Skinner looks to be winner in return to Senior National Championship

sonny skinner
Montana Pritchard / The PGA of America
With NBC's Jimmy Roberts moderating, Sonny Skinner received the Low Club Professional award from PGA of America President Allen Wronowski last May at the Senior PGA Championship.
Randy Stutzman
The PGA of America

Series: PGA Feature

Published: Monday, October 03, 2011 | 11:55 p.m.

Sonny Skinner takes pride in his ability to play golf at the highest level, and is seeking his first National Championship at the 23rd Southworth Senior PGA Professional National Championship presented by Mercedes-Benz in Northern Virginia on Oct. 6–9, would be a great leap in what has been a stellar playing career.

“Winning a National Championship would cap off my career for sure,” says Skinner, who shared sixth at the 2010 Senior PGA Professional National Championship in his debut appearance. “It has been a major goal for me and something I think is doable. But I better be prepared.”


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That ability was on full display last May in Louisville, Ky., as the Georgia native earned Low PGA Club Professional honors at Valhalla Golf Club in the 72nd Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid.

Skinner, 51, the PGA head professional at River Pointe Golf Club in Albany, Ga., finished with a total of 6-over-par 294 in the most historic and prestigious event in senior golf.

“To be the Low PGA Club Professional at the Senior PGA (Championship) was tremendously special and I take great pride in that honor,” says Skinner, who was making his first appearance in that Championship. “I felt great about representing the 27,000 PGA Professionals at one of our Championships.”

Skinner is the only PGA of America member to capture both the PGA Professional (2008) and Senior PGA Professional Player of the Year (2010) awards. He also shared runner-up honors in the 2008 and 2010 PGA Professional National Championships.

The 2011 Southworth Senior PGA Professional National Championship will be contested at two unique Virginia venues: Creighton Farms in Aldie and River Creek Club in Leesburg. This marks the first time since the 1949 PGA Championship at Hermitage Country Club in Richmond that a PGA of America-sanctioned National Championship has been hosted in Virginia.

“This is the largest event that we have had here at Creighton Farms and our entire team is extremely excited and looking forward to hosting this Championship,” says Michael Vidal, the PGA head professional at Creighton Farms. “This course will be a true challenge for all the players but one that they will thoroughly enjoy.”

The 23rd edition of the Championship features a 264-player field of PGA Professionals at least 50 years of age, who have qualified through one of the 41 PGA Sections or finished in the top eight in the 2010 Southworth Senior PGA Professional National Championship.

“This Championship is always so strong because it represents players who have been around the game for a while and many who have played the game at the highest level on the PGA Tour and Champions Tour,” says Skinner.

The field for this year’s Championship will also feature nine past winners including defending Champion Robert Thompson of Huntsville, Texas; 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 (2007) 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.

The National Champion will have his name inscribed on the Leo F. Fraser Trophy, while the low 35 finishers will qualify for the 73rd Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid, May 24–27, 2012, 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.