ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- Western New York PGA Professionals greeting visitors at the 69th Senior PGA Championship provided nearly 500 free 10-minute lessons as The PGA of America celebrated a second straight season of offering the best in golf instruction in conjunction with a major championship.
Overall, 491 lessons were given over a five-day period at Oak Hill Country Club by 25 Western New York PGA Professionals and one member of the Central New York PGA Section to an amateur group that included 152 new or occasional golfers. Titleist and Cobra supplied the equipment for the free lessons.
The Western New York PGA Section, composed of 200 members and apprentices, opened Championship week by having 56 members volunteer for a day at Genesee Valley Golf Course in Rochester that included three events – the first Executive Women’s Golf Association clinic featuring PGA First Lady of Golf Carol Mann; a PGA Community Relations Youth Clinic that involved 28 area organizations and more than 200 juniors; and a Play Golf America Day.
“We are very proud of our professionals,” said Western New York PGA Executive Director Bill Dimas. “We are one of the smallest of the 41 PGA Sections, yet to have that many professionals volunteer is a credit to our members.
“On a sentimental note, several times during the week I observed members giving instruction with a line of people waiting for their turn. I overheard how friendly they were to the students, and how excited the students were to be to be meeting a PGA Professional. I have to admit that I got ‘choked up,’ thinking ‘this is what the business is all about.”
PGA Professionals set up two hitting bays for the lesson that were part of The PGA’s national Play Golf America campaign for PGA Free Lesson Month throughout the month of May.
“The PGA Learning Center at the Senior and PGA Championships once again showcased the best of our profession doing what they do best – giving expert instruction and connecting with the amateur golfer as a friend,” said PGA of America President Brian Whitcomb. “We were thrilled to see the turnout and how the PGA Learning Center is now a tradition at our major championships.”
PGA Professional Jim Mrva, the head professional at Monroe Golf Club in Pittsford, N.Y., guided the activities earlier in Championship week, and said that there was more than a few special moments on the practice tee during the PGA Community Relations Youth Clinic.
“The kids had a ball, but not as much fun as our 50-plus professionals had,” said Mrva. “One nearly blind kid who had never played golf looked like a tour player after Steve Barber (PGA head professional at Locust Hill Country Club in Pittsford) worked with him for just five minutes. We had tears in our eyes.
“As I checked in on each station, despite the cold wind you could see kids having a ball, high-fiveing, laughing and enjoying themselves. I am so proud and thankful to my fellow Western New York PGA Professionals who, on their day off and considering that many are volunteering for other days this week, gave their time, talents and commitment. They introduced these kids, many of whom have physical, mental and financial challenges, to golf. Their compassion was most evident and their ability to show them a good time was heartwarming.”
Begun in 2004, Play Golf America is designed to increase participation among new and existing golfers and was developed by The PGA of America with the support of Allied Associations including: the LPGA, National Golf Course Owners Association, PGA Tour, USGA and others involved in the Golf 20/20 Conference. The program utilizes the www.PlayGolfAmerica.com Web site to serve as a link for consumers to access fun, affordable and informative programs in their area.
Since 1916, The PGA of America's mission has been twofold: to establish and elevate the standards of the profession and to grow interest and participation in the game of golf.
By establishing and elevating the standards of the golf profession through world-class education, career services, marketing and research programs, the Association enables PGA Professionals to maximize their performance in their respective career paths and showcases them as experts in the game and in the $76 billion golf industry.
By creating and delivering dramatic world-class championships and exciting and enjoyable golf promotions that are viewed as the best of their class in the golf industry, The PGA of America elevates the public's interest in the game, the desire to play more golf, and ensures accessibility to the game for everyone, everywhere.
The PGA of America brand represents the very best in golf.