2023 Sun Country PGA Award Winners

Derek Gutierrez, PGA - Santa Ana Golf Club

Derek Gutierrez, PGA - Santa Ana Golf Club

Professional of the Year

This prestigious accolade represents the highest honor in their field. Nominees are carefully selected based on their overall performance, service to the Section and the Association, leadership abilities, professional image, and their efforts to promote golf. While the award recognizes their entire career, it places particular emphasis on their accomplishments over the past five years. This honor celebrates professionals who excel in various aspects of their role within the golf industry.
Dan Koesters, PGA

Dan Koesters, PGA

Lifetime Achievement Award

The Lifetime Achievement Award, established in 2001, stands as a testament to the extraordinary contributions of Sun Country Section PGA (SCSPGA) Professionals who have dedicated their careers to enriching and championing the sport of golf within the Sun Country Section. This prestigious honor aims to spotlight those remarkable individuals who have left an indelible mark on the golfing community over the years. Their tireless efforts have not only elevated the game of golf but have also enhanced its presence in the Sun Country Section. The award seeks to bestow well-deserved recognition upon the outstanding golf professionals of this section, underscoring the significant role they have played in shaping and promoting the game, and the positive impact they have had on the golfing community.
Pat Gavin, PGA - NMSU PGA Golf Management

Pat Gavin, PGA - NMSU PGA Golf Management

Bill Strausbaugh Award

This award recognizes Sun Country PGA members who, through their daily efforts, significantly mentor PGA Professionals in our Section and/or the PGA of America. It also considers the member's integrity, character, service to the Association, and involvement in community and charitable activities. Criteria for nominations include contributions to golf's image, mentoring, character, community and Association involvement, and service to the Association. This award honors those who inspire others, display outstanding character, and make meaningful contributions to their professional community and beyond.
Jason Baldwin, PGA - Desert Lakes Golf Course

Jason Baldwin, PGA - Desert Lakes Golf Course

Pat Gavin PGA Professional Development Award

Formerly known as the Horton Smith Award, the Pat Gavin Professional Development Award is a prestigious recognition within the Sun Country PGA community. During the summer Sun Country PGA Board of Directors meeting in July 2020, the Section leadership unanimously decided to re-name the existing Horton Smith Award as the Pat Gavin Award. This renaming serves as a tribute to Pat Gavin, the long-serving director of the New Mexico State University PGA Golf Management Program, who has devoted his professional life to the growth and prosperity of the PGA of America and its members. The award underscores outstanding contributions to educational programming, emphasizing the development of educational initiatives, creation of beneficial articles, and the promotion of a positive image for PGA Golf Professionals and the Association. Pat Gavin's remarkable influence in educating over a thousand PGA members and his enduring impact on PGA professionals across the country earned him this honor. His involvement with the Sun Country PGA's leadership and governance, as well as numerous accolades, further solidify his legacy. This award, now named in his honor, acknowledges those who have made significant and enduring contributions to the professional growth and image of PGA Professionals in the Sun Country region.
Ben Gasparich, PGA - Sandia Golf Club

Ben Gasparich, PGA - Sandia Golf Club

Assistant Professional of the Year

The PGA Assistant Professional of the Year Award stands as one of the highest honors from the Association and is conferred upon a dedicated club professional who epitomizes the complete PGA Professional. This award recognizes their multifaceted contributions, including demonstrating outstanding leadership qualities, possessing strong moral character, maintaining a substantial record of service to the Association and the game of golf, and being widely regarded as a model PGA Golf Professional. It celebrates professionals who excel in various aspects of their role.
Henry Stetina, PGA - NMSU PGA Golf Management

Henry Stetina, PGA - NMSU PGA Golf Management

Jack Hardwick Teacher of the Year

This award bestows special recognition on a Sun Country PGA Golf Professional for their outstanding services as a golf instructor. Key criteria include their overall performance as an instructor at their facility, service to the Section and Association, leadership abilities, professional image, the capacity to inspire peers, contributions to the promotion of golf, their impact on teaching and golf instruction at the sectional level, involvement in junior golf activities at their facility, innovative contributions to golf instruction, and any articles they've written for publication. This accolade celebrates professionals who excel in various aspects of golf instruction.
Gerome Espinoza, PGA - 8 Grady's Performance Center

Gerome Espinoza, PGA - 8 Grady's Performance Center

Player Development Award

This award recognizes PGA Professionals for their extraordinary contributions and accomplishments in player development. It evaluates their commitment to growing the game at both Section and National levels and their impact at their facility. The award considers specific criteria, including contributions to Play Golf America Initiatives, the quality and diversity of player development programs, the effective use of Play Golf America tools and resources, exceptional best practices, such as innovative ideas, revenue growth, enhanced retention, and elevated customer satisfaction. It also takes into account their ability to inspire fellow PGA Professionals in player development. This accolade celebrates those who excel in this field.
Nick Knee, PGA - Sandia Golf Club

Nick Knee, PGA - Sandia Golf Club

Youth Player Development Award

The Youth Player Development Award, previously known as the Junior Golf Leader Award, celebrates Sun Country PGA Professionals who excel in youth player development. It recognizes those who provide valuable opportunities for juniors to learn and enjoy golf, exhibiting outstanding character and dedication to the field. Nominations are based on their contributions to youth player development programs, involvement in promoting youth golf, and their overall leadership and service in this domain. This award represents excellence in nurturing young golf talent.

Donald Yrene, PGA - The Canyon Club

Private Merchandiser of the Year

Ryan Zonski, PGA - Paako Ridge Golf Club

Ryan Zonski, PGA - Paako Ridge Golf Club

Public Merchandiser of the Year

Zach Hoefel, PGA - Twin Warrors Golf Club

Zach Hoefel, PGA - Twin Warrors Golf Club

Resort Merchandiser of the Year

The Merchandiser of the Year award in three categories - Private, Resort, and Public/Municipal/Military/Semi-Private, acknowledges the exceptional skills of a Sun Country PGA Professional in promoting golf through superior merchandising. The criteria include being a PGA Member in good standing with a strong credit rating in the industry. The candidates are evaluated in various areas, including merchandise performance (profit margin, turn rate, cost of goods, sales), attention to details and innovation, the effectiveness of displays, and proficiency in merchandising techniques. This award pays tribute to professionals who excel in promoting the sport through their merchandising expertise.

Perry Kauppinen, PGA - TaylorMade Golf

Perry Kauppinen, PGA - TaylorMade Golf

Sales Representative of the Year

This award, based on specific criteria, celebrates those individuals who demonstrate unwavering support and integrity in their dealings with fellow golf professionals in the section. Their honesty in representing products, along with active participation in Section championships, junior golf education, and member/associate services, sets a benchmark for excellence within the golf professional community. It recognizes their exceptional commitment to maintaining the highest standards of support, integrity, and service, making a meaningful impact in their role.
Dan Hon

Dan Hon

Marilea Bush Amateur of the Year

The Marilea Bush Amateur of the Year award, named in honor of a dedicated Sun Country PGA staff member who courageously battled cancer and passed away in 2007, recognizes individuals based on the criteria that exemplified Marilea's 17-year tenure at the Section office. These criteria include their contributions to the game of golf and their unwavering participation and dedication to the sport. This award pays tribute to individuals who embody Marilea's passion for and commitment to the game of golf

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