PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. - Eric Eshleman, PGA, the Director of Golf at the Country Club of Birmingham (Alabama), is the recipient of the 2019 PGA Golf Professional of the Year Award. This award is the highest annual honor given to a PGA of America Professional, awarded for qualities of leadership, strong moral character and a substantial record of service to the PGA and the game of golf.
A 24-year PGA Member, Eshleman has demonstrated a passion and commitment to training and mentoring fellow PGA Professionals throughout his career and has served in advisory roles on several golf committees. Eshleman currently serves as the Honorary President of the Alabama-NW Florida PGA Section, after a two-year term as President. During his time as a Section Officer, he helped raise the image and status of the Section and established a fundraising program for its foundation, while his stint as president included the approval of the Section name change (formerly the Dixie Section).
He has trained many PGA Professionals to become outstanding golf instructors, stemming from his devotion to bettering the golf community and fostering strong relationships with the individuals he mentors. Under his leadership, the Country Club of Birmingham has averaged more than 2,400 lessons annually since 2014. Eshleman is also a member of the PGA Adjunct Faculty, teaching golf to beginners and assisting students and staff in developing their skills and shaping their career paths. Additionally, Eshleman oversees one of the largest junior golf programs in the country, with 200 kids playing in CCB’s Junior Club Championship in 2018.
Well known as a teaching professional for students such as Graeme McDowell, Patton Kizzire, Paul Dunne and the 66th U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Eshleman has been honored by the Alabama-NW Florida PGA Section on several occasions. He received the Section’s: PGA Golf Professional of the Year Award in 2010 and 2017; the Teacher of the Year Award (2000 and 2004); the 2011 PGA Bill Strausbaugh Award; and 2014 Youth Player Development Award.
Kevin Kirk, PGA, a 26-year PGA Member in the Southern Texas Section and Director of Golf Instruction at The Woodlands Country Club in The Woodlands, Texas, is the recipient of the 2019 PGA Teacher of the Year Award for his “outstanding services as a golf teacher, innovator and coach.”
Kirk, a PGA Master Professional and a GOLF Magazine Top 100 Teacher in America, has taught an impressive list of students, highlighted by three-time United States Ryder Cup Team Member and 2018 Masters Champion Patrick Reed; LPGA TOUR star and Major Champion Lexi Thompson; and three-time PGA TOUR winner Jhonattan Vegas, among others. Kirk also works with professional golfers Maria Verchenova and Rodolfo Cazubon, making him the coach of five Olympians.
Committed to player development, Kirk’s holistic approach to teaching caters to individuals of all ages and skill levels, from newcomers to Tour stars. A sought-after presenter and instructor, Kirk is a member of the PGA of America’s Coaching & Player Development Committee and has delivered numerous insightful presentations at PGA meetings, workshops and education programs at the Chapter, Section and National levels, as well as coaching summits in England, Australia and New Zealand. He is an advocate for the Aspen Institute Project Play and strongly supports the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee and the PGA of America in the advancement of the American Development Model.
Fluent in Spanish, Kirk is a valued consultant for several golf federations, Olympic Committees and private clubs throughout Latin America. Highly regarded as a mentor, educator and role model for fellow PGA Members, Kirk’s passion is reinforced by his commitment to inclusiveness and sharing both his experience and knowledge with peers.
His recognition as 2019 National PGA Teacher of the Year follows a long list of awards at the Section level including: Southern Texas PGA Section Harvey Penick Teacher of the Year five times (1998, 1999, 2008, 2011 and 2017); the Horton Smith Award in 2006; and the Bill Strausbaugh Award in 2012.
“The 2019 Class of PGA of America National Awards winners has distinguished themselves as leaders and innovators, and it’s a privilege to recognize each one of them for their extraordinary commitment to the Association, as well as their passion for advancing the game and business of golf,” said PGA President Suzy Whaley. “With a commitment to excellence and the utmost of professionalism, these honorees inspire our 29,000 PGA Professionals to continually pursue the highest standards of success and achievement.”
Eric Eshleman and Kevin Kirk lead a group of 11 PGA Professionals and one PGA Section in winning the PGA of America’s 2019 National Awards. The majority of the awards will be presented on Thursday, Nov. 7, as part of the 2019 PGA Annual Meeting in West Palm Beach, Florida. The three PGA Merchandiser of the Year Awards will be presented next January, in coordination with events surrounding the 2020 PGA Merchandise Show.
2019 PGA of America National Awards Recipients:
PGA Golf Professional of the Year: Eric Eshleman, PGA, Country Club of Birmingham (Ala.)
PGA Teacher of the Year: Kevin Kirk, PGA, The Woodlands (Texas) Golf Performance Center
Bill Strausbaugh Award: David Reasoner, PGA, Ridgewood Country Club - Paramus, N.J.
Horton Smith Award: Todd Sones, PGA, Todd Sones Impact Golf - Vernon Hills, Ill.
Deacon Palmer Award: Randy Jones, PGA, Club Car - Richmond, Texas
Patriot Award: Judy Alvarez, PGA/LPGA, Monarch Country Club - Palm City, Fla.
PGA Player Development Award: Liz Cooper, PGA/LPGA, Springfield (Va.) Golf & Country Club
PGA Youth Player Development Award: Scott Wilson, PGA, Bay Meadows Family Golf Course. - Traverse City, Mich.
Herb Graffis Award: South Florida PGA Section
PGA Merchandiser of the Year-Resort Category: Sara Muldoon, PGA, Hershey (Pa.) Country Club
PGA Merchandiser of the Year-Public Category: Duncan Simms, PGA, Oak Creek G.C. - Irvine, Calif.
PGA Merchandiser of the Year-Private Category: Scott Kirkwood, PGA, Ocean Reef Club - Key Largo, Fla.
For bios and information on the individual award winners, click here.