Influential Sextet Inducted into PGA of America Hall of Fame

PGA of America Secretary Don Rea, PGA of America President Jim Richerson, the inductees and family of the deceased inductees of the Hall of Fame, PGA of America Vice President, John Lindert and PGA of America CEO Seth Waugh at the 105th PGA Annual Meeting. Picture by Montana Pritchard/PGA of America.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States: A group of six highly influential PGA Members were inducted into the PGA of America Hall of Fame during the 105th PGA Annual Meeting.

PGA Professionals Kyle Heyen, Ed Ibarguen, PGA Past President Paul K. Levy, Marty Lyons, Gary Reynolds and Al Watrous received the association’s highest honour during a ceremony hosted by broadcaster Scott Walker at the Wisconsin Centre.

For PGA Members and Professionals, induction is recognition of a career-long commitment to the game.

“It’s such a privilege to welcome this incredible group of PGA Members,” said Jim Richerson, President of the PGA of America, an Executive Member of the Asian Golf Industry Federation.

He added: “Collectively, we’re able to celebrate legends of the game, visionaries of the industry and highly accomplished PGA Professionals who have made an impact on our profession, our PGA Members and all those that love the game.

“Becoming a Member of the Hall of Fame is the pinnacle of someone’s career. It’s a crowning achievement, and for many, it’s a lifelong dream.”

Originated in 1940 at the suggestion of famed sportswriter Grantland Rice, the PGA of America Hall of Fame honours and recognises individuals who through their lives, careers, service and support have made significant and enduring contributions to the PGA of America in its mission to grow the game of golf.

Inductees include PGA Golf Professionals, Tour Professionals or Ambassadors who throughout their lives have supported and elevated the image of the PGA Professional, the PGA of America and the game of golf.

A PGA Master Professional, Ibarguen has worked for Duke University Golf Club in Durham, North Carolina for 33 years. Now the facility’s PGA General Manager and Director of Golf, he coined the club’s motto, ‘Get Better Every Day’.

A University of North Carolina graduate who previously worked at the arch-rival school’s golf club in Chapel Hill, Ibarguen famously first taught Michael Jordan when he was a student at UNC, leading to a close friendship.

“Getting better every day is easy if you realise what you’re doing is not a job,” said Ibarguen, a Carolinas PGA Section Member for over 42 years. “I would have never met Michael Jordan if I wasn’t a PGA Professional, but I was preparing for that day for five years. You make your own luck if you are prepared for the opportunity when it comes.”

Similarly, Levy, the 40th President of the PGA of America, has followed a mantra of ‘What can we do better?’ Levy was honoured for a career of service and governance with the PGA of America and the Southern Texas, Southern California and Southwest PGA Sections.

“This is something that just warms my heart,” said an emotional Levy, the President and CEO of PKL Golf Management and Club Services in Arizona. “The great thing about being a PGA Professional is that we chose the game of golf.”

Levy was instrumental in helping to sign the landmark deal that will move the ‘Home of the PGA Professional’ to PGA Frisco in Texas next year.

“It’s a place where we will have our own identity,” added Levy. “The Officers and Members of the Board, we talked about the word ‘transformation’. We debated whether this would be transformational. Do we have the right to use that word? This will be the most transformational thing that the PGA of America has seen in a very long time.”

A Colorado PGA Section Member, Heyen has spent 40 years at Hiwan Golf Club, in Evergreen, serving as PGA Head Professional since 1985. He has also run in several New York City and Boston Marathons while raising money for PGA REACH and PGA HOPE (Helping Our Patriots Everywhere).

“It’s a special evening. You look at the list of PGA Professionals that have been inducted and will be inducted tonight, congratulations to my class,” said Heyen. “To be shoulder-to-shoulder with them, I’m humbled and very honoured.”

Reynolds, a PGA Professional who made his career at The Hartford Golf Club in Connecticut, played a key role in propelling the city to restore both Keney Park Golf Course and Goodwin Park Golf Course, two cornerstone municipal facilities.

“[This ranks] right at the top,” said Reynolds. “PGA Professionals work long and hard, and it’s very important they get recognition. Having an evening like this is so rewarding. You get a chance to thank all the mentors you had to put you in this seat, and I do that right now.”

Al Watrous with trophies circa 1966.

Watrous and Lyons were both inducted posthumously, with members of their families accepting the honour.

A three-time Senior PGA Champion, Watrous was one of the first Members of the PGA of America. He played on the first two Ryder Cup Teams in 1927 and 1929, which were captained by Walter Hagen. Watrous spent 37 years at Oakland Hills Country Club, where he served as PGA Head Professional.

“It is overwhelming to hear all these stories. That’s what it means to me personally and my family by everyone connected to my grandfather,” explained his oldest grandson Chuck Moritz. “He had a tremendous passion … and he really loved the game.”

Lyons famously wrote a letter to the PGA that changed the course of Major championship history, urging the association to change the PGA Championship format from match play to stroke play.

The PGA followed Lyons’ advice to conduct the championship at stroke play beginning at Llanerch Country Club in 1958, where he served as Host PGA Professional.

“He loved golf, he loved the PGA, so he would be thrilled that he was honoured by being inducted into the Hall of Fame,” said Lyons’ daughter Sister Kathleen, who was joined onstage by her nephew Marty Farrell. “This is so enlightening for me and a legacy for our family.”

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