A stellar group of 12 influential PGA members will be honored at the PGA of America National Awards Ceremony at the JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort in Phoenix on Tuesday, Nov. 1, to kick off the PGA’s 106th Annual Meeting. They will be celebrated for their unwavering commitment to representing the 28,000 PGA Professionals around the world and the game of golf at the highest level.

Hosted by Dave Marr III, the PGA of America National Awards program recognizes PGA members each year for outstanding performance on and off the course.

“This distinguished class of national award recipients inspires those involved in the game of golf and the advancement of PGA Professionals in our industry,” said PGA President Jim Richerson. “The PGA of America is proud to recognize their achievements as they reflect the incredible expertise and talent of our entire association. Among nearly 28,000 PGA professionals, these recipients stand at the forefront, reflecting a level of achievement that we all can imitate and admire.

PGA of America National Award Recipients

PGA Golf Professional of the Year – Tom Wildenhaus, PGA, the director of golf at Olde Florida Golf Club in Naples, Florida, will receive the PGA Golf Professional of the Year award. It is the highest annual honor given to a PGA of America professional, given for leadership, strong character and extensive service to the Association and the game of golf.

PGA Teacher and Coach of the Year – Jamie Mulligan, PGA, Member of the PGA Southern California Section and General Manager of the Virginia Country Club in Long Beach, Calif., for the past 20 years, will be awarded the PGA Teacher and Coach of the Year for his “outstanding service as a golf teacher, innovator and coach”. Mulligan’s students have scored hundreds of professional wins on every major tour, highlighted by Patrick Cantlay, John Cook, Melissa “Mo” Martin, Amy Alcott, Jessica Korda, Nelly Korda, Paul Goydos, among many others.

PGA Golf Executive of the Year – Joe Assell, PGA, member of the Colorado PGA Chapter and President and CEO of GOLFTEC in Englewood, Colorado, was named PGA Golf Executive of the Year, which recognizes outstanding service in an executive position, as well as leadership, vision, courage, moral character and a substantial record of service to the Association and the game.

Bill Strausbaugh Award – PGA Master Professional Tim Beckwith, PGA, was a decorated PGA member in the North Florida PGA Section and most recently the Director of Golf at Sarasota National Golf Club in Venice, Florida. He is posthumously honored with the Bill Strausbaugh Award after he passed away last year following a courageous battle with cancer. The award recognizes a PGA Professional who demonstrates exceptional character, integrity and leadership in teaching and mentoring other PGA Professionals.

PGA Professional Development Award – PGA Master Professional Dr. Rich Ballinger, member of the PGA since 1996, won the PGA Professional Development Award. This honor recognizes a PGA member who displays commendable contributions to the education of PGA professionals. A graduate of Ferris State University’s PGA University Golf Management Program, Ballinger has served as director of the Sam Houston State PGA University Golf Management Program in Huntsville, Texas since its inception in 2005.

Deacon Palmer Award – Bryan DeMarco, PGA, The head professional at Pine Barrens Golf Club in Jackson, New Jersey, has been shortlisted for the Deacon Palmer Award, honoring a PGA professional who demonstrates exceptional integrity, character and leadership in his efforts to overcome a major obstacle in his life. Diagnosed with cancer at just 21 during his freshman year at Penn State, DeMarco battled the disease while pursuing his dream of becoming a PGA professional.

Patriot Award – Joe Grohman, PGA, The owner and operator of the Joe Grohman Golf Foundation in Hobe Sound, Florida is the recipient of the Patriot Award. The honor is awarded to 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 the United States from America. Grohman is a National Coach for PGA HOPE (Helping Our Patriots Everywhere), PGA REACH’s flagship military program.

PGA Player Development Award – Thomas Yost, PGA, Member of the PGA for 24 years in the Sun County PGA Section, is the recipient of the PGA Player Development Award. This honor confers special recognition on a PGA Member who has demonstrated extraordinary and exemplary contributions and achievements in the field of player development. Yost is a teacher of life skills and character values ​​as the director of programs at First Tee – Four Corners in Kirtland, New Mexico.

PGA Young Player Development Award – Andrew Miller, PGA, a member of the PGA of Philadelphia Chapter and director of PGA instruction at LedgeRock Golf Club in Mohnton, Pennsylvania, is the recipient of the 2021 PGA Youth Player Development Award. The honor goes to a member of the PGA who have made extraordinary and exemplary contributions and achievements in the field of young player development.

PGA Merchandiser of the Year – Resort Category – Caroline Basarab, PGA, a Georgia PGA Chapter Member and Retail Manager at Reynolds Lake Oconee in Greensboro, Georgia is the winner of the PGA Merchandiser of the Year – Resort Category. The award recognizes PGA professionals who excel in golf promotion business and merchandising. This is the second time that Basarab has received this national award (2009).

PGA Merchandiser of the Year – Public Category – Brian Tolnar, PGA, the Director of Golf and Recreation Operations at Mill Creek MetroParks Golf Course in Youngstown, Ohio is the recipient of the PGA Merchandiser of the Year – Public Category award. The award recognizes PGA professionals who have excelled in business and merchandising in the promotion of golf.

PGA Merchandiser of the Year – Private Category – Ian Brown, PGA, a member of the Illinois PGA Chapter and Director of Golf at Butterfield Country Club in Oak Brook, Illinois, is the recipient of the 2021 PGA Merchandiser of the Year – Private Category. The award recognizes PGA professionals who have excelled in business and merchandising in the promotion of golf.

For full biographies of national award winners honored at the 106th PGA Annual Meeting, Click here.

To note:
The Herb Graffis Award will be presented to the Carolinas PGA Section on Wednesday, November 2 at the PGA Annual Meeting.