On Monday, February 10, Chad Ayres of Hillcrest Golf and Country Club was named the Indiana PGA Golf Professional of the Year at the Spring Business Meeting presented by Callaway held at the Ritz Charles in Carmel, Ind. The PGA Golf Professional of the Year Award is one of the highest honors the Association can bestow on a working Club Professional whose total contributions to the game best exemplify the complete PGA Professional.
Ayres strives to lead at Hillcrest daily through promoting the game of golf in every aspect. He began working at Hillcrest in 2006, and two years later was promoted to Director of Golf and became responsible for managing the Grounds Superintendent and department. In 2013, Ayres was given another responsibility, and Director of Membership was added to his title. He then became in charge of recruiting, hiring, and mentoring a Membership and Marketing Manager.
This position forced Ayres to expand his knowledge about how to successfully maintain club membership, while growing the top revenue producing categories. Hillcrest is about to enter the Club’s Centennial year, and Ayres plans to aggressively attack the market and expose hillcrest to many more prospective members.
Ayres has served on the Indiana PGA Board of Directors and as Co-Chair of the Tournament Committee. He also finds time to organize, conduct, and evaluate all golf related club events to promote the game at Hillcrest and increase participation each year.
Ayres also puts instructing and mentoring juniors high on his priority list. At Hillcrest, he has implemented rules and etiquette seminars, weekly instructional clinics, summer camps, play days, and inter-club matches.
"Inspiring my fellow golf professionals involves a commitment to lead with enthusiasm,” Ayres said. "We must all have a positive outlook both on life and on our industry.
All 2014 Special Award winners were announced at the Spring Meeting.
Kyle Kolarz of Sycamore Hills Golf Club was named the Assistant Professional of the Year. Kolarz developed his leadership skills through his management of the outside operations staff and the intern program. He runs operations staff meetings and sets guidelines that help employees grow both professionally and personally. Kolarz also hires and trains Professional Golf Management interns. He enjoys acting as a mentor to PGM interns and has seen a lot of progress during their time at Sycamore Hills. Kolarz also serves as Tournament Director at Sycamore Hills and manages the entire staff on tournament days. Kolarz believes in the importance of junior golf and runs the junior golf program and acts as a coach for the Fort Wayne PGA Junior League Golf Team.
Chad Hutsell of Swan Lake Resort was named the Merchandiser of the Year in the Resort Category. Hutsell brought in over $241,000 worth of merchandise in 2013, for an average of $8.45 per round. He believes in working with vendors who provide quality products, and hiring a personable staff to provide the best possible guest experience.
Mark Todd of Winchester Golf Club was named the Merchandiser of the Year in the Public Category. Todd brought in $190,000 worth of merchandise in 2013, for an average of $8.63 per round. His merchandising philosophy is to deliver quality products at fair and competitive rates through exceptional customer service.
Jason LePage of Broadmoor Country Club was named the Merchandiser of the Year in the Private Category. LePage brought in over $250,000 worth of merchandise in 2013, for an impressive average of $22.42 per round. LePage strongly values customers input, and sends out an annual survey inquiring which product lines customer would like to see more of. LePage and staff also often change their merchandise displays based on the latest happenings in the sports and golf world.
Bill Pollert of Highland Golf and Country Club was the recipient of the Horton Smith Award. The Horton Smith Award is designed to recognize individual golf professionals for their outstanding and continuing contributions to developing and improving education opportunities for the PGA Golf Professional.
Pollert has served on the Board of Directors for the past two years and has made many contributions to the Indiana Section’s educational programs. He designed and implemented the education for mandatory apprentice breakout sessions and also developed an apprentice orientation program that guides and coaches all current apprentices through their career path to fulfilling their coursework and work experience towards their PGA Membership. While serving as Apprentice Committee Chairman, Pollert also developed a Mentor Contact List that provides contact information for some of the most respected members in the section. This list serves as an open invitation for apprentices to reach out to the professionals with any questions they have about the industry.
Todd Smith of Rock Hollow Golf Club was the recipient of the Bill Strausbaugh Award. The Bill Strausbaugh Award is presented to those PGA members who by their day-to-day efforts have distinguished themselves in the field of club relations, causing dramatic improvements in employment conditions in their local Section and/or for the PGA of America.
Smith was a Past Indiana Section PGA President, an Indiana Golf Foundation and IGA-PGA Board Member and was recently elected back onto the Indiana PGA Board of Directors. He has personally consulted and mentored numerous PGA Professionals and influenced countless others by the professional example he sets on a daily basis. Smith often times begins mentoring golfers at a junior level and tries to make Rock Hollow "the place to be” for junior golf. Many of his former junior golfers have gone on to become PGA Professionals. His hope is that the next generation of PGA Professionals understands that they are more than a clerk or a business person, but that they are the go-to person for golf at their facility.
Stacey Rice, the Director of Player Development at the Indiana Golf Office, was the recipient of the Youth Player Development Award (formerly the Junior Golf Leader Award). This award is designed to pay recognition to a PGA Golf Professional who is a leader in junior golf, reflects the qualities and ideals of those who work with our nation’s youth, and provides opportunities and experiences for juniors to learn and play golf.
Rice focused much of her time and energy this past year promoting two programs, the PGA Junior League Golf Program, a program of the PGA of America, and the Indiana Golf Foundation Boys and Girls of America Outreach Program. Rice conducted presentations at both the 2013 Spring and Fall Business Meetings about PGA Junior League Golf in hopes of getting as many PGA Professionals interested as possible. In 2012, the Indiana Section had six PGA Junior League Golf Teams, and in 2013 that number grew to sixty, largely due to Rice’s efforts. Rice also found time to personally coach a team. At the 2014 PGA Merchandise Show, Rice and Executive Director Mike David accepted an award on behalf of the Indiana Section. Indiana and the Mid-Atlantic Section were named the Co-PGA Junior League Sections of the Year. Rice also hosts a weekly Boys and Girls Club program at Franklin Community Schools for six weeks. The goal of the program is to introduce the game of golf to students in an afterschool program, and provide information about additional programs that the Indiana Golf Foundation offers.
Dan Ross of Birck Boilermaker Golf Complex was the recipient of the First Annual Player Development Award. This award is designed to recognize a PGA Professional for extraordinary and exemplary contributions and achievements in the area of player development. This award considers the PGA Professional’s growth of the game leadership commitment at the Section and National levels and the impact made at the facility.
Ross has supported and embraced Growth of the Game programs as they have been introduced including Golf for Business Life, Get Golf Ready, and PGA Junior League Golf. In 2013, Birck Boilermaker Golf Complex offered 45 Get Golf Ready events that reached 147 students, which is twice the number of events as the next closest Indiana Section facility and almost three times as many students as the next closest facility. Ross served as a coach for a PGA Junior League Golf Team, and worked Junior League into his normal Junior Golf offerings, which includes two beginner camps and one advanced camp. Ross felt that the format of matches and practice times that PGA Junior League offered was a far better program than what he had offered in the past. Ross also taught a class at Purdue called "Golf: For Business and Life,” which introduced students to the game of golf from a recreational standpoint, and as it relates to the business world. After doing a cost analysis, Ross realized the course was not receiving what it needed compared to the amount of range balls and course usage being given to students. Ross now charges students $400 and provides a semester long class, which helped the golf operation generate about $90,000 worth of revenue, compared to $7,500 when he first started teaching in 2004.
Brad Fellers of Woodwind Golf Club was named the Teacher of the Year. The Teacher of the Year Award bestows special recognition on a PGA Golf Professional who has performed outstanding service as a golf instructor.
Fellers joined the Woodwind Staff in 2010, and in the four years he has spent there, he has increased his instruction and club fitting services by 1200 hours, for a total of nearly 2200 in 2013. That same year, Fellers worked with 21 fellow PGA Members, their families, and their members providing putting instruction, full swing instruction, club fitting and other services. Over the past two years, Fellers has developed a new "Preparation Process” for all of his competitive players that he instructs. It is a three step program that focuses on creating detailed practice plans that work on every aspect of a player’s game, detailed strategies for upcoming events, and meeting three times per year to evaluate growth and preparedness for college golf. Fellers also organized an annual golf trip for his high school Boy’s Varsity players to get rid of the "winter rust.” Fellers found this trip to have a very positive impact on his players’ games before the season starts in the spring. Fellers has had a lot of success instructing players of various ages. He has taught five club champions, a PGA Junior League Team member who participated at Nationals, and fifteen State finalists including a third place finisher. Fellers also assists with Junior Camps, Ladies Clinics, and Senior events at Woodwind, and has built new swings for students with disabilities.
PGA Players of the Year were also announced at the Spring Meeting.
Brett Melton of the Country Club of Old Vincennes was named the Indiana PGA Player of the Year. Melton had a tremendous 2013 tournament season. In the ten Indiana Section PGA Events that Melton participated in, he only had one finish outside of the top ten. In the opening event of the year, the first Tournament Series, Melton posted an even par 72 for a second place finish. In late July, Melton posted another second place finish at the second Tournament Series event after firing a 1-under-par 69. He capped off his season with a win at the final Tournament Series event held at Elcona Country Club. Melton posted an impressive 5-under-par 67. This is Melton’s third time receiving this award, with previous wins coming in ’08 and ’09.
Chris Clemens of Winding River was named the Taylormade PGA Assistant Player of the Year. Clemens had seven top ten finishes during the 2013 tournament season, including two wins. In earl y June, Clemens posted an 8-under-par 64 at the PGA Northern Open held at Briar Ridge Country Club. This was enough for a three shot victory. Clemens capped off his tournament season with a victory at Highland Golf and Country Club at the Indiana PGA Four Man Team. Clemens along with teammates Justin Tereshko, Jeff Smith, and Dave Bean posted a best ball total of 11-under-par, 59. This was Clemens’s first time receiving a Player of the Year Award.