From the PGA

PGA of America Golf Professionals Jeff Kiddie, Kevin Weeks and Bernie Friedrich Highlight National Awards at 107th PGA Annual Meeting

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In an emotional and inspirational celebration, PGA of America Golf Professional of the Year Jeff Kiddie, PGA of America Teacher & Coach of the Year Kevin Weeks and PGA of America Golf Executive of the Year Bernie Friedrich headlined the PGA of America National Awards Ceremony Nov. 7 at the Omni PGA Frisco Resort in Frisco, Texas, at the 107th PGA Annual Meeting.

Emceed by Sirius XM’s “PGA of America Radio” Host David Marr III, 12 PGA of America Golf Professionals were honored as the 2023 PGA of America National Awards Class. The National Awards program annually acknowledges Association Members for their outstanding performances both on and off the course. Recipients were celebrated for their contributions to the game and for their representation of the more than 29,000 PGA of America Golf Professionals across the world.

“These 12 remarkable PGA of America Members represent the ultimate in character, dedication and service to our sport, our Association and our industry,” said PGA of America President John Lindert, PGA Director of Golf at The Country Club of Lansing in Lansing, Michigan, during the ceremony. “To say congratulations seems like it’s not enough. Thank you. Thank you for dedicating time to hone your craft, thank you for inspiring everybody in the room and thank you for everything you do for the PGA of America. This is a special night for me, and it really is about the dedication you all put forth.”

The PGA of America Golf Professional of the Year is the highest honor annually awarded to a PGA of America Member. It is awarded for leadership, strong moral character and a substantial record of service to the Association and the game of golf.

“I’ve always said I’ve got the right job at the right time, working for the right people,” said Kiddie, Head Golf Professional at Aronimink Golf Club in Newtown Square, Pa. “To work at a club that has history like Aronimink and takes their golf as seriously as they do, it’s been a great experience. In my time working in golf, I don’t know if there has been a better time to get into this industry. My main piece of advice is figure out what you like to do within this business, and then find a mentor that will care as much for you as my mentors have done for me.”

The PGA of America Teacher & Coach of the Year has performed outstanding services as a golf teacher, innovator and coach. As Director of Instruction at Cog Hill Country Club in Lemont, Illinois, Weeks’ students have captured 10 PGA Tour victories and include notable names such as Kevin Streelman, Michael Bradley, Mark Wilson and several other top players. Not only has he helped the best players in the world, but he also finds joy in helping junior golfers get their start in golf.

“There is no greater honor than when a parent puts their child’s dreams in your hand. It’s so fun to watch them grow within this game,” said Weeks, a mainstay on Golf Digest’s 50 Greatest Teachers and Best Teachers in Your State lists. “I don’t have to go to work, I get to go to work—that’s how I sum up Teaching & Coaching for me.”

The PGA of America Golf Executive of the Year Award recognizes outstanding services in an executive management position, as well as leadership, vision, courage, moral character and a substantial record of service to the Association and the game.

A PGA Member for nearly 40 years, Friedrich started as a Golf Professional at Boyne Resorts in 1976 and has been instrumental in leading the company’s growing golf division. Today, Friedrich oversees Boyne Golf’s 13 courses and semi-private clubs in Michigan, Maine and Montana, including all staff, course agronomy and marketing nationwide, plus two golf membership groups—Bay Harbor Golf Club and Country Club of Boyne.

“At Boyne, we have employed a fun work ethic that we do together,” said Friedrich, a multi-award-winning PGA of America Member within the Michigan PGA Section. “We get along well and try to help people rise up to the level they want to get to in their career, whether that’s a Head Professional or a Senior Vice President of golf. There is no “boss” in our organization, we are all about servant leadership.”

The Bill Strausbaugh Award is given to a PGA of America Golf Professional who demonstrates exceptional character, integrity and leadership through teaching and mentoring other PGA Professionals. Jack Druga, PGA, a Life Member within the Metropolitan PGA Section, fits that description to a tee as a renowned mentor of countless golf professionals.

“There’s no way I can describe this feeling,” said Druga, the former Head Golf Professional at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in Southampton, New York. “Having my name included as a Bill Strausbaugh Award recipient is beyond my ability to describe. I feel like the luckiest Golf Professional in the world. I think the biggest lesson I’ve learned is the benefit of everybody helping everybody to achieve their goals, that’s what I love to see in our industry.”

Nick Papadakes, PGA, the Head Professional at Onwentsia Club in Lake Forest, Illinois, was honored as the 2023 PGA of America Professional Development Award recipient. The award recognizes a PGA of America Golf Professional who displays commendable contributions to the education of PGA of America Members.

“For most of us sitting in this room, we always want to pay it forward,” said Papadakes, a five-time recipient of the Professional Development Award at the PGA Section level. “When I look back on my career, I've been very fortunate to have PGA Members who have helped me along the way, so it’s the very least I could do to pay it forward. I love giving back to the game that has been so good to me.”

The celebration’s attendees were in awe of the recovery story and dedication of Deacon Palmer Award recipient Jamie Nieto, PGA. The award honors a PGA of America Golf Professional who displays outstanding integrity, character and leadership in the effort to overcome a major obstacle in their life.

For Nieto, it’s how he has excelled in his life after being engulfed in flames, sustaining third-degree burns after lighting a fire pit on his 20th birthday in November of 2003.

“Going forward from that day, I realized the world can be a mean and nasty place. It can take you to your knees if you let it. I made the decision to not let it,” said Nieto, the Head Golf Professional at The Preserve at Oak meadows in Addison, Illinois. “Never give up. There’s too much to look forward to in life to let yourself become a victim and not keep going.”

The Patriot Award was presented to John Carpineta, PGA, the Assistant Golf Professional at Bensalem Township Country Club in Pennsylvania. The award goes to a PGA of America Golf Professional who personifies patriotism through the game of golf, and demonstrates unwavering commitment and dedication to the men and women in uniform who have valiantly served and protected the United States of America.

“It’s like a dream come true being here,” said Carpineta (82), a U.S. Army Veteran who was elected to PGA of America Membership at 63 years old. “I thank my family, they’ve been very supportive. I’ve certainly been blessed with many role models in my life and in the Philadelphia Section that have helped me get here.”

The PGA of America Player Development Award was bestowed upon Josh Tremblay, PGA, the Director of Golf at Springfield Golf & Country Club in Virginia. This honor provides special recognition to a PGA of America Member who has displayed extraordinary and exemplary contributions and achievements in the area of player development.

Susie Redman, PGA, the PGA Teaching Professional at The Woodlands Country Club in The Woodlands, Texas, was honored with the Youth Player Development Award. This award is given to a PGA of America Member in recognition of extraordinary and exemplary contributions and achievements in the area of youth player development.

PGA Merchandiser of the Year Awards went to Grace Hurley, PGA, Director of Sports Retail at Ponte Vedra Inn & Club in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida (Resort Category); Katie Wiedmar, PGA, Golf Shop Manager and First Assistant Professional at Winged Foot Golf Club (Private Category); and Ian Ziska, PGA, Head Golf Professional at America Dunes Golf Club in Grand Haven, Michigan (Public Category).

The PGA of America Merchandiser of the Year Award recognizes PGA of America Members who have excelled in business and merchandising in the promotion of golf.

The Herb Graffis Award was presented to the Southern Texas PGA Section on Nov. 9 during the PGA Annual Meeting.