USGA celebrates impact in the game through 2020 awards

LIBERTY CORNER, N.J. – Honoring golf’s greatest ambassadors, innovators and leaders, the USGA has revealed its 2020 Annual Award honorees highlighted by Se Ri Pak (pictured), the 1998 U.S. Women’s Open champion and World Golf Hall of Famer, as the Bob Jones Award recipient.
The four 2020 individual honorees also include Lon Haskew, the recipient of the Joe Dey Award for meritorious service as a volunteer; Dr. William Meyer, the USGA Green Section Award recipient for his work in sustainability through agronomic advancements; and Kevin Robbins, author of The Last Stand of Payne Stewart, who will receive the Herbert Warren Wind Book Award. All three will receive their awards during the USGA Annual Meeting on Saturday, Feb. 29 in Pinehurst, N.C.
The USGA’s Annual Awards were established to honor those who advance the game and the association’s mission through research, celebrating and preserving golf’s history, and service to the game through volunteerism and personal spirit, character and respect.  
“It’s an honor to have the opportunity to annually recognize those whose contributions and positive influence have made a meaningful impact on the game,” said Mike Davis, CEO of the USGA. “The individuals who comprise this year’s list of recipients truly embody the core values of the USGA to lead, serve and inspire.”
Receiving the Ike Grainger Award in recognition of 25 years of volunteer service to the USGA are John Bartholomew, Dwayne Dillinger, Bruce Flower, Robert Hillis, Richard Johnson, Craig Kessler, David Laird, John Luffey Jr., Greg Norris, Gilbert Palmer, Charles Rountree III, Joseph Sholtis and Grover Walker. The group of 13 will also be recognized during the awards banquet at the USGA Annual Meeting.
Bob Jones Award
Presented annually since 1955, the Bob Jones Award recognizes an individual who demonstrates the spirit, personal character and respect for the game exhibited by Jones, winner of nine USGA championships.
As one of the most influential pioneering forces in the women’s game, Pak inspired an entire generation of Korean golfers during her 20-year professional career, which included 39 wins, five of which were majors.
Pak burst onto the LPGA Tour in 1998, and her playoff victory in the U.S. Women’s Open, when she became the youngest winner in the history of the championship to that point, became a defining moment in the game. Despite carrying the weight and attention of an entire country, it was through her friendly attitude and humble demeanor that her high level of character truly revealed itself.
Pak will receive the award during the week of the 2020 U.S. Open Championship in June at Winged Foot Golf Club.

Joe Dey Award
Named for Joseph C. Dey, the USGA’s executive director from 1934-1968 and a World Golf Hall of Famer, the Joe Dey Award has been presented annually since 1996 to recognize an individual’s meritorious service to the game as a volunteer.
For more than 30 years, Haskew has served as a volunteer rules official at state, regional, national and international levels, including more than 100 USGA championships. Haskew has been a USGA committee member since 1993 and has served on the Mid-Amateur Committee since 1995. He’s also been a fixture at the collegiate level as an official at multiple NCAA Championships.
USGA Green Section Award
The USGA Green Section Award honors distinguished service to golf through an individual’s work with turf grass.
For more than 30 years, Dr. Meyer has made a significant impact on the turf industry through his turf grass breeding work, which focuses on developing grasses for golf and other playing surfaces that are resistant to adverse factors. As a professor at Rutgers University, he has influenced all levels of the industry at the national and international levels through seminars, research papers and trade publications.  
Herbert Warren Wind Book Award
The Herbert Warren Wind Book Award acknowledges and encourages outstanding achievement in golf literature.
This year’s recipient, The Last Stand of Payne Stewart, vividly recounts the story of Stewart’s last season on the PGA Tour in 1999, including his U.S. Open victory at Pinehurst, through his tragic passing.
Robbins previously captured the award in 2016 for Harvey Penick: The Life and Wisdom of the Man Who Wrote the Book on Golf, which tells the story of Penick, the late golf coach, competitor and instructor.
In recognition of excellence in golf literature, the book will be added to the USGA Golf Museum library, the largest collection in the world with more than 100,000 individual volumes and periodicals.


PGA Professional honors to Vermeer, Sowards, Coe

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. –  Ryan Vermeer of Omaha, Nebraska and Bob Sowards of Dublin, Ohio, each crafted a season of enviable consistency while Joanna Coe of Lutherville Timonium, Maryland, made history in capturing the respective 2019 OMEGA PGA Professional, Senior and Women's PGA Professional Player of the Year awards.
They will be honored on Friday, April 24, in conjunction with the 53rd PGA Professional Championship presented by Club Car and OMEGA at Omni Barton Creek Resort & Spa in Austin, Texas.
The 2018 PGA Professional Champion, Vermeer, the PGA Director of Instruction at Happy Hollow Club in Omaha, Nebraska, won his second consecutive national award during a season that included winning a third Nebraska PGA Section Championship, an event at Arbor Links in Nebraska City, where he blazed to a 54-hole scoring record. Vermeer also finished tied for eighth in the PGA Professional Championship and tied for 80th in the PGA Championship.
Vermeer’s 2019 season included winning a third straight Nebraska PGA Player of the Year award and finishing T-69 in the PGA Tour’s Puntacana Corales Championship in the Dominican Republic. He collected 962.975 total points, while Marty Jertson of Phoenix, Arizona, was runner-up with 816. Danny Balin of Irvington, New York, (800) was third and Rod Perry of Port Orange, Florida, (786.25) fourth.
Vermeer, 41, said his 2019 season had special “bookends” – events that bolstered his confidence and where he didn’t score a Player of the Year point - winning the TaylorMade Golf National Championship in March at Pebble Beach and helping the United States recapture the PGA Cup in September in Austin, Texas.
“It’s been another awesome year on the golf course. My game held up pretty well considering I was playing in some high-level competition,” said Vermeer. ”To be able to come back and win an award like this – once is incredible – but to win a second year in a row is something that not many have been able to do. I am extremely proud and honored to be able to do it."
Sowards, 51, is the PGA Director of Instruction at the Kinsale Golf and Fitness Club in Powell, Ohio, and collected a record-tying sixth career PGA Professional Player of the Year award – including the past two in the senior circuit. He was the PGA Professional Player of the Year in 2003, ’04, ’05 and ’14. Sowards matched Sonny Skinner of Sylvester, Georgia, with six overall Player of the Year Awards.
The 2004 PGA Professional Champion, Sowards’ 2019 campaign included sharing Low PGA Club Professional honors by finished tied for 21st in the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship at Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, New York.
Sowards earned 1,007.833 points, while Jeff Hart of Solana Beach, California, was runner-up with 865.111.
Reaping success among his 50-and-under peers, Sowards also tied for eighth in the Senior PGA Professional Championship; tied for 25th in the PGA Professional Championship; won a second straight Section Senior Player of the Year and Senior Section Championship; and in December won the final event of the PGA Tournament Series.
Like Vermeer, there was a defining moment for Sowards in 2019 that didn’t figure into the Player of the Year standings. It happened on Sept. 29, on the 18th hole of Sunday Singles in the PGA Cup at Omni Barton Creek Resort & Spa in Austin, Texas.
Needing to win his match to give the U.S. any hope of rallying against Great Britain & Ireland, Sowards hit a gap wedge pitch downhill to a near-blind flagstick. The ball didn’t stop rolling until it fell in the cup for an eagle and a 1-up victory over GB&I’s Alastair Forsyth.
“That was the biggest moment in my golfing life. To win my singles match and getting the Cup back for us was great,” he said. “Winning a Player of the Year award is always special and to win a sixth is pretty cool. I’m very honored."
Coe, a 30-year-old Assistant PGA Director of Instruction at Baltimore Country Club, completed a memorable season to earn the inaugural Women's PGA Professional Player of the Year Award.   
Coe won the 2019 PGA Women’s Stroke Play Championship last winter and was one of four women to earn a berth in the PGA Professional Championship in May at Belfair in Bluffton, South Carolina, where she finished T-51.
In August, she went on to share fifth place in the LPGA Teaching & Club Professionals National Championship and won a fourth consecutive Middle Atlantic PGA Section Women’s Player of the Year Award. She also was a member of the victorious five-member United States team in the inaugural Women’s PGA Cup in Austin, Texas.
Coe finished with 565.5 total points, while Seul-Ki Park of Winchester, Massachusetts, was runner-up with 346.667. Brittany Kelly of Indianapolis, Indiana (272.5) was third and Ashley Grier of Springfield, Pennsylvania, was fourth (269.167).
“To be included in some of the great history of the PGA of America and be the first Women's PGA Professional Player of the Year is truly special,” said Coe. “It’s a highlight considering how long the PGA has been around and how important it is for the game of golf. It’s really cool; it’s something I will be proud of for the rest of my life.”

SOURCE: PGA of America

Koepka, Ko, McCarron GWAA Players of Year

HOUSTON, TX – World No. 1 Brooks Koepka’s impressive record in last year’s majors propelled him to his second consecutive Golf Writers Association of America’s Player of the Year Award, while Jin Young Ko and Scott McCarron won their respective 2019 Player of the Year honors.
Koepka (pictured) is the first player to win back-to-back awards since Tiger Woods won back to back in 2006-2007 (he also won in 2005). Koepka got 44 percent of the vote to world No. 2’s Rory McIlroy’s 36 percent while Woods, who has won the Player of the Year honor 10 times, was third.
Koepka, who was sidelined with a knee injury in the fall, crushed the majors in 2019. In addition to winning his second consecutive PGA Championship, he finished in the top four at the other three majors. He was tied for second at the Masters, second alone at the U.S. Open and T-4 at The Open. In addition to the PGA, he won the WGC FedEx St. Jude Invitational and T-2 at the Classic, T-3 at the TOUR Championship and fourth at the AT&T Byron Nelson.
"I am extremely humbled to receive this award for a second year in a row,” said Koepka. “The GWAA does so much for the game we all love, so to be their Player of the Year again is a real honor.’’
Ko, in just her second season on the LPGA Tour, ran away with the Female POY race with Nelly Korda finishing a distant second.
The South Korean star won four times, including two majors and swept every major LPGA award. She won the ANA Inspiration and Evian Championship and posted 12 top-10 finishes and ended the year winning the Rolex Player of the Year, the money title and Vare Trophy. Her 69.052 average was the second-lowest mark in LPGA history to Annika Sorenstam’s record of 68.697 in 2002.
Ko made headlines, too, for playing 114 holes without a bogey, besting Woods’ record by four holes.
"It is a great honor to win this prestigious award,” said Ko. “To be recognized by golf writers, who cover our sport of golf all year long, makes it even more special. I'm really proud and excited to be named alongside all the other recipients of this award in the past."
McCarron won three tournaments and the Schwab Cup and had 14 top-10 finishes in 26 events to edge twin-tour wizard Steve Stricker. The 54-year-old McCarron won The Mitsubishi Electric, Insperity Invitational and Mastercard Japan.
"To be selected Senior Player of the year by the Golf Writers Association of America is truly a great honor," said McCarron.
Koepka, Ko and McCarron will receive their awards at the 48th ISPS HANDA GWAA Annual Awards Dinner on Wednesday April 8 in Augusta, Georgia.


Golf legend Pete Dye dies at age 94

BROOKFIELD, Wis. - Pete Dye, a past president and Fellow of the American Society of Golf Course Architects and 1995 Donald Ross Award recipient, died Jan. 9, at age 94.
The patriarch of one of the most famous families in golf course design, ASGCA members will also remember Dye for his service to ASGCA and the game of golf.
Dye met his future wife, Alice, at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida. The couple married in 1950 and moved to Indiana. According to a 2003 article by Ron Whitten in Golf Digest, Pete came home from work on a summer day in 1955 and said to Alice: “I’m tired of the insurance business. What I really want to do is build golf courses.”
Dye learned about golf course maintenance while chairman of the greens committee at the Country Club of Indianapolis and gradually turned his interest in architecture into a profession, designing nine holes at El Dorado (now named Dye’s Walk Country Club), in Greenwood, Indiana, in 1959. Soon after, the Dyes designed their first 18-hole layout, at Maple Creek Golf and Country Club, also in Indianapolis.
“It’s hard to overstate the influence that Pete, along with Alice, had on the profession of golf course architecture,” said ASGCA President Jan Bel Jan. “Their designs were remarkable and advanced the profession, as did their mentoring of countless golf course architects. They were a major part of ASGCA for more than five decades and will be sorely missed.”
An elite amateur golfer, Dye played in the 1957 U.S. Open, where he finished ahead of future ASGCA contemporaries Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer.
His commitment to golf course design was cemented after a tour of Scottish golf courses the Dyes undertook after Pete competed in the 1963 British Amateur.
“Both Pete and I were champion golfers and played famous courses, which influenced our design features,” Alice said in a 2018 interview.
Over time, Dye became known for his unique designs that also included respect for the environment. His projects featured drainage, irrigation designs and wetland areas, which helped to recycle and purify water.  
The list of legendary Pete Dye-designed courses in lengthy, and includes: Harbour Town Golf Links, Hilton Head, South Carolina; TPC Sawgrass-Stadium Course, Ponta Vedra, Florida; The Ocean Course, Kiawah Island, South Carolina; PGA West – Stadium Course, Palm Desert, California; Whistling Straits, Kohler, Wisconsin; and the Honors Course, Ooltewah, Tennessee.
Dye’s golf course legacy stretches far beyond the courses he designed. Many of golf’s leading course architects honed their craft while working alongside him, including Jack Nicklaus, ASGCA Fellow; Bill Coore, ASGCA; ASGCA Past President Lee Schmidt; Bobby Weed, ASGCA; Tim Liddy, ASGCA; and Chris Lutzke, ASGCA.
Dye’s sons, P.B. Dye, ASGCA, and Perry Dye, ASGCA, have also gone on to develop their own golf course design portfolios. Many other members of the extended Dye family are now also involved in golf course architecture, including Pete’s niece, Cynthia Dye McGarey, ASGCA.
Dye became an ASGCA member in 1966, served as President from 1988-89 and achieved Fellow status in 2004. He is survived by sons and ASGCA members, P.B. and Perry.
Ryan Vermeer, Bob Sowards, Joanna Coe capture respective PGA, Senior and Women's PGA Professional Player of the Year Awards


SentryWorld earns top award from Golf Course Owners of Wisconsin

STEVENS POINT, Wis. - Golf Course Owners of Wisconsin (GCOW) has named SentryWorld in Stevens Point as its 2019 Destination Golf Course of the Year.
SentryWorld, an 18-hole parkland course, hosted the USGA’s 71st U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship to great acclaim this past summer. It’s owned and operated by Sentry, one of the nation’s largest mutual insurance companies, headquartered in Stevens Point.
Each year, the GCOW presents awards recognizing golf courses around the state in numerous categories. The awards are voted on by the public,  the very people who enjoy the wide variety of golf courses available in Wisconsin.
Established in 1984, GCOW is a Wisconsin-based organization whose mission is to provide both education and advocacy on behalf of its members and promote golf throughout the state.
“Earning this recognition justifies the work our team puts into this course every day, especially since it’s coming from our customers who come to our course and play,” said Danny Rainbow, director of golf at SentryWorld. “We strive to make SentryWorld an enjoyable experience that brings great joy to our visitors while providing a beautiful and challenging round of golf.”
When it opened in 1982, SentryWorld was the state’s first destination course. Legendary architect Robert Trent Jones Jr. designed the course, calling it his “Mona Lisa.” Renovated in 2014, SentryWorld is a lush, innovative public course that, due to its white sands, parkland style, and impeccable fairways and greens, Jones Jr. refers to as the “Augusta of the north.”
During a live broadcast of the U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship, a Fox Sports commentator called it a “gem of a track that forces players to shape their tee shots and avoid being distracted by one of the most unique golf holes in the world (the Flower Hole), one that is visually stunning as any you’ll find.”
The course reflects the region’s scenic beauty and includes such memorable holes as a par five on the shore of SentryWorld’s big lake, and the legendary Flower Hole, where 30,000 flowers surround the green. The campus also offers two unique restaurants, one-of-a-kind event venues, and a state-of-the-art sports complex.
Adding to the robust destination experience, SentryWorld will build a boutique hotel on the grounds, with groundbreaking in spring 2020 and a spring 2021 opening. The hotel will provide guests a luxurious experience, paired with renowned Midwestern hospitality.
In past years, SentryWorld has won several GCOW awards, including Course of the Year, Top Golf Shop Service, and Top Teaching Center of the Year.