In the News

Al Sutton Elected 25th President of the Southwest PGA

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Al Sutton of Scottsdale, was elected the 25th President of the Southwest Professional Golfers' Association of America by PGA members at the Association's 63rd Annual Meeting. Sutton is the PGA Director of Golf at Paradise Valley (Ariz.). Country Club. Prior to being elected Southwest PGA President, he served as Vice President and Secretary of the Section.

“Being elected the 25th president of the Southwest Section PGA means a great deal to me,” said Sutton. “This allows me, with the help of my fellow officers and the board of directors, to affect our Association significantly and develop a roadmap to future success for all Southwest PGA members.”

Succeeding Sutton as Vice President is Steve Leonard, of Phoenix, Ariz., who served the past two years as Secretary of the Southwest PGA. Leonard is the PGA General Manager at Talking Stick Golf Club in Scottsdale.

Bernie Eaton, of Tucson, Ariz., was elected to succeed Leonard as Southwest PGA Secretary. A former president of the Southern Chapter PGA, and member of the Southwest PGA Board of Directors, Eaton serves as the PGA General Manager at El Conquistador Golf in Oro Valley, Ariz.

Jay Larscheid, of Gilbert, Ariz., who served as the 24th President of the Southwest PGA since 2019, assumes the role of Southwest PGA Honorary President.

In addition, three members were elected and sworn in to the Southwest PGA Board of Directors. Serving three-year terms are: Mike Hodgins, of Scottsdale, the PGA Director of Golf at Camelback Golf Club in Scottsdale; Steven Outlaw, of Peoria, Ariz., the PGA Director of Golf at Wickenburg (Ariz.) Ranch Golf & Social Club; and Kiel Wolf, of Scottsdale, PGA Assistant Golf Professional at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale.

Sutton, born in Asheville, N.C. and raised in Long Beach Island, N.J., earned his membership in the PGA of America in 1993. Before his current position at Paradise Valley, Sutton worked as the first Assistant Golf Professional at some of the top facilities in the country including: Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, N.J., Navesink Country Club in Middletown, N.J., and Fiddler's Elbow Country Club in Far Hills, N.J. He earned his first PGA Head Golf Professional position in 1996 at Mendham (N.J.) Golf & Tennis Club, where he remained for three seasons before accepting the PGA Director of Golf position at Waynesborough Country Club in Paoli, Pa.

Sutton was elected by the membership to the Southwest PGA Board of Directors in 2016. He served on numerous committees during his time in the Southwest PGA. After his election to the board, he was appointed chairman of the Education and Hall of Fame Committees. In his short time as Education Chairman, Sutton and his committee administered numerous seminars and education opportunities for the Southwest PGA membership.

He was appointed Secretary of the Southwest PGA by the Board of Directors in April 2018, filling the vacated role of former Secretary Mike Scully.

Before relocating to Arizona, Sutton volunteered his time with the board of directors and served on many committees in New Jersey and Philadelphia. He was honored as the 2006 Southwest PGA Merchandiser of the Year for Private Facilities and the 2008 PING Fitter of the Year.

A native of Knoxville, Tenn., Leonard, has spent the majority of his 28-year career in the golf industry in the Southwest PGA. Leonard was a member of the golf team at Carson Newman College in Jefferson City, Tenn., before transferring to East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, Tenn., where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications.

Following college, Leonard began his career in golf with a PGA apprentice position in 1992 at Marriott's Griffin Gate Resort & Spa in Lexington, Ky. He transferred to a seasonal position at Marriott’s Desert Springs Resort in Palm Desert, Calif., where he spent one year before relocating to Arizona for the same position at Camelback Golf Club in Scottsdale, remaining there for four years.

Leonard earned his membership in the PGA of America in 1997 and obtained his first PGA Head Golf Professional position at Kierland Golf Club in Scottsdale. Following a four-year stint as the PGA General Manager at Savannah (Ga.) Quarters Country Club, Leonard returned to the valley for PGA General Manager positions at Golf Club of Estrella, Moon Valley Country Club and Tatum Ranch Golf Club, before moving on to his current position at Talking Stick.

Always active in Southwest PGA governance, Leonard has served on numerous committees over the years. He was elected by the Southwest PGA membership to the Board of Directors in 2017. He served as chairman of the Southwest PGA Coaching Challenge Committee.

Leonard was honored by the Commonwealth of Kentucky with the title of Kentucky Colonel, which is the highest title of honor bestowed to individuals in recognition of noteworthy accomplishments and outstanding service to a community, state or the nation.

Born in Reading, Pa., Eaton, played on the varsity golf and tennis teams at Schuylkill Valley High School in Leesport, Pa. and earned the distinction of Eagle Scout through the Boy Scouts of America. Following high school, Eaton attended the University of Arizona in Tucson, Ariz., earning a Bachelor of Science degree in turf grass management with a business administration minor in 1993.

Upon graduation, Eaton returned to Pennsylvania to work as an assistant golf professional at Berkleigh C.C. in Kutztown, Pa. Following three seasons at Berkleigh, Eaton accepted the golf events coordinator position at El Conquistador C.C. During his time there he earned his PGA membership in 1999 and was promoted to the PGA Head Golf Professional, where he served until 2002.

After head golf professional positions at The Pines G.C. and the JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort and Club, Eaton served as PGA Director of Golf at SaddleBrooke G.C. in Tucson, and the PGA General Manager at Arizona National G.C. in Tucson, before accepting his current position at El Conquistador in 2020.

Eaton has been very involved in the governance of the Southwest PGA having served on numerous committees in both the Chapter and the Section. He served on the Southern Chapter PGA Board of Directors for the past eight years, most recently as the president, and the past two years on the Southwest Section Board of Directors, the Southwest Section Finance Committee and the Southwest Section Foundation Board of Directors.

Eaton was honored with the 2016 Southwest PGA Player Development Award, the 2018 Southern Chapter PGA Horton Smith Award (now Professional Development Award) and the 2016 & 2020 Southern Chapter PGA Golf Professional of the Year.

Eaton is a current member of the Club Management Association of America.

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 1284 members and associate Professionals, 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 our website and join us on social media at Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

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