Gulf States PGA selects 2016 class of Section and Chapter award winners

 METAIRIE, La. – In recognition of his exemplary role as a PGA member, PGA General Manager Craig Campo of Oak Wing Golf Club in Alexandria, La. has been chosen as the 2016 Gulf States PGA Golf Professional of the Year, the highest honor paid to a Gulf States PGA Professional.

“To win the top award in the Section from my peers is a humbling experience,” said Campo. “I feel very honored and proud to represent the Section as Golf Professional of the Year.

“I have served on the awards committee and it is very difficult to select one person for this award.”

Campo, who currently serves as the Louisiana Chapter President, said he values service and engagement and encourages his fellow professionals to get involved in Section and Chapter activities.

“Not only are you giving back, but you are able to learn from people in these positions,” said Campo.

Hoppy Smith, PGA Director of Instruction at Diamondhead (Miss.) Country Club, earns his first Gulf States PGA award this year with his acceptance the Teacher of the Year Award. This award recognizes Smith’s exceptional teaching ability and dedication to teaching the game.

“This has been a goal of mine since 1996 when I got my card,” said Smith, who is celebrating his 20th year both as a PGA member and golf professional at Diamondhead.

Smith said another goal of his was to teach full time, which he was able to accomplish when the Golf Academy of Diamondhead opened in 2012.

Smith stresses the importance of offering new programs and cutting-edge technology to enhance the teaching opportunities available at your facility, stating that he’s “not afraid to try out new equipment.”

Also hailing from Diamondhead C.C. is the 2016 Gulf States PGA Youth Player Development Award Winner, PGA Director of Golf Chris Altese. Altese’s talents have been recognized several occasions before with the Merchandiser of the Year Award, however, this time the Section chose to acknowledge his passion to promote the game by sharing knowledge and skills with today’s youth, benefiting the future of golf in the Section. His continuous efforts to grow the game at the youth level have greatly contributed to the strength of Diamondhead’s junior program.

Longtime PGA Head Professional at Oakbourne Country Club in Layfette, La, Cliff Wagner has been chosen as this year’s Horton Smith Award winner, acknowledging his commitment to furthering the education of fellow professionals. This award was also bestowed upon him in 2014.

Todd Roberton, PGA Director of Golf at Les Vieux Chenes Golf Course in Youngsville, La., has been selected as the Bill Strausbaugh Award winner in recognition of his leadership and valued involvement with the community.

First-time Section award winner Ian Wenzel, Assistant Professional at the Country Club of Louisiana in Baton Rouge, 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 Assistant Professional of the Year.

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.

Chris Burkstaller, PGA Director of Golf at The Island Country Club in Plaquemine, La. has been named Merchandiser of the Year in the Public category.

In the Private category, PGA Head Professional Bobby Jacks of Baton Rouge (La.) Country Club has earned the distinction of Merchandiser of the Year.

PGA Head Professional Chris Champagne of The Preserve Golf Club in Vancleave, Miss has earned his third award from the Gulf States PGA, Merchandiser of the Year in the Resort category (2016, 2013, 2009).

For the second year in row, PGA Teaching Professional V.J. Trolio from Old Waverly G.C. has been named the Section’s Player Development Award winner. This award honors his extraordinary and exemplary contributions and achievements in the area of player development.

Leading the class of 2016 award winners in the Louisiana Chapter is its Golf Professional of the Year Gamon Manne, PGA Head Professional at the Country Club of Louisiana in Baton Rouge, La.

Louisiana Assistant Professional of the Year has been awarded to Grant Landry, PGA Assistant Professional at Baton Rouge (La.) Country Club.

The Mississippi Chapter has once again selected Tim Basel, PGA Head Professional at Reunion Golf & Country Club in Madison, Miss., as its Golf Professional of the Year, an award he also received in 2015.

Representing the Mississippi Chapter in the Assistant Professional of the Year category is this year’s award winner Tyler Daniels, Assistant Professional at Northwood Country Club in Meridian, Miss.

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

The Louisiana Chapter has chosen Ladd’s Regional Manager Mike Drury, Sr. as the recipient of the Barbato-Thomas Award, which is named after Mike Barbato and Henry Thomas who both played a major role in the birth and development of the Gulf States Section, and who Drury knew well. The award is presented to individuals in recognition of those who have unselfishly served and supported the game of golf and the PGA Professional.

Drury has been involved with golf for over 50 years and throughout this time has developed countless relationships with PGA Professionals in the Section. Drury is a past superintendent of Briarwood Golf Club and Gonzales Country Club and has been working in golf course and turf equipment sales in the Louisiana and Mississippi for the past 30 years.

Drury played a key role in the restoration of Metairie C.C. after Katrina hit in 2005 by loaning them equipment to begin the rebuilding process after all of the club’s equipment was lost.

Ladd’s involvement with the Section and Mississippi Chapter as a sponsor allowed Drury to take on a role that he especially loved, cooking for the players.

“I’ve had a lot of fun with those guys over the years,” said Drury, reflecting on his time with the Gulf States membership.

The Mississippi Chapter’s Carpenter-Lindsay 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 the Association. This year’s recipient is Melanie Morgan, Senior Vice President and Director of Corporate Communications and Marketing for longtime Section sponsor Trustmark.

“I am truly grateful to have been selected to receive the Carpenter-Lindsay Award,” said Morgan. “This recognition by a group of professionals that I respect and admire tremendously is truly humbling.”

Morgan has been involved with the Trustmark Children’s Hospital Pro-Am for ten years, an event the Gulf States PGA has also supported for many years.

“Just knowing that helping coordinate, alongside a tremendous golf committee, a single day of golf on three courses for some 400 golfers will help make a sick child’s day a little brighter is all the incentive I need to stay involved!” said Morgan.

Morgan also works the Section for the annual Trustmark Invitational, which is the only invitational in Mississippi that puts professional and amateur golfers together for an incredible tournament experience each summer.

The Players of the Year will be determined after the conclusion of the E-Z-GO/Oliver Counce Six Pro Championship in December and will be honored along with the special award winners during an awards ceremony held after the tournament at Monday, December 5th at Tchefuncta Country Club.

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

About the Gulf States PGA Section
The Gulf States Section, Professional Golfers’ Association of America, is an association of golf professionals whose mission is to promote interest, participation, and enjoyment in the game of golf; establish and maintain professional standards of practice; and enhance the well being of golf professionals.