ONTARIO, CALIF. – Joseph Grohman, PGA head professional at Navy Golf Course in Cypress, Calif. is your 2013 Southern California PGA Golf Professional of the Year. Inducted into the Hall of Fame for the 2013 year is PGA Professional Jerry Wisz of Alhambra Golf Course. Honorary Life Member inductees include Eddie Merrins of Bel Air Country Club, Jack O’Keefe, PGA of Rancho Maria Golf Club and Santa Maria Country Club, and Jim Flick, PGA. The 2013 Player of the Year is Michael Block, PGA from Arroyo Trabuco Golf Club, AAA Player of the Year is Kenny Pigman of Goose Creek Golf Club, Women’s Player of the Year is Julie Wells-Shenfield of Mission Hills Country Club. The Senior Player of the Year is Jon Fiedler, PGA from Las Posas Country Club, and Super Senior Player is Butch Sheehan, PGA of First Tee of Coachella Valley. Below you will find short biographies of your 2013 Special Award honorees. All of the 2013 Award recipients will be honored at the President’s Dinner on December 8, 2013 at North Ranch Country Club in Westlake Village.
JOE GROHMAN – Golf Professional of the Year
Joe Grohman currently works at Navy Golf Course in Cypress as the PGA head professional. He previously worked at Chester Washing Golf Course, Whittier Narrows Golf Course, and Heartwell Golf Park as PGA head professional. Grohman has received many awards over the years, most recently the 2013 SCPGA Metropolitan Chapter Golf Professional of the Year. He also won the 2012 SCPGA President’s Award, 2010 Armed Forces Recreation Award – Special Citation Award – US Navy, and 2008 Navy Weapons Station Seal Beach Employee of the Year.
Grohman currently serves on the SCPGA Disabled Golf Committee, Player Development Committee and the Patriot Golf Pro-Am Committee. He represents the PGA as a board member of the First Tee South Los Angeles. Grohman has planned numerous special interest golf clinic over the past seven years. He frequently volunteers with clinics at the Tiger Woods Learning Center. Grohman has been a dedicated PGA member and has spent much of his time developing clinics for a broad spectrum of golfers and non-golfers. This effort includes specialized clinics for disabled veterans, wounded warriors, victims of stroke, inner–city at-risk youth, blind youth, burned youth and mentally challenged youth.
JIM FLICK – Honorary Life Member
Jim Flick spent the last eight years of his life working at TaylorMade Golf as a teacher and as a mainstay at the SCPGA Teaching Summit. In 1961, he was named PGA head professional at Cincinnati’s Losantiville Golf Club. Flick taught golf in 23 countries, directed programs such as Golf Digest’s Schools and ESPN Golf Schools, and wrote five books. He was previously the Director of Instruction at Desert Mountain in Scottsdale, Ariz., for 20 years.
Jim was PGA Teacher of the Year in 1988, and was inducted into the World Golf Teachers’ Hall of Fame and the Southern Ohio PGA Hall of Fame in 2002. Golf World magazine selected him as one of the top 10 teachers of the 20th century, and was inducted into the PGA Golf Professional Hall of Fame in 2011. Flick left an impact on the golf community and spent more than five decades teaching, playing and loving golf. Flick helped improve the game of professionals, amateurs, and found teaching the youth extremely rewarding. A common sentiment from all of his students – young and old, skilled and less skilled, was whenever you finished a lesson with Jim, you felt much better about your game, much better about yourself and much better about life. Jim Flick passed away at 82 on November 5, 2012. He was one of the most insightful and benevolent instructors in PGA of America history.
EDDIE MERRINS – Honorary Life Member
Eddie Merrins was the PGA head professional and Director of Golf at Bel-Air Country Club in Los Angeles for 42 years. At Bel-Air Country Club, he currently holds the position of Golf Professional Emeritus. In the past, Merrins was Teaching Professional at the Westcheter Country Club, PGA head professional at the Rockaway Hunting Club, Assistant Professional at the Thunderbird Country Club, and Assistant Professional at the Merion Golf Club. From 1975-1989 he was the golf coach at the University of California Los Angeles, and was Coach of the Year in 1982, 1982, and 1984 for the Pacific 10.
Merrins won many awards in his career. In 1977, he was the Southern California PGA Golf Professional of the Year and the 1987 Southern California PGA Teacher of the Year. He has recorded 16 Holes-In-One, including two in the same round on the same nine holes when he was only 18 years old and was featured in Ripley’s Believe It or Not. In 1980, he founded Friends of College Golf, Inc., a non-profit organization to raise money for struggling college golf programs, the name later changes to Friends of Golf, Inc. (FOG).
JACK O’KEEFE – Honorary Life Member
Jack O’Keefe is the Director of Golf at Rancho Maria Golf Club. O’Keefe played on the PGA Tour from 1961 through 1964. In 1970, he purchased the Rancho Maria Golf Course, which he still actively owns today. As owner of the Rancho Maria Golf Club and as a Director at the Santa Maria Country Club, he was greatly instrumental in producing the California State Open Championship. O’Keefe is the 1962 California State Open Champion. O’Keefe developed the annual Senior Challenge Cup Matches between Northern California PGA and Southern California PGA, and is still conducted at his golf course.
ZACH ALLEN – Teacher of the Year
Zach Allen is the Director of Instruction at De Bell Golf Course, and has started a citywide golf instruction program. He has been awarded 2012 Metropolitan Chapter Teacher of the Year. Allen has partnered with the Boys and Girls Club of America for a five-year mission introducing local youth to the game of golf. He has also led a team of golf instructors teaching and introducing golf to hundreds of underprivileged boys and girls. Allen has been a featured golf instructor on ClevelandGolf.com, their CG T.V. Channel, as well as on GolfTipsMagazine.com.
Allen combines his traditional and modern technique to inspire his students and share his knowledge with them. He embraces technology and uses it to share his knowledge of the game of golf with people all around the world by providing quick tips, responding to questions, and sharing video drills.
JOHN MCNAIR – Bill Strausbaugh Award
John McNair serves as the Secretary on the Southern California PGA Board of Directors. He serves on the Southern California PGA Code of Ethics Committee and as Chairman for the Communications Committee. Four years ago, McNair started Intro2Golf, a program that he implanted in an effort to teach the game of golf to true beginners in a no pressure, friendly, and upbeat atmosphere. Since its establishment, there have been over 3,000 students that have participated.
McNair has won the 2011 Merchandiser of the Year – Resort awarded by the San Diego Chapter as well as the 2012 Bill Straughsbaugh Award. McNair’s greatest gratification as a PGA Professional has been the opportunity to mentor and train many eager, young individuals whose aspirations are to advance their careers in the golf industry.
BILL HULBERT– Horton Smith Award
Bill Hulbert works at Green River Golf Club as the Director of Instruction. Hulbert’s main focus for the past seven years has been serving as Chairman of the Section’s Teaching Committee. During his term as Section President, he resurrected the SCPGA Teaching Summit. Hulbert was on the Northern Chapter Board of Directors from 1988-1992. In 2011, Hulbert was selected by the Southern California PGA Board of Directors to serve as the District 11 Director on the PGA of America Board of Directors.
In 2000, 2004, and 2006 Hulbert wrote a weekly golf instruction column for the Orange County Register, and whenever possible used the forum to promote golf instruction on the importance of seeing a PGA Professional. Hulbert was awarded the Southern California PGA Golf Professional of the Year in 1988, the Bill Strausbaugh Award in 1999, Horton Smith Award in 1994 and 1995, and Honorary Life Member in 2009.
TODD SMITH – Junior Golf Leader Award
Todd Smith is a member of the Junior Golf Committee for the San Diego Chapter of the Southern California PGA, serves on the SCGA Programs Committee, and The First Tee Golf Skills Advisory Committee. Smith helped write the SCGA Foundation’s junior golf initiative program, which includes topics of youth development, golf instruction, and program design.
Todd Smith is well respected and considered a leader in the arena of junior golf. He was named one of the U.S. Kids Top 50 Junior Golf Instructors. Every year, PGA Professionals meet with Smith at the PGA Show in Orlando to learn what new things Todd is incorporating into his programming at Pro Kids. He has volunteered for the past seven years as a Tournament Committee Member for the Callaway Junior World Golf Championship. Smith has taught two Callaway Junior World Golf Champions. In 2012, Smith was awarded Junior Golf Leader of the San Diego Chapter.
JOHN WALKER – Assistant Professional of the Year
John Walker is currently the Tournament Coordinator at Aviara Golf Club, and was elected as Sponsor Chair for the Board of Directors for the San Diego Chapter. Walker is working on continuing his education with the Certified Professional Requirements: Golf Operations Certification. His most recent accomplishment was finishing in the top 16 for the San Diego Chapter Match Play Championship. Walker’s goal as Sponsor Chair is to attend as many San Diego Chapter tournaments and seminars as possible.
This past year, Walker volunteered to serve as a rule official for Junior Worlds. He personally donates approximately $2,000 worth of lessons to various charities as prizes for their golf tournaments each year. Walker was awarded San Diego Chapter Assistant Professional of the Year in 2012. He was the designated trainer at Four Season Resort Aviara, now Park Aviara, for the past five years. He has been nominated for employee of the year six times in the past ten years. This past December he was promoted to Hyatt Management team as Associate Golf Professional and Tournament Coordinator.
In addition to being an avid golfer, Walker has coached volleyball at all levels for the past 26 years.
BRIAN SMITH – Club Fitter of the Year
Brian Smith began his career at an early age as a junior golfer in New Hampshire, and helped shape his future career choice to become a PGA Member. Shadowridge Country Club in Vista helped augment Smith’s experience with equipment. He began as a Titleist Staff Player, and transitioned to TaylorMade. In 2006, he became an instructor at the Golf Academy of America. His experience there allowed him to continue building his clubfitting expertise. He has taught the Club Repair and Clubfitting classes for a number of semesters. His position at the Golf Academy is to teach all students the subjects of golf club repair, assembly, and fitting. Smith worked with PGA Professionals who also teach repair and fitting at the other Golf Academy of America campuses as a Subject Matter Expert. Smith has performed approximately 350 club fittings in 2012 and has done an excess of another 180 fittings year to date for 2013.
DAVID CRAIG- Merchandiser of the Year Private
Dave Craig is the Director of Golf at Toscana Country Club, an exclusive private club with 27 holes open for play. He hosts a Demo Day with over 20 vendors including all major equipment vendors, several shoe vendors, specialty and training aid vendors to promote merchandise sales. His merchandising philosophy is that the golf shop is not just a golf shop but also a lifestyle shop. He focuses on excellent customer service, staying ahead of the trends, sharing of knowledge with his colleagues, and well-designed visual merchandising. The success can be seen when Toscana Country Club was awarded AGM/ Golf Digest Top 100 Golf Shops in 2010, 2011, and 2012. In 2007, he won Merchandiser of the Year for the Desert Chapter.
ERIC LOHMAN- Merchandiser of the Year Resort
Eric Lohman is the General Manager at Monarch Beach Golf Links. Lohman is responsible for the overall direction of the retail operations, including marketing and sales strategies, pricing strategies, hotel relationships, accounting, research, group sales, vendor outreach, programming and branding. His merchandising philosophy is “comfort shopping” by creating a place where guests will feel welcomed and enticed to spend some of their hard earned money and valuable time. Lohman actively reads many golf industry and lifestyle magazines to get fresh ideas, and communicates with other golf professionals or retail experts to stay with the trends. Lohman won the 2008 Golf Professional of the Year for the Metropolitan Chapter and the 2011 Merchandiser of the Year – Resort.
LAWRENCE GILBERT- Player Development Award
Lawrence began his career in golf as an assistant golf professional at Coto De Caza Golf and Racquet Club. He was the top producer of golf instruction at his club for five straight years. Lawrence recognized the need for player development at his club. He proposed implementing group programs that would increase the player base at the club. His supervisors recognized his contribution and granted his request, promoting him to Director of Player Development.
He began his journey by developing a personal mission statement for Player Development. His mission is, “To create programs that encourage potential golfers to begin playing, motivate informal social golfers to play more often, and to provide more opportunities for the casual player.” Gilbert embraced Get Golf Ready and developed five programs tailored to be progressive and market appropriate. Gilbert contributes his success to four factors: enthusiasm, tenacity, tailoring programs to his clients, and feedback and continuous improvement. Lawrence was elected into membership to the PGA in May, 2013 and was recognized nationally by the PGA of America for his best practices for player development.