Jertson and Wittig Earn Southwest PGA Player of the Year Honors
Marty Jertson captured the 2017 Southwest PGA Player of the Year in the closest race in Southwest PGA history after he edged out Michael Hopper by just one point. This is the second Southwest PGA Player of the Year honor for Jertson (2011). In a race that was just as close and also came down to the final event, Randy Wittig claimed the 2017 Senior Player of the Year award over Blayne Hobbs by five points. Both Jertson and Wittig will be honored at the Southwest PGA Special Awards Ceremony on February 23.
Jertson, PGA Professional and Senior Design Engineer at PING Golf, started the 2017 season off with a victory in the opening Southwest PGA Player Series event at Lone Tree Golf Club. He went on to finish tied for second, tied for third and second, respectively, in the remaining three Player Series events.
At the end of June, Jertson, 37, competed in the 50th PGA Professional Championship at Sunriver (Ore.) Resort. He finished tied for 67th in the 312 player field and earned 100 Player of the Year points, resulting in a lead by 18 over Dennis Downs, 35, PGA Director of Instruction at Reid/West Golf Academies (Pebble Creek) and 53 over Hopper, 33, PGA Assistant Golf Professional at Lookout Mountain G.C.
In the first major of the season, the Southwest PGA Match Play Championship, Jertson finished as the runner-up to Hopper, losing 1-down in the final match. After a tie for third in the Southwest PGA Professional Championship (PPC), Jertson lost the points lead following the Arizona Open, where Hopper finished in the top 10 and took a nine-point lead over Jertson with two events remaining. With Hopper and Jertson finishing the Southwest PGA Championship fourth and tied for fifth, respectively, the race came down to the final event of the season – the Shriners Hospital Children Open Section Qualifier – with Hopper holding an 11-point lead. Jertson finished tied for second earning 25 points and Hopper tied for 13th earning 13 points.
Born in Gallup, N.M., Jertson later moved to Globe, Ariz., where he grew up playing at Cobre Valle Country Club. At a young age, Jertson began competitive golf in the Junior Golf Association of Arizona, as well as the Southwest PGA Junior Tour. After attending Mountain Pointe High School in Ahwatukee, Ariz., Jertson became a member of the golf team for the Colorado School of Mines in Golden, Colo. He earned seven victories during his four years on the team and was honored as a Division II All-American (2001-2002) and Academic All-American (1998-2002). During his time in college, he captured the 2001 Colorado State Amateur Championship. The following year Jertson earned his Bachelors of Science degree in mechanical engineering and was inducted into Colorado School of Mines Athletic Hall of Fame in 2011.
Following graduation, Jertson earned his membership in the PGA of America in in 2010 and qualified for six PGA Tour events, including the 93rd and 94th PGA Championships and the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open four times in 2010, 2011, 2015, and 2016.
After a year of competing on mini-tours, Jertson found his calling in the engineering department at PING. As the Director of Product Development, he is in charge of all new product design. In his 14 years at PING, he led the development of numerous products, including club heads, shafts, grips, and drivers. Along with product development, Jertson also contributed to the creation of iPING, the revolutionary putting fitting app that utilizes sensors built into iPhones. His hard work has resulted in 125 published U.S. patents with his name on them and has been featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated golf edition, as well as being highlighted in Golf Digest for having one of golfs “10 Coolest Jobs” (2015).
By winning the Southwest PGA Player of the Year, Jertson earned a spot into the 51st PGA Professional Championship, scheduled to take place June 17-20, 2018 at Bayonet Black Horse in Seaside, Calif.
Jertson and his wife, Kellyn, live in Phoenix, Ariz., and are the parents of two boys, Grant and Davis.
Wittig, PGA Director of Instruction at Gainey Ranch Golf Club in Scottsdale, Ariz., trailed Hobbs the entire year in the Senior Player of the point race. Behind by 20 points entering the final event – the national PGA Senior Professional Championship – Wittig finished tied for 55th, earning 100 points and Hobbs, 52, PGA Teaching Professional at Reid/West Golf Academies, tied for 73rd, earning 75 points.
Wittig, 57, began his season winning the opening Senior Series event at Moon Valley Country Club. After finishing in a tie for 32nd in the Arizona Senior Open, Wittig tied for second in the second senior player series event at Firerock Country Club.
The Senior Player of the Year race remained close the entire season. After a tie for 10th in the final Senior Player Series event at Grayhawk Golf Club, Wittig picked up seven points on Hobbs with only the Southwest PGA Senior Championship and the National PGA Senior Professional Championship remaining. Wittig finished tied for fourth in the Southwest PGA Senior Championship and Hobbs tied for second, resulting in Hobbs’ 20 point margin heading into the final event.
Born in Phoenix, Ariz., Wittig was a multi-sport athlete at Shadow Mountain High School in Phoenix. He participated in one year of track, one year of football and four years of basketball and golf. Following high school he attended Phoenix College and was a member of the golf team for two years.
He began his career in golf working as outside service staff & a golf shop assistant at Scottsdale Country Club (now Starfire Golf Club). In 1983 Wittig worked as an assistant golf professional at Acacia Country Club in Lyndhurst, Ohio, where he remained for two seasons.
Wittig returned to Phoenix in 1985 after accepting a position at Orange Tree Golf Resort in Scottsdale, Ariz. At Orange Tree, Wittig wore many hats during his 16 years there including working as outside guest service, assistant professional, PGA Head Golf Professional & PGA Director of Golf Operations & golf event sales. He earned his membership in the PGA of America in 1990. He left Orange Tree in 2012 for his current position at Gainey Ranch.
Among his many playing achievement honors, Wittig qualified for the 1998 Phoenix Open, won the 2002 Southwest PGA Match Play Championship, 2011 Southwest PGA Senior Championship, 2012 Southwest PGA Senior Match Play Championship, is a 13-time member of the Goldwater Cup and has qualified for the national PGA Senior Professional Championship four times, including three in the last four years.
Wittig remains active in the community and in the Southwest PGA having served on the Section’s board of directors for eight years (1998–2006). He currently is the Men's Head Golf Coach at Paradise Valley (Ariz.) Community College.
Wittig was honored with the 2004 Southwest PGA Bill Strausbaugh Award, presented to a PGA Member who demonstrates exceptional character, integrity and leadership by way of teaching and mentoring other PGA Professionals. He was named the 1994 Orange Tree Golf Resort Manager of the Year and the 2001 Arizona Hotel & Lodging Association Manager of the Year.
Wittig and his wife, Jeanne, live in Cave Creek, Ariz., and are the parents of a daughter, Taylor.
About The Southwest Section PGA:
The Southwest Section of the PGA of America is a professional organization serving the men and women golf professionals in Arizona and Southern Nevada who are the recognized experts in growing, teaching and managing the game of golf. The Southwest PGA is responsible for the administration of competitive golf tournaments, junior golf programs and events, educational opportunities, support programs and growth of the game initiatives. With over 1284 members and apprentices, the Southwest PGA is the fifth largest of the 41 regional entities or Sections that comprise the PGA of America. For more information about the Southwest PGA, please visit www.southwestpga.com and join us on social media at www.facebook.com/swsectionpga, twitter.com/swsectionpga and www.instagram.com/southwestpga.