2013 Gulf States PGA Special Award Winners

METAIRIE, La. –  Leading the class of 2013 Gulf States PGA award winners, PGA Professional Jeff Adkerson has been named the Section Golf Professional of the Year, the highest honor paid to a Gulf States PGA Professional.

The 2013 Gulf States PGA Section and Chapter award winners will be celebrated during an awards ceremony held at the E-Z-GO/Oliver Counce Six Pro Championship at Money Hill Golf & Country Club in Abita Springs, La. on Monday, December 9, 2013.

Adkerson, Gulf States PGA Secretary and PGA director of the Professional Golf Management Program at Mississippi State University, said he was deeply humbled upon hearing the news that he had been selected as the recipient of the Golf Professional of the Year Award.

“I immediately thought of all the individuals that could have been selected to receive this award,” said Adkerson of his initial reaction. “To have your peers find you worthy of this type of recognition is a special acknowledgement.

“It’s a very humbling experience.  To be recognized in the same context as people you’ve looked up to and have your name listed with their names is a tremendous honor.”

Adkerson’s natural drive to better the Gulf States PGA community has previously earned him the Section’s Horton Smith Award (2007, 2009, 2010, 2012) and the title of Mississippi Chapter Golf Professional of the Year (2009, 2011).

“You have a sense of wanting to give back to the game, Association, Section and Chapter,” said Adkerson.  “It’s our service to give back to our fellow member; it’s what we work and strive to do.  You’re not looking for awards in the process. You do it because you should.

“I have to thank J.T. Crawford and the awards committee for bestowing this honor upon me.  It is certainly a highlight of my career.”

Brian Manzella, owner and PGA director of instruction of the Brian Manzella Golf Academy in New Orleans, La., has been selected as the Teacher of the Year in recognition of his exceptional teaching ability and dedication to teaching the game.  This marks Manzella’s first award as a Gulf States PGA member.  He previously won this award in 2003 while a member of the Kentucky PGA.

Jared LeBouef, PGA general manager of the University Club of Baton Rouge (La.), earned the highly distinguished Bill Strausbaugh Award for the second year in a row in recognition of his leadership and valued involvement with the community. LeBouef also won this award in 2008 and was the recipient of the Section’s Golf Professional of the Year award in 2011.

A decorated member of the Gulf States, PGA, James Leitz, PGA has been chosen as this year’s Horton Smith Award winner, acknowledging his commitment to furthering the education of fellow professionals.       Leitz, PGA head professional at Pinewood Country Club in Slidell, La., previously won the Horton Smith Award in 1990 and was also recognized as Golf Professional of the Year (1993), Teacher of the Year (2002, 2005, 2012) and winner of the Louisiana Chapter’s Barbato-Thomas Award (2006, 2012).

VJ Trolio, PGA instructor of golf at Old Waverly Golf Club in West Point, Miss., has earned the Junior Golf Leader award for a second time, previously winning in 2011.  This award recognizes a PGA Professional’s passion to promote the game by sharing knowledge and skills with today’s youth, benefiting the future of golf in the Section. His dedication is also reflected in past achievements, being named Teacher of the Year in both 2008 and 2010.

Honoring his extraordinary and exemplary contributions and achievements in the area of player development, Tim Yelverton, PGA instructor of golf at Old Waverly Golf Club in West Point, Miss., has earned the Player Development Award. Yelverton has also been honored in the past as the Assistant Professional of the Year (2009) and Junior Golf Leader (2012).

The Merchandisers of the Year are selected based on their skills in the promotion of golf including merchandising ability and technique, inventory levels and turn rate, shop display and attention to detail.

Both earning their first Section award, Brad Pullin, PGA head professional at Squire Creek Country Club in Choudrant, La., has earned the award for Merchandiser of the Year in the Private category and Andres Prieto, PGA head professional at Pelican Point Golf Club in Gonzales, La., has been named Merchandiser of the Year in the Public category.  Chris Champagne, PGA head professional at The Preserve Golf Club in Vancleave, Miss., earned the title of Merchandiser of the Year in the Resort category, an award also bestowed upon him in 2009.

Marhsall Cusey, PGA assistant professional at New Orleans Country Club in New Orleans, La., has displayed exemplary leadership as an assistant professional and continues to serve as an outstanding representation of his class earning him the title of TaylorMade-adidas Golf Assistant Professional of the Year. This marks Cusey’s first Section award.

The Gulf States PGA Chapters also selected Golf Professionals of the Year in their respective Chapters.  Leading the field in the Louisiana Chapter is Luke Farabaugh, PGA general manager of TPC of Louisiana in Avondale, La., who has earned many honors in the past including Section Merchandiser of the Year in the Public category in 2009.   Chris Jester, PGA director of Golf at Old Waverly Golf Club in West Point, Miss., has been named Golf Professional of the Year of the Mississippi Chapter.  Jester was previously honored as Section Merchandiser of the Year in the Private category in 2008.

The Chapters named their Assistant Professionals of the Year as Cory Cooper, PGA assistant professional at New Orleans Country Club in New Orleans, La., in the Louisiana Chapter and Tim Poznaniak, PGA assistant professional at Mississippi State University Golf Course in Starkville, Miss., in the Mississippi Chapter.

Two special Chapter awards are set aside to honor individuals that tirelessly and unselfishly work to support the game of golf.

This year, the Louisiana Chapter has chosen Gerry Barousse as the recipient of the Barbato-Thomas Award.  A native of New Orleans, La., Barousse served as the blind golf coach to the legendary Pat Browne, Jr. The award is named for Mike Barbato and Henry Thomas, both of whom played a major role in the birth and development of the Gulf States Section.

The Mississippi Chapter bestowed a similar award, the Carpenter-Lindsay Award, to Joe Sanderson, CEO of Sanderson Farms.  Sanderson’s company served as the title sponsor of the newly renamed 2013 Sanderson Farms Championship, Mississippi’s only PGA Tour event.  This Chapter award was named for James Ray Carpenter and Ken Lindsay, both of whom served as PGA of America Presidents and have given so much to our Association.

The Players of the Year will be determined after the conclusion of the E-Z-GO Gulf States PGA Section Championship being contested September23-24, 2013 and will be honored along with the special award winners at the ceremony in December.

The Gulf States PGA Awards Committee consists of past award winners.