Mike Malaska, the 2011 PGA Teacher of the Year, is also a very strong player. Malaska, the PGA Director of Instruction at Superstition (Ariz.) Mountain Golf and Country Club, who pioneered a standard of physical fitness evaluation for all golfers that evolved into today's model program, is competing in this year's Championship against 263 of his peers.
The PGA Teacher of the Year award was established in 1986, honoring outstanding teachers of golf among The PGA of America membership.
Malaska, 57, is a 31-year member of The PGA of America and oversees all professional instructors at Jack Nicklaus Golf Academies and Golf Centers around the world.
LONG TIME COMING: For the first time in more than 60 years, The PGA of America is hosting one of its National Championships in Virginia when the 23rd Southworth Senior PGA Professional National Championship gets underway Thursday.
In 1949, the PGA Championship was held at historic Hermitage Country Club in Richmond, Va. Hermitage, founded in 1900, played host to the 31st PGA Championship, which saw Sam Snead win his second of three PGA Championship titles, defeating Johnny Palmer, 3 and 2.
The PGA Championship was played in a match-play format from 1916-1957.
Snead, who was born in Ashwood, Va., went on to win seven major championships and had 82 total victories on the PGA Tour, which ranks him 1st all-time in that category.
FATHER-SON DUO MAKING ITS MARK: John DeForest, the PGA head Professional at Rondout Golf Club in Accord, N.Y., is making his third appearance in the Senior PGA Professional National Championship this year. He is a 21-year member of The PGA of America who had a career-best finish in a National Championship when he tied for second in the 1995 PGA Professional National Championship.
He is also the father of Chris DeForest, who ran away with the boys' title in the 2007 Junior PGA Championship, winning by an impressive five-stroke margin.
DeForest has also been making his mark and playing well as of late. Earlier this year, he qualified for the U.S. Open and placed 13th at the NCAA Championship while competing for the University of Illinois. He was also named to the All-Big Ten First-Team for the 2008-'09 and '09-'10 seasons and finished second in career wins at Illinois to PGA Tour veteran Steve Stricker.
"Chris has been playing some events since turning professional and getting ready for [PGA Tour] Qualifying School," said DeForest. "We are very proud of him and looking forward to seeing what the future holds."
ROAD TO SHANGHAI: PGA Life Member Larry Startzel of Homosassa, Fla., who celebrates his 40th year of PGA membership, is one of 10 PGA Rules officials on site this week and will be concluding the month with a trip of a lifetime to China. It's more than a typically busy month for Startzel, who will officiate alongside PGA Rules partner, Ralph Bernhisel, a PGA director of golf at Bella Collina Towne & Golf Club of San Clemente, Calif., Oct. 27-30, at the 2011 Lake Malaren Shanghai Masters.
The tournament is located in Shanghai's North European Luo Dian New Town in Baoshan District, amidst a scenic setting at Lake Malaren. World-renowned golf course designer Jack Nicklaus re-designed the 36-hole golf course in preparation for the event.
RULES OFFICIAL OF DISTINCTION: Don "Chip" Essig IV of Indianapolis, who was recently named the 2011 PGA Golf Professional of the Year, is serving as a Rules Official for the Championship.
Essig, who extended a family tradition in Section leadership, administering the Rules of Golf and managing golf facilities, received the highest annual honor bestowed by The PGA of America on a PGA Professional.
He is a 21-year member of The PGA of America and the PGA director of golf and owner of Hickory Stick Golf Club in Greenwood, and is the third member of the Indiana PGA Section to be so honored. He follows his father, PGA Golf Professional Hall of Famer Don Essig III -- a 1984 Horton Smith Award recipient -- as the second father-son combination to receive a PGA of America national award.
Chip Essig will be recognized at The PGA of America Awards, Thursday, Jan. 26, 2012, during the 59th PGA Merchandise Show at the Orange County Convention Center's Chapin Theater in Orlando, Fla.
WHAT’S ON THE LINE: The 23rd Southworth Senior PGA Professional National Championship begins Thursday at Creighton Farms in Aldie, Va., and River Creek Club in Leesburg, Va.
The National Champion will have his name inscribed on the Leo F. Fraser Trophy, while the low 35 finishers will qualify for the 2012 Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid, May 24-27, at The Golf Club at Harbor Shores in Benton Harbor, Mich.
The top eight finishers, including ties, will receive exemptions into the 2012 Southworth Senior PGA Professional National Championship and the top five finishers will be exempt into the Champions Tour National Finals at TPC Scottsdale, provided they have submitted an entry by the entry deadline.
The field for this year's Championship will feature defending champion Robert Thompson of Huntsville, Texas, as well eight other past Champions: Bill Britton (2009) of Rumson, N.J.; Jeff Coston (2006) of Blaine, Wash.; Kirk Hanefeld (2008) of Acton, Mass.; Tom Joyce (1990, '91) of Huntington, N.Y.; Bill Loeffler of Castle Rock, Colo.; Ed Sabo (2000, '01) of Tequesta, Fla.; Mike San Fillipo (2002, '05) of Hobe Sound, Fla.; and Jim White (2004) of Lincoln, Neb.