ORLANDO, Fla. -- The Colorado PGA Section, comprised of 626 professionals, is the recipient of its first Herb Graffis Award, presented annually to a PGA Section for extraordinary or exemplary contributions in player development, whether by conducting or supporting Play Golf America initiatives. It marks the fifth-consecutive year that either the Section or one of its members has earned national recognition from The PGA of America.
The Colorado PGA Section, with headquarters in Larkspur, Colo., was presented the award Jan. 24, at the 95th PGA Annual Meeting at the Hilton Orlando in Orlando, Fla.
The Herb Graffis Award is named in honor of the late golf historian, author, and founder of golf magazines, the National Golf Foundation and co-founder of the Golf Writers Association of America. Graffis passed away in 1989, at the age of 95.
"Our 2011 national award winners reflect the best values and qualities of our Association," said PGA President Allen Wronowski. "By their combined career work, our recipients have left an impact among their Section peers, their respective communities and influenced others throughout the country. They are inspiring to juniors, as well as aspiring professionals, which is a tradition in our profession. We are very proud to declare that PGA Professionals are experts in the game and the business of golf."
"I am extremely proud of the many accomplishments of the men and women of our Section in having the Herb Graffis Award bestowed upon us," says Colorado PGA Section President Tim Lollar, PGA head professional at Lakewood (Colo.) Country Club. "The Colorado PGA Section wears our PGA badge proudly, and we hope that what we do every day helps motivate people throughout the golf industry to want to do more to get even more people involved in the game."
The Section has implemented several innovative growth-of-the-game programs, including its groundbreaking "Golf in Schools" initiative - developed in partnership with the Colorado Golf Association, Colorado Women's Golf Association and Colorado Open Golf Foundation.
The program brought golf instruction from PGA Professionals to more than 40 schools and 7,000 children throughout Colorado. Students were offered three lessons in school; a field trip to a local golf course; and a Family Golf Day at the facility, so parents could see first-hand how much their children enjoyed playing golf, while giving them an opportunity to join in the festivities.
For the second consecutive year, Colorado PGA Professionals teamed up with BirdieBall to bring golf instruction to more than 1,000 juniors over three days at Dick's Sporting Goods Park and YMCA's across Denver. Afterwards, junior golf classes were offered at affordable prices at the YMCA, which enabled parents to allow their children to experience the game in a fun and non-threatening environment.
The Colorado PGA Section also partnered with The PGA of America and the USGA to host a PGA Sports Academy in conjunction with the U.S. Women's Open at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs - the first-ever Academy conducted at a major golf event. The program combined principles of golf with fitness, and provided instruction, along with life lessons in sportsmanship, nutrition and exercise for more than 300 juniors.
"What we do is not just about golf," said Colorado PGA Section Executive Director and PGA Professional Eddie Ainsworth. "It is about making a positive impact in the lives of others through golf."
The Section often utilizes special events to expand its promotion of the game. For example, leading into the 2010 Senior PGA Championship at Colorado Golf Club, Section members partnered with the Denver Nuggets to produce "PGA Night at the Nuggets." PGA Professionals gave free 10-minute lessons for four-hours prior to tipoff; conducted the halftime show for prizes using BirdieBalls; and utilized the arena to promote both the Championship and PGA Free Lesson Month.
"We like to think that there is no longer a box to think outside of anymore," said Lollar. "We try to use all of the facilities in our Section to brainstorm new ideas. If one program doesn't work, we try something else. And even if something works, we try to come up with something even better for the next time around."
In the weeks leading up to the Championship, more than 30 Section Professionals played in the Colorado PGA's "100 Hole Challenge," raising $80,000 for the March of Dimes and the Colorado PGA Foundation. PGA Professionals shared personal stories on local television, radio and in print of how premature births had affected their families, and why they were playing to raise money for the cause, which further showcased the positive influence golf has on communities.
The Colorado PGA Section was founded in 1957, as the 31st Section of The PGA of America. The Section originally had 30 members. Its territorial boundaries include the entire State of Colorado, along with the Eastern half of Wyoming (excluding Sheridan and Riverton). Since its founding, the Section expanded to include the cities of Spearfish and Rapid City, S.D.
"To be honored with the Herb Graffis Award acknowledges all of our Colorado PGA Section Professionals, and reflects the hard work and dedication we have done to bring outstanding golf programs to the community," said Ainsworth.
The PGA Annual Meeting also honored Patriot Award recipient John Hines of Baiting Hollow, N.Y.
The balance of The PGA of America Awards will be presented Thursday, Jan. 26, during the 59th PGA Merchandise Show at the Orange County Convention Center's Chapin Theater in Orlando. The program also will honor the following recipients:
- Chip Essig of Indianapolis - PGA Golf Professional of the Year
- Mary Bea Porter-King of Kapaa, Hawaii - PGA First Lady of Golf
- Mike Malaska of Gold Canyon, Ariz. - PGA Teacher of the Year
- John Rogers of Chambersburg, Pa. - Horton Smith Award
- Robert "Bob" Dolan Jr. of Chevy Chase, Md. - Bill Strausbaugh Award
- Rick Grayson of Springfield, Mo. - PGA Junior Golf Leader
- Brian Bain of Brookline, Mass. - President's Plaque
- David Hutsell of Baltimore, Md. - PGA Professional Player of the Year
- Sonny Skinner of Sylvester, Ga. - Senior PGA Professional Player of the Year
- PGA Merchandisers of the Year - Jeffrey Kiddie of Newtown Square, Pa. - Private Facilities; Hill Herrick of White Sulphur Springs, W.Va. - Resort Facilities; Susan Roll of Carlsbad, Calif. - Public Facilities.
About The PGA of America
Since its founding in 1916, The PGA of America has maintained a twofold mission: to establish and elevate the standards of the profession and to grow interest and participation in the game of golf. By establishing and elevating the standards of the golf profession through world-class education, career services, marketing and research programs, The PGA enables its professionals to maximize their performance in their respective career paths and showcases them as experts in the game and in the multi-billion dollar golf industry. By creating and delivering world-class championships and innovative programs, The PGA of America elevates the public's interest in the game, the desire to play more golf, and ensures accessibility to the game for everyone, everywhere. As The PGA nears its centennial, the PGA brand represents the very best in golf.