PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. (August 28, 2014) -- PGA Master Professional Ray Cutright, in his 21st season at Idle Hour Club in Macon, Georgia, has been named recipient of the 2014 PGA Golf Professional of the Year, the highest annual honor bestowed upon a PGA of America Professional.
Cutright, 63 and a resident of Macon, heads the 2014 PGA of America’s national awards class that will be honored in a ceremony, Thursday, Nov. 20, in conjunction with the 98th PGA Annual Meeting in Indianapolis.
"The passion, talent and skill of this year’s national awards class reflects what all PGA Professionals strive to deliver on a daily basis in their respective facilities nationwide," said PGA President Ted Bishop. "Our award recipients are PGA Professionals who make a difference in people's lives. We are proud that they are now the toast of our industry."
Cutright is the 60th recipient of the PGA Golf Professional of the Year Award, and the third member of the Georgia PGA Section to receive this honor, following John Gerring (1981), Dick Murphy (1994) and Ed Hoard (1999).
- Kathy Gildersleeve-Jensen, of Colbert, Washington – PGA Teacher of the Year
- Tom Morton, of Sacramento, California – PGA Youth Player Development Award
- Roger Wallace, of Polson, Montana – Bill Strausbaugh Award
- Pat Gavin, of Las Cruces, New Mexico – Horton Smith Award
- Ralph Landrum, of Crestview Hills, Kentucky – PGA Player Development Award
- Jim Dickerson, of Iowa City, Iowa – Patriot Award
- Southern California PGA Section – Herb Graffis Award
- Scott Nye, of Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania – PGA Merchandiser of the Year – Private Facilities
- George Ancuta, of Hackettstown, New Jersey – PGA Merchandiser of the Year – Public Facilities
- Ron Leporati, of Bedford, Pennsylvania – PGA Merchandiser of the Year – Resort Facilities
MEET THE 2014 PGA OF AMERICA NATIONAL AWARDS CLASS:
RAY CUTRIGHT – PGA Golf Professional of the Year
Idle Hour Club - Macon, Georgia
PGA Master Professional Ray Cutright is only the fourth PGA head professional in the 102-year history of Idle Hour Club in Macon, Georgia. During 22 seasons at Idle Hour, Cutright has designed an innovative youth development program, and he oversees a staff that operates the Blum Learning Center, a training home to nine college programs and many scholarship student-athletes. Among the talented youth to emerge from Idle Hour Club programs is PGA Tour Professional Russell Henley. Cutright also has inspired 15 former students and employees to attain PGA membership.
"Everything that I have done in my work in golf is because I am continually intrigued," said Cutright, a native of Syracuse, New York. "I wanted to learn more about what it takes to be a PGA Professional. Even at age 63, I want to continue to learn and stay informed about what's new in our industry. I use every opportunity I can to encourage today's PGA Professionals to follow in the footsteps of the great leaders of the past and present."
Elected to PGA membership in 1976, Cutright arrived at Idle Hour Club in 1993. From 1996-97, he served as president of the Georgia PGA Section. Three of his former employees also went on to hold the Section's highest office. Cutright was introduced to golf by his father, and was later mentored by PGA Professional Butch Hansen at Berkeley Hills Country Club in Duluth, Georgia. Following his apprenticeship, Cutright was named PGA head professional at Toccoa (Georgia) Country Club. From there, he became general manager at Riverside Country Club in Macon; later, PGA head professional at St. Simons Island (Georgia) Club; and eventually, PGA director of golf at Sea Island (Georgia) Golf Club. In 1991, Cutright became the 82nd PGA Master Professional in Instruction.
From 2008-10, Cutright served on the National PGA Board of Directors as District 13 Director. He was co-chair of the Instruction Committee and helped elevate the National PGA Teaching & Coaching Summit while also developing the Georgia Teaching & Coaching Summit. In 2003, Cutright won the Horton Smith Award for his contributions to professional education. In January 2015, Cutright has another honor in store, as he will be inducted into the Georgia Golf Hall of Fame.
KATHY GILDERSLEEVE-JENSEN – PGA Teacher of the Year
Indian Canyon Golf Course – Spokane, Washington
Kathy Gildersleeve-Jensen, PGA director of instruction and owner of KGJgolf at Indian Canyon Golf Course in Spokane, Washington, is the first woman professional to be named PGA Teacher of the Year. She is also the first Pacific Northwest PGA member to be so honored.
Born in Baker City, Oregon, Gildersleeve-Jensen first played golf at age 9. She was inspired by her father, Chuck, who played golf at Washington State University, and her mother, Kay, who was a 10 handicap player. As a teen, Gildersleeve-Jensen attended a golf camp and met the legendary Billy Casper. Her inspirational mentors helping elevate her career include: the late PGA Professional Joe Durgan, of Cheney, Washington; Randy & Ross Henry, of Henry-Griffitts, Ltd.; and PGA Professional Gary Lindeblad, of Indian Canyon Golf Course. Gildersleeve-Jensen turned professional in 1985, and was elected to PGA membership in 1990.
Gildersleeve-Jensen, 52, was appointed to the Pacific Northwest Section Board of Directors in 2012, the first woman so named in governance in the Section's history. That year, she also was named the Pacific Northwest PGA Teacher of the Year, which emanated from guiding more than 100 youth to achieve collegiate success; along with having the highest–ranked youth tournament players in Washington/Idaho; and many adult players who have become club champions. Included among her list of players are celebrities, as well as Canadian, Asian and Symetra Tour Professionals.
In 2013, Golf Digest selected Gildersleeve-Jensen No. 4 in its "Best Teachers in State" roster; and she was among the 2013 Golf Range Association of America Top 50 Teachers Growth of the Game list. Gildersleeve-Jensen continually incorporates new technology, science and formal/social media into her work, including Web Cam Live Personal Online lessons. She is an eBook Author of "How to Play Golf ... Inside 50 Yards" and has written countless magazine articles on the game.
TOM MORTON – PGA Youth Player Development Award
Morton Golf – Sacramento, California
Tom Morton, PGA Director of Player Development at Morton Golf, in Sacramento, California, is the recipient of the 2014 PGA Youth Player Development Award. The honor bestows special recognition on a PGA Professional who has displayed extraordinary and exemplary contribution and achievement in this field. A PGA Certified Professional, Morton, 39, also serves as President of the Morton Golf Foundation, which has donated more than $500,000 to youth-oriented golf programs that improve the lives of young people.
Morton has worked as Director of Player Development at Morton Golf since 1998, where he oversees the junior golf operations for three facilities: Haggin Oaks Golf Complex, Bing Maloney and William Land Park. He follows in the footsteps of his father, five-time National PGA Award recipient Ken Morton Sr., the only other Northern California PGA member to receive this particular award (then known as the PGA Junior Golf Leader Award, in 2002). Tom Morton has been honored with six Northern California PGA Section Awards; the U.S. Kids Golf Top 50 Kids Teacher Award, from 2006-08; the U.S. Kids Golf Master Teacher Award, from 2009-14; and as a 2013 Golf Range Association of America Top 50 Growth of the Game Professional. Morton also oversees all programming for The First Tee of Greater Sacramento at seven locations, reaching 6,500 youth golfers each year.
ROGER WALLACE – Bill Strausbaugh Award
Polson Bay Golf Course – Polson, Montana
Roger Wallace, PGA Director of Golf at Polson Bay Golf Course in Montana, is the PGA's 2014 Bill Strausbaugh Award winner. The award recognizes PGA members who have distinguished themselves by mentoring fellow PGA Professionals in improving their employment situation and through service to the community. A seven-time Pacific Northwest PGA Section award winner, Wallace, 54, is a former member of the National PGA Board of Directors; was Chair of the National PGA Communications and Public Relations Committee; and previously served on National Committees for Employment and Awards.
Wallace has participated in PGA Master Professional Thesis reviews for PGA members seeking the Association's highest educational designation. During his tenure at Polson Bay, he has guided six of his PGA Assistant Professionals and three golf shop assistants to become PGA Head Professionals, PGA Directors of Golf or General Managers. As the face of golf for 27 years in a town of 5,000 on the Flathead Indian Reservation, Wallace has provided guidance on golf operations and employment to a wide range of PGA Professionals, as well as numerous counties and municipalities throughout the Inland Northwest. He is just the second member of the Pacific Northwest PGA Section to win the Bill Strausbaugh Award.
PAT GAVIN – Horton Smith Award
New Mexico State University – Las Cruces, New Mexico
Pat Gavin, Department Head of Marketing and Director of the PGA Golf Management University Program at New Mexico State University (NMSU), in Las Cruces, has been named the 2014 Horton Smith Award recipient, for serving as a model educator of PGA Professionals. For two decades, Gavin has worked as director of the NMSU program, where he has helped develop the careers of nearly 700 PGA Professionals. Gavin, 49, is the Secretary of the Sun Country PGA Section and has played a key role in the development of both the Section's Education and Apprentice Orientation programs.
Gavin has raised more than $150,000 for scholarships and player development programs for minority students. He also has built the nation's largest PGA Student Tournament Series and offers free Saturday lessons for his students. In 2009, Gavin received the Donald C. Roush Faculty Teaching Award for the College of Business at NMSU. Gavin is the third Sun Country PGA member to receive the Horton Smith Award.
RALPH LANDRUM – PGA Player Development Award
World of Golf – Crestview Hills, Kentucky
PGA Master Professional Ralph Landrum, the PGA General Manager at the World of Golf, in Florence, Kentucky, has earned the 2014 PGA Player Development Award for extraordinary and exemplary contributions in growing the game. A Commissioned Kentucky Colonel and member of the Kentucky Golf Hall of Fame, Landrum, 57, is Vice President of the Kentucky PGA Section. He has won 15 awards at the Section level during his career and was named a "Top 5 Golf Instructor in Kentucky" by Golf Digest. Landrum is the first member of the Kentucky PGA Section member to receive the PGA Player Development Award.
A member of the National PGA Growth of the Game Committee, Landrum is recognized as a Top 50 Golf Instructor by Golf Range Magazine and a Top 50 U.S. Kids Golf Instructor. In 2013, Landrum, a resident of Crestview Hills, Kentucky, gave more than 1,000 private golf lessons. Among the numerous player development programs implemented by Landrum are: Get Golf Ready; Welcome to Golf; Rally for a Cure golf outing; Hook-A-Kid on Golf; Kentucky Boys & Girls Club; YMCA; Northern Kentucky Boy Scouts; Bring Your Daughter to the Course; PGA Junior League Golf; and the Pee Wee junior golf program.
JIM DICKERSON – Patriot Award
Finkbine Golf Course, Iowa City, Iowa & Blue Top Ridge at Riverside – Riverside, Iowa
Jim Dickerson is a PGA teaching professional at the University of Iowa Finkbine Golf Course in Iowa City; and the Director of Instruction for the GIVE (Golf for Injured Veterans Everywhere) Foundation at Blue Top Ridge Golf Course at the Riverside Casino & Golf Resort in Riverside, Iowa. Since 2008, he has been the lead instructor for the GIVE Foundation, a national golf rehabilitation model for its success in using the game of golf to aid in a veteran's recovery from both physical injuries and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) issues.
Dickerson, 70, has guided more than 600 veterans and their families to learn the game of golf. Born in Fort Dodge, Iowa and raised in Iowa City, Dickerson is a retired Sergeant Major who served in Vietnam as a member of the 173rd Airborne Brigade in 1968. Following his retirement from the Army in 1991, Dickerson became an assistant professional at Finkbine Golf Course and was elected to PGA membership in 1995. He is the first Iowa PGA Section member to receive the National Patriot Award and was the inaugural Iowa Section Patriot Award recipient in 2013. Dickerson also received the Iowa PGA Section Bill Strausbaugh Award in 2012.
SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA PGA SECTION – Herb Graffis Award
For a record 12th time, the Southern California PGA Section (SCPGA) is the recipient of the Herb Graffis Award for extraordinary and exemplary contributions by a Section to grow the game of golf. Led by Section President Jeff Johnson and PGA Past President Tom Addis III, who serves as Section Executive Director and CEO, the Southern California PGA Section has hosted one of the largest and most successful youth golf programs in the country for six decades. The Section reaches more than 2,500 participants and conducts nearly 300 tournaments annually for players of various ability levels.
The Section's "Neighborhood Golf" program brings the game to more than 1 million people annually across Southern California, including diverse populations that may not otherwise have been exposed to golf. The new "Golf in Schools" initiative, which reached six schools during its first year, will bring the game to 50 schools this fall, impacting nearly 1,000 students. To foster player development, the Section conducts numerous other growth-of-the-game programs year-round, such as: Get Golf Ready; PGA Junior League Golf; Drive, Chip & Putt Championship; Play Golf America Days; Girls Clinics; Adopt-a-Junior; Youth-on-Course; and the SCPGA Junior Tour.
SCOTT NYE - PGA Merchandiser of the Year (Private Facilities)
Merion Golf Club – Ardmore, Pennsylvania
Scott Nye is in his 14th season as PGA head professional at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pennsylvania , one of America's renowned golf facilities. He manages a 950-square-foot golf shop of distinction. Nye, 51, is the fifth Philadelphia PGA Section Professional to be named a recipient of the PGA Merchandiser of the Year Award. A native of Wooster, Ohio, and a 1985 graduate of the College of Wooster (Ohio), Nye oversees a 30-member staff in both inside and outside operations.
Driving the popularity of the Merion golf experience, according to Nye, is a blend of treating all customers as if they were guests in your home; maintaining proper inventory levels; and marketing a classic club emblem designed by Merion Golf Professional Emeritus, Bill Kittleman, a member of the Philadelphia PGA Hall of Fame. A resident of Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, Nye is a two-time Section Horton Smith Award recipient (1996-97); the 2012 Section Golf Professional of the Year; and the 2012 Section Merchandiser of the Year. Born into a golf family, Nye's father, Bob, a PGA Professional, is a past head golf and soccer coach at the College of Wooster. Nye has two brothers who are PGA Professionals- Greg, the men's golf coach at Penn State University; and Gary, PGA director of golf at Stockfarm Club in Hamilton, Montana.
GEORGE ANCUTA – PGA Merchandiser of the Year (Public Facilities)
Knoll Country Club West – Parsippany, New Jersey
In his seventh season as PGA head professional at Knoll Country Club West in Parsippany, New Jersey, George Ancuta ("An-soot-a") is the fourth New Jersey PGA member to be named recipient of the PGA Merchandiser of the Year Award. He is the first Section member honored nationally in the Public Facilities category.
Ancuta, 51, was the 2010 and 2013 New Jersey PGA Section Merchandiser of the Year, building a premier service reputation at a facility that was Golf Digest's 2010 pick as the No. 1 municipally owned course in New Jersey. Ancuta is a native of Paterson, New Jersey, and is a 1986 graduate of the New Jersey Institute of Technology. He turned professional in 1991, and was elected to PGA membership in 1994. A resident of Hackettstown, New Jersey, Ancuta oversees a 20-member staff, and has served on the NJPGA Board of Directors since 2010. Knoll Country Club West hosts golf outings four days a week from May 1 to mid-October, while emphasizing Ancuta's philosophy of "make a friend not a sale" approach. Ancuta's staff is trained to share in the responsibilities that directly affect the success of the golf shop and the entire golf operation.
RON LEPORATI – PGA Merchandiser of the Year (Resort Facilities)
Omni Bedford Springs Resort & Spa – Bedford, Pennsylvania
Ron Leporati, PGA Director of Golf at the Omni Bedford Springs Resort & Spa in Bedford, Pennsylvania, is the recipient of the 2014 PGA Merchandiser of the Year for Resort Facilities Award. A four-time Tri-State PGA Section award winner, Leporati, 40, leads the golf and merchandising operations for this historic facility, which features the No. 1-ranked public and resort golf course in the state; and has been ranked Best in Class among "Upper Upscale Hotel Chains" twice by J.D. Power. Leporati is just the second Tri-State PGA Section member to be honored in the Resort Facilities category.
Omni Bedford Springs Resort & Spa instills what it calls "The Trilogy" operating culture, with a goal of balancing the satisfaction of its owners, guests and associates. In conjunction, Leporati's philosophy for his eight-person staff is that there are endless opportunities to retail merchandise, as long you partner with brands that reflect well upon your facility. Accordingly, since the resort reopened in 2007 (after 21 years of closure outside of its golf operations), merchandise sales have increased nearly $100 per square foot.