|EAST LANSING, MI–The Michigan Section PGA honored its 2021 Special Award Winners at the President’s Dinner, sponsored by Sanford Advisory and E-Z-GO, held Sunday, October 24 at the Country Club of Lansing. The President’s Dinner celebrated PGA Members who have excelled in their profession as well as those who have volunteered and given of themselves to serve the Section.Dean Kolstad, PGA, Director of Golf at Gull Lake View Golf Club and incoming President of the Michigan PGA, captured the 2021 Michigan Section PGA Golf Professional of the Year award. This prestigious honor is awarded to the professional that has demonstrated outstanding qualities of leadership and strong moral character. The individual must also maintain a substantial record of service to the Association and game of golf and be well-regarded as a model PGA Golf Professional.
Kolstad was chosen by his peers for the award based on his overall performance as a Golf Professional; he oversees six golf courses, four golf shops, Villa guests and an additional 100 golf operations employees. He is also being recognized for his service to the Section and the Association, leadership ability, image and ability to inspire others and his promotion and growth of the game. Kolstad makes education a priority for him and his staff as well as ensuring his club members receive exceptional service, a well-appointed golf shop, tour quality events and instruction. Kolstad is also a PGA HOPE instructor at the VA Medical Center in Battle Creek, MI.
Bernie Friedrich, PGA, Senior Vice President of Golf at BOYNE Resorts was named the inaugural Golf Executive of the Year. The honor bestows special recognition on a PGA Golf Professional who has performed outstanding services for a multiple facility/course management/ownership operation, allied association, or golf industry executive management position. As one of the highest honors the PGA can bestow, candidates must possess outstanding qualities of leadership, vision, courage, strong moral character, and a substantial record of service to the Association and the game of golf.
Friedrich, a 38-year PGA Member, oversees BOYNE Resorts’ 13 courses and semi-private clubs in Maine, Michigan, and Montana which includes all staff, course agronomy and marketing nationwide plus two golf membership groups—Bay Harbor Golf Club and Country Club of Boyne, of which he is President. Bernie currently serves as a member of the Michigan Golf Course Association’s Board of Directors, adidas’ Dassler Board, and the Michigan PGA’s Employment Committee. He is also a past member of America’s Summer Golf Capital’s Board, founding member of The First Tee of Northern Michigan’s Board and co-founder of the Harbor Cup Fund, a charitable fund that has raised over $525,000 since its inception in 1997.
Jason Guss, PGA, Director of Instruction at Jason Guss Golf Academy at Hawk Hollow Golf Course and Warwick Hills Golf & Country Club was awarded the 2021 Michigan Section PGA Teacher & Coach of the Year. Guss was honored for his overall impact on teaching and coaching along with his innovative and special teaching programs he implemented.
Guss has made a lasting impression on his fellow teachers through his passion for the game and his unwavering commitment to improving the games of golfers at every level. He helps his fellow professionals by sharing his knowledge and experience acquired over almost twenty years of teaching golf.
Brandon Dean, PGA, Assistant Golf Professional at Crystal Mountain Resort, was named the 2021 Michigan Section PGA Assistant Golf Professional of the Year. Dean’s strengths as a player, teacher, merchandiser, tournament administrator and overall golf professional all contributed to his success at his facility and the game of golf.
Chris Sobieck, PGA, Owner of Mines Golf Club and High Road Management, was selected as the Michigan Section PGA’s 2021 recipient of the Bill Strausbaugh Award. Sobieck was honored for his outstanding integrity, character, and leadership through a commitment to mentoring and making significant impacts on the careers of PGA Professionals.
Established in 1979, the Bill Strausbaugh Award is presented to a PGA Professional 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. The award reflects the characteristics and qualities of Strausbaugh, a Middle Atlantic PGA Master Professional who died in 1999.
Justin Phillips, PGA, Director of Tournament Operations at the Michigan PGA for 11 years, was named by the Michigan PGA as the 2021 recipient of the Distinguished Service Award. This award honors outstanding individuals who display leadership and humanitarian qualities, including integrity, sportsmanship, and enthusiasm for the game of golf.
Phillips, a Ferris State University Professional Golf Management program graduate, oversees 30+ events annually including the prestigious Michigan Open Championship, Women’s Open Championship, Tournament of Champions, and the PGA and Senior PGA Professional Championships along with pre-qualifiers and qualifiers for the PGA Tour’s Rocket Mortgage Classic and PGA TOUR Champions’ tournament, The Ally Challenge.
Anna Epkey, Communications Coordinator at the Michigan PGA, was awarded the 2021 Media Award in recognition for providing exceptional media coverage in helping the PGA Member and Association become more visible. Epkey successfully launched a new website and email CRM, hosted large scale virtual meetings during COVID-19, was an integral campaign team member of John Lindert, PGA’s successful PGA of America Secretary campaign, administers the Section’s Special Awards program and more. Over her five years at the Michigan PGA, she has worked with PGA Members, sponsors, allied associations, and the public to “Serve the Members and Grow the Game.”
Paul Lehnert, PGA, Teaching Professional at Kubica Golf, was selected as the 2021 Merchandiser of the Year for Private Golf Facilities. Lehnert is being honored for his work at Pine Lake Country Club where he was the Head Professional for 13 years. This award recognizes excellence in business and merchandising at private golf facilities as well as innovation in displays, merchandising techniques, staff training and overall success and growth.
Ian Ziska, PGA, Head Golf Professional at American Dunes Golf Club, was awarded the 2021 Merchandiser of the Year for Public Golf Facilities by the Michigan Section PGA. This was Ziska’s fifth time winning the Merchandiser of the Year-Public award.
Elliott Oscar, PGA, Head Golf Professional at Ballyneal Golf Club, Colorado, was named the 2021 Merchandiser of the Year for Resort Golf Facilities by the Michigan Section PGA. Oscar was honored for his accomplishments while employed for almost five years as the Head Golf Professional at Forest Dunes Golf Club.
Walter Sierakowski, PGA, Head Golf Professional at Red Run Golf Club and Co-Founder of the Team Selfridge Family Relief Fund was selected by the Michigan Section PGA as the 2021 recipient of the Patriot Award. Sierakowski was honored for personifying patriotism through the game of golf and demonstrating unwavering commitment and dedication to the men and women who have valiantly served and protected the United States of America. The Patriot Award originated in 2008 following the inspiration of Patriot Day founder Lt. Col. Dan Rooney, a PGA Professional from Broken Arrow, Oklahoma.
Andre R. Pillow, PGA, Director of Instruction at Blythefield Country Club, was awarded the Michigan Section PGA’s 2021 Player Development Award. This award recognizes a PGA Golf Professional, who has displayed extraordinary and exemplary contribution and achievement in the area of player development. It also considers the PGA Professional’s growth of the game leadership, commitment at the Section and National levels in the player development arena, and the meaningful impact made at the facility.
Glenn Pulice, PGA, General Manager at Royal Oak Golf Center and Director of Golf for the Midnight Golf Program, was selected by the Michigan Section PGA as the recipient of the 2021 Professional Development Award. The Professional Development Award is awarded annually to a PGA Member for his outstanding contributions to professional education, leadership, networking ability and contributions made by the candidate to grow and strengthen the image of a PGA Professional.
Kelly Kuhlman, PGA, Director of Instruction at Twin Lakes Golf & Swim Club, was named the 2021 Youth Player Development Award by the Michigan Section PGA. This award bestows special recognition on a PGA Golf Professional, who has displayed extraordinary and exemplary contribution and achievement in the area of youth player development. The award considers the PGA Professional’s focus on youth through their growth of the game leadership, commitment at the Section and National levels in the youth player development arena, and the meaningful impact made upon youth through the introduction and participation in the game.