HARTFORD, Conn. – Ian Marshall, the head pro at Watertown Golf Club, was one of seven new officers and board of directors inducted during the PGA of America’s annual meeting at the Hilton West Palm Beach and Palm Beach Convention Center in West Palm Beach, Fla.
Marshall, a graduate of Coastal Carolina University who turned pro in 2001, was named in District 1, which represents the Connecticut, New England and Northeast New York Sections, succeeding Noel Gebauer, the general manager at Town of Colonie Golf Course in Schenectady, N.Y. Marshall previously was Connecticut Section PGA president (2017-18), vice president (2015-16) and secretary (2013-14) and a member of the PGA national headquarters championships and member tournaments committee (2014). This year, he won the Walter Lowell PGA Tournament and tied for fourth in the Pro-Assistant Championship.
The national meeting, attended by longtime Connecticut Section PGA executive director Tom Hantke, president Howie Friday and tournament operations director Dennis Dungee, focused on the future of leadership as the PGA of America unveiled an evolved strategic plan to drive the organization into a new decade. The welcome session began with remarks from longtime Connecticut resident Suzy Whaley, the first female elected an officer in the PGA of America in 2014 who was finishing her first year as president. Whaley, who now lives in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., and the Connecticut Section PGA will host the annual meeting in Hartford in October 2020, when Whaley’s term as president concludes.
It seemed fitting that with Whaley being the PGA’s first female president that Barbara Nicklaus received the Distinguished Service Award, the organization’s highest honor, during the Hall of Fame banquet November 5. Inaugurated in 1988, the award honors outstanding individuals who display leadership and humanitarian qualities, including integrity, sportsmanship and a passion for the game of golf. The wife of legendary Jack Nicklaus is the chair and co-founder of Nicklaus Children’s Health Care Foundation, which was established in 2004 and has raised more than $100 million to support numerous pediatric healthcare services in South Florida and across the United States. Jack Nicklaus received the award in 2000, and he and Barbara are the second husband-wife duo to get the award, joining Mark and Debi Rolfing in 2017.
“Golf has given Jack so much, most importantly it has been our vehicle to attempt to give back to the game he loved when I met him and the game that I now live, cherish and support,” Barbara said during her acceptance speech. “We always wanted to successful, and I don’t mean as in only wealth and power, but in finding meaning in our lives, testing our capabilities and hopefully making the world a better place for having passed through it.
“Jack and I feel so blessed to be able to help others, particularly children. We pray that our life’s work has made a small difference as we have tried to give back through this phenomenal game even though we could have never given back as much as we have been blessed to receive. But we don’t keep trying.”
In March 2015, the Nicklauses’ support of children’s hospitals was recognized when globally renowned Miami Children’s Hospital in Florida was rebranded as Nicklaus Children’s Hospital. In November 2017, the entire Miami Children’s Health System was renamed the Nicklaus Children’s Health System. The network now features 15 outpatient centers from Miami north to Vero Beach and west to Naples.
The Nicklauses have five children, and one of their favorite current charities is Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. When it was known as Columbus Children’s Hospital, the facility provided the emergency care for the Nicklaus’ only daughter, Nan, who contracted pneumonia before her first birthday after accidentally inhaling part of a crayon that lodged in her windpipe. Nan is now 54 and the mother of five children, including former NFL tight end and Florida State All-American Nick O’Leary.
The Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide, founded in 1976 and hosted by Jack and Barbara at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio, has benefitted Nationwide Children’s Hospital since the PGA Tour event’s inception. It has raised more than $36 million for Central Ohio charities, including over $20 million to support the programs and services at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.
Barbara Nicklaus, who previously was honored by the PGA in 1998 as the inaugural First Lady of Golf, gave the audience another reason why she has made giving back part of her being.
“As C.S. Lewis said, you are never too old to set another goal or to make a new dream,” she said. “So, I will continue to dream and to set new goals, and I promise that I will try very hard to make you proud that you have chosen me for this phenomenal honor.”
Has there ever been a better couple and ambassadors for golf and life than Jack and Barbara Nicklaus? Perhaps Arnold and Winnie Palmer, but no one has ever been greater than that dynamic foursome.
The PGA of America Hall of Fame, originated in 1940 at the suggestion of sports writer Grantland Rice, is the highest honor that the organization can bestow on its membership and ambassadors of golf. This year’s inductees were PGA Tour players Davis Love III and the late Dave Marr II, former LPGA players Annika Sorenstam and Shirley Spork, past PGA president Derek Sprague and the late Karsten Solheim, a golf club designer and businessman who founded Karsten Manufacturing, a golf club maker better known by the name PING, and the Solheim Cup, the premier international team competition in women’s golf between the United States and Europe. Sorenstam (2003) and Love (2017) were previously inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame.
BILODEAU, MARRELLO OFFICIALLY PLAYERS OF THE YEAR
Kyle Bilodeau, a PGA Active Member not affiliated with a club, has officially won his second Bob Shea Connecticut Section PGA Player of the Year award with 446.17 points. Chris Tallman, the 2018 POY from Orchards Golf Club in Southwick, Mass., finished second at 404.50.
Bilodeau’s major accomplishments included wins in the Connecticut Section Championship in a playoff with Tallman, Match Play Championship and the Mohegan Sun PGA Pro-Am No. 2, tying for first in the Mohegan Sun PGA Pro-Am No. 3, finishing second in the Section Assistant Pro Championship and PGA Pro-Veteran Championship, tying for second in the Del Kinney Pro-Pro Championship, Mohegan Sun PGA Pro-Am No. 4, tying for fourth in the Travelers Championship Pre-Qualifier No. 2, tying for 11th in the Connecticut PGA Championship and qualifying for the Connecticut Open, where he missed the cut.
Fran Marrello, head pro at Canaan Country Club who finished third in the POY race, extended his record for Senior POY honors to nine. The winner of a record 24 Section individual championships has also been POY eight times. He’s the only player to win both awards in the same year.
Mike Bailey, who worked at Wethersfield Country Club for more than 20 years, and Chuck Lasher and Lindsey Hansen, who worked together at Timberlin Golf Club in Berlin for 17 years, will be inducted into the Connecticut Section PGA Hall of Fame during the organization’s awards banquet on Nov. 24 at Lake of Isles in North Stonington.
The Hall of Fame was established in 2008 to acknowledge PGA professionals for their dedication and contributions to the game of golf and Connecticut Section. The inductees are honored for their service and historical impact on their fellow members, the golfers whom they have served and for support of the PGA mission statement of growing the game and making golf a better game for all.
To be eligible for induction, professionals much be at least 50 years old, have been affiliated with the Section for a minimum of 10 years and have been a member of the PGA of America for at least 20 years.
HOLLAND REPEATS AS FEMALE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Jen Holland’s two favorite golfers have quite varying personalities.
“You can keep things under control if you build that bridge to the next shot,” Holland said. “You can be upset at yourself, but you have to build the bridge. I look at (Fred) Couples and (Phil) Mickelson. They do it. They have to.”
The gregarious Holland, who plays out of Lyman Orchards Golf Club in Middlefield, used that approach to earn a second consecutive Connecticut State Golf Association Liz Janangelo Caron Women’s Player of the Year Award. Holland also shows patience when she teaches physical education and golf, in the summer, in Middletown.
“I’m surprised,” Holland said when she learned had repeated as the award winner. “Honestly, I didn’t feel like it was the greatest year. I don’t feel like I played as well as I like to.”
Holland finished with 418 points, and Connecticut State Women’s Amateur champion Meghan Mitchell (CSGA Club for Schools) was second at 325. Holland’s major accomplishments were winning the Senior Division in the State Women’s Amateur and Southern New England Golf Association (finished third overall), finishing fourth in the North & South Women’s Open Championship and 11th in the New England Women’s Golf Association Championship and qualifying for the U.S. Women’s Amateur and as an alternate for the U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur.
Holland said she was most proud of her showing in the North & South at famed Pinehurst (N.C.) Country Club.
“I played with (seven-time USGA Championship winner) Ellen Port. What a treat that was,” Holland said.
Port, who has won three U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur Championships and four U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championships, won at Pinehurst and Holland narrowly missed being her runner-up.
“I didn’t practice as much as I’d hoped to this year,” Holland said. “My goal (in 2020) is to get in more practice and qualify for the Senior Women’s Open at Brooklawn (Country Club in Fairfield). I really want to play there. That’s the goal.”
The Liz Janangelo Caron Award is named after the winner of nine American Junior Golf Association titles, including five in 2001, a record five consecutive State Amateurs and four State Women’s Opens who was a four-time NCAA First-Team All-American and NCAA Female Player of the Year in his sophomore year at Duke University, played on the 2004 U.S. Curtis Cup team and qualified for three U.S. Women’s Opens. After graduating from Conard High School in West Hartford, she was the No. 1 ranked junior player in the country and helped Duke win national championships in 2005 and 2006, captured seven individual titles, was 2003 Atlantic Coast Conference Freshman of the Year and 2004 ACC and NCAA Player of the Year. After graduating from Duke, she played on the LPGA Tour and Symetra Tour, where she won twice in 2007. She’s now a teaching pro at The Mill River Club on Long Island, where she works with her husband, Jason Caron, a former PGA Tour and Nationwide Tour player.
Richard Dowling (eClub of Connecticut) earned the CSGA’s Dick Tettelbach Player of the Year Award, and Dave Szewczul (Tunxis Plantation CC-Farmington) extended his record for winning the Dick Siderowf Senior Player of the Year Award to nine.