PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – The New Jersey PGA Section, comprised of 452 members and apprentices, was presented the Herb Graffis Award Saturday, honoring its exemplary contributions in player development and growth of the game programming.
The New Jersey PGA Section, with headquarters in Piscataway, N.J., was recognized at the 96th PGA Annual Meeting at the Hyatt Regency Baltimore Inner Harbor in Baltimore. The PGA of America also bestowed the Patriot Award upon John Kennedy Jr. of New Canaan, Conn.
The NJPGA Section was honored for its expansive player development programming, highlighted by Golf In Schools, an initiative that impacts 95,000 boys & girls at elementary and middle schools throughout the Garden State.
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.
“Through a wide-range of player development programs and charitable endeavors, the NJPGA Section has demonstrated a commitment to making golf more accessible for juniors, women and families interested in participating in golf,” said PGA of America President Allen Wronowski. “It is exciting to see PGA Professionals, apprentices and a dedicated Section staff being recognized for such a positive impact upon growing the game.”
Founded in 1931, the New Jersey PGA Section currently has PGA members employed in 66 percent of the 262 total golf facilities with the Section’s boundaries. The Section headquarters staff includes a three-person staff guided by Executive Director Scott Kmiec.
The New Jersey PGA’s Golf In Schools Program, which has expanded every year since 2009, has become a model for all 41 PGA sections across the country, and serves as a leading program to support the PGA’s player development initiatives.
Golf In Schools is an initiative designed to introduce the game to children, by incorporating it into the physical education curriculum at elementary and middle schools. The program currently impacts more than 95,000 elementary and middle school kids throughout NJ at 168 schools. Golf In Schools is funded by the New Jersey Golf Foundation (NJGF), the charitable arm of the Section, and is offered at no cost to school districts.
To support this program, the NJGF provides each school with an allotment of SNAG (‘Starting New At Golf’) golf equipment, offering developmentally appropriate equipment that allows golf to be learned and played in non-traditional venues, such as a school gymnasium. Additionally, PGA Professionals from the New Jersey PGA Section visit the schools to train the physical education teachers, working closely with them to ensure they are comfortable presenting the golf curriculum to their students.
The NJGF demonstrated its commitment to growth of the game in the state in 2011 by raising nearly $200,000 in one day at its fifth annual Golf Classic at Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, N.J.
Golf In Schools is one of three endeavors within Junior Golf in the Section, along hosting four Youth Golf Open Houses at public access golf facilities throughout the year and a High School Junior Varsity program to retain participation for prep golfers who were cut from their respective high school team.
The New Jersey PGA Section also conducts Junior Golf Tours that include a U.S. Kids Tour for youngsters ages 5 to 14; and a NJPGA Junior Tour for juniors ages 11 to 18. New Jersey has ranked as the No. 1 U.S. Kids Golf summer tour for the past five seasons, with an average of 120 members per event.
The balance of The PGA of America Awards will be presented Jan. 24, 2013, during the 60th PGA Merchandise Show at the Orange County Convention Center’s Chapin Theater in Orlando, Fla.
That program’s honorees include:
• Mike Schultz of Eden Prairie, Minn. – PGA Golf Professional of the Year
• Don Law of Boca Raton, Fla. – PGA Junior Golf Leader
• Carl Alexander of Bedford, N.Y. – Horton Smith Award
• Harry Hammond Jr. of West Chester, Pa.– Bill Strausbaugh Award
• Mark Holiday of Bozeman, Mont. – PGA Player Development Award
The PGA Merchandisers of the Year will be honored Jan. 18, 2013, at the Omni Orlando Resort at ChampionsGate, Fla. They are:
• Amy Pendergast of Bandon, Ore. – Resort Facilities
• Dale Smigelsky of Fort Collins, Colo. – Public Facilities
• George Kahrhoff of Castle Rock, Colo. – Private Facilities