NOPGA Section Foundation News
PGA WORKs Fellowship Now Open!
The 2022 Northern Ohio PGA WORKS Fellowship Application is now open! If you or someone you know has graduated from college in the last twelve months and is looking to gain experience in the world of golf, this job might be for you. The Northern Ohio PGA Section Foundation is offering an opportunity to gain valuable insight into the administrative aspect of the golf business for a 1-year-term beginning in May 2022. The PGA WORKs Fellowship is intentionally focused on engaging a diverse demographic of participants with consideration to the following protected classes: gender, age race/color, national origin/ancestry, sexual orientation, disability, and veteran status though anyone is welcome to apply. Ultimately, the Northern Ohio PGA Section Foundation desires to establish a network of diverse talent who are prepared to ascend to key employment positions in the game and business of golf.
The primary focus of this position will be to assist the Northern Ohio PGA Senior staff and Northern Ohio PGA Section Foundation in executing PGA REACH program initiatives in the Youth, Military, and Diversity and Inclusion pillars. Examples include:
• YOUTH PILLAR—PGA Jr. League is a fun, social and inclusive opportunity for boys and girls ages 17 and under to learn and enjoy the game of golf. Much like other recreational league sports, participants wear numbered jerseys and play on teams with their friends. The kids learn the game among their peers with professional instruction and direction from PGA/LPGA professionals who serve as team captains. Parents also play an active role, making the program a family activity and creating another generation of players to enjoy the game.
• MILITARY PILLAR—PGA HOPE (Helping Our Patriots Everywhere) is the flagship military program of PGA REACH, designed to introduce golf to veterans with disabilities to enhance their physical, mental, social, and emotional well-being.
• DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION PILLAR—PGA WORKs is a workforce diversification strategic initiative designed to evolve the demographic composition of the golf industry workforce and develop a robust pool of talent from diverse backgrounds who are prepared to ascend to key employment positions in the business of golf.
2nd Annual Smucker's Birdies for Charity Raises over $100,000!
It was a blustery day with winds over thirty miles per hour at Oberlin Golf Club for the second annual Smucker’s Birdies for Charity, but that did not stop Northern Ohio PGA professionals from raising over $100,000 for charity. 417 birdies were made during the day. Twenty-seven professionals from fourteen facilities played 72 holes of golf to benefit five Northern Ohio charities on September 27th. The Northern Ohio PGA Section Foundation selected five charities that it would support this year including The Turn, Ohio Girls Golf Foundation, Clearview H.O.P.E., Cleveland Clinic Challenge Golf, and the Ben Curtis Family Foundation.
The event began months prior when Smucker’s agreed to a $10,000 title sponsorship. Weeks before the event, professionals began to send emails to their membership, post flyers around their club, and stand on the first tee to solicit donations from members. Pledges were made in flat donations as well as a dollar amount per birdie. Over 400 individual donors from fourteen facilities contributed to today’s donations.
The most successful fundraiser of the day was Kirtland’s Mark Bixler, making 21 birdies at $1015 per birdie for a total of $23,115. When asked about his success, he said “I understand that my members get asked for a lot of donations, so I was amazed at the response that I received.”
The day began with professionals registering and receiving a coordinated shirt and hat as well as donuts and coffee and having a group photo taken. Players had the option to take a golf cart or a Finn Scooter provided by Devon Holden. Northern Ohio PGA President Steve Parker thanked the professionals for coming out to support Northern Ohio charities: “It’s great to see the Smucker’s Birdies for Charity surpassing our first year and continuing to grow. I appreciate all the support of my fellow NOPGA members with their participation and making a positive impact to help other charities.” Executive Director David Griffith also felt appreciation: “We are overwhelmed with the generosity that has been shown from our PGA professionals and their club members and customers.”
Participating facilities in the event were: Kirtland, Brookside, Pepper Pike, Avon Oaks, Youngstown, Portage, Walden, Congress Lake, Shaker Heights, Lakewood, Findlay, Oberlin, Barrington, and GolfTec. Professionals paired themselves before teeing off and chose their own playing partners, mostly either in twosomes or threesomes to encourage a quick pace of play.
The first thirty-six holes began at 9 and after the morning session was complete, a total of almost $69,000 had been raised, the same amount that had been raised in 2020. Players gathered for lunch sponsored by Green Circle Growers and listened to representatives from the five charities speak about their organizations.
Robb Schulze from the Turn spoke about how the man who began The Turn, Bob Wharton, was a member at Oberlin and wanted stroke survivors, traumatic brain injuries, and other people with disabilities to be able to play golf as an outlet. Ron Tristano from Cleveland Clinic Challenge Golf is also works with people recovering from people recovering from strokes, spinal cord injuries, brain injuries, and amputations. Ben Curtis from the Ben Curtis Family Foundation spoke about how he and his wife Candace began their foundation after seeing how big of an issue food insecurity is in many Northern Ohio schools. Renee Powell from Clearview H.O.P.E. was unable to attend but sent in a video where she spoke about her program that helps veterans cope with life after coming back from serving our country. Lynne Plaisance, Executive Director of the Ohio Girls Golf Foundation thanked the Section Foundation for allowing the game of golf to continue to grow for girls in Ohio.
After lunch concluded, professionals went back out onto the course to play the final thirty-six. Throughout the day, players snacked on treats from Uncrustables to fruit snacks, and even an ice cream bar with all the delightful Smucker’s toppings while checking out the leaderboard of funds raised at the turn. An all-day closest to the pin contest on the par 3’s was sponsored by FootJoy’s Joe Lombardi; each proximity winner receives a pair of NewFlex shoes.
This year, the Northern Ohio PGA Section Foundation raised over $100,000, but that number will grow as there are five clubs planning to host satellite events at their own clubs in the coming weeks. These clubs include Mayfield Country Club, Sand Ridge Golf Club, and Red Tail Golf Club
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.
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.
Currently, in Northern Ohio, there are seven golf courses that have partnered with Youth on Course. These courses are the following: Mud Run Golf Course, Seneca Golf Course, Shawnee Hills Golf Course, Washington Learning Center Golf Course, Little Met Golf Course, Mastick Woods Golf Course, and Big Met Golf Course.
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.