Author: Matt Frey

Philadelphia PGA Section Unveils Modernized Logo

Lower Gwynedd Township, Pa. (February 6, 2024) — The Philadelphia PGA Section, one of 41 geographical managing entities of the PGA of America, covering eastern Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey, Delaware, and northeastern Maryland, has unveiled a modernized logo to coincide with the Association’s updated brand and “We Love this Game” marketing campaign. The campaign aims to elevate and reinforce the role of PGA of America Golf Professionals as boldly influencing the present and future of the sport and industry by delivering more enjoyable experiences to golfers everywhere, no matter where they may be on their golf journeys.
In conjunction with the marketing campaign, the Section has introduced an updated, modernized logo (below) to help better distinguish the Association’s brand in the vast golf industry. The logo, designed for digital and social media, broadcast, and print usage, showcases a more open, simplified look that builds off the Association and Section’s heritage while bringing more attention to the “PGA of America.”
The goal is to help differentiate PGA of America Golf Professionals, partners and programs that currently drive demand for the game at more than 10,000 facilities in America (nearly 600 in the Section), and for the nearly 41 million individuals who play this game we all love.
“The PGA of America consists of more than 29,000 men and women golf professionals who are motivated by their love for the game of golf, which is the underlying concept behind the ‘We Love this Game’ campaign,” says PGA of America President John Lindert, the PGA Director of Golf at Country Club of Lansing (Michigan). “Since 1916, PGA of America Golf Professionals have been the connection point of the everyday golfer’s journey. Partnering with Omaha Productions will only amplify what our PGA of America Golf Professionals do for the game on a daily basis.”

Phase One of the marketing campaign will consist of commercials and digital and social content produced by Omaha Productions, the media company launched by Peyton Manning. Appearances will be made by Michael Block, the PGA of America Head Golf Professional at Arroyo Trabuco Golf Club in Mission Viejo, California, whose incredible performance at the 2023 PGA Championship captivated the world; Joanna Coe, the PGA of America Director of Instruction at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pennslyvania; Dr. Alison Curdt, the PGA of America Director of Instruction at Wood Ranch Golf Club in Simi Valley, California; and Rich Jones, the PGA of America District Manager at Golf Galaxy in Bay Shore, New York, and the Founder of the Jones Golf Academy.
The campaign will shine a light on how the more than 29,000 men and women of the PGA of America are the game’s most highly skilled coaches, operators of the most acclaimed facilities and golf businesses on the planet, and golf experts who love the game and are passionate about being the access point to the sport for millions of golfers of every generation and background.
“As we embraced the directive of the PGA of America Board of Directors to find a way to celebrate and differentiate the more than 29,000 PGA of America Golf Professionals’ critical role in the golf ecosystem, we couldn’t have found a more innovative and creative partner than Omaha Productions to deliver on that opportunity,” says Jeff Price, Chief Commercial Officer of the PGA of America. “The Omaha team completely embraced the challenge to both differentiate PGA of America Golf Professionals and inspire passion among the 41 million golfers embracing our sport today. We truly believe they are the right partner to help us tell an emotional and differentiated story.”

29k Strong from PGA of America on Vimeo.

About the Philadelphia PGA Section
The Philadelphia PGA Section, covering eastern Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey, Delaware, and northeastern Maryland, is one of 41 geographical managing entities of the PGA of America. This Section manages nearly 900 PGA of America Members and Associates who are employed at over 590 golf facilities in our region.Contact: Matt Frey, PGA, Communications Director, mfrey@pgahq.com

PGA of America Honors Jim Smith Jr., PGA, and Dean Kandle, PGA, With National Awards

PGA of America Golf Professionals Jim Smith Jr., Philadelphia Cricket Club, and Dean Kandle, St. Davids Golf Club, have been honored as members of the Class of 2024 PGA of America National Awards honorees.

In all, 13 Award recipients will be recognized at the 71st PGA Show today, Jan. 24, at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida, at 4 p.m. ET on the PGA of America Industry Stage presented by CapTech. All 13 recipients are scheduled to attend the ceremony.

“Our 2024 PGA of America Award recipients have dedicated their lives to helping countless individuals enjoy this game we all love, and they do it exceptionally well,” said PGA of America President John Lindert, PGA Director of Golf at the Country Club of Lansing in Lansing, Michigan. “I have had the opportunity to get to know several of our winners over the years and they truly are a great representation of what our more than 30,000 PGA of America Golf Professionals do on a daily basis. To stand out among their peers is an incredible achievement.”

In addition, the recently announced 2023 PGA of America Professional Players of the Year presented by Rolex award recipients will be celebrated on the Industry Stage, including: Men’s PGA Professional Player of the Year Michael Block of Mission Viejo, California.; Women’s PGA Professional Player of the Year Stephanie Connelly-Eiswerth of Jacksonville, Florida; and Senior PGA Professional Player of the Year Bob Sowards of Dublin, Ohio.

JIM SMITH JR., PGA – Bill Strausbaugh Award – Philadelphia Cricket Club – Flourtown, Pa.

Jim Smith, Jr., a 29-year PGA of America Member in the Philadelphia PGA Section, and Director of Golf at the Philadelphia Cricket Club, in Flourtown, Pa., is the 2024 Bill Strausbaugh Award winner, which recognizes a PGA of America Golf Professional who demonstrates exceptional character, integrity and leadership through teaching and mentoring other PGA of America Golf Professionals. A native of Jenkintown, Pa., and a resident of Rydal, Pa., Smith, Jr. graduated from Temple University in 1990 with a BS in Finance & Economics. In 1992, he became the Head Golf Professional at The Abington Club in his hometown of Jenkintown, where he worked for four years. In 1996, he became the Director of Golf/General Manager at Talamore Country Club, in Ambler, PA., where he spent 10 years before moving onto his current role at the Philadelphia Cricket Club. A decorated PGA Member, Smith, Jr. has earned numerous awards and accolades in the Philadelphia PGA Section, including PGA Golf Professional of the Year in 2005, Merchandiser of the Year, Private in 2002 and the Bill Strausbaugh Award in 2006, 2013 and 2022. He is also a dedicated leader of the Philadelphia PGA Section, having been elected President from 2007-2009, and serving as a member of the Section Board of Directors/Executive Committee from 2000-2011.

DEAN KANDLE, PGA – PGA of America Professional Development Award – St. Davids Golf Club – Wayne, Pa.

Dean Kandle, PGA, a Philadelphia PGA Section Member and the General Manager at St. Davids Golf Club in Wayne, Pa., has earned the 2024 PGA of America Professional Development Award. This honor recognizes a PGA of America Member who displays commendable contributions to the education of PGA of America Golf Professionals. A multi-award winner on the Section level, Kandle is a 3-time recipient of the PGA Professional Development Award (2019, ‘20, ‘21), as well as winner of the Bill Strausbaugh Award (2018) and the PGA Golf Professional of the Year (2020). Kandle twice served as a member of the Philadelphia Section Education Committee (2011-13, 2018-22) and represented the Philadelphia Section Board of Directors as the District VI Director (2019-22). He is a regular host and contributor to PGA of America Education seminars and workshops, and a strong supporter of PGA REACH programming. Kandle is passionate about delivering continuing education to help improve the lives of PGA of America Members. One of his most successful projects was the creation of Golf Professional Growth (GPG), a professional-development website that delivers a wealth of content while covering a wide range of important topics, all designed to help PGA of America Members “Work Smarter and Live Better.” Kandle demonstrates his commitment to education by hosting two successful podcasts, “Getting Better Now” and “The Golf Professional Growth Project,” both dedicated to helping PGA Professionals grow as golf professionals and leaders.

2024 PGA of America National Award Recipients
PGA of America Golf Professional of the Year
Tony Pancake, PGA – Crooked Stick Golf Club – Carmel, Indiana
PGA of America Teacher & Coach of the Year
Joe Hallett, PGA – Vanderbilt Legends Club – Franklin, Tennessee
PGA of America Golf Executive of the Year
Kelly Williams, PGA – Greenbrier Golf & Country Club – Lexington, Kentucky
Bill Strausbaugh Award
Jim Smith Jr., PGA – Philadelphia Cricket Club – Flourtown, Pennsylvania
PGA of America Professional Development Award
Dean Kandle, PGA – St. Davids Golf Club – Wayne, Pennsylvania
Deacon Palmer Award
Mark Egly, PGA – Des Moines Driving Range – Des Moines, Iowa
Patriot Award
Jon DePriest, PGA – Sunset Hills Country Club – Edwardsville, Illinois
PGA of America Player Development Award
Crystal Morse, PGA – The Legends Golf Club – Franklin, Indiana
PGA of America Youth Player Development Award
Connie DeMattia, PGA – Cantigny Golf – Wheaton, Illinois
Herb Graffis Award
Iowa PGA Section
PGA of America Merchandiser of the Year – Resort Category
Robert Koontz, PGA – French Lick – French Lick, Indiana
PGA of America Merchandiser of the Year – Private Category
Morgan Jewell – Floridian National Golf Club – Palm City, Florida
PGA of America Merchandiser of the Year – Public Category
Jason Loomis, PGA – Great River Golf Club – Milford, Connecticut

Join Us for a PGA of America Associate Networking Event at Sunnybrook Golf Club

The Philadelphia PGA Section has organized a free networking event for PGA of America Associates on Wednesday, February 7 at 5:00 p.m. in Sunnybrook Golf Club’s swing studio. In addition to networking with peers, PGA of America representatives Joe Doughty, PGA, and Leila Mackie, PGA, will be in attendance to answer questions about the Association, employment, compensation, along with updates from the Section and PAO (Philadelphia Assistants Organization).

To register, click here.

PGA of America Associate Networking Event

Wednesday, February 7
5:00 – 7:00 p.m.

Sunnybrook Golf Club
398 Stenton Avenue
Plymouth Meeting, PA 19462

Free to attend

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, mfrey@pgahq.com

Message from Philadelphia PGA Section President Chip Richter

Dear Fellow PGA of America Golf Professionals:

I hope this message finds you well and you all had a happy and healthy holiday season. I know 2023 was another busy year for all of us. Certainly a little time off will be good for everyone to recharge the batteries and get ready for another busy year in 2024.

Shortly after our Fall Membership Meeting at Philmont Country Club, your Section team traveled to Frisco, Texas, for the PGA of America Annual Meeting at our new headquarters. First, if you have not seen the new facility, you need to. The entire campus is amazing. Trust me on this one, if you get a chance to go, take advantage of it. It was great to see two of PGA of America Members from our Section win sational awards as Johnny Carpineta won the Patriot Award, while Jeff Kiddie was named Golf Professional of the Year, the PGA of America’s highest honor; he is the first ever recipient to hail from the Philadelphia PGA Section. It did not take the many people there very long to start treating “Johnny C” like a rockstar. The guy was getting high fives and handshakes from everyone there after hearing his story. It was fun to experience.

We had a lot of interesting breakout sessions and presentations while in Texas. PGA REACH, PGA LEAD, future projections, and more were discussed. Another very interesting presentation was from the National Golf Foundation, which had a lot of great data on the growth of the game. Specifically, post-pandemic growth. The bottom line is golf grew at significant rates in 2020 and 2021, and although growth has slowed slightly, it is still trending upwards, and all metrics show continued growth expected in 2024.

Our Section Awards Committee met in December to determine our newest winners, and they did a really nice job of picking the recipients. There are so many deserving stories but this year’s winners are as inspiring as ever. For full details on the winners and their stories, click here. We will be honoring our winners on March 17 at our annual awards dinner, which promises to be another fun celebration.

If you got a phone call or email toward the end of the year asking for your help in completing your compensation profile, and you filled it out, thank you! If you did not, there is still time to get your survey completed. It is completely confidential and only takes five or six minutes to complete. Our tiered funding from the PGA of America is directly tied to our completion percentage on this, and honestly, we are not real good in relation to the other 40 Sections for completion percentage on these surveys. We could really use your help on this folks, please take a few minutes to fill this out if you can by clicking here.

The staff at the Section office, as well as our committee members, are working away on schedules and programs for 2024. If you are interested in hosting a Philadelphia PGA Junior Tour event or have an idea for an educational event in 2024, please let us know. In most cases, our best ideas come directly from our member.

The first few months as your president have been busy, but very enjoyable. If you have any questions or ideas, I can always be reached via email at chipr@pga.com or on my phone at (717) 421-0211. I am always available and happy to help in any way I can. Until next time, I hope you all have a wonderful start to 2024, and may we all get to enjoy a little rest and family time over the next few months.

Best Wishes,

Peter G. “Chip” Richter PGA
President
Philadelphia PGA Section

Dr. Alison Curdt, PGA, to Present at Merion Golf Club on Wednesday, February 21

Merion Golf Club PGA Director of Instruction Joanna Coe and the entire staff has invited our PGA of America Golf Professionals to attend a 90-minute presentation at their club from PGA of America and LPGA Master Professional Dr. Alison Curdt on Wednesday, February 21 at 5:00 p.m. Topics will be applicable for club golfers and coaches alike which will include the “Big Five” of sports psychology-the basic fundamentals of building a solid mental game. Dr. Curdt’s presentation will focus on practical solutions to build and fine tune those skills with an emphasis on emotional regulation, visualization, concentration, goal setting and confidence. The session will include a worksheet for all participants. The event will also be broadcast online via Zoom and will be recorded.

The cost for PGA of America Golf Professionals to attend is $25 per person. Merion Golf Club members will also be in attendance. Please note: Merion Golf Club has mobile device and attire policies, which are listed below.

To register, click here.

Dr. Alison Curdt, PGA, LPGA Presents at Merion Golf Club

Wednesday, February 21
5:00 – 6:30 p.m.

Merion Golf Club
450 Ardmore Avenue
Ardmore, PA 19003

$25 per person to attend
About Alison Curdt, PGA, LPGA: Alison is a PGA Master Professional in Instruction, LPGA Master Professional and Golf Digest Top 50 Teacher in America. Being one of 9 women to achieve the highest PGA credential earned by an instructor and only 1 of 2 women to be a dual master professional in both organizations, Alison has over 34 years of golf competition background and played on a full scholarship as a 2-time Academic All American at Florida State University while earning degrees in Psychology and Professional Golf Management.  Her teaching prowess has been recognized in many ways including being selected by the LPGA in 2018, 2017, 2015 & 2012 as the Western Section Teacher of the Year. Alison was chosen as the LPGA’s National Teacher of the Year in 2015 and the PGA Northern Chapter Teacher of the Year in 2015. In 2016, Alison was selected as the Southern California PGA Teacher of the Year and Golf Digest added her as one of the Best Young Instructors in America. Her clubfitting skills were recognized in 2016 as the Northern Chapter PGA chose her as Clubfitter of the Year and the SCPGA awarded her club fitter of the year in 2018. Recently the LPGA chose Alison as a Top 50 Instructor for the second time and the SCPGA inducted her into the Teaching Hall of Fame. The SCPGA Northern Chapter selected her as Golf Professional of the Year in 2017. In 2019, the SCPGA selected her as the Golf Professional of the Year and the LPGA Western Section selected her as the 2020 Golf Professional of the Year. Alison currently teaches at Wood Ranch Golf Club in the Los Angeles area

Alison completed her Doctorate of Psychology in Clinical Psychology with an emphasis in Sport Psychology and a Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology with an emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy. She is a practicing psychotherapist in the state of California and currently works with adolescents, couples, families, and individuals in her private practice Curdt Performance Therapy, in Los Angeles, CA. Alison strives to develop and coach golfers in all areas of their lives.

Alison continues to be very active playing competitively and has played in 7 LPGA Tour Majors: 2 LPGA Wegman’s Tour Championships in 2012 and 2014, and the 2015, 2017, 2018, 2019, & 2020 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.  She is the first women from Southern California to ever qualify for the PGA Professional Championship in 2018 and made a return trip to the PPC in 2021. She helped Team USA win the inaugural Women’s PGA Cup in October 2019. Alison has been a seven-time SCPGA Omega Women’s Player of the Year.

Alison’s teaching philosophy is a student-centered approach allowing her to use a vast approach of modalities to help students reach their goals. Extremely well versed in video analysis, club fitting, golf fitness, and the mental side of the game students can be assured all areas of their game will be benefited.

Cell Phones and Electronic Devices Policy
As stewards of one of the great, historic golf venues in the world, Merion’s culture is grounded in the traditions and values of the game of golf. Mobile devices may only be used for voice or silent functions, including texting and emailing, in the privacy of your automobile or in designated house phone rooms. This includes smart watches and other devices. Cell phone cameras may be used anywhere on Club property, provided the action is exercised with good judgment and the photos are for personal use only. Members and guests who will be sharing photographs taken at the Club may not share or post material that is disrespectful, offensive, defamatory, obscene, or otherwise unsuitable or inappropriate, or that would cause distress to, or infringe on the privacy of the Club or the rights of another person, including Merion Golf Club members, their families, guests, and Club staff.

Attire Policy
All Merion members and guests are expected to be dressed in appropriate golf attire. Hats and caps must be worn with the brim facing forward. Hats, caps, and visors worn by gentlemen should be removed while they are under cover (Dining Terraces and in the Clubhouse). “No cover under cover.” Gentlemen are to have their shirts tucked in at all times. Men’s shorts are not to exceed 3” above the knee; women’s shorts, golf skorts, and golf skirts are not to exceed 5” above the knee. Inappropriate items include short sleeve mock turtlenecks (men only), t-shirts, denim of any color, flip-flops, Crocs, cargo pants/shorts, open-toed shoes (men only), and non-golf athletic attire. Women may wear leggings under a golf skirt.

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, mfrey@pgahq.com

PGA of America Member Dustin McCormick Headlines 2023 Philadelphia PGA Section Award Recipients

Lower Gwynedd Township, Pa. (December 22, 2023) — The Philadelphia PGA Section has announced its 2023 award recipients, highlighted by Philadelphia PGA of America Golf Professional of the Year Dustin McCormick, the PGA head golf professional at Glen Brook Country Club in Stroudsburg, Pa. Nearly 150 award nominations were received for the 2023 Awards Class, of which the Philadelphia PGA Awards Committee chose 12 winners, including:

  • Golf Professional of the Year: Dustin McCormick, PGA; Glen Brook Country Club, Stroudsburg, Pa.
  • Teacher & Coach of the Year: Nick Iacono, PGA; Merion Golf Club, Ardmore, Pa.
  • Bill Strausbaugh Award: Eric Kennedy, PGA; Overbrook Golf Club, Villanova, Pa.
  • Professional Development Award: Dr. Brian Soulé, PGA; Penn State University, State College, Pa.
  • Patriot Award: Mike Wood, PGA; Saucon Valley Country Club, Bethlehem, Pa.
  • Player Development Award: Robert Munkittrick, PGA; DuPont Country Club, Wilmington, Del.
  • Youth Player Development Award: Becky Dengler, PGA; Ed Oliver Golf Club, Wilmington, Del.
  • Merchandiser of the Year – Private Category: Sam Ambrose, PGA; Chester Valley Golf Club, Malvern, Pa.
  • Merchandiser of the Year – Public Category: Brian Short, PGA; Penn State Golf Courses, State College, Pa.
  • Deacon Palmer Award: Fred Heller, PGA; Rolling Green Golf Club, Springfield, Pa.
  • Justin Riegel PGA Assistant Golf Professional of the Year: Bridget McLaughlin, PGA; Tavistock Country Club, Haddonfield, N.J.
  • Salesperson of the Year: Kevin McClellan; KM Golf Sales, Glenside, Pa.

Dustin McCormick, PGA, the PGA of America head golf professional at Glen Brook Country Club in Stroudsburg, Pa., has been named the 2023 Philadelphia PGA of America Golf Professional of the Year. This is the highest annual honor given to a Philadelphia PGA of America Golf 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 of America Member since 2013, McCormick started his professional career in 2007 at Water Gap Country Club, before being hired to his current role at Glen Brook in 2014. When he took over the township-owned facility, he crafted a five-year business plan that provided him complete decision-making authority and would allow him to right the financially struggling business. Through market research, vendor changes, and prebooking, McCormick was able to generate a profit in his first year, all without having to cut one cent from payroll. In addition, he created a new membership platform to encourage local residents to not only join the club, but enlist their friends and family to become members too. These changes, along with McCormick’s revitalization project, helped increase the facility’s membership roster from 43 to 325.

Having been born and raised in Stroudsburg, McCormick has restored the pride the members and local golfers have in Glen Brook. The facility has been experiencing impressive success, now hosting nine golf leagues, 64 outings, and tens of thousands of rounds of golf annually. As part of the revitalization project, the club installed new golf car paths and tee boxes, while also felling over 400 trees as part of their tree management program. Additionally, the recent success has allowed for the installation of an indoor golf simulator / launch monitor, which transforms his golf shop into a golf haven during the winter months, keeping his members and customers engaged during the offseason.

McCormick is quick to say that his accomplishments have been helped along by many over the course of his career. He credits PGA of America Members Bill Lee, John Pillar, and Greg Wall, for guiding him and always providing valuable advice. Their mentorship ultimately encouraged him to negotiate with township supervisors to hire additional PGA of America Professionals to Glen Brook’s staff, boosting the club’s operations, as well as jumpstarting deserving PGA of America Golf Professionals’ careers. As part of this hiring process, McCormick welcomed two-time Philadelphia PGA Professional Champion Alex Knoll, who has worked to increase the reach of Glen Brook’s coaching program, which now has over 150 students, up from less than 25 in just a few years.

Another way McCormick has embraced his membership and the local community has been through his “Dinner With the Pro” initiative, in which he hosts regular dinners for about 20 people to answer any questions and discuss how to improve Glen Brook and its operation. Furthermore, he partnered with the club’s Monroe Lady Golfers League to help raise thousands of dollars for local women in need.

McCormick’s service does not end at Glen Brook; he currently serves as the Philadelphia PGA Section’s tournament director, having completed a two-year term as the director of Section affairs, and a stint as the District 4 director. He has served as chair of the PGA REACH Philadelphia Committee, helping to ensure the 501(c)(3) charitable foundation’s mission to positively impact lives through the game of golf via three core pillars: Youth, Military, and Diversity & Inclusion, in addition to serving on the Awards and Teaching & Coaching committees.

This is McCormick’s second Section award; he was previously named the Section’s 2018 Merchandiser of the Year in the Public Category. McCormick lives in Stroudsburg with his bride, Cara, and three daughters, Adalyn, Maelyn, and Evelyn.

Nick Iacono, PGA, the lead golf instructor at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pa., has been named the 2023 Philadelphia PGA of America Teacher & Coach of the Year for his “outstanding services as a golf teacher, innovator and coach.” Since earning his PGA of America Membership in 2014, Iacono has worked to provide top-tier golf instruction at several prime facilities, including the Polo Club of Boca Raton, Elmwood Country Club, Ardsley Country Club, Chester Valley Golf Club, and now the famed Merion Golf Club. Iacono has worked with the club leadership, and their PGA of America Director of Instruction Joanna Coe, to improve the year-round Merion Performance Center, making it a one-stop instructional shop for their students. He has also helped to design and implement programming to facilitate the change of motor patterns, even during the offseason. Some of the educational offerings he offers include “Advanced Wedgeucation” to help students create more spin around the greens, Aimpoint green reading clinics, elite junior golf camps, as well as a staff education series and intern education (co-presented with John Dunigan, PGA) to help shape the next generation of PGA of America Golf Professionals.

While Iacono teaches golfers of all skill levels, several of his students have seen impressive competitive success, including 2023 PGA Professional Champion and 2023 PGA Championship competitor Braden Shattuck, PGA; 2023 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship competitor and two-time Philadelphia PGA Women’s Player of the Year Joanna Coe, PGA; 2023 Philadelphia PGA Silvercrest Cup Champion Dave Pagett, PGA; Philadelphia Assistants’ Organization Tour Champion Anthony Sebastianelli; and 2023 Metropolitan PGA Match Play Champion and 2023 Metropolitan PGA Silvercrest Cup Champion Mike Ballo, PGA.

Iacono’s passion is not limited to the boundaries of Merion, as he has become a certified PGA HOPE national trainer to teach his fellow PGA of America Golf Professionals how to safely and effectively teach U.S. military veterans. PGA HOPE (Helping Our Patriots Everywhere) is the flagship military program of PGA REACH and PGA REACH Philadelphia, the charitable foundation of the PGA of America and Philadelphia PGA Section. PGA HOPE introduces golf to veterans and active duty military to enhance their physical, mental, social and emotional well-being. The program introduces the game of golf through a developmental four-to-five week curriculum, led by PGA of America Golf Professionals trained in adaptive golf and military cultural competency. All programs are funded by PGA REACH and supplemented by PGA Section foundations, so the cost of programming is free to all veterans. Additionally, he has presented at multiple golf instruction summits and symposiums, both within the Philadelphia PGA Section and nationally. Iacono has also been named to Golf Digest’s Best Young Teachers in America and Best in State Teacher lists, as well as Golf Magazine‘s Top 100 Teachers list.

Eric Kennedy, PGA, the PGA of America head golf professional at Overbrook Golf Club in Villanova, Pa., is the recipient of the 2023 Philadelphia PGA Bill Strausbaugh Award, an honor he also received in 2014. The award recognizes a PGA of America Golf Professional who demonstrates exceptional character, integrity and leadership, by way of teaching and mentoring other PGA Professionals. Kennedy was also named the Section’s Golf Professional of the Year in 2015. A PGA of America Member for nearly 19 years, Kennedy says his goal as a mentor is to identify each person’s strength’s and weaknesses, and determine how this may affect the person’s ability to reach their goals. In the 18 years serving as a PGA of America head golf professional, he has seen four of his former assistant golf professionals earn head golf professional positions of their own. He says that if young PGA of America Golf Professionals are unsure of which career path they should take, it is his responsibility to help clarify their goals and ensure that they emphasize the required skill set. Kennedy has said that he has developed a unique skillset to recognize and recruit passionate PGA of America Golf Professionals throughout the country, and has implemented it while at Overbrook to improve the club’s overall operations. Furthermore, he believes that a person’s character and integrity can be measured by their reputation, and that his reputation is being someone who genuinely cares about others and is always available; helping others achieve their goals is the measure of a person with good character. In addition to helping his staff achieve their goals and move onto bigger positions, Kennedy has been involved with Section governance both here in the Philadelphia PGA Section and the Carolinas PGA Section. While in the Carolinas, he served the Section’s Hilton Head Chapter in all capacities, and helped create sizable charitable fundraisers for local communities. Here in the Philadelphia Section, Kennedy currently serves as Section secretary, after previously serving as District 6 director and director of tournaments. He has also volunteered his time with “Inside Golf,” a local golf television show that airs on NBC Sports Philadelphia, to promote the industry-wide player development program Get Golf Ready and is currently working on a new project to highlight local PGA of America Golf Professionals and their careers.

Brian Soulé, PhD, PGA, the Section’s 2023 Professional Development Award recipient, is an associate teaching professor, director of world campus programs for Penn State University’s Department of Recreation, Park, and Tourism Management, and assistant director for the university’s PGA Golf Management program. Soulé says that an integral part of his job is to develop, deliver, and advance education programs both at Penn State and with the PGA of America. In his 14 years of service at the university, he has mentored over 250 future PGA of America Golf Professionals. In addition to his official duties, Soulé has been organizing an annual PGA Golf Management Intern Conference since 2011. The conference is held in the northeast each summer with the goal of providing education, networking, and professional growth opportunities to PGA of America Students enrolled in any of the 17 PGA of America-accredited programs. Since its inception, the event has grown to host over 400 students and industry professionals. Furthermore, Soulé has volunteered his time to serve on several national and university-specific PGA of America committees, helping to create an international internship framework, refine program curriculum, and improve the way the PGA of America’s education is delivered.

Mike Wood, PGA, is the PGA of America director of golf at Saucon Valley Country Club in Bethlehem, Pa., and the recipient of the Section’s 2023 Patriot Award. The award bestows special recognition on a PGA of America Golf 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. He was named the Section’s 2022 Golf Professional of the Year, and has worked at Saucon Valley since 2003 and has served in his current role since 2021. The club has a long history of supporting Patriot Golf Day, and since 2007, has raised over $20,000 to provide scholarships to the spouses and children of America’s fallen or disabled military. Saucon Valley also recently hosted the Folds of Honor’s Eastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey Chapter’s Wingman Open, which featured a field of 292 players. Over the course of the past two years, the event has raised over $500,000, making it the largest single-day Folds of Honor fundraiser on the east coast. Wood was also instrumental in opening one of PGA HOPE Philadelphia’s newest chapters in 2023. The new program hosted over 60 veterans between their spring and fall sessions, and has plans to grow in the coming years. As part of PGA HOPE, Wood led a team of veterans to victory in the Section’s inaugural HOPE Cup at Riverton Country Club in New Jersey. As a result of their victory, the team will represent the Section at the 2024 PGA of America Secretary’s Cup during PGA Championship week in Louisville, Kentucky. Wood has also worked closely to host other events that assist veterans, such as the National Amputee Golf Association’s First Swing and Learn to Golf clinics, and the Eastern Amputee Golf Association’s Adaptive Golf Championship.

Robert Munkittrick, PGA, the director of tournaments and director of women’s Operation 36 at DuPont Country Club in Wilmington, Del., is the recipient of the Section’s 2023 Player Development Award. This honor bestows special recognition to a PGA of America Member who has displayed extraordinary and exemplary contributions and achievements in the area of player development. A PGA of America Member since 1992, Munkittrick says that his player development goal is to create and implement programs that enable individuals to enjoy learning, and that build camaraderie, and foster a lifelong love of the game of golf. Over the course of his career, he has earned PGA of America Certification in Teaching & Coaching, and has been certified by TPI, SuperSpeed Golf, and Golf Genius. He has also served on the Indiana PGA Section’s Board of Directors, as chair of that Section’s Education Committee, and as a member of their Member Relations Committee. Operation 36 also named him a Top 50 Coach in 2022. As the director of tournaments at DuPont, Munkittrick is responsible for 34 club-wide member events, 39 weekly league and special league events, 42 corporate events and charity outings, and six indoor golf leagues. As the director of the facility’s women’s Operation 36, he builds, markets, administers, and instructs three semester-long programs for women. Each program consists of eight weeks of one-hour classes and four nine-hole play day challenges. In the three years since its inception, Munkittrick has shepherded more than 350 women through the program. In fact, the program has been so successful that Operation 36 now uses DuPont as a national case study to help other golf facilities replicate their success. Munkittrick was also the head golf coach at Sanford High School for seven seasons, prior to moving into his current assistant golf coach role. Before working at DuPont, Munkittrick led the youth golf camps at Hartefeld National, and implemented Get Golf Ready, PGA Junior Camps, and Operation 36 at the facility.

Becky Dengler, PGA, is a dual PGA of America and LPGA Member, a LPGA Master Professional and golf instructor at Ed Oliver Golf Club in Wilmington, Del., and the Section’s 2023 Youth Player Development Award recipient. The award is given annually to a PGA of America Golf Professional who has made extraordinary and exemplary contributions and achievements in the area of youth player development. Dengler has also served as the program coordinator, coach and consultant for the Urban Youth Golf Program of Delaware since its inception in 1994, then under the LPGA, now the First Tee of Delaware. As a result, she has also earned her certification as a First Tee coach, and has served as a national trainer for the First Tee’s national office. She also works with the First Tee’s mentoring program to train youth golfers to help them achieve their goals. While working with the First Tee, she helped increase the percentage of girls active in the program, and strongly increased their school-based programming to reach more inner-city schools. Through the Urban Youth Golf Program, she created the Barbara Dengler Scholarship in honor of her late mother. Over $100,000 has been awarded to deserving high school seniors to assist them with financial aid at the college level. Dengler has worked in multiple roles while hosting LPGA / USGA Girls Golf programs, and ran clinics in conjunction with what is now known as the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship. Additionally, Dengler works with Women Golfers Give Back to offer six Players Program sites around the Philadelphia PGA Section. The program provides coaching for young female golfers beyond the introductory level.

Sam Ambrose, PGA, the PGA of America head golf professional at Chester Valley Golf Club in Malvern, Pa., has been named the Section’s 2023 Merchandiser of Year for the Private Category. The award recognizes PGA of America Golf Professionals working at a private golf facility who have excelled in business and merchandising in the promotion of golf. Ambrose, a PGA of America Member since 2011, personally spends 40 percent of his workdays in merchandising the golf shop he owns. His merchandising philosophy is centered around exceptional customer service. While he says Chester Valley’s merchandising approach is strong, they are aways improving, and willing to tweak, expand, or adjust in an effort to stay ahead of the curve. In a way to improve service and customer trust, the Chester Valley golf shop staff has started to reach out to club members in advance of their significant others’ birthdays to see if they can offer any assistance. Also in 2023, the club celebrated its centennial, and worked with renowned artist and Philadelphia native Lee Wybranski to create a centennial logo. The Pennsylvania Railroad Lantern logo that was used pays homage to the club’s inception, founded by railroad executives. The logo was included on 100 percent of the merchandise offered in the golf shop, and was well-received by the members.

Brian Short, PGA, the PGA of America head golf professional at Penn State Golf Courses in State College, Pa., has been named the Section’s 2023 Merchandiser of Year for the Public Category. The award recognizes PGA of America Golf Professionals working at a public golf facility who have excelled in business and merchandising in the promotion of golf. Short was elected to PGA of America Membership in 2010, while working as an assistant golf professional at Penn State; he took over as head golf professional in 2017. While he has many different responsibilities across the facility, he spends a minimum of three to four hours per day on the merchandising operation. In addition to the brick and mortar shop, he also runs an online golf shop so customers may stock up on gear while not at the course. He has added an extensive amount of SKUs to the online shop requiring a fair amount of backend web work. Another way his shop has remained successful is by offering multiple logo options for sale; the shop sells merchandise with the golf course logo, as well as the Penn State Athletics’s Nittany Lion logo. His professional staff strives for excellence by providing a quality product, for a fair price, within a comfortable family atmosphere. Additionally, Short changes the physical shop’s layout once per month to keep everything fresh. Outside of the shop, he has offered his expertise to fellow PGA of America Golf Professionals via PGA Magazine‘s PGA of America Golf Professionals’ Best Practices Series.

Fred Heller, PGA, is the first assistant golf professional at Rolling Green Golf Club in Springfield, Pa., and the Section’s 2023 Deacon Palmer Award recipient.  The award bestows special recognition to a PGA of America Golf Professional who personally displays outstanding integrity, character and leadership, in the effort to overcome a major obstacle in their life. This individual is an unsung hero/heroine at their facility and in their community, who serves to inspire, empower and assist others, both inside and outside of the game. In 2006, Heller was diagnosed with cancer and had his knee and seven and a half inches of his tibia removed. In 2018, the cancer returned and he had his right leg amputated above his knee following an infection. Heller said experiencing this challenging situation completely changed his outlook on life; every day, he simply wants to smile and make everyone around him smile and appreciate life, given it can change in an instant. Since his amputation, Heller works to teach at as many disabled golf clinics as possible each year, including the Good Shepherd Learn to Golf Clinic, Drexel University classes, the National Amputee Golf Association’s clinics, and the Golf Association of Philadelphia’s new adaptive golf programming. He recently started coaching a youth golfer who also lost his leg to amputation, and has since made his high school golf team. Heller also says that many Rolling Green members have told him that he is an inspiration when they see him play golf, which only motivates to promote the game of golf more.

Bridget McLaughlin, PGA, is the first assistant golf professional at Tavistock (New Jersey) Country Club, and the Section’s 2023 Justin Riegel Assistant Golf Professional of the Year.  The award recognizes PGA of America Golf 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. McLaughlin says that growing up learning to play the game of golf from her parents and working as a PGA of America assistant golf professional has taught her how to be adaptable in an industry that is ever-changing. It is her responsibility to stay organized and flexible when changes are needed to be made to the operation. She says that working at both Tavistock and St. Davids Golf Club in Wayne, Pa., allowed her to learn all aspects of a successful golf operation, and learn to adjust her involvement based on the clubs’ needs. McLaughlin prioritizes service over profit; she says it is more important to create trusting relationships with members so that they know I will always do what is best for them. She also says that being an approachable manager is very important so that staff members feel they have opportunities to ask questions or present ideas in a safe space. Outside of Tavistock, McLaughlin volunteers for the Section’s Women’s Committee to help create networking and education opportunties for the Section’s women members. Recently, she ran a leadership summit for the J. Wood Platt Caddie Scholarship Trust. The session was designed for women to provide a welcoming and fun atmosphere while being introduced to the game of golf. Included in the discussions were the barriers women and minority groups frequently face during their entry into the game, and what can be done to make the sport less intimidating. McLaughlin has also served as head coach for Eastern University’s women’s golf team, and helped to run clinics for the Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation, and Operation 36 programs.

Kevin McClellan, the founder and owner of KM Golf Sales in Glenside, Pa., is the Section’s 2023 Salesperson of the Year, an award he previously won in 1998, 2018, and 2020. 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. McClellan, a golf industry veteran of 33 years, currently represents Cutter & Buck, Ahead, Heritage Creations, Dynamic Brands, and Temercraft. He says his philosophy has always been straightforward and simple: work hard, be honest, communicate well, and treat each customer like a business partner. McClellan says he has been fortunate to work with some of the industry’s best buyers, merchandisers, designers, logo developers, and business minds, and that sharing that knowledge helps each of his customers become more educated and successful in their own business ventures.

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, mfrey@pgahq.com

PGA of America Accepting Applications for PGA LEAD Cohort IX

Do you have the desire and passion to share your diverse ideas, be involved on committees at the Chapter, Section, and National levels of the Association, run for office, or become a volunteer leader within PGA of America governance? Do you want to learn about enhancing and elevating your personal brand, how to facilitate an effective board meeting, or how to serve on a committee successfully?

If so, then PGA LEAD may be the leadership development program for you and we encourage you to apply on PGA.org on the Inclusion Hub. Applications must be submitted by December 18, 2023.

APPLY NOW

Eligibility & Application

While PGA LEAD is designed to drive a diverse demographic of participants with consideration given to gender, age, race/color, national origin/ancestry, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, and Veteran status, the program is open to all Class A PGA Members.

  • PGA Members who meet the following criteria are encouraged to apply for PGA LEAD. (PGA of America employees are not eligible to apply)

  • Class A PGA Member for at least one year and in good standing.

  • Aspires to serve as a national volunteer leader within Association governance.

  • Is committed to actively participating in monthly virtual meetings and completing related assignments.

  • Is committed to participating in PGA LEAD for one 1.5 year (2024-2025) including PGA LEAD activities at the two PGA events during the term.

  • Is committed to making a PGA LEAD presentation at a PGA Section Meeting upon completion of the program as an inspiration to others.

Any questions? Please contact Chris Noble, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Lead at cnoble@pgahq.com.

Philadelphia PGA Members Jeff Kiddie and John Carpineta Honored by PGA of America

During the PGA of America’s Annual Meeting Week at the Association’s new home in Frisco, Texas, Aronimink Golf Club PGA Head Professional Jeff Kiddie, PGA, and Bensalem Township Country Club PGA Professional and PGA HOPE Bensalem Chapter Lead John Carpineta received their national honors, the PGA Golf Professional of the Year award, and the PGA Patriot Award, respectively. Kiddie is the Section’s first-ever national PGA Golf Professional of the Year, while Carpineta, known affectionately as “Johnny C,” is the Section’s first national PGA Patriot Award recipient.

Prior to being interviewed by David Marr III in front of the Annual Meeting delegates, PGA Membership, industry leaders, friends, and family, the PGA debuted short videos highlighting each award recipient and the hard work they have put into their careers, facilities, Section and Association. To watch the videos, click on the below video screens.

Congratulations to both Jeff and Johnny! Both PGA Members have made our Section proud, and will no doubt continue to improve the game, Association, initiatives, and facilities going forward!

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, mfrey@pgahq.com

PGA of America Honors the Late Dick Smith, PGA, With Video Tribute at Annual Meeting

During the PGA of America’s Annual Meeting Week at the Association’s new home in Frisco, Texas, the late PGA Past President Dick Smith Sr. was honored with a moving video tribute. The feature highlight’s Smith’s impressive career here in the Philadelphia PGA Section and his involvement at the national level, as well as the impact he had on his family, friends, and peers. To watch the video, click here.

Michael Loeper, PGA, and Gene Stricker Team to Win 2023 Philadelphia PGA Professional-Superintendent Championship

Bethlehem, Pa. (November 3, 2023) — The 1912 Club’s PGA Head Professional Michael Loeper and Golf Course Superintendent Gene Stricker teamed to win the 2023 Philadelphia PGA Professional-Superintendent Championship‘s Net Division on Saucon Valley Country Club’s Old Course.

This is the event’s second year; it was created to show support not just for our PGA Members and Associates, but for the superintendents who take care of our sports’ fields of play so well.

On a cool, but sunny autumn day, the winning duo finished their round at 4-under-par, bettering the team from Trenton Country Club, Eli Reid, PGA, and Peter Daly by one stroke. The victors made six net birdies and two net bogeys in the one Better Ball of two format on the course that has hosted multiple major championships.

There was a three-way tie for third place at 2-under-par: John F. Byrne Golf Course’s Anthony Hoffman and Joseph Diacovo; Pine Meadows Golf Complex’s Andy Signor, PGA, and Tom Kintzer; and Paxon Hollow Country Club’s Daniel Malley, PGA, and Steve Stephens.

Whitemarsh Valley Country Club’s Dave Pagett, PGA, and Darren Farrar tied for the Gross Division title with GOLFTEC-Malvern’s Anthony Napoletano, PGA, and Mike Caber; both teams finished with even-par 71s. The teams from Trenton C.C., Pine Meadows, and Paxon Hollow, two behind.

To view the full results of the 2023 Philadelphia PGA Professional-Superintendent Championship, click here.

The 2023 Philadelphia PGA Professional-Superintendent Championship is supported by Golf Cart Services / E-Z-GOModern Brands, and SOX Erosion Solutions. The Philadelphia PGA Section and its PGA Professionals thank our host, Saucon Valley Country Club, its members, management, host PGA Professionals, and staff, as well as our partners, as the event would not have been possible without their support.

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, mfrey@pgahq.com