N.Y. native Mrva heads national award recipients as 2010 PGA Golf Professional of the Year

Jim Mrva
PGA of America
Jim Mrva, the PGA head professional at Monroe Golf Club in Pittsford, N.Y., has been named the 57th recipient of the PGA Golf Professional of the Year Award.
PGA of America


Published: Tuesday, September 14, 2010 | 1:59 p.m.

Jim Mrva, the PGA head professional at Monroe Golf Club in Pittsford, N.Y., who for more than 28 years has molded the careers of PGA Professionals and countless youth, has been named the 57th recipient of the PGA Golf Professional of the Year Award, the highest annual honor bestowed by The PGA of America on a PGA Professional.

A 33-year member of The PGA of America, Mrva is the second member of the Western New York PGA Section to be so honored.

Mrva will be recognized at The PGA of America Awards, Jan. 27, 2011, during the 58th PGA Merchandise Show at the Orange County Convention Center's Linda W. Chapin Auditorium in Orlando, Fla. The program also will honor the following recipients:

- Todd Anderson of St. Simons Island, Ga. - PGA Teacher of the Year
- John Kennedy Jr. of Rye, N.Y. - Horton Smith Award
- Nelson Long Jr. of Bedford, N.Y. - Bill Strausbaugh Award
- Ann Finke of Colorado Springs, Colo. - PGA Junior Golf Leader
- Andy Barbin of Elkton, Md. - President's Plaque
- PGA Merchandisers of the Year: Mark Mongell of Alpharetta, Ga. - Private Facilities; Dennis Johnsen of Grayslake, Ill. - Public Facilities; Tom Davidson of Hayden Lake, Idaho - Resort Facilities

The PGA of America also will honor the recipients of two additional national awards, Nov. 6, at the 94th PGA Annual Meeting at Copley Place in Boston.

- Jim Estes of Germantown, Md. - Patriot Award
- The Metropolitan PGA Section - Herb Graffis Award

"Our 2010 national award winners reflect the best values and qualities of our Association," said PGA of America President Jim Remy. "Our recipients have made an impact among their Section peers, their respective communities and influenced others throughout the country. They have inspired both juniors and young professionals - a rite of passage in our profession. By their hard work, we are proud to declare that PGA Professionals are the experts in the game and the business of golf."

-- PGA National Award Profiles:--

JIM MRVA - PGA Golf Professional of the Year

The PGA Master Professional at Monroe Golf Club in Pittsford, N.Y., Jim Mrva ("Mur-va") follows Craig Harmon (2004) as the only Western New York PGA members to receive the Association's highest annual honor bestowed on a PGA Professional. A native of Endicott, N.Y., Mrva, 60, was introduced to the game by his father, who worked for the Endicott Johnson Shoe Company. Mrva followed his father's lead and caddied at En-Joie Golf Club in Endicott, working his way into a golf shop position and later attending Rutgers University, where he graduated in 1972.

One of the most decorated Western New York PGA members, Mrva was named the 1998 Section PGA Professional of the Year; served 12 years on the Section board, including 2002-03 as president; was a three-time Section Merchandiser of the Year recipient (1988, '93, 2006); Section Junior Golf Leader (1986); and was the recipient of the Horton Smith Award (1996-97); Bill Strausbaugh Award (2008); and the 2003 Community Service Award.

In 2007, Mrva was inducted into the Western New York PGA Hall of Fame.

"I have been blessed to work for a great club, which has treated me, my family and my staff so well," said Mrva. "There is an easy answer why I stayed at the club. It's hard to give up a family."

On the course, Mrva has distinguished himself by competing in three PGA Professional National Championships and five Senior PGA Professional National Championships. He has won the Section Senior Championship (2000, '01); Section Match Play Championship (1987, '88); and the 1992 Western New York Open Championship. Since he arrived at Monroe Golf Club, Mrva has overseen 30 assistant professionals, of whom 25 remain employed in the golf industry.

"It is most satisfying to see a young person succeed," said Mrva. "We have had assistants go on to great positions at great clubs, including Aronimink, Hudson National and Firestone. Those former assistants and many others have come back to see us and stay in touch just like a family."

Mrva's passion for junior golf includes his serving on the board of The First Tee of Rochester since its founding in 2003, and since 2007 as a board member of the Reach for the Green Scholarship Committee, which provides academic aid to underprivileged children in Rochester.

Upon turning 50 in 1998, and with his children graduating from college, Mrva sought volunteer work through the United Way. He was pointed to the Big Brothers and Big Sisters organization, where he became a Big Brother to Jaquan "Quan" Lucas. Now 18, Lucas is working to attain a General Education Degree and is a services staff member at Monroe Golf Club.

Mrva and his wife, Susie, a Monroe Golf Club shop manager since 1983, live in Fairport, N.Y. They are the parents of a son, Matt, 38; and daughters Stacey, 36 and Jessica, 33.

TODD ANDERSON - PGA Teacher of the Year

Todd Anderson, 48, is the PGA director of instruction at Sea Island Golf Club in St. Simons Island, Ga., and one of the country's most respected and innovative instructors. A 23-year member of The PGA of America, Anderson is the second from his home facility to be named recipient of the national PGA Teacher of the Year Award. The award was established in 1986, honoring outstanding teachers of golf among The PGA of America membership.

Anderson was the 1999 South Florida PGA Teacher of the Year and the 2003 South Florida PGA Horton Smith Award recipient before moving to Sea Island Golf Club. Anderson has taught more than 70 PGA, Nationwide, Champions and LPGA Tour professionals. Leading this list is his coaching relationship with Brandt Snedeker. Other Tour professionals who have utilized Anderson's counsel include: 1997 PGA Champion Davis Love III, John Rollins, Charles Howell III, Brett Quigley and Dudley Hart.

Since 2005, the Sea Island Golf Club Learning Center has produced more than 50 winners on the three major U.S. tours - PGA, Champions and Nationwide.

Born in Grand Rapids, Mich., Anderson has spent the past six years at Sea Island Golf Club, which also is home to 1995 PGA Teacher of the Year Jack Lumpkin. Since 2000, Anderson has been listed among Golf Digest's 50 Greatest Teachers, and since 2002 has been one of GOLF Magazine's Top 100 Instructors.

Anderson attended the University of Alabama, competing on the Crimson Tide golf team from 1980-84, and serving as team captain his senior year. He turned professional in 1984, and began his PGA apprenticeship at Green Ridge Country Club, now Egypt Valley Golf Club in Ada, Mich.

Anderson's first PGA head professional position was in April 1987 at Elk River Club in Banner Elk, N.C. Anderson moved back to south Florida in 1994, where he was both PGA head professional and later PGA director of golf at Old Marsh Golf Club in Palm Beach Gardens. Anderson's teaching career also included a stint from 1989-97, working with the Golf Digest schools. Anderson spent seven years, 1997-2004, as PGA director of instruction at The Breakers Golf Club in Palm Beach, Fla. He moved to Sea Island Golf Club in May 2004 as PGA director of instruction.
Anderson and his wife, Stacey, live in St. Simons Island, Ga., and are parents of three sons - Travis, 22; Taylor, 19; and Tucker, 17.

JOHN KENNEDY JR. - Horton Smith Award

Born in Fairfield, Conn., John Kennedy Jr., 59, has spent 20 years at Westchester Country Club. He graduated from Fairfield University in 1972 and turned professional that year. He was elected to PGA membership in 1976, during which time he was an assistant professional at Sleepy Hollow Country Club in Scarborough, N.Y. He is the third member of the Metropolitan PGA Section to be named a recipient of the Horton Smith Award, which honors individuals for outstanding contributions to PGA Education.

In 1980, Kennedy was named PGA director of golf at Cold Spring Country Club in Huntington, N.Y., and served until 1990, before accepting his current position. He is a two-time Metropolitan PGA Merchandiser of the Year award recipient (1983, '91); was the 1997 Section PGA Professional of the Year; the Section 2005 Bill Strausbaugh Award winner; and is a three-time Section Horton Smith Award recipient (1985, '88 and 2009).

Kennedy had a rare link in his work at Westchester to one of the legendary PGA Professionals of all time, Harry "Lighthorse" Cooper, who before his death in 2000 served as an instructor at the club.

Fifteen of Kennedy's former assistants have gone on to PGA head professional positions. Among the many education programs he has supported include serving as a consultant to the Bhutan Junior Golf Association, which offers three- and six-month internships for aspiring PGA Professionals to help grow the game in the tiny Himalayan country bordered by India and China.

Introduced to golf through his father, Kennedy first caddied at age 12 at Brooklawn Country Club in Bridgeport, Conn. As a student at Fairfield Prep High School, Kennedy and two close friends practiced and learned the game at Fairchild Wheeler Golf Course, three miles from his home.

Kennedy and his wife, Eileen, live in New Canaan, Conn., and are parents of a son, John III, 21; and a daughter, Sarah, 17.

NELSON LONG JR. - Bill Strausbaugh Award

The son of the late PGA Professional, Nelson Long Sr., who spent 40 years at The Homestead's Old Course in Hot Springs, Va., Nelson Long attended Virginia Tech and distinguished his playing career by winning the 1972 Virginia PGA Open as an amateur. He also won the 1973 Virginia State Intercollegiate Championship before turning professional following graduation that year.

Long, 59, served his apprenticeship working for his father at The Homestead, and in the spring of 1974 arrived at Century Country Club to serve under PGA Professional Charles Beverage, a two-time Section Horton Smith Award recipient.

Following the untimely death of Beverage, Long became the PGA head professional at Century Country Club. He would go on to develop a strong relationship within his club and Section, and earn the nickname, "Uncle Nel," which was fostered by his assistants and former members. He is the second Metropolitan PGA member to receive the national Bill Strausbaugh Award.

Long was the recipient of the Metropolitan PGA 1999 Teacher of the Year Award; 2005 Horton Smith Award; and 2010 Bill Strausbaugh Award.

Long has been an ongoing supporter of the Westchester Caddie Scholarship Fund, the Metropolitan PGA Junior Golf Association, Women-at-Risk and the Columbian Presbyterian Hospital program to aid women with breast cancer. At Century Country Club, he guided the formation of a pro-am fundraiser in 1992 that has spread to multiple area clubs, and has raised millions in research funds to benefit the Dystonia and Parkinson Foundations.

For the past 28 winters, Long has served as golf director at Tryall Club, while teaming with the Jamaican Tourist Board to aid that nation's tourism efforts. In 1988, Long founded the Tryall Golf School, where he attracted many of America's premier teaching professionals.

Long's tenure at Century Country Club has brought another distinction. He is the only PGA Professional to have mentored three assistants who went on to win PGA Professional National Championships - John Gentile, Darrell Kestner and Ron McDougal. A fourth Century Country Club assistant, Gary Ostrega, was national runner-up in 1984.

Long and his wife, Teresa, live in Bedford, N.Y. He is the parent of daughters, Alexandra, 27, and Elizabeth, 24; and a son, Erik, 15.

ANN FINKE - PGA Junior Golf Leader

The PGA director of instruction at The Country Club of Colorado, Ann Finke is the third member of the Colorado PGA Section to receive the PGA Junior Golf Leader Award. Born in Scottsbluff, Neb., Finke was introduced to golf by her grandmother, who guided her through the game's fundamentals and into becoming a solid amateur player. In 1974, Finke became the first female from her high school to receive an athletic scholarship in any sport, and joined the golf team at the University of New Mexico.

Finke, 54, admitted that she reached a moment of truth in the game, which occurred in her first year at the University of New Mexico. She left the game for two years, because she was uncomfortable with the rigors of collegiate golf.

She transferred to the University of Nebraska her senior year, found "a renewed love for golf," and graduated in 1979. She turned professional that year and began work as an assistant at Scottsbluff (Neb.) Country Club. Two years later, while working at the Section Championship in Scottsbluff, Finke was offered a position at Riverside Golf Club in Grand Island, Neb. She spent four seasons at Riverside before assuming her current position at The Country Club of Colorado.

Finke's career includes several membership milestones. She was the first woman PGA club professional in the history of the Colorado PGA Section, and in 2008 was the ninth female PGA Professional to gain Quarter Century Club membership.

The Pikes Peak Junior Association (PPJA) began in the 1970s, serves nearly 400 juniors annually. Finke worked within the model of the PPJA, which has become a blueprint for other potential programs in the Section. From 1991 through 2002, Finke served as president of the PPJA, which since its founding has awarded more than $175,000 in scholarships.

Finke has coordinated the junior golf program over the past quarter century at The Country Club of Colorado, which has always allowed her to teach youngsters who are not club members. Finke gives 1,000 junior lessons each year and nearly 50 hours of golf clinics.

Since 1987, The Country Club of Colorado has employed PGA Professional Golf Management (PGA PGM) interns. Since the University of Colorado added its PGA PGM curriculum in 2004, Finke has taken an active role in the program by giving guest lectures to students. The relationship has spread to The Country Club of Colorado, where many of those same students have sought Finke for lessons.
Finke, who is single, lives in Colorado Springs, Colo.

JIM ESTES - Patriot Award

Jim Estes of Germantown, Md., the PGA director of instruction at Olney Golf Park in Olney, Md., and founder of an innovative program in 2007 that has served the needs of more than 500 members of the nation's armed services, has been named the recipient of the 2010 Patriot Award.

Originated in 2008, the Patriot Award is presented by The PGA of America to PGA Professionals who personify patriotism through the game of golf and demonstrate unwavering commitment and dedication to the men and women who have valiantly served and protected the United States of America.

Estes, 46, was elected to PGA membership in 1993. He is the second consecutive member of the Middle Atlantic PGA Section to receive the national honor.

In 2007, Estes founded the Salute Military Golf Association (SMGA), which has teamed with officials of Walter Reed Medical Center and Middle Atlantic PGA Professionals in developing instruction programs and events to serve veterans as well as their families. The partners of Estes' team are Disabled Sports USA and Wounded Warriors.

Estes, who had pursued a tour professional career from 1988 through 2001, said that SMGA was "like a new calling in my life."

Estes said that the origin of SMGA evolved from his personal observations of the war in Iraq through visits to Walter Reed Medical Center. The focal point of Estes' classroom is The Olney Golf Park, which opened in 1999. The facility provides visitors with 100 tee stations; a 12,000-square-foot putting green;, indoor heated bays for winter practice; video analysis, and an 80-yard, par-3 training hole to help master one's short game.

Estes has spent much of the past decade gathering research, working with physical therapists, attending the World Golf Fitness Summit, along with mental training seminars. He also has worked with Bob Buck, the executive director of the Eastern Amputee Golf Association, where he gained insight into the best prosthetics to aid a physically challenged golfer.

Estes has competed in four U.S. Open Championships and the 2008 PGA Championship. Next summer, he will compete in his sixth PGA Professional National Championship.
Estes and his wife, Susan, live in Germantown, Md. He has a son, Tyler, 15, who is enrolled in a military academy; and a daughter, Samantha, 13.

ANDY BARBIN - President's Plaque

Born in Maple Glen, Pa., Andy Barbin has spent the past 17 years at Chesapeake Bay Golf Club and its namesake public-access courses that lie in North East and Rising Sun, Md. The facilities are co-owned by Barbin, his father and brother, Harry, who is the PGA head professional at the family-owned Horsham Valley Golf Club in Ambler, Pa. Barbin, the only two-time Philadelphia PGA Section President's Plaque recipient, is the second Section member to be recognized nationally for outstanding support of Play Golf America initiatives.

Barbin, 44, began playing golf at age 11, developing his game to go on and attend Lynchburg (Va.) College, where he graduated in 1988 and turned professional that fall. Barbin was inducted into the Lynchburg College Sports Hall of Fame in 2003.

After spending autumns and winters competing on mini-tours in Florida, Barbin returned home, where the family purchased Chesapeake Bay Golf Club-North East in 1993 and led the expansion project to 18 holes. The family then purchased Chesapeake Bay-Rising Sun in 2001.

During this period, Barbin began suffering from Ulcerative Colitis, a serious inflammatory bowel disease that disabled him to the point that in December 2003 he had his colon removed. Through his surgery and what he described as his faith in God, Barbin felt blessed with "victory" over his disease. This inspired Barbin to create the Victory Golf Pass, which began with 68 courses and today annually promotes 212 facilities throughout Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and New Jersey to thousands of local golfers. Over the past three years, Barbin owned and produced the annual Victory Golf Show of Philadelphia, which was the largest event promoting Play Golf America initiatives and had more then 30,000 attendees during those three years.

Dedicated to giving back charitably, Barbin and his wife, Allison, gained non-profit status for their Victory Hope Foundation in 2009, which lists its mission to aid in the betterment of the lives of children and families suffering from Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis as well as those who are physically, mentally, socially, financially and religiously deprived for reasons beyond their control. Approximately $150,000 has been contributed to date to local and national charities through the Victory Hope Foundation, Victory Golf Pass, and Victory Golf Show.

Among Barbin's initiatives was conducting a golf clinic for the annual CCFA (Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America) Camp Oasis for stricken youngsters. This year, 50 of 150 youth attending participated in the golf clinic.
Barbin and his wife, Allison, live in Elkton, Md., and are parents of four sons - Andrew, 15; Zachary, 11; Austin, 9; and Evan, 6.


The Metropolitan PGA Section, with headquarters in Elmsford, N.Y., earned its first Herb Graffis Award for conducting and supporting Play Golf America initiatives. Featuring a wide spectrum of annual events that 737 PGA Professionals have endorsed, has "made us one big team," said Section President Joe Felder of Griffith Harris Golf Course in Greenwich, Conn.

The Metropolitan PGA Section established the Met PGA Junior Tour in the 1970s, which today features more than 90 events. The success of the Tour led to the Met PGA Junior Golf Association in the 1980s that today services more than 1,300 youngsters.

The Metropolitan PGA Section has a unique partnership with The First Tee of Metropolitan New York, joined by the Metropolitan Golf Association, and a group of business and golf leaders. The First Tee of Metropolitan New York has expanded to four golf facilities and three affiliates or satellite venues, servicing more than 100,000 golfers annually.

The Section's Golf In Schools program began a new curriculum several years ago by offering PGA of America instruction to the New York City Schools that featured golf teams competing in the Public School Athletic League. Metropolitan PGA Professionals now have contact with hundreds of youngsters annually who are playing golf on high school boys' and girls' teams.

This year, the first Met PGA Kids Festival was presented, joining youngsters in the Met PGA Junior Association and The First Tee of Metropolitan New York.
The Metropolitan PGA also joined The PGA of America's efforts to educate local, state and federal lawmakers to the value and importance of the golf industry. A major team effort took place to complete the project, which involved the Metropolitan PGA, the Northeastern, Central and Western PGA Sections, the Metropolitan Golf Association (MGA), amateur associations, club managers, superintendents, owners, builders and industry leaders. Together, the effort resulted in a New York Golf Economy Report, which was released in March 2010 in Albany, N.Y., to legislative leaders, key agencies and political groups.

MARK MONGELL - PGA Merchandiser of the Year - Private Facilities

Born in Connellsville, Pa., Mark Mongell ("Mon-jell") is in his 13th season as PGA director of golf at Cherokee Town and Country Club in Atlanta and the second Georgia PGA member to be honored with a PGA Merchandiser of the Year Award.

Mongell, 50, attended Slippery Rock University in Slippery Rock, Pa., graduating in 1982, and turning professional that year and taking an assistant professional position at South Hills Country Club in Pittsburgh. The following year, Mongell joined Pittsburgh Field Club as an assistant professional, where he served until 1986. He followed with a three-year stint at The Olympic Club in San Francisco (1986-88). He assisted in the 1987 U.S. Open merchandising at Olympic Club, which set sales records and provided innovative sales practices that are incorporated today.

In 1989, Mongell was named PGA head professional at Wilmington (Del.) Country Club, where he remained until 1998. He was named recipient of the 1997 Philadelphia PGA Merchandiser of the Year Award.

Mongell accepted the PGA director of golf position at Cherokee Town and Country Club in 1998, and went to make an impact in the Georgia PGA Section. He was named the 2005 and 2009 Section Merchandiser of the Year.

During his career, Mongell has worked with many of the game's premier instructors, conducted multiple exhibitions with his trick-shot program and has placed 19 PGA head professionals into quality positions.

The Cherokee staff's calendar of events includes the Founder's Cup and the Annual Member-Guest Tournament, which is a headliner, attracting golfers from 25 states and four countries.

Mongell points to the "Cherokee Standard" as the precepts his staff follows: "Anticipating needs and exceeding expectations with a sense of urgency, consistently delivering superior experiences, attention to detail and having heartfelt caring and respect for all."

Mongell and his wife, Lisa, live in Alpharetta, Ga., and are parents of sons, P.J., 20, and Mark, 16; and a daughter, Gia, 18.

DENNIS JOHNSEN - PGA Merchandiser of the Year - Public Facilities

Born in St. Charles, Ill., Dennis Johnsen was introduced to the game of golf at age 12 by his brother at the request of his mother. "My mother needed some relief, and I then drove my brother crazy, while we played at Pottawatomie Golf Course," said Johnsen. "I ended up loving the game from that day forward."

Johnsen, 57, attended Illinois State University, where he graduated in 1974. Johnsen began his professional career at Pottawatomie Golf Course one year later as a non-PGA member head professional.

In 1980, Johnsen was named PGA head professional at Pheasant Run Resort in St. Charles, where he served a 25-year term that ended in 2004 when he was named club manager at Pine Meadow Golf Club in Mundelein. Johnsen becomes the sixth Illinois PGA member to be named a national PGA Merchandiser of the Year.

During that period, Johnsen was a four-time recipient of the Illinois PGA Merchandiser of the Year award in the Resort category; served from 2003-04 as Section president; was Section PGA Golf Professional of the Year in 1999 and 2001; was the 2007 and 2009 recipient of the President's Plaque and earned the Section 2008 PGA Merchandiser of the Year Award for Public Facilities.

Johnsen said that Pine Meadow Golf Club excels through its club-fitting services that "differentiate us from other high-end golf facilities."

Johnsen said a Family Golf program at Pine Meadow has been a success over the past three years, as has a Ladies Golf League, which has developed into a highly-competitive league involving 56 players with 15 with single-digit handicappers.

Johnsen and his wife, Jacqui, live in Grayslake, Ill., and are parents of a son, Patrick, 34; and a daughter, Kara, 32. They also have four grandchildren.

TOM DAVIDSON - PGA Merchandiser of the Year - Resort Facilities

Born in Logan, Utah, Tom Davidson was introduced to the game of golf by his father, and began his golf career as a golf shop employee in 1974 at Smithfield (Utah) Municipal Golf Course. He attended Utah State University, graduating in 1988 and turning professional that year.

Davidson, 47, was honored in 2008 and 2009, as the Pacific Northwest PGA Merchandiser of the Year for Resort Facilities. He is the first Pacific Northwest PGA member honored as a national PGA Merchandiser of the Year.

Davidson's career path following college began as an assistant golf professional at Logan (Utah) Golf and Country Club until 1988, following a three-year term as assistant professional and assistant golf coach at the University of Wyoming Golf Club in Laramie. Davidson moved to West Ridge Golf Club in West Valley, Utah, as an assistant professional (1991-95), and was elected to PGA of America membership in 1992. Davidson earned his first PGA head professional position in 1995 at Eagle Mountain Golf Course in Brigham City, Utah.

Davidson was named PGA head professional at Birch Creek Golf Club in Smithfield, Utah, in 1998, and spent four seasons in that position before being named general manager in 2003 at Coeur d' Alene (Idaho) Public Golf Club.

In 2008, Davidson was named PGA director of golf at Circling Raven Golf Club in Worley, Idaho. Circling Raven is Davidson's first resort facility, where he also is responsible for all golf course operations including golf course maintenance. Owned and operated by the Coeur d' Alene Tribe, the resort and 18-hole golf facility are positioned on a reservation covering 345,000 acres of mountains, lakes, old-growth forest and farmland.

In challenging economic times, Davidson said his staff's strong commitment to customer service has elevated his operations. The adjoining casino resort makes Davidson's home facility the second largest employer in Idaho. Sixty percent of the golf course customers are from outside the Pacific Northwest region and are from around the world.

Davidson and his wife, Pauline, live in Hayden Lake, Idaho, and are parents of daughters, Lauren, 17 and Kamron, 10; and a son Spencer, 13.