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NOPGA Section Foundation News

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Two $10,000 Scholarships given at Inaugural Kenny Novak Pro-Junior-3 Am Scholarship Day

The Northern Ohio PGA Section Foundation awarded two graduating high school seniors with $10,000 scholarships to pursue their higher education today. The inaugural Kenny Novak Pro-Junior-3 Am was successful in raising funds towards next year’s scholarship winners. The family of George Balog donated the funds for the first year’s scholarships. Eighteen teams participated in a two-best ball shamble format where professionals and juniors played their own balls and amateurs played a shamble to raise scholarship money. The Northern Ohio PGA Section Foundation is proud to award Rachel DiDonato and Ben Ellis the inaugural NOPGA Section Foundation Scholarships. Both took up the game of golf their freshman year of high school and fell in love with it. When asked what makes them proud, they both responded with “My golf game.” And now they both are the inaugural NOPGA Section Foundation scholarship recipients.

Rachel DiDonato Akron, OH

The female recipient of the 2021 NOPGA Section Foundation Scholarship is Rachel DiDonato.

Rachel graduated from Green High School in June with a 4.457 GPD. When asked what her favorite school subject is, her answer was “Math. Because there is only one right answer.” Coming from a family of five kids, she has worked multiple jobs throughout high school to save money to pay for college. Rachel began playing golf the week before tryouts in her freshman year of high school, and was using clubs older than she was. By the end of her interview with the Scholarship Committee, her sense of humor came out and she admitted that she did get a new set of clubs and traded in her hand-me-downs. Rachel feels that golf has been influential in developing honesty, integrity, and hard work, qualities that every golfer should possess. She competes on the NOPGA Junior Tour and participates in OGGF events as well as First Tee events. She is also a member of the National Honor Society, Key Club, Student Council, Developing Leaders of Tomorrow, and PE Mentorship. She will be attending college at Northern Kentucky University where she will pursue a degree in business with minors in health sciences and Spanish.

When asked about how she got started in the game of golf, Rachel said: “I started the week before tryouts my freshman year of high school and was using a set of clubs that were seventeen years old. My dad and I would go play the first, second, and ninth holes at Firestone Public over and over again at night.”

Ben Ellis Doylestown, OH

The male recipient of the 2021 NOPGA Section Foundation Scholarship is Benjamin Ellis.

Ben graduated from Chippewa High School this year with a 4.16 GPA. Ben was a member of the National Honor Society and was even NHS president during his senior year. His favorite class in high school was A.P. U.S. History because of the impact of his teacher, Mr. Liptak. He was also a multi-sport athlete, playing golf and baseball in high school in between his numerous community service activities. Ben has also been playing the piano since second grade, and still enjoys playing. Ben feels that golf has been helpful in keeping his composure; you can’t tell whether he hit a good shot or a bad shot. At the end of his interview with the Scholarship Committee, he told the committee that his house is the place to go if you want a wiffleball game in Doylestown. He will be attending college at Siena Heights University where he will pursue a degree in Global Studies and International Politics.

When asked about how this scholarship will impact him, Ben said the following: “I want to graduate college with as little debt as possible. I’ve watched my parents struggle with their student loan debt and my goal is to come out with as little debt as possible. College is extremely expensive...taking a little more burden off of my parents and me is my goal.”

About the Northern Ohio PGA Section Foundation Scholarship

The Northern Ohio PGA Section Foundation Scholarships were created to annually provide two high school seniors (1 boy and 1 girl) with a four-year, $10,000 scholarship to assist with their college education. The recipients were chosen based on their merit in scholarship, community service, leadership, and financial need. The students selected to receive the scholarships will receive it in $2500 increments over the course of four years. To receive funding each year, additional paperwork including a copy of the student’s transcript must be submitted to the NOPGA Section Foundation to ensure that the student is performing at an acceptable level. This year, the Scholarship Committee was made up of the following individuals:

Tom Waitrovich, NOPGA Foundation Committee Chairman

George Balog, Club Walden Member and Scholarship Supporter

Mark Telerico, Club Walden Member and Kenny Novak Supporter

Mitch Camp, Club Walden Director of Golf

Lynne Plaisance, NOPGA Director of Operations & Ohio Girls Golf Foundation Executive Director

Eileen Antenucci, Retired NOPGA Junior Golf Director

Dominic Antenucci, Retired NOPGA Executive Director

Steve Vaughn, Assistant Golf Professional at Weymouth CC & Retired High School Teacher

PGA HOPE Training Day

May 5, 2021

The Northern Ohio PGA Section Foundation hosted its first PGA HOPE Instructor Training on May 5, 2021 at TopGolf in Independence, Ohio. PGA HOPE (Helping Our Patriots Everywhere) is the flagship military program of PGA REACH, the charitable foundation of the PGA of America. PGA HOPE introduces golf to Veterans with disabilities to enhance their physical, mental, social, and emotional well-being.

All programs are funded by PGA REACH and supplemented by PGA Section Foundations, so the cost of programming is free to all Veterans. PGA HOPE has a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), which enables Recreational Therapists to refer Veterans to the PGA HOPE program as a form of therapy. Through a robust program strategy, PGA HOPE aspires to create a physically and emotionally healthier Veteran community by shaping lives, changing lives, and possibly saving lives through the game of golf.

Over twenty-five Northern Ohio PGA professionals came out for the training session lead by Brian Oliver, PGA HOPE Lead instructor from Asheville, North Carolina. Professionals learned how to teach individuals with limb loss, hearing and vision impairment, paralysis, PTSD, and Traumatic Brain Injury. The day consisted of a four-hour indoor training followed by an outdoor session where professionals were able to implement the techniques they learned in the morning. Golf is a game meant for everyone and that is something that this program embodies. The Northern Ohio PGA Section Foundation is looking forward to beginning a H.O.P.E. program in Spring of 2022.

youth on course

The Northern Ohio PGA Section Foundation is proud to announce that in collaboration with the Northern Ohio Golf Association (NOGA), we have formed a partnership with the nonprofit Youth on Course (YOC).

Youth on Course was established in 2006 in Northern California as a way for young juniors to play golf at a reduced price; these members can play any of the 1,400 courses listed as Youth on Course facilities for a cost of $5 or less.

Juniors between the ages of 6-18 become a member of Youth on Course by registering online. Juniors will pay $30 for membership and then can play for $5 or less at participating courses during designated times. Their Youth on Course member number gives access to all participating YOC facilities. There is no limit to how often members can play using their Youth on Course membership.

birdies for charity photo

NOPGA Members Raise Pledges of Over $55,000 in Inaugural Smucker’s Birdies for Charity Event

September 28, 2020

It was a gesture of generosity.

It was a display of camaraderie.

All in the spirit of playing it forward.

And, in the end it was a great day of golf and a great day for golf and the charities the game supports.

That’s the way it was on Monday (September 28) at Barrington Golf Club when 31 Members and Associates of the Northern Ohio Section of the PGA of America participated in the Section’s Inaugural Smucker’s Birdies For Charity event.

David Griffith summed it up best.

The Executive Director of the NOPGA said, “We can’t thank our members enough for coming together to spend the day raising money for our Foundation and the charities that are so deserving of our contributions.”

Those were key words as the professionals unselfishly gave up an entire day and bonded together to help others, following the PGA’s tradition of making charitable contributions. The NOPGA received pledges of over $55,000 by making 261 birdies over Barrington’s immaculate layout.

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