METAIRIE, La. – In recognition of his exemplary role as a PGA member, PGA Director of Golf Chris Jester of Old Waverly Golf Club in West Point, Miss. has been chosen as the 2014 Gulf States PGA Golf Professional of the Year, the highest honor paid to a Gulf States PGA Professional.
“It’s very overwhelming,” said Jester in regards to the award announcement. “I’ve been a member for nearly 20 years. It’s a great feeling to receive this honor from your friends.
“I treat everybody professionally and with respect. I help out when I can. It’s the attitude you have to take. It’s important to support our Section by hosting events and volunteering.”
Jester said he wishes to thank the families who support the busy schedules of those working in the golf business.
Jester has previously been honored by the Section in 2008 when he was named Gulf States PGA Merchandiser of the Year in the private category. He also was named the Mississippi Chapter Golf Professional of the Year in 2013.
Rob Noel, owner and PGA director of instruction of the Rob Noel Golf Academy in Abita Springs, La., has been selected as the Teacher of the Year in recognition of his exceptional teaching ability and dedication to teaching the game. Noel’s accomplishments have earned him this recognition in 1993, 2000, 2009 and 2011 as well.
“It always feels awesome,” said Noel of receiving this award for the fifth time. “It validates the fact that I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing.”
Noel is also the recipient of this year’s Youth Player Development Award, formerly Junior Golf Leader. 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. Noel said he is proud of the growing success of his recent students who are continuing to improve, win tournaments and obtain scholarships. Noel also runs a junior golf league and junior golf program that have been very well-received in the community.
David Marchand, PGA director of golf at Metairie (La.) Country Club, has once again been honored with the Bill Strausbaugh Award in recognition of his leadership and valued involvement with the community. Marchand is a decorated member of the Gulf States PGA having won this award in 2006 and 2009, in addition to being named the Section’s Golf Professional of the Year (2003), Merchandiser of the Year in the private category (2002, 2010, 2012), Player of the Year (1992) and Assistant of the Year (1996).
Cliff Wagner, PGA head professional at Oakbourne Country Club in Lafayette, La. has been chosen as this year’s Horton Smith Award winner, acknowledging his commitment to furthering the education of fellow professionals. Wagner has also received numerous awards from the Section including Golf Professional of the Year (2001), Merchandiser of the Year in the private category (2000, 2006, 2007) and Junior Golf Leader (2002).
For the second year in a row, Tim Yelverton, PGA instructor of golf at Old Waverly Golf Club in West Point, Miss., will receive the Section’s Player Development Award honoring his extraordinary and exemplary contributions and achievements in the area of player development. Yelverton has also been honored in the past as Junior Golf Leader (2012) and Assistant Professional of the Year (2009).
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.
PGA Head Professional Jason Prendergast at the Country Club of Jackson (Miss.) has been named Merchandiser of the Year in the Private category, an award also bestowed upon him in 2009.
Andres Prieto, PGA head professional at Pelican Point Golf Club in Gonzales, La., has been named Merchandiser of the Year in the Public category for the second year in a row.
Bob Wolcott, PGA director of golf at Tunica (Miss.) National has earned his first award from the Gulf States PGA Section, Merchandiser of the Year in the Resort category.
First-time Section award winner Cory Cooper, PGA assistant professional at New Orleans (La.) Country Club, 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.
The Gulf States PGA Chapters also selected Golf Professionals of the Year in their respective Chapters.
Leading the class of 2014 award winners in the Louisiana Chapter is JT Crawford, PGA head professional of New Orleans Country Club, who has earned many honors in the past including the Section’s Golf Professional of the Year (2012), Bill Strausbaugh Award (2010), Player Development Award (2007), Horton Smith Award (2005) and Merchandiser of the Year in the private category (2004). David Lee, PGA director of golf at Great Southern Golf Club in Gulfport, Miss. has been named Golf Professional of the Year of the Mississippi Chapter. Lee was previously honored as Section Golf Professional of the Year in 2010.
The Chapters named their Assistant Professionals of the Year as Cory Cooper in the Louisiana Chapter who won this award in 2013 as well, and Taylor Navin, PGA assistant professional at the Country Club of Jackson (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 Mike Rodrigue as the recipient of the Barbato-Thomas Award. 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. Our 2014 recipient, Rodrigue is a founding member of the Bayou District Foundation, President and CEO of RODCO Insurance and the owner of the ACME Oyster House chain of restaurants, which has played longtime host to our Mackel Cup players party and Chapter award ceremonies. Rodrigue has been involved with Fore!Kids Foundation and the community continually applauds his efforts to aid in the regrowth of New Orleans post-Katrina. He is also a past participant of the Section’s Hundred Holes for History event.
The Mississippi Chapter bestowed a similar award, the Carpenter-Lindsay Award, to Gulf States PGA Life Member Mickey Bradley. 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. Bradley, a past official on the PGA Tour for nearly 25 years, holds an annual invitational pro-am along with PGA Tour Player Jerry Kelly to raise money for Habitat for Humanity in an effort to help rebuild the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
The Players of the Year will be determined after the conclusion of the E-Z-GO Gulf States PGA Section Championship being contested September 22-23, 2014 and will be honored along with the special award winners during an awards ceremony held at the E-Z-GO/Oliver Counce Six Pro Championship at Diamond (Miss.) Country Club on Monday, December 8, 2014.
The Gulf States PGA Awards Committee consists of past award winners.