WASHINGTON – Nearly eighty years ago, legendary Bob Jones invited 37 PGA Professionals to Augusta National Golf Club for the inaugural PGA Seniors Championship. That 1937 gathering at one of the most hallowed homes of golf set the template for the oldest and most historic event in senior golf.
On Tuesday, at the invitation of President Donald J. Trump, 23 senior PGA Club Professionals competing in this week’s 78th KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship, got their own measure of history. They were guests for a private White House tour, guided by Andrew Giuliani, associate director of the White House Office of Public Liaison and 2009 champion of the Metropolitan Open.
“The President requested that we do something for the club professionals this week,” said Giuliani, a former member of the Duke University golf team. “We were very happy to have them with us. We’re hoping that they have a good week at the Championship.”
The Championship, staged at Trump National Golf Club in Potomac Falls, Virginia, is the first major to be conducted on any Trump property. Prior to a Tuesday practice round, the PGA Professionals received what many of them said was “memories for a lifetime.”
“It was a very surreal experience, and to share it with my two sons, Jonathan and Riley, it was very special,” said defending Senior PGA Professional Champion Steve Schneiter of Sandy, Utah. “You don’t do this every day.”
George Forster of Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, is making his 10th Senior PGA Championship appearance this week.
“It was really cool to go to the White House,” said Forster, a 61-year-old PGA Head Professional for 34 years at Radnor Valley Country Club in Villanova, Pennsylvania. “I’ve never been before, and to have your photo taken there is a memory you’ll always cherish. It’s an honor to represent the PGA of America in this Championship. I’ve not played that well, but it never gets old.”
Wendy Schuller accompanied husband, Rick, a PGA Teaching Professional at Stonehenge Golf and Country Club in North Chesterfield, Virginia, who is making his third Senior PGA appearance.
“I’ve lived in this area all my life, but this is the first time that I’ve gotten to visit,” said Wendy. “It is so great to have this opportunity.”
The PGA Professionals took a bit extra time in the East Room of the White House, gazing at the copy of the Gilbert Stuart painting of George Washington. The painting was rescued from the White House during the War of 1812 just before British soldiers captured the mansion, served themselves dinner, and burned it down.
First Lady Dolley Madison is often credited with the rescue, the only artifact that survived the original White House.
This week, a group of PGA Professionals stowed away some memories.
“To think that we are spending time here and have a practice round later in the day,” said Schneiter. “I’d say that’s quite a day.”