NCPGA Announces 2017 Annual Section Award Winners 19 recipients recognized at NCPGA Awards Ceremony & President’s Dinner

The Northern California PGA announced the 19 recipients of its 2017 Annual Section Awards this month. Section awards are given to PGA Professionals and industry leaders who have excelled in the game and business of golf.

PGA General Manager Ed Winiecki of San Jose (Calif.) Country Club has garnered the 2017 NCPGA Golf Professional of the Year Award. The most prestigious honor the Section can bestow upon a PGA Professional, the award recognizes the Professional’s total contribution to the game, community, and colleagues. Winiecki is being recognized for his leadership, determination, business acumen, professionalism, and service.

“When I became a golf professional I made a commitment to spend the rest of my life doing what I love,” Winiecki said. “One of the greatest accomplishments I have been able to achieve throughout my career is the ability to give back and in return I have gotten more than I could have hoped for.”

Winiecki has previously been recognized by the neighboring Southern California PGA Section as the 2010 Golf Professional of the Year, in addition to receiving the 2008 Bill Strausbaugh Award, 2006 Horton Smith Award, and 1995 Assistant Professional of the Year.

Northern California Golf Industry Experts: Ambassadors of the Game
The late PGA Executive Director & C.O.O. Chris Thomas of the Northern California Section PGA was also recognized for earning the 2017 Bill Strausbaugh Award due to his outstanding integrity, commitment to mentoring fellow PGA Members, and for his significant impact on the careers of professionals in the Section. Thomas’ influence extended far beyond the Section in his 13 years of service, and he was the first in the Nation to earn his PGA Membership while serving as a Section executive director. The award was accepted on his behalf by his wife Selena, and their two girls Taylor and Tara.

PGA Teaching Professional Ron Kuwata of The Links at Rolling Hills Casino in Red Bluff, Calif. was recognized with the 2017 NCPGA Patriot Award. The Patriot Award is presented to PGA Professionals who personify patriotism and demonstrate unwavering commitment and dedication to those who have valiantly served and protected the United States of America. Kuwata has dedicated much time and effort into working with area Veterans via PGA HOPE (Helping Our Patriots Everywhere) Northern California, which offers free golf clinics to Veterans and helps teach fundamentals and therapeutic aspects of the game.

PGA Director of Instruction at Woodcreek Golf Club in Roseville, Calif., Meredith Loosse, has garnered the 2017 NCPGA Youth Player Development Award. This award is presented to PGA Professionals who provide opportunities for juniors to learn and play the game of golf through coaching and education. “Meredith’s positive image in leadership in youth golf is illustrated through teaching juniors the importance of respect, sportsmanship, and honesty in golf and in turn creates a positive experience they can take with them in other parts of their life,” said fellow NCPGA Member Katie Hamilton, “Meredith has been at Woodcreek and Diamond Oaks for just over a year and has increased youth development by 64%. She continues to find new programs to keep junior golfers interested in this game all through their adolescence and beyond.”

Gary Bashford, PGA Teaching Professional at Round Hill Country Club in Alamo, Calif., was presented with the 2017 NCPGA Teacher of the Year Award for his excellence in all facets of instructing the game of golf in conjunction with his overall performance as a PGA Professional. “Over the past 23 years as a PGA Professional, I have had the honor of working at a host of distinguished golf clubs around the United States,” Bashford shared. “Since joining Roundhill Country Club in 2009, I am proud to have strengthened the volume, structure and quality of the program to the point that Round Hill has earned a reputation as the most successful teaching program in San Francisco’s East Bay.” Bashford will be presenting at the upcoming NCPGA Player & Teacher Development Forum January 8-9, 2018 at UC Davis.

Ron Agostini of The Modesto Bee has garnered the 2017 NCPGA Sports Media Person of the Year Award for his support and coverage of local golf professionals and initiatives. This is the second time Agostini has been recognized for this award; the first being in 1999. For over 35 years, he has covered accomplishments of local PGA Professionals and featured columns on a variety of golf events in Northern California.

Monterey Bay Area Golf Professionals Teach and Inspire
Justin Russo, PGA Director of Instruction at Bayonet and Black Horse Golf Courses in Seaside, Calif., has garnered the 2017 NCPGA Player Development Award for his extraordinary and exemplary contributions to player development and promotion of the game. “My teaching philosophy is teaching skills instead of styles,” said Russo. “Our experience at Justin Russo Golf Academy is that a player who enjoys the process of learning while getting positive results and improving their score is bound to play more golf. I am thankful every day for the opportunity to share my love for the game with my students.”

PGA Apprentice and Assistant Professional John Crater of Corral de Tierra Country Club was presented with the title of 2017 NCPGA Assistant Apprentice of the Year for his overall performance, leadership, service to the Section, and promotion of the game of golf. Currently working on his Level 3 PGA Apprenticeship, Crater has actively participated in the NCPGA Assistant Apprentice Division for the last six years and has taken on the position of division co-chair earlier this year. His work with juniors at Corral de Tierra Country Club and service as an ambassador with the Monterey Peninsula Chamber of Commerce led to his garnering the NCPGA Monterey Bay Area Chapter Assistant of the Year in 2014 and receiving an apprentice scholarship award in 2015.

The Sierra Nevada Area is Rich with Outstanding Golf Industry Professionals
Zach Jonas, PGA Director of Golf at Montreux Golf & Country Club in Reno, Nev., has garnered the 2017 NCPGA Horton Smith Award. Jonas is being honored for his outstanding service and contributions in developing and improving educational opportunities for PGA Professionals. Jonas is the chairman of the NCPGA’s Sierra Nevada Chapter Education Committee, and sits on the Section’s education and communications committees. In his 11 years at Montreux, Jonas has mentored over 21 interns in the PGA Professional Golf Management (PGM) program.

Certified Golf Course Superintendent Keith Hill of Hidden Valley Country Club in Reno, Nev. was named the 2017 NCPGA Golf Course Superintendent of the Year for his service and expertise in maintaining, operating, and managing golf courses, and for his leadership contributions within the NCPGA Section. Hill earned his Golf Course Superintendent certification in 2016; an achievement only 1 in 5 superintendents complete in their career.

PGA Director of Instruction Brian Eilders of Old Brockway Golf Club received the 2017 NCPGA Club Fitter of the Year Award for his expertise in fitting golfers with proper equipment. Club fitters directly help golf players and enthusiasts to improve their playing ability and enjoyment of the game. “I conduct an average of 90 fitting days per year, which can have anywhere from 4 to 6 custom fitting appointments,” Eilders states, “My goal for all my customers is to provide them with their best fitting experience ever.”

Sales and Merchandising Awards
The NCPGA Merchandiser of the Year awards span three categories: Public, Private, and Resort. David Johnson, PGA Head Professional of Laguna Seca Golf Ranch in Monterey, Calif. is the 2017 NCPGA Public Merchandiser of the Year. Tony Neadeau, PGA Head Professional at Martis Camp Club in Truckee, Calif. is the 2017 NCPGA Private Merchandiser of the Year. Evan Ives, PGA Assistant Professional at CordeValle Golf Club in San Martin, Calif. has acquired the title of 2017 NCPGA Resort Merchandiser of the Year. The three winners and their merchandising teams have excelled in golf shop operations. Golf shops are an excellent way for the general public to get individualized attention and expertise from trained staff that is familiar with the array of golf products because they use them every day.

Jeff King of Sacramento, Calif. was named 2017 NCPGA Sales Representative of the Year. King was recognized for his service to PGA Professionals, their merchandising team members, and the Section. He represents manufacturers such as Alphabroder, Art & Stone, Carnoustie Sportswear, Certifresh Cigars, Glenayr Golf, Kirk & Matz, Legendary Headwear, H.J. Glove, Miller-Brown Marketing, PRG Americas, Signature Tumblers, songBirdie, Tica Sport Leather, and Windsor Vineyards, and his territory covers all of Northern California and Northern Nevada.

Players of the Year
PGA Head Professional David Solomon of Napa Valley Country Club in Napa, Calif. earned top honors as Player of the Year (Regular Division) proudly presented by Yamaha Golf Cars and Omega. PGA Director of Golf Shawn McEntee of Coyote Creek Golf Club in Morgan Hill, Calif. garnered the Senior Player of the Year Award (50-64 years) honors for the fifth consecutive year, and PGA Life Member Glen Stubblefield of Valley Springs, Calif. was named Super Senior Player of the Year (65+ years) for the third year in a row. Assistant Professional Kyle Hansen of Bidwell Park Golf Club in Chico, Calif. attained the Assistant Apprentice Player of the Year award presented by Omega and GT Golf Supplies.

Awards Ceremony
The NCPGA held its Special Awards and President’s Dinner on Sunday, December 3, 2017 at North Ridge Country Club in Fair Oaks, Calif. The event, a highlight for the year, was presented by Yamaha and Omega, with support from PGA National Resort and Spa.

About the Northern California Section of the PGA of America (NCPGA)
Organized in 1920 to promote interest in the game of golf, the birth of this association was heralded as an important step to the advancement of the game in this district. The Northern California Section is one of the forty-one designated Sections of the PGA of America, the world’s largest working sports organization. With over 1,100 dedicated PGA Professionals and apprentices at over 500 golf facilities in Northern California and Northwestern Nevada, the association continues to have a positive impact on the game of golf and communities both regionally and nationally. For more information, please visit or call us at (707) 449-4742.

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