The PGA of America held its delayed 2020 National Awards on November 2, when last year’s winners finally received their honours during a ceremony held at the beginning of the PGA’s 105th Annual Meeting held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Delayed a year by the pandemic, the PGA paid tribute to a class of 12 influential PGA Members, including PGA Golf Professional of the Year Ronny Glanton, PGA Teacher & Coach of the Year Mark Blackburn, and the first PGA Golf Executive of the Year, Dana Garmany.
“To reach this pinnacle of success, you have to be extraordinary in your career, and each winner in their own right has accomplished just that,” said PGA President Jim Richerson. “In fact, the PGA of America National Awards winners do represent the best of the best among our 28,000 men and women Members throughout the country. These winners and their expertise in the game and business of golf is highly respected throughout the industry. And through these awards, we recognize PGA Members who stand out as coaches, business leaders, innovators, mentors and patriots. They inspire other PGA Members and PGA Professionals to continually pursue the highest standards of success and drive the golf profession to a new standard of excellence.”
2020 Awards winners
Ronny Glanton, the Head Professional at Sherrill Park Golf Course in Richardson, Texas, received the 2020 PGA Golf Professional of the Year Award, the highest annual honour given to a PGA of America Professional, for qualities of leadership, strong moral character and a substantial record of service to the PGA and the game of golf.
“You look back on your whole career, and it boils down to one thing, it’s all about the people,” said Glanton, a 37-year PGA Member in the Northern Texas PGA Section. “It’s all about the people you meet. It’s all about the relationships you create. It’s something you always remember. That’s what life’s all about.”
Mark Blackburn, Director of Instruction at Greystone Golf & Country Club in Birmingham, Alabama, was presented with the 2020 PGA Teacher & Coach of the Year Award for his outstanding services as a teacher, innovator and coach. A native of England, Blackburn came to the United States in 1994 on a golf scholarship to the University of Southern Mississippi, where he was Team Captain. Blackburn received his American Citizenship in 2020.
His Blackburn Golf Academy develops and coaches juniors, club golfers, elite amateurs, college and professional clients from around the world. Among the many PGA Tour golfers taught by Blackburn are Chez Reavie, Kevin Chappell, Charley Hoffman, Mike Weir, Heath Slocum and Max Homa.
“My big thing is my coaches and the coaches in my academy,” said Blackburn. “I want to grow a tree of coaches who can lead and do things to leave a legacy to make golf better and make our coaches in the PGA of America even better.”
Dana Garmany, Executive Chairman of Troon in Scottsdale, Arizona, received the inaugural PGA Golf Executive of the Year Award. The honour bestows special recognition for performing outstanding services in an executive management position, while possessing qualities of leadership, vision, courage, moral character and a substantial record of service to the Association and the game.
“I’m very honored to be a PGA Member,” said Garmany, who founded Troon in 1990. “It is very special to me, as I grew up in the business. And it is very special to help other Members go down that same path. I am very happy to receive this honor, and I can’t express how much this award means to me.”
In an especially moving tribute, JP Lunn, Head Professional at Fountain Head Country Club in Hagerstown, Maryland, was presented with the 2020 Deacon Palmer Award, honouring a PGA Professional who personally displays outstanding integrity, character and leadership in the effort to overcome a major obstacle in their life. Lunn never missed a Middle Atlantic PGA Section meeting while serving as an officer, despite enduring treatments for a brain tumour that was diagnosed in 2014.
Christopher Runyan, a PGA Teaching Professional with GOLFTEC in Spokane, Washington, was presented with the PGA Patriot Award for his extensive work in bringing military Veterans into the game through programs like PGA HOPE (Helping Our Patriots Everywhere).
Pine Ridge Golf Club PGA Professional Rich Jones, was honoured with the PGA Player Development Award for his thriving coaching programs at his club, as well as his work at Golf Galaxy in Bayshore, New York.
The PGA Youth Player Development Award was presented to Chris Thompson, who now works at Camelback Golf Club in Scottsdale, Arizona.
The three PGA Merchandisers of the Year were José Reyes, Whistling Straits, Kohler, Wisconsin (Resort); Jacob Lippold, Sahalee Golf Club, Sammamish, Washington (Public); and Jason Ballard, Oak Hill Country Club, Rochester, New York (Private).
In addition, Larry Dornisch, a PGA Member for 48 years and the Director of Golf at Muirfield Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio, was presented with the Bill Strausbaugh Award, for exceptional character, integrity and leadership in teaching and mentoring other PGA Professionals.
“We’re a teaching hospital,” explained Dornish, who was first recommended for a career at Ohio’s Muirfield Village by Jack Nicklaus. Dornisch uses the same theories of passing down knowledge that Nicklaus received from his mentor Jack Grout. “Our goal is to go out and make them PGA Professionals.”
Legendary PGA Master Professional Jim McLean, a PGA Member for 41 years, was awarded with the PGA Professional Development Award for his contributions to the education of PGA Professionals. McLean is the CEO of the Jim McLean Golf Schools, headquartered at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables, Florida. More than 260 of McLean’s protégés have ascended to either Director of Golf or Director of Instruction positions. “Young people come to our facility and they need people to believe in them,” explained McLean. “I really enjoy it and it’s great to see so many doing well in the golf business.”