Allen Wronowski looks back on a week well done
PGA of America President Allen Wronowski anticipated a spectacular tournament this week. And yet, he says, it exceeded all expectations.
By Allen Wronowski, PGA of America President
SEASIDE, Calif. -- A little more than a year ago, when it was announced that that the 2012 PGA Professional National Championship would be coming here to Bayonet Black Horse, I circled the date on my calendar and did a little countdown to myself as the days drew nearer. So did my wife Gail, fellow officers, PGA tournament staff and a host of others. And why wouldn't we? We all anticipated a spectacular tournament and an incredible venue for this 45th National Championship.
And somehow, this week exceeded all expectations -- by a mile.
For one, with temperatures ranging from the low 50s to the low 60s (that's low and high temperatures!) and blue skies with a slight breeze -- the weather could not have been more perfect. It has been amazing! And the scenes you encounter -- the blue Pacific, the cliffs, the waves coming in, the cypress trees, the wildlife -- I keep thinking of the term "majestic." It really is.
Also, let's not forget the golf courses. I had heard many great things about both courses, the events they've hosted in the past; the U.S. Open qualifiers, the mini-tour events, via simple word of mouth. We knew it would be good. But the scenery, conditions, layout, the challenge -- they're incredible. Even more, the stories behind the courses, their history and the story of them today are as compelling as you'll find. Their relationship with the military personnel in the area means a lot to them, which makes them a perfect fit with the PGA of America's longstanding support of the military (raising money for ambulances in World War I to today, when we help raise funds for the Folds of Honor group.) So here we are at two courses, designed by two generals and named after two divisions in the Army -- and all I've heard are the players, families, staff and media saying how beautiful, tough and fair the courses are. It's a perfect set up to identify the best players after four rounds.
Of course, I need to note the real stars of the week. That's the 312 PGA Professionals who competed this year. If you think about the almost 4000 applicants who attempted to qualify, each and every PGA Professional who showed up is a winner. As my friend Keith Hirshland from The Golf Channel said in a speech before the final round, "Fifty-one weeks of the year, these guys are working hard everyday to grow the game, to make sure that other people are having an enjoyable golf experience. This week is a time for them to showcase their skills and talents."
And believe me, the players -- they are as nervous and stressed as any players at any event in golf. For 20 of them, they have the opportunity to realize their dreams and even change their lives when they are invited to play in the PGA Championship in August. For the winner Matt Dobyns, with the six PGA Tour exemptions and the invitation to play overseas in the Championship of the PGA of Japan, the Omega timepiece, the nice winner's check -- this is already a life-changing week.
One thing I try to do as often as I can -- but even if it's all I did for a week, I couldn't do it enough -- is to say, "thank you" to some very important people. For starters, to Dick Fitzgerald, the Director for Seaside Development; Felix Bachofner, the mayor of Seaside; Pat Jones, the PGA Head Professional here at Bayonet Black Horse; the Superintendent, Michael Donohue and his staff, and all of our friends here in the Northern California PGA section -- a great big "thank you." What a show you put on.
To our friends in the media, especially the Golf Channel which did such a tremendous job not only televising the event, but telling the stories behind the players we watch.
And a special "thank you" to the almost 600 volunteers who gave of their time and energy to be a part of this event, without which we could not have this championship (especially since many of them also served a couple of weeks ago at the U.S. Open), my sincerest gratitude and appreciation.
This is my final year as President of the PGA of America and I'm so proud to say that my final PGA Professional National Championship as president was such a stunning success. This event means as much to me, if not more, than almost any other -- this is OUR major for our members. The stories I will recall as an officer, from Chip Sullivan's win in 2007 after battling such serious health issues; to Scott Hebert in 2008 when his wife wouldn't tell him that she was about to go into labor so he could concentrate on his play; to the incredible run that Mike Small has been on -- this is more than just a championship, it's the story of our lives.
All on this website and on television, you'll read and see the highlights of Dobyns' win and the great journey that 20 of our members will be taking to Kiawah this August. But I wanted to take a moment to tell you that from my perspective -- everybody here this incredible week will be leaving today a champion in my book. It's been one of the most incredible events I've been a part of -- and I'm not sure I have the words to convey my great gratitude to everyone, including you, for the support. So how about "Thank You."