short to Eric Kennedy, Bill Sautter did manage to claim the low senior honors with his 22 points. Sautter carded four birdies (3 points each) against two bogeys (-1 point) while carding pars on the remaining holes to finish 4-shots clear of second place finisher Bob Fritz (Manufacturers G&CC). Like Kennedy, Sautter will take the early lead on the Robert “Skee” Riegel Senior Player of the Year points list.

The Philadelphia Section would like to thank our Title sponsor Callaway Golf and our Section representative Laura Manchester and Kevin Martin as well as our presenting sponsor the PGA Tour. The next event on the tournament schedule is the Connelly Cup – Head Pro Championship being held on May 2nd at Fieldstone Golf Club.

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1    Eric Kennedy        35-33--68 24  
2    Bill Sautter        33-36--69 22  
3    Rick LeBeau         34-36--70 20  
T4   Eric McNamee        38-34--72 18  
T4   Michael Little      36-35--71 18  
T4   Bob Fritz           37-34--71 18  
7    Dave McNabb         37-35--72 17  
T8   Eddie Perrino       36-36--72 16  
T8   George Forster      36-36--72 16  
T8   Carson Solien       38-34--72 16  
T8   Rich Steinmetz      34-38--72 16  
T8   Dave Pagett         38-34--72 16  
T8   Steve Swartz        37-35--72 16  
T8   Kevin Kraft         35-37--72 16  
T8   Curtis Kirkpatrick  35-37--72 16  
T8   Bertus Wessels      35-37--72 16

Spring Meeting to Feature Keynote Speaker Rear Admiral Brad Williamson


Rear Adm. Brad Williamson is a native of Levittown, Pennsylvania. He is a 1985 graduate of the United States Naval Academy. He received a Master of Science degree in National Security Strategy from the National War College in 2001.

His career as a surface warfare officer includes assignments on USS Estocin (FFG 15), USS Vandegrift (FFG 48), and as executive officer on USS Vicksburg (CG 69). He commanded USS Thunderbolt (PC 12), USS Porter (DDG 78), and Destroyer Squadron 2. He also served as chief of staff, Carrier Strike Group 2/Theodore Roosevelt Strike Group; and as chief of staff, Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO. His most recent deployment was as the Commander, Standing NATO Maritime Group 2.

Ashore, he served as graduate education and service college placement officer; as future schedules officer on the staff of Commander, Naval Surface Forces Atlantic; as lead staff analyst in the Office of Program Analysis and Evaluation (PA&E) for the Cost of War (COW) Supplemental on the staff of the Secretary of Defense; as an executive assistant in OPNAV N81 (Naval Assessments) and OPNAV N86 (Surface Warfare), and as executive assistant to the Deputy Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command.

Williamson participated in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, and has conducted numerous operational exercises and missions in Europe, Africa, and South America.

His decorations include the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit (5 awards), Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal (2 awards), Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (4 awards), Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, and various campaign, unit, and service awards.

Williamson has served as the Commandant, Joint Forces Staff College since July 2015.  Continue reading