Southwest Section PGA names annual Special Award recipients; Hall of Fame Inducts Five

The Southwest Section PGA announced its 2010 Special Award Winners at its Annual Awards dinner on January 14, 2011 at Firesky Resort & Spa in Scottsdale.

Mesa resident Michael Wright, owner of Michael Wright Golf, was named 2010 PGA Golf Professional of the Year. It’s one of the highest honors the organization bestows on a working club professional whose total contributions to the game best exemplify the complete PGA Professional. Wright, who works out of Superstition Springs Golf Course in Mesa, currently serves as the President of the SWSPGA.

Don Yrene, PGA, The Golf Club Scottsdale, was named 2010 Bridgestone Player of the Year. This is Don’s 6th Year as Player of the Year, in the past Don has won Player of the Year 5 consecutive years from 2002-2007. Yrene had 4 top 10 finishes in the SWSPGA Tournament Series events in 2010 and was a SWSPGA Champion in 1996, 2003 and 2004.

Jon Stanley, PGA, of Phoenix and instructor at John Jacobs Golf School, was named 2010 Bridgestone Senior Player of the Year. John finished first At the Senior Series event at the Golf Club Scottsdale, had 5 top 10 finishes in other SWSPGA Senior Series events. Jon also finished 8th in the Senor Section Professional Championship and a 10th place finish at the PING Southwest Section Championship. 

David Stead, PGA, won the Bill Strausbaugh Award, which recognizes PGA Professionals “who by their day-to-day efforts have distinguished themselves by mentoring their fellow PGA Professionals in improving their employment situations and through service to the community.” Stead, formerly the director of golf at Angel Park Golf Club for Scottsdale-based OB Sports in Las Vegas, was recently promoted. He is currently working in Portland, Ore., as the general manager at Langdon Farms Golf Club. Stead also served as a Chapter Officer and a SWSPGA Board Member in 2010. 

Timothy Eberlein, PGA, of Chandler won the Horton Smith Award.  By recognizing the PGA Professional who is a model educator of PGA Golf Professionals, the award gives special recognition to an individual PGA Professional for outstanding and continuing contributions to professional education.

Eberlein served as the director of golf for the San Diego Golf Academy from 1996 to 2003, and became a PGA Master Professional in Teaching in 2002. Eberlein serves as the director of golf for the Golf Academy of America in Chandler.

Paul Brown, PGA, of Las Vegas, who also works as the Chapter Coordinator for the SWSPGA, won the Junior Golf Leader Award. The award is given to a professional who is a leader in junior golf and who reflects the ideals of those who work with youth.

Lynn Marriott, PGA, of Phoenix, was named Teacher of the Year, an award that is designed to recognize a PGA Professional who is an outstanding teacher of golf among the ranks of PGA membership.Marriott is globally recognized as the co-creator of the Vision 54 principle, a best-selling co author, and world-renowned Complete Game Coach.

John Gunby, PGA, and Shawn Goben, PGA, were given the President’s Plaque, which is designed to recognize a PGA Professional for extraordinary and exemplary contributions and achievements in the area of player development.

Peter Koo
of Chandler and Sarah Schmelzel of Scottsdale won Junior Player of the Year honors. Koo and Schmelzel were the overall winners of the PING Player Series.

Adam Brigham, PGA, of Phoenix Country Club, Brett Trenter, PGA, We-Ko-Pa Golf Club, and Michael Seiden, PGA of Bali Hai Golf Club in Las Vegas won Merchandiser of the Year in public, resort and private categories, respectively.

Brett Lingel, PGA, was named Assistant Golf Professional of the Year. He works at Blanchard Golf Club in Tucson.

Golf Pass Facility of the Year, Director of Golf Mike Lindsay, PGA Head Professional Randy Beaupre and Assistant Golf Professional Jim Meyers from McCormick Ranch Golf helped lead the way in Golf Pass Sales and accepted the award.

Hall of Fame Class includes five new members
The Southwest Section PGA also inducted its 2011 Southwest Section PGA Hall of Fame Class. Included were Brian Whitcomb, PGA, John Jackson, PGA, Roger Maxwell, PGA, John Bulla, PGA, Willie Low, PGA.

The 2011 Class of the Southwest Section PGA Hall of Fame features a cross section of PGA talent and abilities that span nearly a century.

The 35th president of The PGA of America, Whitcomb is a multiple golf course builder and course owner. He attended Arizona State University from 1975-78.

He serves as secretary of the Folds of Honor Foundation, which distributes scholarships to the children of veterans who either perished or were wounded in the line of duty. Its primary fundraiser is Patriot Golf Day. As PGA president, Whitcomb also instigated popular face-to-face Town Hall Meetings with PGA members to bring to the forefront the importance of one-on-one communication.

John Jackson served as President of the Southwest Section PGA from 1987-1989. From 1989-1991 Jackson served a three-year term as a member of the PGA’s National Board of Directors. In 1988, while Head Professional at The Golf at Desert Mountain, he was honored by the Southwest Section of the PGA as both PGA Professional of the Year and Player of The Year. Named the Director of Golf at The Phoenician in 1989, he spent 16 years in that position. In 1999 he was awarded the PGA’s National Merchandiser of the Year (Resort category). Named general manager at Legend Trail Golf Club in 2008, he’s also a member of the Arizona Golf Hall of Fame.

As Vice-President of Marriot Golf from 1986-1993, Roger Maxwell was responsible for the development, growth and operation of Marriot’s 23 golf facilities in the U.S. Maxwell founded In Celebration of Golf in Scottsdale and Las Vegas, Nevada. In 1996 Maxwell founded the In Celebration of Golf Management group, a golf course management company.

Johnny Bulla joined what is now the PGA Tour in 1935 and played into the 1960’s. Bulla was among the best long-game players of his day. His greatest moment might have been the 1939 British Open at St. Andrews. In miserable conditions, he drove flawlessly and never missed a fairway. The driver is on display in the Royal & Ancient Golf Club Museum, but his name is missing from the claret jug. He finished early that day and was the leader in the clubhouse. He held the lead until Dick Burton, playing in the final group, caught him and won with a birdie on the last hole.

In Arizona, he helped design half a dozen courses. He played his first tournament at the age of 11, and won his last, the Southwest Senior Open, at the age of 71.

Born in Newell, West Virginal in 1914, Bulla’s career spanned nearly four decades. He passed in 2003. Bulla is also a member of The Carolinas Golf Hall of Fame and the Arizona Hall of Fame.

Willie (William) Low was born in Aberdeenshire, Scotland in 1901. He came to the Valley in 1931 and was the Head Golf Professional at Phoenix Country Club until his retirement in 1972.

Low, who played in three U.S. Opens, was also captain of the professional team that played in the inaugural Goldwater Cup Matches in 1962. While Low was an excellent club maker and player, his greatest love was teaching junior golfers.

Low became lifelong friends with men like Bob Hope, Bing Crosby and other celebrities. He introduced these celebrities to Bob Goldwater Sr., which helped the Phoenix Open thrive as a professional event. Later, Low started the Willie Low Junior Invitational.

In 2004, the late Willie Low was awarded the Anser Award by the Southwest Section PGA., which is presented in honor of the late PING founder Karsten Solheim. Mr. Low was also a member of the Arizona Golf Hall of Fame.

For more information, call the SWPGA Office at 480.443.9002 or visit