PGA TOUR Champions presents six awards at annual Tournament Meetings
Longtime rules official Gene Smith named recipient of Bruno Award
December 08, 2017
By Stewart Moore, PGATOUR.COM
- December 08, 2017
- (Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – The Shaw Charity Classic, Dominion Energy Charity Classic and DICK’s Sporting Goods Open were among the award winners for the PGA TOUR Champions 2017 season. In all, six awards were presented by PGA TOUR Champions at the TOUR’s Tournament Meetings on Thursday, December 7 in Boca Raton, Fla.
At the annual gathering, six specific tournament categories were recognized:
• President’s Award – Shaw Charity Classic
• Players Award – Dominion Energy Charity Classic
• Sales Award – DICK’s Sporting Goods Open
• Bruno Award – Gene Smith (PGA TOUR Champions Rules Official)
• Outstanding Achievement Award – Tiffany Nelson (Charles Schwab Cup Championship)
• Volunteer of the Year – Maggie Hatcher (Principal Charity Classic)
For the third time in its five-year history, the Shaw Charity Classic in Calgary, Alberta, was named the recipient of the prestigious President’s Award, which captures the criteria of all PGA TOUR Champions awards, as well as the intangibles that make it stand out amidst a plethora of successful tournaments.
“It is remarkable to see a tournament win the President’s Award for the third time,” said PGA TOUR Champions President Greg McLaughlin. “On behalf of PGA TOUR Champions, it is an honor for me to present the President’s Award to the Shaw Charity Classic. This event has achieved great success very quickly and continues to raise the bar every year. Shaw Communications has been a tremendous partner in allowing this event to support the local Calgary community, and the charitable impact throughout Alberta has been extraordinary.”
The 2017 edition of the Shaw Charity Classic carried on the tournament’s tradition of extraordinary charitable giving. The tournament exceeded its fundraising goal by nearly 30 percent, raising more than $8.3 million for children’s charities across Alberta. In all, the tournament secured donations from more than 2,400 donors that ultimately impacted the lives of more than 480,000 children, and in five years, the tournament has raised more than $22 million and donated to more than 150 charities.
Once again, the community came out in droves, as more than 1,200 people volunteered, and the weekly attendance exceeded 45,000 fans. During the tournament, fans were treated to several off-course activities in the Fan Zone, which included a petting zoo, crafting stations, golf simulators, and an interactive Shaw experience where fans had the opportunity to interface with newest home entertainment and communications technology.
“We began our five-year celebrations by encouraging the public to find a small way to make their mark on this powerful event in Alberta. Receiving the President’s Award for a third time is recognition that needs to be celebrated by communities across Alberta who have generously supported our mission,” said Sean Van Kesteren, Executive Director of the Shaw Charity Classic. “We have not wavered in our goals of bringing world-class golf to Calgary, while raising more than $20 million in an effort to provide hundreds of thousands of Alberta kids hope and the opportunity to live a better life.”
For the second year in a row, the Dominion Energy Charity Classic in Richmond, Va., won the Players Award, which recognizes a tournament that goes above and beyond in the experience they provide to PGA TOUR Champions players.
As the first event of the 2017 Charles Schwab Cup Playoffs, the Dominion Energy Charity Classic was once again praised on several accounts, including: its hospitality from The Country Club of Virginia members and staff; outstanding community engagement and attendance; extensive year-round coverage by the Richmond area; and the expansive build of grandstands, creating the look and feel of playoff drama.
“The Dominion Energy Charity Classic demonstrated the value of having an engaged local title sponsor in Dominion Energy, as well as a welcoming host in The Country Club of Virginia,” McLaughlin said. “For two years, our players have bestowed this prestigious honor on one of our youngest events, and it’s a testament to the tireless efforts put forth by our tremendous partners in the Richmond market.”
The DICK’s Sporting Goods Open, conducted annually at En-Joie Golf Club in Endicott, N.Y., was awarded the PGA TOUR Champions Sales Award, which recognizes an event producing tremendous sales growth year on year, while establishing high sales marks across the spectrum of all Tour events.
In 2017, the tournament increased sales by 33 percent over the previous year, and it exceeded its sales goal by 14 percent. Two new hospitality venues sold out and helped accommodate the more than 600 sponsors/clients that were involved (22 percent increase). In all, the tournament surpassed $3 million in local sales for the first time in its history.
This is the seventh award the DICK’s Sporting Goods Open has received since its inception in 2007. It earned the President’s Award in 2012 and 2013, the Players Award in 2009 and 2014, the Above & Beyond Award in 2008, and it was named the Most Improved Event in 2011.
The PGA TOUR Champions Advisory Council presents the Bruno Award annually to an individual judged to have made special and outstanding contributions to PGA TOUR Champions. The award is named in honor of Brian ‘Bruno’ Henning, the Tour’s former Vice President and Southern Africa Golf Hall of Fame member. PGA TOUR Champions Rules Official Gene Smith is retiring at the end of the year, and he was named the 2017 Bruno Award recipient in recognition of his 24 years of dedication and service to the Tour.
Before his career at the PGA TOUR, Smith joined the U.S. Marine Corps in April 1968 and was deployed to Vietnam later that year as a Marine Corps Combat Correspondent. After serving in the Vietnam War, he returned to Parris Island and was editor of the base’s newsletter.
His career in the golf industry began shortly thereafter in 1970, as he served as an assistant pro under Arnold Palmer at Bay Hill Club and Lodge for six years before moving on to Cypress Creek Golf Club, Continental Country Club and Windermere Country Club. He held multiple leadership positions within the PGA of America, serving as President of the East Central Chapter; Treasurer, Vice President and President of the North Florida Section; and he has served on the National PGA Rules Committee since 1986.
He joined the PGA TOUR as a rules official in 1993, and he was named an Assistant Tournament Director in 1996 and became a Tournament Director in 2010. He has been married to his wife, Margaret, for 46 years and he has three sons and two granddaughters.
The Outstanding Achievement Award is presented to an individual or tournament for exceeding expectations in the core arenas of tournament golf, involving players, spectators and sponsors while displaying meaningful community impact. Tiffany Nelson, Executive Director for the Charles Schwab Cup Championship, was this year’s recipient. In 2017, Nelson spearheaded the tournament’s successful transition to Phoenix Country Club, all while battling breast cancer. Throughout countless treatments and surgeries, Nelson's strength not only delivered her back to health but also delivered the Charles Schwab Cup Championship to the Phoenix community with outstanding success, as the tournament exceeded all financial goals and tournament attendance doubled year over year.
Tiffany Nelson accepts the Outstanding Achievement Award. (PGATOUR.COM photo)
Volunteer of the Year
The 2017 Volunteer of the Year is Maggie Hatcher from the Principal Charity Classic. Hatcher has been a tournament volunteer the last 17 years – seven years when the Allianz Championship was played in Iowa, and each year since the Principal Charity Classic began in 2007. Every year, the 79-year-old travels 100 miles from her hometown of Harlan, Iowa, to volunteer at the tournament. Her roles have included walking scorer and radio communications, and in 2017 she was a marshal on the 14th hole. She was also a longtime volunteer for the former LPGA event in Springfield, Ill., where she served as tournament chairperson for one year.