GLENVIEW, Ill. – The Illinois PGA Section has announced its slate of Special Award winners for 2019. Steve Orrick, Jr. (Country Club of Decatur) has been selected as the 2019 Illinois PGA Professional of the Year and highlights the 11 Illinois PGA Members who won awards for the 2019 season. The Illinois PGA also awarded the Deacon Palmer Award for the first time in Section history.
Following are the 2019 Illinois PGA Special Award Winners:
- Steve Orrick (Country Club of Decatur) – Professional of the Year
- Bill Abrams (Balmoral Woods Golf Club) – Teacher of the Year
- Ryan Peavey (Knollwood Club) – Assistant Professional of the Year
- Connie DeMattia (Cantigny Golf) – Youth Player Development Award
- Chris Gumbach (River Forest Country Club) – Bill Strausbaugh Award
- Vince Juarez (Deerpath Golf Course) – Horton Smith Award
- Joe Sheren (S.M.A.R.T Golf & Fitness Instruction) – Player Development Award
- Adam Rosuck (Northmoor Country Club) – Bill Heald Career Achievement Award
- Patrick Crow (Chicago Highlands Club) – Merchandiser of the Year – Private
- Tim O’Neal (Life Member, North Shore Country Club, retired) – Distinguished Service Award
- Rich Flores (Pheasant Run Resort) – Deacon Palmer Award
“We are privileged to have such an outstanding group of PGA Professionals in the Illinois Section that are dedicated to growing and improving the game for everyone,” said Carrie Williams, Executive Director of the Illinois Section. “This year’s Special Award winners exemplify all that PGA Professionals have to offer as experts in the business and game of golf.”
Professional of the Year
Leading the 2019 class of Special Awards winners is Steve Orrick, 43, winner of the Professional of the Year Award. Presented annually since 1955, this award honors the working club professional whose total contributions to the game best exemplify the complete PGA Professional. Special emphasis is placed on performance and achievement over the past five years and specifically in the following five categories; overall performance as PGA Professional at his/her facility, service to the Illinois PGA and the Association, leadership ability, image and ability to inspire fellow PGA Professionals, and the promotion of golf.
Orrick is the Head Golf Professional at Country Club of Decatur in Decatur, Ill., a position he has held since 2007. A PGA Member for 14 years, Orrick’s career in the golf business started in 2000 at Bloomington Country Club, Bloomington, Ill., where he was an Assistant Professional for six years. While going through the Professional Golf Management program, Orrick also worked at Colleton River Club in Bluffton, South Carolina. He completed the PGM program in 2006, and quickly transitioned back to his home state of Illinois, becoming the Head Golf Professional at Country Club of Decatur in 2007.
“I was pretty shocked when I found out I won Golf Professional of the Year,” said Orrick. “I’m honored to win this award and be recognized by my fellow Illinois PGA Members. Anytime you receive an award you feel humbled and honored, but even more so when it’s the highest honor you can achieve, and it means so much that it gets voted on by your peers.”
A member of both the Illinois PGA Section and the Central Illinois PGA Chapter (CIPGA), Orrick has been deeply involved in leadership roles. He was the CIPGA President for two terms from 2013-2016, the CIPGA Assistants Chair from 2009-2010 and the CIPGA Education Chair from 2011-2013. Orrick also served on the Illinois PGA Board of Directors for seven years where he was on the Finance Committee (2018-2019), the Opens Committee (2018-2019) and was the Illinois PGA Tournament Chair (2016-2019). Orrick has also been heavily involved in the community through the Illinois PGA. He has participated in the Foundation’s Birdies for Charity event since it originated in 2010 and also launched the CIPGA Birdies for Charity event in 2019. Throughout those nine years, Orrick and his donors have helped contribute to the $1.96 million raised by the Illinois PGA Foundation’s Birdies for Charity event.
The 2019 Illinois PGA Professional of the Year Award marks Orrick’s first career Section Special Award. His other Section honor came in 2005 when he won the Assistant Player of the Year. At the Chapter level, Orrick has a decorated CIPGA Special Awards resume to go along with a great playing career.
Orrick is a two-time CIPGA Bill Strausbaugh Award Winner (2011, 2018), a CIPGA Horton Smith Award winner (2011) and was the 2017 CIPGA Professional of the Year. Orrick’s playing career is highlighted by his victory at the 2012 Illinois PGA Professional Championship. He has finished inside the top 10 at this event five times, including a second-place finish in 2014. He is a three-time winner of the CIPGA Championship and the Illinois PGA Players Championship. Over the last seven seasons, Orrick has won the CIPGA PGA Player of the Year four times.
Teacher of the Year
Bill Abrams, 53, of Balmoral Woods Golf Club in Crete, Ill. has won the 2019 Illinois PGA Teacher of the Year Award. The Illinois PGA Teacher of the Year Award is designed to recognize a PGA Professional who is an outstanding teacher of golf among the ranks of the PGA membership. This award is based on a professional’s overall performance in teaching, innovative and special teaching programs initiated or implemented, articles published, as well as outstanding golfers the professional has instructed. Abrams runs a number of programs ranging from those that support players from junior golfers to professional golfers. He has had articles published in PGA Magazine and the Proponent Group newsletter, and also contributes to GolfNow, Chicago Magazine and Eyeline Golf with articles and videos. He has appeared on The Scorecard radio show and Golf 360 TV show where he has shared various golf tips with the public. Some of Abrams’ students include, Lauren Beuadreau, Alvin Okada, Heather Angell, Michael Barber, Jessica Ackman, Tommy Abrams, Frankie Saban, Alyssa Gromala, Phil Caravia and Roy Studley. This is the first Illinois PGA Teacher of the Year Award honor for Abrams. He is a two-time Illinois PGA Bill Strausbaugh Award winner (2005, 2010), a two-time CIPGA Chapter Teacher of the Year award winner (2017, 2018) and was the Illinois PGA Professional of the year in 2015.
Assistant Golf Professional of the Year
Ryan Peavey, 33, of Knollwood Club in Lake Forest, Ill. is the 2019 Illinois PGA Assistant Golf Professional of the Year. The Illinois PGA Assistant Golf Professional of the Year Award bestows special recognition to a PGA Member Assistant Professional. Special emphasis is placed on leadership qualities, moral character, the individual’s record of service to the Illinois PGA and the game of golf and is considered a well-regarded and model PGA Professional. Peavey has been a PGA Member since 2014. His first Assistant position was at Sportsman’s Country Club in Northbrook, Ill. In 2016, Peavey moved to Oak Park Country Club in River Grove, Ill. where he worked as an Assistant for three years before landing at Knollwood Club. This marks Peavey’s first career Illinois PGA Section Special Award.
Youth Player Development Award
Connie DeMattia, 52, of Cantigny Golf in Wheaton, Ill. is the recipient of the 2019 Illinois PGA Youth Player Development Award. The Illinois PGA Youth Player Development Award recognizes the PGA Professional who is a leader in junior golf and who reflects the ideals of those who work with youth golfers. DeMattia runs one of the largest junior golf programs in the Chicagoland area at Cantigny, which included more than 1,500 junior golfers in its programs in 2019. DeMattia designed the five stages of involvement for the Cantigny Golf Academy several years ago to meet the needs of the market and his junior golfers. This marks DeMattia’s first Youth Player Development Award of his career. He was the 2010 Illinois PGA Teacher of the Year and also won the Illinois PGA Player of the Year Award in 2005.
Bill Strausbaugh Award
Just one year after being named the Illinois PGA Professional of the Year, Chris Gumbach, 47, of River Forest Country Club in Elmhurst, Ill. is the 2019 Illinois PGA Bill Strausbaugh Award winner. The Illinois PGA Bill Strausbaugh Award is designed to recognize 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. Gumbach served on the Illinois Section Board of Directors from 2007-2015 and is currently Secretary of the Illinois PGA Foundation. He started his Section Board service as a member of the Tournament Committee and subsequently held numerous positions during the next six years prior to being elected the 25th Section President in 2013. Perhaps his greatest achievement to date has been co-founding and co-chairing the Illinois PGA Foundation Birdies for Charity fundraising program which has raised $1.96 million in just nine years for local children’s charities including Ronald McDonald House Charities of Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana, JDRF Illinois Chapter, Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital and the Illinois PGA Foundation. It’s the single longest running fundraiser of the Foundation and has made a tremendous impact in the lives of children.
Horton Smith Award
Vince Juarez, 43, of Deerpath Golf Course, Lake Forest, Ill. is the 2019 Illinois PGA Horton Smith Award recipient. The Horton Smith Award Recognizes the PGA Professional who is the model educator of PGA Professionals. This award is designed to give special recognition to an individual PGA Professional for outstanding and continuing contributions to professional education.
Juarez is a PGA Master Professional and has since dedicated himself to mentoring fellow Illinois PGA Professionals through the process of becoming Master Professionals. He is also PGA Certified in General Management, Golf Operations, Player Development and Teaching and Coaching. This marks the first Illinois PGA Special Award of Juarez’s career.
Player Development Award
Joe Sheren, 33, of S.M.A.R.T Golf and Fitness Instruction, Chicago, Ill. has won the 2019 Illinois PGA Player Development Award. The Illinois PGA Player Development Award is designed to recognize a PGA Professional for extraordinary and exemplary contributions and achievements in the area of player development. This award considers the PGA Professional’s growth of the game leadership commitment at the Section and National levels and the impact made at his or her facility. Sheren is the founder of S.M.A.R.T. Golf & Fitness Instruction and started the company with one goal in mind: to provide every single player they see with the best possible opportunity to improve their game. That goal has led to the creation of a state of the art facility that brings together PGA Professionals and experts in fitness to provide an unrivaled experience. The 2019 Illinois PGA Player Development Award is the first Illinois PGA Special Award honor of Sheren’s career.
Bill Heald Career Achievement Award
The 2019 Bill Heald Career Achievement Award recipient is Adam Rosuck, 48, of Northmoor Country Club, Highland Park, Ill. The Bill Heald Career Achievement Award is presented to an Illinois PGA Member for a career of service to employers, mentoring, community service, playing ability, teaching, junior golf, education and going above and beyond the duties of a PGA Professional that has not been previously honored as the Illinois PGA Golf Professional of the Year. Rosuck has been a PGA Member for 25 years, holding different leadership positions at Northmoor Country Club throughout his career. A member of the Illinois PGA Player Development Committee, Rosuck had been involved in the Chicago Golf Show for many years and has also been a supporter of the Illinois PGA GolfWorks Program since its inception in 2010. In addition to this award, Rosuck was the 2009 Illinois PGA Private Merchandiser of the Year.
Private Merchandiser of the Year
Patrick Crow, 31, Director of Golf at Chicago Highlands in Westchester, Ill. is the 2019 Illinois PGA Private Merchandiser of the Year. The Illinois PGA Private Merchandiser of the Year Award is designed to recognize a PGA Professional who has excelled as a businessperson/merchandiser in the promotion of golf at a private facility.
Crow has been with Chicago Highlands since 2011, transitioning from the Assistant Golf Professional (2011-2013) to Head Golf Professional (2013-2014) prior to taking on his current role in 2015. Chicago Highlands opened a new clubhouse in May 2019, which has helped create a premier buying experience for the club’s members and guests. The 2019 Illinois PGA Private Merchandiser of the Year is Crow’s first Illinois PGA Special Award.
Distinguished Service Award
PGA Life Member, Tim O’Neal, 69, has been selected as the 2019 Illinois PGA Distinguished Service Award winner. The Illinois PGA Distinguished Service Award honors individuals who display leadership and humanitarian qualities, including integrity, sportsmanship and enthusiasm for the game of golf. O’Neal has a had a long and decorated career within the Illinois PGA, where he spent a total of 25 years at North Shore Country Club in Glenview, Ill, three as the Assistant Professional and 22 as the Head Professional. He won the Illinois Golf Professional of the Year Award in 2005, the Illinois PGA Horton Smith Award in 2013, the Illinois PGA Bill Strausbaugh Award in 2003 and 2009 and the Illinois PGA Private Merchandiser of the Year in 1996 and 1998. O’Neal was also the PGA of America Private Merchandiser of the Year in 1992. During his career, he has held several leadership positions with the Illinois PGA Section and the Illinois PGA Foundation and is currently President of the Foundation. Last year, O’Neal was responsible for discovering millions of dollars in lost retirement savings for fellow PGA Members through the Slazenger Founders Club.
Deacon Palmer Award
Rich Flores, 63, of Pheasant Run Resort in St. Charles, Ill. and Rich Flores Swing Shop in Batavia, Ill. is the Illinois PGA’s first-ever Deacon Palmer Award winner. The Illinois PGA Deacon Palmer Award bestows special recognition on a PGA Professional who personally displays outstanding integrity, character and leadership in an effort to overcome a major obstacle in their life. This individual is an unsung hero/heroine at their facility and in their community. In 2009, Flores was diagnosed with cardiac amyloidosis with plasma cell dyscrasia. Through numerous procedures, including a stem cell transfer, Flores survived and persevered. Since obtaining his Class A Membership in 1996, he has been committed to providing lessons and advice. Although he’s not able to give as many lessons as he did in the past, Flores continues to teach both golf and life lessons to his students. He was the Director of Instruction at Mill Creek Golf Club for five years and has also been a high school golf coach for many years. In 2013, Flores was inducted into the Illinois High School Coaching Association Hall of Fame. He is known throughout the Section for mentoring and helping other professionals find their desired job.
About the Illinois PGA/Illinois PGA Foundation
The Illinois Section of the PGA of America is a professional organization serving the men and women golf professionals in northern and central Illinois who are the recognized experts in growing, teaching and managing the game of golf. The Illinois PGA is responsible for the administration of competitive golf tournaments, educational opportunities, support programs and growth of the game initiatives. With over 840 members and apprentices, the Illinois PGA is one of the 41 regional Sections that comprise the PGA of America. The Illinois PGA Foundation focuses its community efforts on promoting the goodwill and growth of the game with an emphasis on activities that benefit youth. Foundation initiatives include: GolfWorks Illinois, Youth-based Scholarship Funds and the Illinois Golf Hall of Fame. For more information about the Illinois PGA and the Illinois PGA Foundation, please visit www.www.ipga.com and join us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
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