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Greg Avant Honored as Southwest PGA Golf Professional of the Year

Greg Avant, PGA Director of Golf and owner at Lone Tree Golf Club in Chandler, Ariz., has been named the 44th recipient of Southwest PGA Golf Professional of the Year Award, the highest annual honor bestowed by the Southwest PGA on a PGA Professional.

“To receive the honor of Southwest PGA Golf Professional of the Year is incredibly humbling and gratifying,” said Avant. “To be recognized by the Professionals in our great Section is an honor that I will always cherish. The relationships I have made in the 25 years in this Section are not only dear to my heart, but have also influenced me to be the best golf professional I can be.  To be able to come to work at Lone Tree every day is truly a dream come true and this is the culmination of an incredibly fun ride.”

Avant will be honored at the Southwest PGA Special Awards Ceremony on February 23, 2018 at Paradise Valley (Ariz.) Country Club. The awards program begins at 7:00 p.m., preceded by a 6:00 p.m. dinner reception. The evening’s program will feature all 2017 Southwest PGA Award winners:

  • Greg Avant of Lone Tree Golf Club – Golf Professional of the Year 
  • Luke Hemelstrand of Desert Mountain – Assistant Golf Professional of the Year
  • Mike Malaska of Las Sendas Golf Club – Teacher of the Year
  • Andrew Schaper of Boulder Creek Golf Club – Youth Player Development Award
  • Mark Black of Encanterra Country Club – Bill Strausbaugh Award
  • Tim Eberlein of Golf Academy of America – Horton Smith Award
  • Marvol Barnard of Haven Golf Club – Player Development Award
  • Matt Bailey of Forest Highlands Golf Club –Merchandiser of the Year for Private Facilities
  • Jon Waddington of Wildhorse Golf Club – Merchandiser of the Year for Public Facilities
  • Min Park of Talking Stick Golf Club – Merchandiser of the Year for Resort Facilities

The Southwest PGA Golf Professional of the Year – Growing up in Minnesota, Greg Avant spent his childhood at the ice rink developing his slapshot long before ever stepping foot on a golf course. His father, a doctor at the Mayo Clinic, introduced his sons to golf by dropping them off at the local course on his way to work in the summer – hockey’s off-season. With his father’s busy work schedule, Avant and his older brother would spend up to 12 hours a day at the course practicing and playing in the kid’s league until dark when they would walk home carrying their clubs. Knowing his boys were hooked on the game, Avant’s father decided to join Rochester Country Club to provide them more opportunities to practice and play.

Born on an Air Force base in Grand Folks, N.D., and raised in Rochester, Minn., Avant, 51, was a member of the hockey and golf teams at Mayo High School. After a successful senior year, Avant hoped to receive a scholarship offer from the University of Minnesota or University of Wisconsin. When neither came, he decided to continue playing both golf and hockey at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minn. During his two years on the golf team, they competed in two NCAA Division III National Championships, finishing fifth and third, respectively. Avant was named All-Conference for golf in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC).

Following two years at Gustavus Adolphus, Avant’s game progressively improved and he decided to focus on golf, setting his sights on playing at the top school in the country. In 1986 he was given the opportunity to make the golf team at Arizona State University in Tempe, Ariz., as a walk-on, but it required a seven round competition against 40 other hopefuls for two spots on the team, which he ultimately won by 25 strokes. Although he never made the starting roster at ASU, Avant was a member of the number one ranked team in the country that included Billy Mayfair, Greg Cesario, Tom Stankowski and Jim Strickland, whom he credits for improving his own game. Avant also earned recognition at ASU as a Scholar Athlete for the 1986-87 season. After graduating in 1988 with his bachelor’s degree in business management, he returned to Minnesota still unsure of his career path.

Avant played hockey every morning and bartended at night back home in Rochester until he was offered an assistant’s position at Northern Hills Golf Course with the requirement he enter the PGA Program. Unfortunately Avant wasn’t really interested in becoming a PGA member at the time. When he was told it wasn’t an option if he wanted the position, he acquiesced and completed the entire program in 18 months, finishing in the top 5% of all the classes. He earned his membership into the PGA of America in 1994.

During his four seasons at Northern Hills, Avant spent the winter months at Marriot Desert Springs in Palm Springs, Calif., performing numerous jobs at the facility. The flexibility at Desert Springs allowed him to compete on the Golden State Tour as well as PGA Tour Monday qualifiers.

In 1995 Avant spent his last summer in Minnesota before earning his first PGA Head Golf Professional position at Apache Creek Golf Club in Apache Junction, Ariz., where he remained for two seasons before accepting a position at Springfield Golf Resort in Chandler working for Pulte Homes. Avant knew that Pulte had plans to build Lone Tree Golf Club in the next five years and a PGA Head Golf Professional opportunity would be available to help open the new course. Being involved in the construction and business aspects of a new development gave Avant great insight on what was involved on running a successful facility.

Avant discovered Pulte Homes didn’t typically retain ownership of golf courses as they were more interested in home sales, which started out slow at Lone Tree. In 2005 Greg reached out to his long-time friend Tom Murphy and pitched the idea of them buying Lone Tree. Avant had caddied for Murphy back in Rochester and it was Murphy’s bar where Avant bartended following college. At first Murphy was skeptical of purchasing the facility but Avant convinced him it was not about the money they would make but the lifestyle and the realization of a lifelong dream.

Even as the owner/operator of Lone Tree and the responsibilities the position requires, Avant has always volunteered his time with the Southwest PGA. He served as a member of the Tournament, Southwest PGA Golf Pass and the Finance Committees.

A strong believer in giving back to the community and growth of the game initiatives, Avant routinely offers Lone Tree’s facilities to the Southwest PGA, Arizona Golf Association, The First Tee of Phoenix and many other schools and organizations. Lone Tree is one of the home sites in Arizona for the PGA of America’s Playing Ability Test (PAT) for aspiring professionals to enter the PGA Program.

A testament to Avant’s business acumen and dedication to his staff of more than 50, five employees have been with him since the facility opened in 2000 and 10 additional employees who have been with him for over 10 years. He takes great pride in mentoring and preparing them for advancement in their careers.

Throughout his outstanding playing career, Avant competed in three PGA Tour events – the Phoenix Open in 2000 (his first PGA Tour event), the 2000 Tucson Open and the 2002 Phoenix Open. Locally he was the runner-up in the 2009 Arizona Open and has countless top 10 finishes in Southwest PGA Section events including a tie for 10th in the 2017 Arizona Senior Open and a tie for fourth in the 2017 Southwest PGA Professional Championship.

Avant was honored as the Southwest PGA Player of the Year in 2000 and was presented the Volunteer of the Year Award by Chandler’s Hamilton High School in 2014.

Avant and his wife, Shawn, live in Chandler, Ariz., and are the parents of a daughter Alexia, and a son, Thomas.


The Southwest PGA Assistant Golf Professional of the Year – Luke Hemelstrand, PGA Assistant Golf Professional at Desert Mountain in Scottsdale, Ariz., has been named the Southwest PGA Assistant Golf Professional of the Year.

Born and raised in Littleton, Colo., Hemelstrand was a three-time state champion in golf at Mullen High School in Denver before entering the PGA Golf Management Program at Arizona State University in Tempe. After earning a bachelor’s degree in Agribusiness from ASU, and his PGA membership in 2013, Hemelstrand obtained an assistant’s position at Desert Mountain where, among his many responsibilities, he managed and executed over 300 tournament events.

At Desert Mountain, Hemelstrand, 33, serves as a mentor to many of the aspiring professionals. He assumed the role as lead staff trainer coordinating and running training seminars for all new golf employees – over 100 since 2014. His open door policy with all employees encourages everyone to contribute to the common goal.

Hemelstrand, who earned his PGA certification in General Management and Golf Operations, serves on the Southwest PGA Education Committee.  He has designed many seminars for new and tenured Professionals in the Section. Hemelstrand serves as a mentor to numerous young assistants in the Southwest PGA by providing his knowledge in all aspects of golf operations. He assigns projects to assistants, putting them in charge, so they learn and grow as professionals. 

On the golf course, Hemelstrand continues to be one of the top assistants in the Southwest PGA. The past three seasons he finished in the top 15 in the final player of the year point standings.  This past season he finished tied for third in the Southwest PGA Assistant Championship and tied for fifth in the Southwest PGA Championship.

Hemelstrand resides in Scottsdale, Ariz.


The Southwest PGA Teacher of the Year – Mike Malaska, PGA Director of Instruction at Superstition Mountain Golf & Country Club in Gold Canyon, Ariz., and Las Sendas Golf Club in Mesa, Ariz., has been named the Southwest Section PGA Teacher of the Year for his outstanding performance as a golf teacher, innovator and coach.

Born and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah, Malaska, 63, is a graduate of Weber State University in Ogden, Utah, where he was a member of the golf team that captured three Big Sky championships (1973-75). He was named to the All-Big Sky Conference First Team three consecutive seasons (1973-75) and was named an NCAA All-American (1974-75). During his time in college he won the Utah Open as an amateur, becoming the first person to do so in 25 years. He was inducted into the Weber State Hall of Fame in February 1999.  He was inducted into the Utah golf Hall of Fame in 2015.

Still an outstanding player, Malaska has gained national acclaim for his teaching. He has worked alongside legendary instructor Jim Flick with the Nicklaus/Flick Golf Schools from 1991-2002 and served as director of instruction for the Jack Nicklaus Golf Center in Japan from 1992-1995.

Since 2000, he has ranked among Golf Digest’s “America’s Top 50 Greatest Teachers,” and currently listed as #18 in the country.  Malaska has also been selected as Golf Magazine’s “Top 100 Teachers” in America every year from 1995 to 2016. His students range from the general public all the way to PGA, LPGA and Champions Tour players. He opened the GreatLife Malaska Golf & Fitness facility which focuses on growth of the game initiatives. Starting with just two courses, he and his team have grown it into a national franchise.  The facilities focus on families playing the game and having fun while doing so. 

Always giving back to the Association, Malaska encourages fellow PGA Professionals to observe his teaching methods and assists them on development to future their careers as successful instructors.  His knowledge of instruction has been featured in cover stories and hundreds of articles in numerous publications from Golf Digest, Golf Magazine and the PGA of America’s publications. He has written two books, “I Feel Your Pain” in 2013, and “The Invisible Swing”, which will be published in 2018.

Malaska was recognized as the Utah PGA Teacher of the Year (1996), the Southwest PGA Teacher of the Year (2010), Southwest PGA Senior Player of the Year (2011) and the PGA of America Teacher of the Year (2011).
Malaska competed in a number of PGA and Champions Tour events during his career including the 1988, 2009, and 2010 PGA Championships, and the 1982 and 1986 U.S. Opens.

In addition to Superstition Mountain and Las Sendas, Malaska is currently the PGA Director of Instruction for the Nicklaus Academies Worldwide and serves as a consultant for TaylorMade.

Malaska and his wife, Charlene, reside in Mesa, Ariz., and are the parents of daughters, Jennifer and Ashley.


The Southwest PGA Youth Player Development Award – Andrew Schaper, PGA Head Golf Professional at Boulder Creek Golf Club in Boulder City, Nev., is the recipient of the Southwest PGA Youth Player Development Award. The honor recognizes a PGA Professional who has displayed extraordinary and exemplary contributions and achievement in the area of youth player development.

Born and raised in Newport Beach, Calif., Schaper knew at a young age a career in golf was in his future. After being hired as a golf cart attendant at Apple Valley (Calif.) Golf Course, Schaper worked his way up the ladder through his college years at California State University, San Bernardino. He developed a passion for mentoring juniors and growth of the game initiatives at Apple Valley.

Following college, Schaper, 41, entered the PGA program and earned his PGA membership in 2001. After assistant golf professional positions at Temecula Creek Inn, Redlands Country Club and PGA of Southern California Golf Club, he earned the PGA Head Golf Professional position at Boulder Creek in 2002, where he remains today.   

At Boulder Creek, Schaper focuses his efforts towards building a junior golf program within the community.  Starting with only a handful of juniors six years ago, he has grown the program to more than 100 juniors a year through his various programs including PGA Junior League Golf and the Antigua Junior Prep Tour. His “Tee Off” events serves as the opening ceremony each season which he incorporates a golf carnival for juniors, Birdie Ball’s Golf-Zilla, their version of a Big Break Wall, and other events to keep the juniors engaged in golf and make the game fun.

Schaper serves as the coach for the boy’s and girl’s golf teams at Boulder Creek High School, where he led them each to runner- up finishes at the 2017 State 3A High School Championships.  His facility is the home to the UNLV Lady Rebels, where they host a four-day invitational every year.  He also hosted the Big Sky Championships for both the men and women’s teams.

He was honored with the Southern Nevada Chapter PGA Youth Player Development Award (2015), Southern Nevada Chapter PGA Golf Professional of the Year Award (2014), Best of Nevada Preps Coach of the Year - Girls Golf (2017) and Nevada Athletic Directors Association Distinguished Service Award (2017).

Schaper and his wife, Meghan, reside in Boulder City, Nev., and are the parents of a son, Blake, and daughters, Camryn and Drew.


The Southwest PGA Bill Strausbaugh Award – Mark Black, PGA Director of Golf and PGA Master Professional at Encanterra Country Club in San Tan Valley, Ariz., is the recipient of the Southwest PGA’s Bill Strausbaugh Award, presented to a PGA Member who demonstrates exceptional character, integrity and leadership by way of teaching and mentoring other PGA Professionals.

Born in Saginaw, Mich., Black, 61, was a four-year member of the men’s golf team at Central Michigan University in Mt Pleasant, Mich., where in 1978, he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in education. Following college, Black, at the young age of 22, was hired as the head golf professional at Inverness Country Club in Chelsea, Mich. Three years later, he became an owner-operator when he purchased Willowbrook Golf Club in Byron, Mich.

Black earned his membership in the PGA of America in 1984 and the following year, was hired as the PGA Head Golf Professional at The Fortress in Frankenmuth, Mich., where he remained for 23 years. In 2008, Black relocated to the Southwest PGA after accepting the position as the Director of the Professional Golf Management Program at Arizona State University in Tempe.

In a career that now spans more than 40 years, Black uses his core values – caring, honesty, respect, relationship building, commitment, financial accountability and integrity – to inspire and mentor fellow PGA Professionals. In his time as the President of the Southwest PGA Metro Chapter, Black focused on improving careers through education, having events that promoted networking, highlighting performance and giving back to the community while growing the game of golf. 

Throughout his career, Black has been very active in the Association. Among his many different roles with the Southwest PGA, Black served on the board of directors, president of the Metro Chapter and was chairman of both the Employment Committee and Teaching and Coaching Summit.

Black was honored with the Michigan PGA Horton Smith Award (2005) for contributions in education for the PGA Professional, the Michigan PGA Bill Strausbaugh Award (2006), the Southwest PGA Horton Smith Award (2011) and the Southwest PGA Golf Professional of the Year Award (2015).

In 1992 Black earned Master Professional status within the PGA of America, one of only 300 PGA Professionals among the 28,000 members nationwide. His thesis was on golf facility ownership and leasing.

Black and his wife, Nancy, reside in Gilbert, Ariz., and are the parents of a daughter, Emily, and sons, Benjamin and Reed.


The Southwest PGA Horton Smith Award – Tim Eberlein, PGA Master Professional and Campus President at the Golf Academy of America in Chandler, Ariz., is the recipient of the Southwest PGA Horton Smith Award. The award is presented annually to a PGA Professional who exhibits commendable additions to the education of PGA Professionals.

Born and raised in Erie, Pa., Eberlein, 56, was a member of the baseball and golf teams at Gannon University in Erie, where he earned a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering in 1983.

He worked as an assistant golf professional at the Wisconsin Club in Milwaukee, Wis., for three seasons before becoming an instructor for the Golf Academy of America in Carlsbad, Calif. in 1994 – the same year he earned his membership in the PGA of America. At the Academy, first at the San Diego campus and now in Chandler, Eberlein serves as a full-time instructor, academic dean, placement director and campus director.

His passion for teaching is evident in his over 11,000 classroom hours to future golf professionals, graduating over 2,200 students and assisting over 140 golf courses in Arizona with educated staff. He does all this while volunteering his time toward programs for the Special Olympics, First Tee of Phoenix, Junior Golf Association of Arizona, the Arizona Golf Association and the Southwest PGA.

Eberlein became a PGA Master Professional in teaching in 2002 and has an extensive background in tournament operations and golf management. In 2006, he exemplified the definition of continuing education by earning a Master’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Phoenix.

Since 2010, Eberlein has volunteered on the Southwest PGA board of directors and served as the chairman of the Education Committee from 2011-2017. Under his leadership, the Committee has coordinated, organized, and scheduled over 64 educational seminars. He has also worked with the PGA of America on promoting player development workshops and PGA certification seminars. In 2015 Eberlein penned the Southwest PGA Executive Committee Handbook to assist in the training of new board members. In an effort to promote the image of Southwest PGA, he serves on the Arizona Interscholastic Association High School Rules Committee and continues to assist the current Education Committee with the structuring of teaching competitions.

This is the third Southwest PGA Horton Smith Award (2011, 2014) for Eberlein. He was also honored with the San Diego Chapter PGA Horton Smith Award in 1998. In 2014, KZG recognized Eberlein as a “World Top 100 Club Fitter” and Henry-Griffitts named him on their 2013 “Master Club Fitter” list.

Eberlein and his wife, Alita, reside in Gilbert, Ariz., and are the parents of sons, Nikolas and Mason.


The Southwest PGA Player Development Award – Marvol Barnard, LPGA and PGA Director of Instruction at Haven Golf Club in Green Valley, Ariz., is the recipient of the Southwest PGA Player Development Award, which recognizes a PGA Professional for extraordinary and exemplary contributions and achievements in the area of player development.

Born in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, Barnard, 60, was a multi-sport athlete in high school. She earned a full-ride scholarship to play basketball at Whitworth University in Spokane, Wash., before moving to Alaska to work as a dispatcher for the Alaska State Troopers, where she met her husband, a former Alaska State Trooper Investigator. She picked up golf in the mid-90’s after living seasonally in Green Valley and became hooked on the game.

Following a stint living on a boat and running a charter fishing business in Alaska with her husband, Barnard shifted her focus to golf and accepted a position in 1999 at Haven Golf Club, first working in the golf shop, and then teaching full-time. Two years later she joined the LPGA, earning her membership in 2006 and the following year, her membership in the PGA of America. At the time she was only one of 180 women nationwide to be certified in both organizations.

Barnard has created a player development pathway for beginners and women that stands out among her peers. Some of the programs she has implemented include: Golf101, The Next Step, Go Go Go, PlaySmart Golf, My Golf Coach, Nine and Wine, PYOB (play your own ball) and many others.

Some of her Barnard’s practice ideas that have been successful include marketing the “WHY”. After attending the PGA Player Development Workshop, she implemented programs for every step of a player’s development, from absolute beginner, to the timid beginner and the avid golfer. Going above and beyond for her students, Barnard has thrown golf program graduation parties, fun holiday-themed events once a month and host’s yearly “Welcome Back” fairs to kick off the season. Barnard’s devotion to ongoing learning and education is evident as she attends every education opportunity presented and believes in giving her students the very best and most up to date programming.

Barnard was invited by then president of the PGA of America Derek Sprague, to serve on the National PGA Player Development Committee. During her two years on Committee (2014-2016), many of the growth of the game initiatives that were created are still in progress today. Barnard was recently invited to serve on the National PGA Planning Committee for the 2018 PGA Youth and Family Summit to be held at the 2018 PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, Fla. She currently serves on the board of directors for the Southern Chapter PGA and is chairwoman of the Southern Chapter PGA Education Committee.

Among her many awards in the golf industry, Barnard is the recipient of the LPGA National Teacher of the Year Award (2016), LPGA Central Section Teacher of the Year Award (2016), Southern Chapter PGA Player Development Award (2015, 2016), Southwest PGA Player Development Award (2013), the LPGA Nancy Lopez Golf Achievement Award (2013), and has been named by the LPGA “Top 50 Best Teachers” (2017-18) and Golf Digest’s “Top 50 Women Teachers” (2012).

Barnard and her husband, Sam, reside in Green Valley, Ariz.


The Southwest PGA Merchandiser of the Year for Private Facilities – Matt Bailey, PGA Director of Golf at Forest Highlands Country Club in Flagstaff, Ariz., is the recipient of the Southwest PGA Merchandiser of the Year Award for Private Facilities.

Bailey, 51, was born in San Diego, Calif., and grew up in Scottsdale, Ariz., where he started playing golf at the age of 12 and fell in love with the game. Wanting to always be around the golf course, he earned his first job in golf at Coronado Golf Course in Scottsdale, where he would pick the range every day after school.

After four years on the golf team at Coronado High School, Bailey went on to play competitive golf at Scottsdale Community College for two years. Knowing he wanted to pursue a career in golf, Bailey accepted positions in the service areas at the Phoenician Resort, Desert Highlands Golf Club, Troon Country Club and Forest Highlands.
While he was in the PGA Program, Bailey was promoted to first assistant golf professional at Troon, which allowed him the opportunity to remain at one facility year-round. After earning his membership in the PGA in 1996, Bailey accepted his first PGA Head Golf Professional position at Pinehurst Country Club in Denver, Colo., where he remained for 10 years.

In 2007, Bailey returned to Forest Highlands after accepting the PGA Director of Golf position. Since returning he has implemented and conducted several multi-week junior camps at local elementary school and coached the Northland Preparatory Academy golf team for the past five years.

His philosophy in merchandising is to provide outstanding customer service and make every member and guest of Forest Highlands feel like they are the most important person at the club. Building and maintaining a great member/employee rapport is the foundation of his merchandise program. His employees are all assigned a line of merchandise they must research and then make a presentation to the entire staff in their bi-weekly meetings. This approach has been very successful as all employees can assist the members and guests with informative details about every product in the golf shop.

During his 10 years in Colorado, Bailey served on the Colorado PGA and Colorado PGA Foundation board of directors, was the chairman of the Teach-A-Thon for inner city kids, served on the Rules, Awards, and Finance Committees and was awarded the Colorado PGA Merchandiser of the Year for Private Facilities (2002).

This is Bailey’s second Southwest PGA Merchandiser of the Year for Private Facilities Award (2011).

Bailey and his wife, Shannon, reside in Flagstaff, Ariz., and are the parents of daughters, Taylor, Katherine and Caroline.


The Southwest PGA Merchandiser of the Year for Public Facilities – Jon Waddington, PGA General Manager at Wildhorse Golf Club in Henderson, Nev., is the recipient the Southwest PGA Merchandiser of the Year Award for Public Facilities.

Born and raised in Crestline, Calif., Waddington moved to Las Vegas to attend UNLV for their Professional Golf Management program. He dropped out of the program and changed majors to law for a short time before he realized golf was his true passion, and he re-entered the PGM program, graduating from UNLV in 2007 with a degree in recreation.

Following college, Waddington, 33, worked as a player services attendant at Primm (Nev.) Valley Golf Club and worked his way up, earning an assistant professional position in 2011. Waddington earned his membership in the PGA of America in 2014 and accepted the PGA Head Golf Professional at Silverstone Golf Club in Las Vegas.  After a couple years as the PGA General Manager at Primm Valley, Waddington accepted his current position at Wildhorse, where his responsibilities include overseeing his facility and The Legacy Golf Club in Henderson.

Waddington maintains a clean, well-organized and innovative golf shop, which includes him implementing disc golf equipment and apparel to cater to the growing disc golf market. Wildhorse is one of the only facilities in Las Vegas that has an established disc golf course and Waddington capitalizes on the opportunity to expand his merchandise sales to an additional segment of the industry.

His philosophy is that every time a guest enters the golf shop, they should have a fresh look with appealing and eye-catching displays. To ensure the golf shop is up to date with the newest merchandise, he has made it a point to redress mannequins and move golf ball displays following every monthly inventory based on incoming product or outgoing sales.

Waddington believes the most important aspect of merchandising is getting to know the customer. He puts great emphasis on education for his golf shop staff, making sure every employee is engaging with each guest.  His development and dedication to the customers, employees and the vendors is imperative to his successful merchandising operation.

Waddington and his wife, Ellie, reside in Las Vegas, Nev.


The Southwest PGA Merchandiser of the Year for Resort Facilities – Min Park, PGA Head Golf Professional at Talking Stick Golf Club in Scottsdale, Ariz., is the recipient of the Southwest PGA Merchandiser of the Year Award for Resort Facilities.

Born and raised in Seoul, South Korea, Park moved to Seattle, Wash., at the age of 12, where he was first introduced to the game of golf by his parents. Park’s passion for golf grew as he attended Thomas Jefferson High School in St, Auburn, Wash., where he was a member of the golf team that won the state championship three consecutive years (1996-98).

After high school, Park, 38, attended Cornish College of Arts in Seattle, where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in graphic design. Following graduation, Park accepted a position at Microsoft as a graphic designer but his passion for golf never dwindled as he visited the golf course adjacent to Microsoft’s campus on a daily basis.

Ultimately, Park made the decision to follow his dream and relocated to Chandler, Ariz., to attend the Golf Academy of America, where he earned an associate’s degree in Golf Complex Operation and Management. He began his professional career in golf at Troon Country Club. During his time working at Troon, Park served as the club and cart washer, starter, ranger, outside service supervisor and, ultimately, assistant golf professional.

Park was elected to PGA membership in 2011 and continued his education, earning PGA certification in General Management. During his six years at Troon he became well-versed in teaching, administering tournaments and overseeing day-to-day golf operations.

After a season as an assistant at Tatum Ranch Golf Club in Cave Creek, Ariz., Park moved to his current position at Talking Stick in 2015. He continues working on his education and enhancing his management techniques and leadership skills, while learning the various business aspects of the golf industry.

At Talking Stick, Park’s philosophy is to listen and focus on what is most important to the owners and the facility’s customers and guests. For the owners – the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community – he always looks for new ways to incorporate the Native American experience into merchandise and décor. In addition to working closely with vendors to look for new and unique items to generate revenue, Park often relies on his fine-art background to enhance the ambiance of the Club while identifying opportunities to share the rich history of the Native American community. He found that customers find these items interesting and desirable, in addition to the popular golf clothing and equipment offerings.

Park and his wife, Sunjoo Lee, reside in Phoenix, Ariz.

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 and twitter.com/swsectionpga.

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