SFPGA TOPICS NEWSLETTER
Scott Kirkwood, PGA Merchandiser of the Year, Private
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TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE 1 | COVID-19 UPDATES PAGE 2| COVID-19 RESOURCES PAGE 3 | RETURNING PARTNERS PAGE 4-5 | WELCOME NEW PARTNERS PAGE 6 | MERCHANDISER OF THE YEAR PAGE 7 | SFPGA PROS ON TOUR PAGE 8 | SFPGA PROS VOLUNTEER AT HONDA CLASSIC PAGE 9-11 | MEMBER SPOTLIGHT: KEVIN COMPARE PAGE 12-13: CHAPTER CORNER PAGE 14 | JUNIOR TOUR SECTION PAGE 15-16 | JUNIOR TOUR MEMBER SPOTLIGHT: CAM MIDDLETON PAGE 17 | FIRST TEE OF MIAMI GOES VIRTUAL PAGE 18-21 | SFPGA FOUNDATION PAGE 22 | RULES WITH BRETT PAGE 23 | STAFFING UPDATESÂ
BOARD OF DIRECTORS PRESIDENT | KARL BUBLITZ, PGA VICE PRESIDENT | SCOTT KIRKWOOD, PGA IMMEDIATE PAST PRESIDENT | DON MEADOWS, PGA ISLAND CHAPTER PRESIDENT | TONY LOYOLA, PGA SOUTHEAST CHAPTER PRESIDENT | PAUL CLIVIO, PGA SOUTHERN CHAPTER PRESIDENT | SHANE WARRINER, PGA SOUTHWEST CHAPTER PRESIDENT | NATHAN GROCE, PGA SOUTHEAST CHAPTER AT-LARGE | BILL SCOTT, PGA SOUTHERN CHAPTER AT-LARGE | STEVE JABLONOWSKI, PGA SOUTHWEST CHAPTER AT-LARGE | BOB RADUNZ, PGA EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR | GEOFF LOFSTEAD ADVISORY BOARD: KEN KENNERLY STEVE SPONDER JOE STERANKA
Dear SFPGA Family, As we look to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, the South Florida PGA, Board and staff are working hard to monitor the situation on a daily basis, making decisions that are best for all its members, facilities and staff alike. At this point, all South Florida PGA events will remain canceled through May 15th with extensions being made if needed. In addition, the Section has made the decision to cancel the 2020 Foundation Pro-Am as well as the SFPGA HOPE Classic which were set to take place at the beginning of May. We will work to keep you updated as new information is presented and decisions are made. As we continue to push forward, we are committed to helping the south Florida area and demonstrate the incredible philanthropic nature our game is known for and would like to update you on a few of our initiatives. In working with facilities in Palm Beach County, the Florida Club Managers Association and the Florida Golf Course Superintendents Association the SFPGA is working to provide meals to local hospitals and healthcare workers in Palm Beach County through our Adopt-A-Hospital Program. Additionally, we will be dedicating a portion of all donations and pledges made through our South Florida PGA Junior Golf Birdie Club Program to children's hospitals as well as the SFPGA Foundation programs which include: PGA HOPE, Smiling Fore Life and Habitat for Humanity. The South Florida PGA Junior Golf family is also dedicated to making a healthcare worker's day through our letter-writing program. Junior golfers around south Florida are crafting letters to send to local hospitals and child care specialists to thank them for serving our community during these troubling times. While these initiatives are ones we are proud of, we recognize the many struggles this pandemic continues to mount on you as a PGA Professional and we want to make sure you are aware of the many resources our Association has available to you. Please click here to explore the national resources available which includes the new Golf Relief Fund that is now accepting applications. Additionally, click here to view the Section coronavirus page and the resources available, all of which are outlined below. In closing, we hope you and your loved ones are staying safe during this unprecedented time. If there is anything you or your facility needs from us, please do not hesitate to reach out to our team at the Section office. We look forward to getting out on the course with you soon. Stay safe and be well, Karl Bublitz, PGA Geoff Lofstead
Hot Topics: - > SBA Disaster Loan Assistance - >FAQ on Stimulus Checks - >Families First Coronavirus Response Act - > Golf Relief Fund Dues Update - Deadline Extended Section dues are now extended until October 31, 2020 to align with National dues. The collaboration between all 41 Sections and PGA HQ has been tremendous and we greatly appreciate all the communication to get all Sections to the other side of this crisis. This collaboration has enabled all 41 Sections to push dues back to October 31 collectively.The two payment options are outlined below: - Can pay full dues amount any time through October 31, 2020, without penalty or late fee; - (OR) Can pay in two installments: Pay Section amount only any time through October 31, 2020, without penalty or late fee. Pay National, Life, Liability and MAP any time through October 31, 2020, without penalty or late fee provided all dues components are paid by October 31, 2020
Welcome Back to All Our Returning Partners! Presenting Partners: Cadillac Club Car Cutter & Buck E-Z-GO / Textron Golf FootJoy Global Golf Sales Golf Buddy JaniKing
Lincoln Motor Company PGA National Resort & Spa Technogym The Honda Classic Tire Kingdom Titleist Yamaha
Supporting Partners: Ahead AndersonOrd Antigua Argolf USA Birdie Box Boca Raton Championship Brightview Bushnell/CamelBak Callaway Golf Celtic Golf Champion Turf LLC CLEAR Golf DLL Don Law Golf Academy Earth Networks FLAGD Florida Junior Golf Council Galvin Green Golf Pro Payments Golf Scorecards Great Greenz & Teez Synthetic Turf Heritage Creations Ikonik Golf
Hole-in-One USA Mirasol Men's Group Med Terra New Era Nike Junior Golf Camps POWERCHUTE Precise Yardage Books PXG Signature Golf Sparms Srixon/Cleveland/XXIO/ASICS TaylorMade Tagmarshal True Spec Golf TurfHound Under Armor Vortex Winners Award Group Whistling Straits/Blackwolf Run/A Kholer Experience
Welcome New Partners! A new apparel line AndersonOrd joins our family of partners in support of our Pro-Official which unfortunately has been postponed at this time. They are led by Greg Mergel. To learn more about their line, click here or contact Greg at email@example.com.
From landscape design to development, maintenance to enhancements, Brightview provides comprehensive services for many local facilities and could help yours as well. As a new partner of the Section they will be supporting the 2020 Pro-Superintendent later this summer. To learn more about their services, click here or contact Erik Larsen at firstname.lastname@example.org
A regrassing company, Champion Turf LLC has assisted many facilities during their golf course renovations including Seminole Golf Club and Pinehurst Resort. If you have plans for a golf course renovation, we would encourage you to contact South Florida PGA Professional Chris Cunniffe at email@example.com.
A new top of the line golf ball used by PGA Tour member Charl Schwartzel. CLEAR Golf balls are designed for passionate golfers seeking peak performance. USGA conforming, learn more about this new golf ball, click here or contact Joel Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org.
GolfProPayments was co-founded and is managed by a PGA member. Buildt upon a 20+ year partnership with Yamaha, through their powersports division, GolfProPayments brings golf courses, golf related software companies, golf car dealers, golf retailers and golf wholesalers the absolute lowest credit card processing rates available. To learn more about their services, click here or contract Andrew Reeves, PGA at email@example.com.
Ikonik is a Digital Academy Builder tool designed for coaches to assess students, deliver customized instruction and track progress inside a state-of-the-art software platform and delivered in a mobile app. To learn more about their product and technology, click here or contact Tim Campbell at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A division of GolfBuddy/SaintNine, Sparms provides sun protective products to block your skin from the strong UV rays of south Florida. To learn more about Sparms, click here or contact local reps - on the west coast Kevin Holt at email@example.com or on the east coast Alexis Seig at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Welcome New Partners! A south Florida news publication for many years now, Tee Times News is invested in sharing golf stories from our region and spotlighting PGA members throughout the Section. Click here to view the latest edition of Tee Times News, or for more information about how you can obtain copies at your facility contact Jeff Ward at email@example.com.
A popular sport clothing line, Under Armorâ€™s vision is to provide performance inspiration to athletes. Click here to view their product line or contact Marycarol Keena at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Vortex Weather Insurance for Golf lessens the economic effects of unfavorable weather on golf tournaments and eventsâ€“bad weather is bad business for golf. A weather insurance policy can help protect your facility from increased expenses or loss of revenue caused by rain, heat, cold, or a combination. The products they offer range from datadriven hourly policies that insure a facility for a one-time event to long-term solutions that reduce risk that help protect the bottom line. To learn more about their services, click here or contact Eric Anderson at email@example.com.
To view more partner information, click here or download the South Florida PGA App!
Scott Kirkwood, PGA Receives Merchandiser of the Year, Private Scott Kirkwood, PGA was honored with the National PGA Merchandiser of the Year Award, Private Category, in advance of the PGA Merchandise Show held this January in Orlando. The Merchandiser of the Year, private category is presented to the PGA member who has demonstrated superior skills as a merchandiser in the promotion of golf. Kirkwood of Ocean Reef Club and Vice President of the South Florida PGA has dedicated his time to creating a shopping experience for each customer that comes through the golf shop, prioritizing relationships between customer and associate as well as uniquely offering products that branch beyond golf. “I am honored to be recognized as the Merchandiser of the Year for the private sector,” said Kirkwood. “At Ocean Reef, we make it a priority to offer nothing but the best, most positive experience for our members and guests when they visit the golf shop.”
Scott Kirkwood, PGA and PGA of America Secretary John Lindert, PGA
Kirkwood's award rounds out a 2019 award season where the SFPGA and SFPGA Professionals won three national awards. Judy Alvarez, PGA took home the Patriot Award during the National Awards Dinner in November for her work serving veterans through PGA HOPE. In addition, the South Florida PGA received the Herb Graffis Award during the 103rd PGA Annual Meeting. The Herb Graffis Award is designed to recognize a PGA of America Section for extraordinary contributions in the area of player development. By prioritizing youth, diversity and the military, the South Florida PGA aims to impact more lives in south Florida through the game of golf. In junior golf, the SFPGA offers year-round programs for all ages, impacting more than 9,300 youth golfers over the past 12 years. The PGA of America annually recognizes 11 PGA Professionals and one PGA Section. Click on the images above to view the Merchandiser of the Year Video.
The 2020 National Awards process is underway and we are proud to have these finalists. Congratulations! Golf Professional of the Year - Tom Wildenhaus, PGA Teaching of the Year - Warren Bottke, PGA Horton Smith Award - Jim McLean, PGA Youth Player Development Award - Bill Scott, PGA Deacon Palmer Award - James Muir, PGA Merchandiser of the Year, Private - JR Friend, PGA Merchandiser of the Year, Public - Bela Nagy, PGA Merchandiser of the Year, Resort - Holly Taylor, PGA
Justin Bertsch, PGA Plays in Consecutive PGA TOUR Events Justin Bertsch, PGA Head Professional at Club Pelican Bay, made two consecutive starts on the PGA TOUR this February. Bertsch played February 20-23 in the Puerto Rico Open at Coco Beach Golf and Country Club which he qualified for by winning the South Florida PGA Professional Championship in September at Quail Valley Golf Club. The win last fall also earned him enough points to capture the Omega Player of the Year honors, allowing him a berth in the Honda Classic at PGA National Resort and Spa - The Champions Course which took place February 27-March 1. Justin Bertsch, PGA smiles after winning the SFPGA Professional Championship at Quail Valley Golf Club in September.
“As soon as you play in one of those (PGA TOUR) events, you really don’t want to make it a long time until you can do it again,” said Bertsch.
Bertsch’s play proved it may not be long until he finds himself in the mix once again. After opening the Puerto Rico Open with a 2-under 70, Bertsch followed with a 2-over 74, finishing even for the tournament, missing the cut by a stroke. While this was the first time participating in the Puerto Rico Open and Honda Classic for Bertsch, he has made appearances on the PGA TOUR before. Last year Bertsch competed in the PGA Championship at Bethpage Black after placing in the Top 20 at the PGA Professional Championship. Additionally, Bertsch played in the 2019 Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship in the Dominican Republic.
Ben Cook, PGA Qualifies for Corales Puntacana Championship Ben Cook, PGA Assistant Golf Professional at John’s Island Club in Vero Beach, shot a 67 to qualify for the Corales Puntacana Championship of the PGA TOUR. By winning the one-day Class A Qualifier, Cook will be the South Florida PGA representative in the Corales Puntacana Championship, which has been rescheduled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic September 24-27th. After bogeying the first hole during the qualifier at The Preserve at Ironhorse, Cook rebounded with seven birdies to shoot 67 and edge out Austin Davenport, PGA by one stroke.
Ben Cook, PGA after qualifying for the Corales Puntacana Championship this December.
The Corales Puntacana Championship is now in its third season of existence and the South Florida PGA has been represented each of the last two years. Andrew Filbert, PGA played in 2018 and Justin Bertsch, PGA competed in 2019. This will be Cook’s first trip to the Dominican Republic for the Corales Puntacana Championship and his second start on the PGA TOUR. Cook previously competed in May at the 101st PGA Championship.
South Florida PGA Professionals Volunteer at Honda Classic South Florida PGA Professionals volunteered to Walk-With-A-Pro at the Honda Classic during the annual Pro-Am on February 26th. During the Pro-Am, 53 SFPGA Professionals served as Pace of Play Ambassadors and walked with each Pro-Am group in an effort to ensure pace-of-play standards were met during the round. Special thanks to the group below who had a chance to serve as ambassadors for our Section and enhance the golfing experience of PGA TOUR players and amateurs alike. Judy Alvarez Ben Bauer Mark Beaulieu Dana Bennett Pat Bennett Warren Bottke Jack Carney Lou Cera Joe Cieri Steve Clawson Bob Coman Steven D. Cox Steve Delaney Tommy Durick David Flinn Greg Gardner John Gardner Bill Gombert John Gore Hylton Green Toby Hill Malcolm Hood Mike Jonges Sean Kicker
Steve Knott Tom Lavinio Todd Leckrone Larry Levow Matt Licata Jim Simon Orin Linde Cody Sinkler Rich Luchini Ken Smythe Doug Mauch Ryan Sundberg Mike McLellan Danny McLellan Mike Valicenti Duncan McNabb Shane Warriner Chase Minnick Bela Nagy John Nelson Stephen Oâ€™Hara Desi Pal Kevin Perkins Robert Petelinkar Bo Preston Marty Price William Reilly Marcus Schnellenberger Edward Scrivnor
PGA Master Professional Kevin Compare Preps for a Cross-Country Bike Ride to benefit Charities - By Bob Denney, PGA Historian For 36 years, PGA Master Professional Kevin Compare has made it his mission to go the extra mile to entertain audiences as golf’s premier lefthanded trick shot artist. He’s a guy who keeps orthopedic surgeons in business by smashing a golf ball while doing the splits. He’s performed more than 1,700 exhibitions spanning 46 states and nine countries. Now, Compare, whose alter ego is Divot the Clown, is training for something that’s neither fantasy or magic with a club and ball.
Kevin Compare, PGA prepares a trick shot.
Call it an outgrowth of Compare’s passion to push his limits at age 62, and it is happening as the world deals with a pandemic. Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, Compare was in his 17th season as a PGA Teaching Professional at The Breakers in Palm Beach. Compare has picked June 15, to begin “Divot’s Drive for Charity” – a 3,100-mile, 36-day cross country ride across eight states. The goal: to support nine charities that have been embraced by the Compare family. It’s a challenge; but it’s not beyond Compare. Joined by his daughter, Amy, 25, they each will mount Jamis T-6 road bikes, and will be followed in a motor home by Compare’s wife, Joan. The bikers will dip their respective back tires in the Pacific Ocean on the shores of San Diego and close the trek by dipping their front tires around July 20 in the Atlantic in St. Augustine, Florida. They’re also being assisted by Compare’s son, Kyle, who turns 23 in May. About to complete his Master’s Degree in Geology at Florida State University, the former four-year tuba player in the FSU “Marching Chiefs” will drum up public awareness for the ride on social media. “It’s a whole new world to me,” said Kevin, who planned the ride well before the COVID-19 outbreak. “I think the easiest thing will be the pedaling. The toughest part will be fundraising.” Compare will attempt to raise $100,000, based upon attracting 1,000 donors of at least $100. The Compare Family Foundation, a 501 (c)(3) tax-exempt charitable organization, will manage donations. The bike ride targets nine charities, which are a tapestry of Compare’s past and present:
• Martin County Special Olympics • The South Florida PGA Foundation • The Arc of Martin County, which benefits individuals with intellectual developmental disabilities. • Urban Youth Impact, which empowers inner-city youth in West Palm Beach. • The Breezy Foundation, which gives scholarship support to Martin County college-bound students studying to become Education Service Contracting (ESC) instructors. The Compare family.
• The Edna Fraser Athletic Scholarship, named after a legendary women’s sports trailblazer at Compare’s alma mater, Foran High School in Milford, Connecticut. • The Neil Sheriden College Fund, named after a late greens superintendent at Breakers West who succumbed to cancer, and benefits his small children’s college aspirations. • The South Fork Scholarship, which the Compare family will present to a recipient at his children’s high school in Stuart. • The Michael Compare Scholarship, named in honor of his late nephew, a police officer in the Milford Police Department who was a pillar for city youth before passing at age 36. It’s one thing to attempt a cross-country bike ride and another when you consider Compare has had more than his share of physical issues. Last November, he crashed his bike into a bridge. Last Feb. 14, he underwent his 11th surgery, the fourth on his right knee, to repair a torn medial meniscus – commonly called a “shock absorber.” “Nothing hurts when I’m riding,” Compare insisted, who has endured two back surgeries, insertion of two stents in his heart in 2007 to offset 99 percent arterial blockage; neck and shoulder surgery, and one procedure he will never forget – to repair a hemorrhoid. Mapping the ride is like navigating a massive golf course, Compare explained: You have to allow for elevation, constant weather changes, curves and depend upon your equipment. “We plan to ride 58 miles the first day and then put in 100 each day from there,” Compare said. “If we are on schedule, we plan to spend 10 days riding from San Diego to El Paso, Texas, and then 14 days to ride through the Lone Star State.” He received support researching the trail from the Adventure Cycling Association of Missoula, Montana, which touts its slogan, “Your Adventure Awaits.” Daughter Amy is an environmental educator with a degree in Environmental Studies from the University of Central Florida and a Masters of Education degree from the University of Washington. The furthest she’s ridden a bike is 50 miles training for the trip. But, she’s made of Compare “stock.” Like her dad, she enjoys challenges. A four-year piccolo player in the UCF marching band, Amy tried out for the rowing team her freshman year despite never having rowed a day in her life. She made the team and during her final two years at UCF, helped the Knights earn their first-ever American Athletic Conference (AAC) Championship and a berth in the NCAA Championships. One of her goals is to complete walking the Appalachian Trail. She already has made two “sectional” hikes on the famed trail and during one of those journeys helped raise funds to offset medical expenses for a friend who was undergoing treatment for breast cancer.
“It’s a quest for adventure,” said Amy. “Having just graduated from graduate school and in transition between jobs, I knew this may be the last time for a while that I might be able to do something on this scale with my dad. The fact that my mom is coming, too, makes this trip even better. I’m excited to spend time with my family while helping to support the community where I grew up.” Said Joan Compare, “This bike ride has always been something he wanted to do, so I’m happy that he’s finally getting the opportunity to achieve this goal. We’ve been planning this trip for a while. There is a lot of uncertainty in the world right now, but we’re going to do what we can to make this trip happen while looking out for the safety of ourselves and others.” Born in Milford, Connecticut, Kevin Compare lived 10 miles from Yale University, and attended Foran High School, and the spring blended both prep baseball and golf seasons. “We lived near a big field where we played baseball and where other kids were hitting golf balls,” said Compare. “I did everything left-handed. At age 12, I saw a set of left-handed clubs that my father had and started playing with them. I began caddying and practicing. My first year with the clubs I broke 100, then was scoring in the high-80s and then low 80s.” Compare moved to Stuart, Florida in 1976, then searched for five years for a niche in the golf industry. He found his footing in 1981, as an assistant golf professional at Heritage Ridge Golf Club in Hobe Sound. He spent the summer of 1984 at The Towers Country Club in Floral Park, New York. From 1985-87, he was an assistant at Martin County Golf and Country Club in Stuart, with an emphasis on teaching. Compare was elected to PGA Membership in 1987, the year he began a three-year term as a PGA Head Professional at Miles Grant Country Club in Stuart. He was 29 years old at a club where the average member age was 72 and had no practice range. In his first year at Miles Grant, Compare gave 762 golf lessons. From 1991-92, Compare was the PGA Director of Instruction at the Golf and Racquet Club in Palm Beach Gardens. In 1993, he worked for two seasons under future PGA Hall of Famer Don Essig III as a Head Professional at South Grove Golf Course in Indianapolis. From 1995-99, Compare was the lead instructor at the Total Performance Golf School at Woodlake Country Club in Vass, North Carolina, just 13 minutes northeast of Pinehurst. In 1999, Compare joined the PGA Center for Golf Learning & Performance staff in Port St. Lucie, Florida, and remained until 2003. He became a road warrior in 2004, traveling with his branded trick shot golf exhibition firm, Divot the Clown Corporation. From 2004 to the present, he has been an instructor at The John Webster Golf Academy at The Breakers in Palm Beach, Florida. “I’m currently riding between 20 and 50 miles a day,” said Compare of his training. “I think, wow! I will be doing two to five times this distance each day for a month. Sometimes it seems overwhelming, but I think of the funds we will be raising and the individuals we will be helping. “The mission statement of The Compare Family Foundation: ‘Using God’s Given Ability to Help those in Need.’ This helps me focus on the goal.” For additional information on “Divot’s Drive for Charity” visit CompareFamilyFoundation.org.
Island Chapter: The Island Chapter dedicated the Habitat for Humanity home in January that PGA Professionals in the area helped to restore last fall. The home went to a deserving family of three.
Southwest Chapter: Committee Chairs: Assistants Chairpersons Sean O'Donnell, PGA Countryside Golf & Country Club
Growth of the Game Chairperson Josh Ross, PGA Cape Royal Golf Club
Dan Cordaro, PGA Bears Paw Country Club
Junior Golf Chairperson Bobby Conway, PGA Stoneybrook Golf Club
Education Chairperson Paul Fitzpatrick, PGA Shell Point Golf Club Seniors Chairperson Perry Smith, PGA Vanderbilt Country Club
Tournament Chairpersons David Weiss, PGA Forest Glenn Golf and Country Club Tony Osborn, PGA The Classics Country Club
Chapter Corner Southeast Chapter: The Southeast Chapter is teaming up to "Adopt-AHospital" by facility. In doing so facilities are able to provide lunch to hospital workers in Palm Beach County to support those on the font line of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Committee Chairs: Assistant Committee Chairpersons Rick Sutton, PGA Broken Sound Club - Old Course
Education/Chapter University Chris Duquette, PGA Boca Rio Golf Club
Cody Sinkler, PGA Quail Ridge Country Club Awards Committee Chairpersons Shawn Costello, PGA Boca Grove Golf & Tennis Club
Mike Valicenti, PGA Country Club at Mirasol Tournaments/Sponsorships Paul Crespo, PGA BallenIsles Country Club
Dennis Rye, PGA Mizner Country Club Chapter Elementary/Junior Golf David Flinn, PGA BallenIsles Country Club Chris Duquette, PGA Boca Rio Golf Club
Chapter Events Coordinator Jeff Gourdouze
JR Friend, PGA Boca West Country Club Sonny Grosso, PGA Country Club at Mirasol
Southern Chapter: Committee Chairs: Associate Chairpersons Eric Sump, PGA Country Club of Miami Matthew Brady, PGA Topgolf - Miami Awards Chairperson Brett Martin, PGA Coral Ridge Country Club
Junior Golf Chairperson/Education Chairperson Sean Kicker, PGA Grand Palms Hotel & Golf Resort Alex Fernandez, PGA Crandon Golf Academy
Senior Committee Chairperson Bill Friesing, PGA The Country Club of Coral Springs Tournament Chairperson Adam Scrimenti, PGA Woodmont Country Club
Sponsorship Chairperson Santos Caceres, PGA Rick Smith Golf Performance Center
Junior Tour Section South Florida PGA Junior Tour Provides Journey Through Golf No one journey in golf is the same. For some, it starts at an early age and for others, it’s a sport picked up later in life. The South Florida PGA offers a journey through golf that is unlike any other, offering the opportunity to start at age six and running tournaments for juniors through age 18. “My son was able to climb through the different age groups which elevated him to be able to compete on a state-wide level, pursuing other junior events around the county and on into college,” said Brian Peaper, PGA Director of Golf at Lost Tree Club. Peaper’s son, Brant, started on the SFPGA Junior Tour as a preteen in 2001 and left it as a young adult who went on to play college golf at Indiana University from 2009-13.
Alexa Tiana and Jenna Fonda.
One of the main benefits that today’s juniors have is they can start at an earlier age and progress through the different levels which are much more specific to their skills at that time,” said Peaper. “The courses are great, competition is great and it’s affordable.” Since the early 2000s the SFPGA Junior Tour has grown tremendously, now offering four different tours to over 1,000 juniors aged six to 18 each year.
Tyler Stackhunas, for example, began with the SFPGA when he was eight. Now, at 17, Stackhunas is a college prospect and a leader on the SFPGA Championship Tour, which is the highest level offered.
“The SFPGA has a great program where I was able to start as a beginner golfer and work my way up until now, as I look towards a hopeful college career," said Stackhunas. The South Florida PGA offers a beginner Links Tour to juniors starting at age six which provides, competitive 9-hole golf tournaments, helping young golfers gain individual stroke-play experience. From there, the SFPGA journey takes a junior to an intermediate-level, 18-hole tournament environment with the Prep Tour and into the two-day, 36-hole tournaments in the Challenge Tour and finally, the Championship Tour. Jenna Fonda and Alexa Tiana started with the SFPGA at 10 and 11, respectfully. Fonda began on the Challenge Tour while Tiana started with the Team Golf program. The two became great friends after meeting on the Challenge Tour. By providing a journey through the junior golf ranks, the SFPGA Junior Tour continues to be an outlet to juniors, fostering life-long friendships. “The competition has given me a lot of friendships through the years which has pushed me to work on my game because I’m enjoying the sport at the same time.” The SFPGA Junior Tour provides a journey through golf that has reached college teams, professional tours and PGA Professionals but most importantly, it introduces juniors to a sport that lasts a lifetime.
Junior Tour Member Profile: Cameron Middleton Middleton thrives under the instruction from PGA Professionals At just two years of age, Cam Middleton walked into a Dicks Sporting Goods store and found the game of golf. At age four, Middleton began Junior Clinics at Stoneybrook Golf Club with Jeff Nixon, PGA and Bobby Conway, PGA. “Jeff recognized early that Cam 'had it' and immediately recommended he take weekend clinics and one-on-one lessons with Bobby," said Gina Middleton, Cam's mom. "From their first private lesson, Cam and Bobby have become best friends - exactly the relationship you dream of for your child and his coach.”
Middelton, who works with PGA Professionals at Stoneybrook.
Stoneybrook Junior Golf started in the summer of 2011 by Nixon. Conway, a graduate of Florida Gulf Coast University, joined the team in 2012. With a 17,000 square-foot practice green, over two acres of grass teeing area, practice bunkers, and multiple short game areas and outstanding PGA Professionals, Stoneybrook has become a junior golf playground. Stoneybrook’s programing includes an afterschool program with pickup from school, 60 minutes of homework time, and 90 minutes of organized practice. It’s the perfect environment to teach kids to love the game. “We help them build confidence in themselves, learn a game they can play their whole life, teach life lessons that will help them in the future,” said Conway. “My one favorite part of working at Stoneybrook is seeing the juniors grow up to people they are today.” The growth that the Middleton’s have seen in their son goes far beyond the golf course as these programs are shaping him into the person that he is becoming: “The opportunities that have been provided have given Cam self-esteem, a sense of pride, and our family the ability to come together and celebrate his success.” Middleton began playing Team Golf with the South Florida PGA Junior Tour and PGA Jr. League with Stoneybrook where he was able to be on a team and play with a partner, an environment he thrived in. “I love the team scrabble because it allows us to use each other’s ball to get the best score,” said Middleton. “Sometimes people are better at different skills so playing as a team is helpful. I'm small so I can't drive the ball as far but I can help out with chipping and putting.”
Middleton went from playing with the SFPGA Junior Tour Team Golf to getting moved up to the Links Tour in less than a year. “Cameron probably has the best hand-eye coordination I’ve seen in a four-year-old and he pairs it with the highlevel ability to concentrate,” said Conway on Middleston’s skillset. As a member of the SFPGA Links Tour as well as PGA Jr. League, Middleton now has the combination of playing on his own as well as a team atmosphere allowing him to improve his game and most importantly, have fun with others. “Working with kids like Cam makes you realize how much fun At four, Middleton competes with PGA Junior League, where he thrives in a team environment. the game of golf should be,”said Conway. “We have been bringing more junior golf games into our adult instruction to help adults realize how to practice and how to make it fun.” As for Middleton, with the help of Stoneybrook, the sky is the limit. “I want to be at the top. I want to be on tour,” said the four-year-old Middleton. “I want people to come watch me play and cheer for me.”
First Tee of Miami Takes Junior Golf Programming Virtual In light of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the golf industry is taking a hit especially junior golfers. Junior golfers are used to spending 2-4 days a week at junior golf clinics: learning the game, having fun, and being with their friends and coaches. Lately, these gatherings have been put to a stop, at least in person. The First Tee of Miami and its Team of coaches, lead by PGA Member John Moscoso, have been able to give their junior golfers a little slice of normalcy from the safety of their own homes. With the help of “Zoom,” First Tee coaches have been able to hold all of their programing. “We have a very passionate and committed team and we know the impact we have on the kids and we take that very seriously,” Said Moscoso on why he felt it was important to continue these programs for the over 2,000 kids they impact annually. “We often talk about the mentors and coaches we had as kids and how impactful they were to our lives. This alone motivates the entire team to reach out to our kids and continue to impact their lives through the game of golf." During the virtual clinics where the main focus is golf and fitness, they have also added discussions around community and are discussing the current state in a positive way. Coaches are asking juniors questions about what they are doing to help (washing hands, wearing masks, helping your family) and brainstorming ways to do more. “We are a huge united family here at The First Tee Miami,” said Moscoso. “Each month we select an organization that needs our help and we challenge the participants and their families to join in the effort. This year, we have done a beach cleanup, food drive, clothes and personal hygiene drive. Our goal is for the participants to learn and nourish the act of kindness by volunteering while they are in our programs,” said Moscoso. Additionally, Stephanie Peareth, LPGA A Class Professional, has been making good use of all her creativity. She has been able to get crafty and teach her Girls Golf group how to make their very own training aids out of objects from home or inexpensive items from the store. A highlight of these training aids is for maintaining proper form while chipping and putting which can come in shape of a large carrot that she presented while in an Easter Bunny costume. The upsidedown triangle shape of the carrot is a perfect visualization for posture in chipping and putting. Click here for the link to this post. “Players are showing up virtually in their golf uniforms with our instruction because they miss it and love to the chance to wear their golf clothes,” said Peareth. “My main focus is to bring the fun and creative side to make sure everyone is kept busy and smiling through this tough time” In addition to the golf and fitness instruction, Peareth is also giving them a space to see and “hang out” with their friends. Peareth has hosted a clinic that included golf fitness, games, and a screening of “The Founders” a film about the 13 original founders of the LPGA Tour, which was then followed by a special question and answer session with LPGA Founder, Shirley Spork. In spite of adversity, the First Tee of Miami has continued to inspire and grow the game through technology and our “new normal.”
South Florida PGA Foundation South Florida PGA Foundation and Golf Professionals Dedicate Eighth Habitat for Humanity Home
SFPGA Executive Director Geoff Lofstead and Island Chapter PGA Members pose for a photo with the family of the newest Habitat for Humanity Home.
South Florida PGA Professionals of the Island Chapter in Puerto Rico, in conjunction with the South Florida PGA Foundation have refurbished a Habitat for Humanity Home and gifted it to a deserving family. This marked the eighth Habitat for Humanity Home that the South Florida PGA Foundation has funded and the first in Puerto Rico. The home was dedicated to Luis Anthony Ortiz Lopez, 26, a community leader at Villa Cristiana and employed by the Puerto Rico Golf Association and Angelica Maria Otiz Couvertier, 27, a pharmacy student at InterAmerican University. Together, the couple has a one-year-old son. The project, which was built in the boundaries of the SFPGA Island Chapter in Puerto Rico, began in late October when PGA Professionals began restoring a house in Loiza which was destroyed in the wake of Hurricane Maria. “It all goes back to our mission and vision as golf professionals and as an Association,” said Tony Loyola, President of the South Florida PGA Island Chapter. “There is nothing that makes it more worthwhile as PGA Professionals than doing things like this and the South Florida PGA and the Island Chapter has allowed us that platform.” Since the partnership with Habitat for Humanity began, the SFPGA Foundation has built eight homes and plans to build a total of 14, one in each county of the South Florida Section, which includes Puerto Rico. Once all 14 homes have been built, the Foundation will have granted $700,000 to Habitat for Humanity and more than 15,000 volunteer hours. The South Florida PGA Foundation believes it is important that PGA Professionals get involved in the community in a way that expands beyond golf. For more information about the South Florida PGA Foundation and its programs, click here.
Click Below to View the Habitat for Humanity Home Dedication Video
PGA Member Spotlight: Ron Howell, PGA A Veteran Giving Back Why did you become a PGA Professional? Initially I turned Professional to pursue a career on the PGA Tour. However, after being selected to work as an assistant at three very prestigious country clubs in the Middle Atlantic Section and being exposed to legends like Max Elbin and Bill Strausbaugh, I decided to try and obtain my status as a PGA Professional and continue to improve as a player. During my apprenticeship I worked at Army Navy C.C. in Arlington, Virginia where I was privileged to meet many HighRanking Officers in the Military who impressed me with their strength of character and dedication to our great country. The Club Professional, Steve Tobash, treated me more as a son than an employee and guided me towards my dream of being a touring professional and also schooled me in the importance of building the game through instruction and play. What has been your proudest achievement while being a part of this organization? Although I was a reasonably good player and won a few tournaments – I’m probably most proud of being selected to be the official instructor of the Australian Girls National Team and The New Zealand National Boys Team, out of which two national champions were crowned from the teams I coached. As a close second, while living in Australia, I conducted over 1500 Golf Exhibitions and Clinics in the remote areas known as the Outback! When did you become a Master Professional? I was became a Master Professional of July 1992. In October of 2020 I’m looking forward to becoming a Half Century member of the PGA of America. What branch did you serve and for how long? I served in the Marine Corps, six months Active Duty and five years Reserve. What was your most memorable moment during your service? Another Marine and I rescued a bogged down Amphibious Tank by diving to the underside of the Stranded Tank and attaching a length of chain to another tank and pulling it free during a live fire maneuver.
Why did you begin instructing PGA HOPE? I viewed it as an opportunity to contribute to veterans for their sacrifices and to give something back to the game that has been a lifetime of meeting wonderful people all over the world. How would you describe the impact of PGA HOPE? Iâ€™m hoping that the responses from the veteran participants speak for themselves. Recently, in a PGA Hope Program at Coral Oaks a fellow professional and myself worked with a young lady who had severe PTSD and had a service dog with her and she great response to hitting an outstanding shot by loudly shouting out (WOO HOO) â€“ even the dog cheered! What is the significance of being a veteran and giving back through PGA HOPE? As a veteran, I am possibly more aware of the sacrifices made by these terrific individuals and this allows me to say thank you to them for everything they have done to protect our country! Why should other PGA Professionals instruct a PGA HOPE program? I think we can all gain by giving ourselves and the very act of bringing joy to someone through our game makes us realize how fortunate we are! How would you describe PGA HOPE in one word? INSPIRATIONAL
Rules With Brett Bunkers and the rules applying to them are a bit more complicated than people think. To start, bunkers are 1 of the 5 defined areas of the course and they have their own set of rules that specifically apply to them. They are NO LONGER HAZARDS. By definition, bunkers are, “a specially prepared area of sand, which is often a hollow from which turf or soil was removed.” This does NOT include the following: The lip or face of the bunker Sand in the general area that has spilled outside of the prepared “bunker” Grass, soil, or any growing natural object inside the edge of the prepared area All other natural sandy areas of the golf course (unless declared bunkers by the committee) When is a ball in the bunker? A ball is in a bunker when any part of the ball: Touches sand on the ground inside the edge of the bunker. Is inside the edge of the bunker and rests: On ground where sand would normally be, or In or on a loose impediment, movable obstruction, abnormal course condition, or integral object in the bunker.
Lastly, we’ll look at actions that allowed / NOT allowed inside of a bunker. NOT ALLOWED: Before making a stroke at your ball in a bunker, you must not: Deliberately touch sand in the bunker with your hand, a club or rake or any other object to test the condition of the sand and learn information for your next stroke, or Touch sand in the bunker with your club: In the area right in front of or right behind your ball (except as allowed in fairly searching for your ball or in removing a loose impediment or movable obstruction), In making a practice swing, or In making your backswing for a stroke.
ALLOWED: Except as covered in the two bullets above, the following actions are allowed: Digging in with your feet to take a stance for a practice swing or the stroke, Smoothing the bunker to care for the course, Placing your clubs, equipment or other objects in the bunker Measuring, marking, lifting, replacing or taking other actions under a Rule, Leaning on a club to rest, stay balanced or prevent a fall, or Striking the sand in frustration or anger. (Allowed, but NOT recommended) But you get the general penalty if your actions in touching the sand improve the conditions affecting your stroke. There are a few other intricate scenarios covered by Rule 12 in the USGA rules of golf, but if you follow these basics, you’re likely to keep yourself out of trouble.
Staffing Updates Thank You Chad Peters! Junior Golf Director Chad Peters announced his departure from the South Florida PGA in early March and had his last day on Friday, March 20th. We want to thank Chad for his dedicated service to the Section as he led the junior golf department to tremendous growth in participation and tournaments administered and his presence will be greatly missed. A Jupiter native, Chad will remain local as he transitions to work with his family's company. If you would like to reach out to Chad and wish him well with his new endeavors, please find his personal email below. firstname.lastname@example.org
Welcome Phillip Manceri! We would like to extend a warm welcome to Phillip Manceri who will be joining us this June as a Junior Golf Coordinator. Phillip comes to us from the University of Mary Washington where he competed on the Men's Golf Team. In addition, Phillip spent the last two summers as a Section intern, most recently with the junior golf department. A native of Boca Raton, Phillip grew up playing on the South Florida PGA Junior Tour and we know he will be a great addition to the SFPGA team. Please join us in welcoming Phillip at his personal email below. email@example.com