From the PGA

PGA Master Professionals Convene for 2023 PGA Master Professional Summit at PGA Frisco

By Jesse Dodson
Published on

PGA Master Professionals from all over the United States convened at the Home of the PGA of America for the 2023 PGA of America Master Professional Summit in Frisco, Texas, July 30-31.

The Summit was organized to bring PGA Master Professionals together to discuss proactive ways to mentor not only PGA Members seeking to further their education and expertise, but also individuals interested in becoming a PGA Professional. It also served as a lead-in event to this week’s PGA Buying & Education Summit at PGA Frisco.

Kicking off the Summit was a Sunday dinner on the top floor of the Association’s Home Office, overlooking the PGA Frisco Campus, where PGA Master Professional and Life Member Norm Blandel, of Eagle Point, Oregon, was presented the 2023 Master Professional Lifetime Achievement Award by PGA Vice President Don Rea Jr.
The morning of July 31 featured roundtable discussions and constructive conversations with the 43 attending Master Professionals on mentorship, helping PGA Members achieve Master Professional status, and how to better tell the stories of the experts in the game and business of golf.

“Thank you for being here, thank you for coming home,” said Rea Jr., PGA Vice President, and Owner and Operator of Augusta Ranch Golf Club in Mesa, Arizona. “The power of the PGA brand rests on the PGA Members themselves, so I hope you feel very proud to be at the Home of the PGA of America. We have a very special group here, and I believe this group is going to grow in the coming years. This Summit was started to lean on the Master Professionals and your expertise.”

The PGA Master Professional program was established in 1969 to recognize PGA Members who make a significant effort to improve themselves as golf professionals and maintain the highest degree of excellence for themselves and their operations. The program is designed to ensure PGA Professionals are prepared to meet the growing demands of the marketplace within the Executive Management, Golf Operations, and Teaching and Coaching Designations.

There have been 438 Master Professionals in the history of the PGA of America. It is the highest education designation a PGA Member can obtain.

"We have two objectives: to grow the game and serve the Member. This group and the PGA of America can do it better than anyone can imagine."

Norm Blandel, PGA
In attendance was number 53, PGA Master Professional Warren Bottke, a PGA Coach at PGA National Golf Club in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. Also in attendance was number 438, Craig Bocking, PGA Director of Instruction at The Ledges Country Club in Huntsville, Alabama, who earned his Master Professional recognition just days before the Summit. 

Committed to furthering the impact of PGA Master Professionals on the next generation, Bottke; PGA of America Board Member and Master Professional Cathy Harbin, the PGA Owner of Pine Ridge Golf Course in Paris, Texas; and Blandel, played crucial roles in the creation of the Summit. 

“A Master Professional is a pretty big thing,” Bottke explained. 

Before becoming a PGA Professional, Blandel served honorably in the United States Marine Corps and then as a Los Angeles Police Officer. In 1974, his career path changed when receiving golf clubs for Christmas. He became a PGA Member in 1982, and then a Master Professional in 1996, the 174th person to do so.

“I wouldn’t have been a Master Professional without my wife at my side,” said Blandel at the dinner. “We all have a journey, and I wouldn’t trade mine for anyone else, it’s been a dream come true. I’m just so grateful for all the relationships and friendships I've made in the 47 years as a PGA Member.”
Attendees of the PGA Master Professional Summit at PGA Frisco.
Attendees of the PGA Master Professional Summit at PGA Frisco.
To aid in the creation of the Summit, the PGA Master Professional Committee was formed, co-chaired by Bottke and Harbin.

“Being a PGA Master Professional has always been near and dear to my heart,” said Bottke. “I think we have some traction here with the Summit, and we are going to make this thing bigger and better each year.”

“It’s a good opportunity for the great minds of the PGA of America to come together,” Harbin, who is also the President of OnCourse Operations, added.

Of those in attendance, no one traveled further than PGA Master Professional Shaun Steile, PGA Director of Golf at Kuki’o Golf & Beach Club in Kailua Kona, Hawaii.

“I hadn’t seen the facility yet, and I always look for opportunities to support the Association and the Master Professionals,” said Steile. “The PGA is all about supporting people, and it’s wonderful to be here with fellow Master Professionals.”

The PGA Master Professional Program is available to any PGA Professional with at least 10 years of PGA Membership and has achieved advanced certification through the PGA Certified Professional Program. The curriculum includes an extensive project based on the specific certification previously acquired by the PGA Professional. PGA Master Professional status is earned upon successful completion of the presentation. 

If you are a PGA Member interested in the PGA Master Professional Program, click here.