By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior Correspondent
On an inspiring night at the Wisconsin Center, the 2020 PGA of America National Awards winners finally received their just honors during a rousing ceremony to kickoff the 2021 PGA Annual Meeting.
Delayed a year by the global pandemic, the PGA paid tribute Tuesday evening to a class of 12 influential PGA Members, led by 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.
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. Legendary PGA Master Professional Jim McLean, a Member for 41 years, was awarded with the PGA Professional Development Award for his contributions to the education of PGA Professionals.
“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, as he opened the ceremony. “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.”
After receiving their award from Richerson, the recipients were brought onstage for several town-hall style conversations with Master of Ceremonies Dave Marr III. The traditional tribute videos for each recipient were voiced over by CBS Sports Commentator James Brown.
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 honor 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.
Since the 1980s, he has maintained a mantra that his diverse facility would be welcoming and affordable to all, in order to grow the game. The golf course is regularly ranked among the top 10 municipal facilities in the country. Known for his humility, Glanton paid credit to his team and the support of the City of Richardson.
“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.”
Blackburn, a Alabama-NW Florida PGA Section Member and 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 golf 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, PGA, a Southwest PGA Section Member and Executive Chairman of Troon in Scottsdale, Arizona, received the inaugural PGA Golf Executive of the Year Award. The honor 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.”
Bill Strausbaugh Award winner Larry Dornish and PGA Professional Development Award recipient McLean were celebrated together.
“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.”
McLean, a PGA Master Professional and a 42-year PGA Member, 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. … It’s great to see so many doing well in the golf business.”
In an especially moving tribute, J.P. Lunn, a 27-year PGA Member and Head Professional at Fountain Head Country Club in Hagerstown, Maryland, was presented with the 2020 Deacon Palmer Award, honoring 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 tumor that was diagnosed in 2014.
“The PGA community is a binding force that can help anyone through anything,” said Lunn. “You get back so much more than what you put into it.”
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).
“I don’t do it for myself,” Runyan said. “I just want to help these men and women out. They saved me more than I’ve saved them.”
Rich Jones, PGA, was honored with the PGA Player Development Award for his thriving programs at Pine Ridge Golf Club in Coram, New York and his work at Golf Galaxy in Bayshore, New York.
“It means the world to me, and I think of the shoulders I stood on to get here,” said Jones. “It means a lot, and I am honored to receive this award.”
The PGA Youth Player Development Award was presented to Chris Thompson, PGA, who now works at Camelback Golf Club in Scottsdale, Arizona.
“I’m speechless,” said an emotional Thompson. “These awards are not about one person. It’s about your whole team who are with you day-to-day. I am humbled to receive this award.”
The three PGA Merchandisers of the Year were also honored together: Josué Reyes PGA, Destination Kohler – Whistling Straits/Black Wolf Run – Kohler, Wisconsin (Resort); Jacob Lippold, PGA, Sahalee Golf Club – Sammamish, Washington (Public); and Jason Ballard, PGA, of Oak Hill Country Club – Rochester, New York (Private).
Host David Marr III ended the evening by echoing Richardson, pointing to how the PGA honors a dozen PGA Members out of nearly 28,000 PGA Professionals worldwide.
“The PGA of America is the best of the best in their sport,” said Marr. “Those being honored here tonight are the best of those best.”
2020 PGA of America National Awards Recipients:
- PGA Golf Professional of the Year: Ronny Glanton, PGA, Sherrill Park Golf Course – Richardson, Texas
- PGA Teacher & Coach of the Year: Mark Blackburn, PGA, Greystone Golf & Country Club – Birmingham, Ala.
- PGA Golf Executive Of The Year: Dana Garmany, PGA, Troon – Scottsdale, Ariz.
- Bill Strausbaugh Award: Larry Dornisch, PGA, Muirfield Village Golf Club – Dublin, Ohio
- PGA Professional Development Award: Jim McLean, PGA, Jim McLean Golf School –
Coral Gables, Fla.
- Deacon Palmer Award: J.P. Lunn, PGA, Fountain Head Country Club – Hagerstown, Md.
- PGA Patriot Award: Christopher Runyan, PGA, GOLFTEC – Spokane, Wash.
- PGA Player Development Award: Rich Jones, PGA, Pine Ridge Golf Club – Coram, N.Y./Golf Galaxy – Bayshore, N.Y.
- PGA Youth Player Development Award: Chris Thomson, PGA, Camelback Golf Club –
- PGA Merchandiser of the Year-Resort Category: Josué Reyes, PGA, Destination Kohler – Whistling Straits/Black Wolf Run – Kohler, Wis.
- PGA Merchandiser of the Year-Public Category: Jacob Lippold, PGA, Sahalee Golf Club –
- PGA Merchandiser of the Year-Private Category: Jason Ballard, PGA, Oak Hill Country Club – Rochester, N.Y.