Introducing ACCESS AZgolf

The Arizona Golf Association (AGA) the state’s largest association focused solely on amateur golfers introduces, Access AZGolf, a new membership program that is specifically designed for the occasional and recreational golfer looking for exclusive access to private clubs along with discounts and savings on golf, equipment and apparel, travel, restaurants and much more. 
The membership does not provide a USGA handicap, but does offer members the ability to track their scores and receive nearly all the benefits of a traditional AGA membership. The yearly dues are reasonably priced at $29.95. For more information and to join contact the AGA at 602-944.3035 or toll free at 800.458.8484 or to join online visit “Golfers in our state are looking to maximize their dollars and Access AZGolf provides every single golf enthusiast in the state the opportunity to join our organization and receive tremendous benefits that are not available anywhere,” said Ed Gowan, executive director of the AGA. “Our goal is to help make the game more affordable along with exclusive access to private courses and events that would not normally be available. This program is an amazing opportunity to connect golfers to the game.” The Access AZGolf membership provides discounts to over 50 golf courses in the state, with savings up to 50% and the ability to play in AGA Member Days, which are held at some of the most exclusive private courses in Arizona. Access AZGolf members will receive a subscription to Arizona, State of Golf – the official magazine of the AGA, a monthly e-newsletter with events and special promotions along with a host of other benefits through the AGA Partner Network. Current Arizona Golf Association members will receive a complimentary Access AZGolf membership for 2010.


Southwest Section PGA Taps Eight Inductees for Inaugural Hall of Fame Class

The Southwest Section PGA announced its Inaugural Hall of Fame Class at its Hall of Fame and Awards Dinner on January 15 at Firesky Resort & Spa in Scottsdale.  Arch Watkins, Dave Engelking, Bill Farkas, Sr., Vernon “Red” Allen, Joe Bartko, Cliff Whittle, Jack Morrison, and Mack McCarley are the first inductees. Watkins (2000), Farkas (1975), Bartko (2006), McCarley (2007) and Allen (1968) are all members of the Arizona Golf Hall of Fame. Allen was one of four professionals inducted in the inaugural class in 1968. Michael Haywood, director of golf at Tucson Country Club, and Vice President of the Southwest Section PGA, served as chairman of the Inaugural Southwest Section PGA Hall of Fame Committee. The Hall of Fame Committee also consisted of Brett Upper, Greg Leicht, Wade Dunagan, John Gunby and Rick Price, all PGA members. The inscription on the plaque of each of the Hall of Fame winners reads: “The highest honor the Southwest Section PGA can bestow. This faithful PGA Professional will be forever remembered for his significant and endearing contributions to the game of golf and the Southwest Section PGA.” ARCH WATKINS (Born: 1925 Died: 1995) The late Arch Watkins (the Southwest Section PGA’s 1995 Anser Award Winner for positively influencing the history of golf in Arizona and epitomizing the spirit, drive and energy of Karsten Solheim) was a rare individual who, through his everyday efforts in life, had arguably more influence on the game in Arizona than anyone before him or after. Arizona has a long tradition of accomplished and nationally recognized golf instructors, but none surpassed the reputation of Arch Watkins, who spent 35 years on the lesson tees in the Valley of the Sun. Watkins, a native of St. Louis, arrived in Phoenix in 1960 following success as an assistant professional at Norwood Hills Country Club. He designed and built the Cardinal Course at Scott Air force base and was the head professional for 10 years. Watkins became the teaching professional at Arizona Country Club in 1961 and established the course record of 64. In 1963, he took a position as head professional at the newly-built Papago Golf Course in Phoenix, where he took responsibility for the golf operation and also taught from 1963 to 1981. Watkins spent 14 years at Camelback Golf Club until his death at age 69 in 1995. In 1991, a lifetime of teaching brought Watkins the recognition he deserved from the Southwest Section PGA when he was named Teacher of the Year. Watkins liked to work with young people. Among his early pupils were his son, Scott Watkins, the late Heather Farr and her sister, Missy, and future PGA Tour players Jim Carter and Billy Mayfair. There were no band-aid theories, no gimmicks with Watkins’ instruction. He stressed the basic fundamentals. BILL FARKAS SR. (Born: 1914 Died: 2001) When the words “junior golf” are spoken, a number of instructors come to mind in Arizona. But Bill Farkas, Sr., for members of the Southwest Section PGA, is arguably at the top of the list. Farkas taught the game to many, but none were more important than the 3,500 plus juniors he instructed during his lifetime at Maryvale Golf Course in Phoenix. Farkas tried extremely hard to instill not only the lessons of the game, but the lessons of life to his young juniors by instilling honesty, good manners and an appreciation for their fellow juniors. Farkas would frequently give three simple “tips of wisdom” to parents. 1. Encourage youngsters to WANT to play golf. 2. Allow a qualified professional to teach kids how to hit a golf ball. 3. Take your children to play golf often, and tell them about the management, rules and conduct of the game. In 1987, Farkas was named the Junior Golf Leader for the Southwest Section PGA and also won the PGA of America’s National Junior Golf Leader Award that year. His son, Jim Farkas, who accepted the SWSPGA Hall of Fame award on his behalf, received the SWSPGA’s Junior Golf Leader award in 1988 and 1992. Both men are life members of the PGA of America. Bill Farkas’s other section accomplishments were many: he was the 1975 Professional of the Year Award, the 1981 Horton Smith Award Winner, and the 1985 Bill Strausbaugh Award Winner. He was also a recipient of the Southwest Section PGA’s Anser Award (1993). A few years ago the SWSPGA’s Junior Boys Annual Award was named after Farkas. DAVE ENGELKING From Maryvale High School to the University of Arizona (where he played for the legendary coach Roy Tatum), Phoenix resident Dave Engelking, 61, began his career in the golf business working for fellow Hall of Famer Bill Farkas Sr. In 1970, Engelking took a job in Sun City, Arizona where he worked for Fielding Abbott, the director of golf for the Del Webb golf operations. After a summer (1971) in Casper, Wyoming in 1975, Engelking became the head professional at the Lakes East & West Course. A short time later he was the general manager of the Sun City Golf Division. On September 1, 1980 Engelking was named the first executive director of the Southwest Section PGA. With only 100 PGA members and 75 apprentices at the time, Engelking and one other employee began the task of serving the section and its PGA professionals. Engelking led the section nationally through his influence across the country. From 1981 until 1993 Engelking worked for five different presidents of the South Section PGA and countless members of its Board of Directors and Committees. His service to the membership was recognized in 1986 when he was named the Southwest Section PGA Professional of the Year. Engelking was later recognized for his mentorship and leadership with the Southwest Section PGA’s Bill Strausbaugh Award. After his tenure with the Southwest Section PGA, Engelking began a long and successful relationship with Phoenix-based Karsten Manufacturing, one of the game’s foremost equipment manufacturers and the Southwest Section’s finest supporter. An assistant to the president, John Solheim, Engelking is currently working on writing the 50th anniversary book for PING. V.O. “RED” ALLEN (Born: 1911 Died: 2007) When Red Allen first saw the golf course at what is now called the Wigwam Golf Resort & Spa in Litchfield Park, he couldn’t believe his eyes. He was quoted as saying…”It was the worst I’d ever seen.” If I had had any money, I would have gone home to Minnesota.”
 The 2005 Southwest Section PGA’s Anser Award Winner’s given name was Vernon Orrin Allen, who, oddly enough, never left Arizona. Red Allen went on to become the Wigwam’s first PGA Professional and a pioneer for the Arizona golf community in many unique ways. Allen was 96 years old when he died after being part of the Wigwam for over 70 years. He spread his knowledge and passion for the game around the state and inspired many others. Allen fell in love with golf when he first saw a golf ball as a boy, and that love never faded. A natural athlete, he honed his skill while he walked to and from school. When the Allen family arrived in the Valley, Red found just a handful of golf courses, including a primitive nine-hole, par-3 course at the Wigwam that had more dirt than grass and heavy oil on its sandy greens to keep them from blowing away. Despite the course’s condition, Allen stuck around and by 1941 had helped transform the Wigwam into an 18-hole turf course. Allen’s contributions to golf were not limited to the Wigwam. He co-founded the Southwest Section PGA and was privileged to be inducted into the Inaugural Arizona Golf Hall of Fame class in 1968. As a player, Allen qualified for the U.S. Open five times and also played in the Phoenix Open twice, tying for sixth place in 1944. His son, Doug, summed up Red’s feelings by saying, “Golf meant everything to him. He felt golf was the best thing in the world and that people shouldn’t be playing any other game.” Allen left an indelible legacy behind him at the Wigwam through Doug Allen and his grandson, Craig. Doug followed his father as the PGA Professional at the Wigwam in 1976 is now a Life Member of the PGA. Craig holds the family legacy in his hands today as the director of golf at the Wigwam. JOE BARTKO When you spend more than 30 years at a club in the golf business you have outlasted your critics and left an indelible mark of success. During his long career at Mesa Country Club, Bartko, who lives in Mesa, was very active in the Southwest Section PGA and served on its board of directors and on various committees for years. However, he will be remembered as the first president of the Southwest Section PGA, with boundaries that include Arizona and Southern Nevada. The 1974 SWSPGA Professional of the Year, Bartko once earned 40 cents a bag for caddying at Phillipsburg Country Club in Pennsylvania. From his experience as a caddie, Bartko learned how to treat people and later what it took to run a successful golf operation. In 1963, Bartko was named head professional at Thunderbird Country Club and was able to interact with a wide range of successful business people such as Bob Goldwater, Sr. and former Arizona Supreme Court Justice Fred Struckmeyer. Bartko’s involvement in the section was followed closely by his involvement in the community. He served on a number of boards with organizations such as the Lions Club and the Arizona Boys Ranch. Bartko is especially proud to have a number of his former assistants move on to successful positions as head professionals at clubs such as Oro Valley Country Club, Angel Park, White Mountain and Superstition Springs. His long tenure at Mesa Country Club will be remembered more than anything. Through numerous renovations and change Bartko was the decision maker on anything related to the game. He took pride in teaching the game, especially to juniors. The care he took with his membership was shown in how he handled even the most difficult of situations. He has been quoted more than once as saying: “Know their game, make them laugh and get ‘em on the golf course!” CLIFF WHITTLE (Born: 1927 Died: 2009) No one brought greater levity or humor to a Southwest Section PGA Annual Meeting than Cliff Whittle. The 1961 Professional of the Year for the Rocky Mountain PGA Section, Whittle was an accomplished player who won several important tournaments early in his career, including the San Juan Open, Nevada Open, Utah Open, Idaho Open and the Rocky Mountain PGA Championship in 1957. Whittle’s inspiration continues in the youth of today with the Cliff Whittle Cup, an event that honors his achievements and influence and provides opportunities for young people to play golf and have fun within a developmental league played at a number of different Valley facilities. President of the Southwest Section PGA from 1975 till 1977, Whittle was instrumental in establishing the growth and financial future for the section. His years of involvement with the Rocky Mountain PGA Section prepared him for the job. He was a strong believer that every PGA Professional should know how to teach and play the game at a high level. Whittle’s passion for education prompted his involvement as an instructor at both Business Schools 1 & 2 of the PGA Apprentice Program, and he served as host to the First PGA National Club Professional Championship in 1969. Until his death in January 2009, Whittle was a free-spirited PGA Professional who believed greatly in the men and women who served the game every day. JACK MORRISON (Born: 1926 Died: 1994) Another dedicated supporter of junior golf, Morrison spent 28 years at Rolling Hills Golf Course in Tempe (from 1966 to 1994), and was a gentleman who immersed himself in the inner workings of his profession. One of his former junior golfers once said: “Jack had a demeanor that made you feel guilty if you didn’t practice or play as often as he thought you should.” Morrison was part of a revolution of junior golf in the Tempe area that included many of the public facilities. He developed a group of youngsters that revered his message and remember his lessons as if they heard them yesterday. Morrison also participated actively in the Southwest Section PGA and the PGA of America. Whether it was serving on the board of directors or participating within the committee system, Morrison would steer the attention and focus toward making the PGA Professional a leader in the community as well as on the lesson tee. Gerald Candrian, a longtime friend and frequent playing partner, described him as always willing to lend a hand with someone’s golf game, and offering counsel on personal matters as well. Morrison left a positive impression on a number of adults who remember his lessons of life and the game. In 1978 the Southwest Section PGA awarded Morrison with its highest honor: Professional of the Year. A former member of the PGA of America’s National Board of Directors, Morrison took the message of the Southwest Section to a different level. He was often passionate about what he believed were the virtues and values of what made the PGA Member and his section the finest in the country. MACK McCARLEY For over 40 years McCarley, 70, has been a driving force within the Southwest Section PGA and, nationally, within the PGA of America, helping to educate the membership and grow the organization. For the better part of 20 years, he served on the board of the directors for the Southwest Section PGA, twice as its president (1975 and 1985). Mack McCarley, who resides in Salt Lake City, Utah, was named Professional of the Year (1977 and 1978), and is a five-time recipient of the prestigious Horton Smith Award for contributions to PGA Education.
 Retired from full time teaching, McCarley relocated to Utah several years ago and still maintains a part-time teaching schedule and conducts clinics for juniors and women. A PGA Teaching Professional at the Glenmoor Golf Course in South Jordan, Utah, he also serves on the education committee for the Utah Section PGA. McCarley played for legendary coach Bill Mann at Arizona State before joining the professional ranks. Early in his career, he worked as an assistant professional at the Wigwam Resort and then Mesa Country Club. McCarley was a head professional at Antelope Hills Golf Course in Prescott from 1970 to 1981. In 1981, he was hired as director of golf at The Phoenician Resort and three years later joined the development team for Superstition Springs Golf Course in Mesa, Arizona.
 While McCarley made significant contributions to golf in Arizona, his work on the national level and his involvement with helping to shape the PGA of America were arguably more important. He served on the National Long Range Planning Committee for four years and the Education Committee for six years. During that time he helped to establish the apprentice program and business schools, now referred to as the Professional Golf Management program. Participating in business schools throughout the country, he was able to meet many young professionals and took great satisfaction in watching their careers blossom.


Southwest Section PGA Names Annual Special Award Recipients

The Southwest Section PGA announced its 2009 Special Award Winners at its Annual Awards Dinner on January 15 at Firesky Resort & Spa in Scottsdale.  Brett Upper, 51, Director of Golf at Arizona Country Club since 1998, was named 2009 PGA Golf Professional of the Year, one of the highest honors the organization bestows on a working club professional whose total contributions to the game best exemplify the complete PGA Professional. An integral part of Arizona Country Club’s success for the past decade, Upper has served the club through renovations of its golf course and clubhouse facilities. A “traditional” PGA Professional, he has succeeded as a competitive player as well with several important accomplishments. The 1990 PGA National Club Professional Champion, 1991 European PGA Club Professional Champion and a former PGA Tour player, Upper has continued his stellar play while representing Arizona Country Club at the local and national level. However, it has been Upper’s exemplary representation as a member of the Executive Committee of the Southwest Section PGA that has distinguished him through the years. A Member of its Board of Directors since 2002, Brett has served the section in a number of different ways, including acting as tournament chairman from 2000-2005. Among Upper’s peers, leadership skills brought him the most respect while he served as President of the Southwest Section PGA from 2007-2009. During this period the section transitioned executive directors, revamped its tournament program and became more visible on the national scene. Terry Carlson of The Estancia Club says Brett Upper is one of the elite PGA professionals in the United States. Dean C. Vomacka, PGA, of Oro Valley and the Stone Canyon Club, was named 2009 Bridgestone Player of the Year. Vomacka, 39, won six events in 2009, including the PING Southwest Section PGA Championship at Mesa Country Club, and the Southern Chapter Championship at Golf Club Vistoso. He earned nearly $20,000 in 25 events, finishing inside the top 10 in all of them. Ralph West, PGA, of Avondale and the lead instructor at Drew Reid Golf located at Hillcrest Golf Club in Sun City West, was named 2009 Bridgestone Senior Player of the Year. West, who won four times in 2009, tied for fourth in the Southwest Section Championship and was second in the Southwest Section Senior Championship. He was fourth in the Bridgestone Player of the Year race won by Vomacka. Bill Grove, PGA, won the Bill Strausbaugh Award, which recognizes PGA Professionals “who by their day-to-day efforts have distinguished themselves by mentoring their fellow PGA Professionals in improving their employment situations and through service to the community.” Grove serves as a Regional Director of Operations and Revenue Management for Daily Fees for the PGA TOUR’s TPC Network as well as General Manager/Director of Golf at TPC Scottsdale. In 2006, he was awarded the Network’s General Manager Service Excellence and Platinum Awards. Grove was appointed General Manager of TPC Scottsdale in 1991. A Class A Member of the PGA of America, Grove began his golf management career after graduating from East Carolina University in 1969. He turned pro the following year but was unsuccessful in qualifying school. Combining his golf teaching and playing abilities with his desire to pursue a career in business management, Grove served as an Assistant Professional at several high-profile golf clubs throughout South Carolina including The Country Club of North Carolina in Pinehurst before being appointed Head Golf Professional in 1974 at Willow Creek Golf Club in High Point, North Carolina. He left in 1985 to found Gromark Incorporated, a golf management company focusing on new golf developments and golf course refurbishment. At the same time, Grove developed a popular instructional program throughout the Southeast called “Drills for Skills.” YouTube: John Jackson presents Bill Grove with the 2009 Bill Straughsbaugh Award. Christopher P. Cain, M.S., PGA, of Las Vegas won the Horton Smith Award, which recognizes the PGA Professional who is the model educator of PGA Golf Professionals. The award is designed to give special recognition to an individual PGA Professional for outstanding and continuing contributions to professional education. Cain, who has a B.S. and M.S. from The Pennsylvania State University, is director, PGA Professional Golf Management College of Hotel Administration, at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Cain, Vice-President, Southwest Section Southern Nevada Chapter since 2007, is an assistant professor and Ph.D. candidate at UNLV. Mark J. Croft, PGA, of Cocopah Golf Resort in Somerton, Ariz., won the Junior Golf Leader Award given to a professional who is a leader in junior golf and who reflects the ideals of those who work with youth. Croft demonstrated involvement in the promotion and development of junior golf at the club level, supported national junior golf programs and had a proven interest, concern and ability to provide opportunities and experience for junior to learn and play golf. Mike Malaska, PGA, of Mesa, was named Teacher of the Year, an award that is designed to recognize a PGA Professional who is an outstanding teacher of golf among the ranks of PGA membership. Malaska, Worldwide Director of Instruction for the Nicklaus Golf Academies, is one of the world’s most innovative golf instructors. Malaska, based at Superstition Mountain Golf & Country Club in Superstition Mountain, Ariz., has earned many of the industry’s top honors including being named among Golf Digest Magazine’s 50 Greatest Teachers and GOLF Magazine’s Top 100 Teacher lists. His decades of study of how the body functions during the golf swing and his outstanding playing credentials have made him a leader in combining physical fitness with golf swing mechanics. This award is based on a professional’s overall performance in teaching; unusual, innovative and special teaching programs initiated or implemented; articles published; as well as outstanding golfers the professional has instructed. Donald H. Rea Jr., PGA, and Gregory S. Leicht, PGA, were given the President’s Plaque, which is designed to recognize a PGA Professional for extraordinary and exemplary contributions and achievements in the area of player development. This award considers the PGA Professional’s growth of the game leadership commitment at the Section level and the impact made at the facility. Rea, of Gilbert, is based out of Augusta Ranch Golf Club and is co-founder of Your Source Golf, where he oversees operations for all managed facilities, business development and long term strategic planning. Leicht, of Chandler, is director of golf at Vistal Golf Club in Phoenix. Leicht hosted the 2009 Special Olympics State Golf Championships. And both men were instrumental in the success of “PGA Golf Day,” an event held at several Arizona golf courses in late May to benefit two worthy charities, including Arizona Special Olympics and the SWSPGA Golf Foundation. Other award winners were Kyle Jones of Snowflake and Dana Finkelstein of Chandler, both of whom won Junior Player of the Year honors. Jones and Finkelstein were the overall winners of the inaugural FBR Junior Open. Pamela D. Drake, PGA, of Randolph Golf Course in Tucson, Pat J. Miller, PGA, of Omni Tucson National Resort, and Ross L. Farley, PGA of Yuma Golf & Country Club won Merchandiser of the Year in public, resort and private categories, respectively. Preston O. Otte, PGA, of Sahuarita, was named assistant golf professional of the Year. He works at Heritage Highlands Golf Club in Marana. Southwest Section PGA 2009 Annual Award Winners 2009 Bridgestone Player of the Year—Dean Vomacka (The Stone Canyon Club) 2009 Bridgestone Senior Player of the Year-Ralph West (Hillcrest Golf Club) Girls Junior Player of the Year (Arch Watkins Award) — Dana Finkelstein (Chandler) Boys Junior Player of the Year (Bill Farkas Award) – Kyle Jones (Snowflake) President’s Plaque –Don Rea and Greg Leicht (Augusta Ranch and Vistal GC) Horton Smith Award —- Christopher Cain (University of Nevada Las Vegas) Junior Golf Leader — Mark Croft (Cocopah Golf Resort) Bill Strausbaugh Award — Bill Grove (TPC Scottsdale) Merchandiser of the Year (Public)—Pam Drake (Randolph Golf Course) Merchandiser of the Year (Resort) —- Pat Miller (Omni Tucson National Resort) Merchandiser of the Year (Private) —- Ross Farley (Yuma Golf and CC) Teacher of the Year — Mike Malaska (Superstition Mountain Golf & CC) Assistant Professional of the Year—Preston Otte (Heritage Highlands GC) Professional of the Year —- Brett Upper (Arizona Country Club) For more information call the Southwest Section PGA Office at (480) 443-9002.


Chandler Center for the Arts presents

Official head coach for PGA golfers blends hypnotherapy, psychology and 25 years golf experience to help audiences improve their scores

CHANDLER, Ariz. [Jan. 7, 2009] — The official head coach to four of the top 10 PGA golfers will present an exclusive show at the Chandler Center for the Arts, at a spring endowment fundraiser celebrating the “Art of Golf”. A trained psychologist and hypnotist, as well as an official head coach for the US Pro Golf Tour, Dr. Travis Fox will present “Beat The Bogey Man” at the Center on Tuesday, March 2, 2010 at 8 p.m., with all net proceeds benefitting the Chandler Center for the Arts permanent endowment fund.

The low ticket-prices of $55 for a single ticket or $100 for a Twosome, include the show, hors d’oeuvres and access to an exclusive raffle and live auction prior to the show.

“As two of the most universal forms of human expression, both the arts and sports reflect the society in which we live. We decided to combine the two in celebration of our 20th anniversary and our continuing role in the Chandler community,” said Linda Yarbrough, chairperson of the Chandler Cultural Foundation’s fundraising committee.

In "Beat the Bogey Man", Dr. Fox uses his 25 years of knowledge about the golf swing and course strategy to help golfers resolve consciously confusing physical issues and uses his methodology to ignite the mental side of the game. He addresses both technique and course strategy from the tee, the fairway, the bunker, and most importantly, the green. This instruction alone will improve golfer’s scores everywhere. However, it is the mental portion that separates Dr. Fox from other mental coaches.

During this multimedia stage presentation, Dr. Fox takes audiences through his patent pending process that teaches "HyPerformance Relaxation" techniques for the golf course. Reaching beyond the common uses of conscious and subconscious models, Dr. Fox has perfected the use of "Subconscious Automation" to help people improve their lives in a variety of areas- weight loss, addictions, phobias, competitive athletics and more. He teaches clients to redefine and refine, to maximum optimization, their automatic processes, interrupt conscious negative thoughts and arrive at a higher degree of "Output Performance" on command.

Dr. Fox is endorsed by both the US Pro Golf Tour and Touring PGA professionals and is often featured on ESPN, XM Radio and PBS. He is the official "Head Coach" for the US Pro Golf Tour and The Tight Lies Tour. He is married with two children and splits his time between Augusta, GA and McKinney, TX.

Since 1989, the Chandler Center for the Arts has consistently delivered quality programs and services with the generous financial support of the Chandler Cultural Foundation, an IRS designated charitable organization. The Foundation cultivates and manages a permanent endowment fund that provides a perpetual source of income to help the Center accomplish its mission. All gifts to the Chandler Center for the Arts, unless specified otherwise, will be placed in the permanent endowment fund of the Chandler Cultural Foundation. The endowment strengthens the Center’s sustainability and is key to ensuring long-term stability.

For more information and to purchase tickets online, please visit


AGA Announces 2009 Player Awards

Michael Wog II of Scottsdale earned AGA Player of the Year honors, while David McDaniel of Tucson captured the Mayfair Award for lowest stroke average. In addition, Divisional Player of the Year awards were garnered by Pat Geare (Masters) of Tucson, Frank Ellenburg (Senior) of Chandler and Jamie Gough (Legends) of Phoenix. The awards will be formally presented at the AGA Spring Meeting and Awards Banquet on March 4.  Wog II, 28, started off strong and had a banner year finishing the season as the top ranked player in the AGA Performance Points standings. Making his presence early, he started 2009 with a four-tournament win streak that included his first AGA major championship with a stunning nine-stroke victory at the Arizona Publinks. He also captured wins at the East Valley Short Course, San Tan Amateur and Phoenix City Amateur. “This is a huge honor and now I’m only nine behind Ken Kellaney,” Wog said. “It really means a lot to me. The players that have won it in years past are phenomenal golfers. The last two years have been a nice progression from being a decent player, to being one of the better players and hopefully I can build upon that and keep getting better.” Two years ago, Wog decided to focus his energies on golf full time with a plan to make a run at turning professional. He quit his accounting job in Tucson and relocated to Scottsdale, working at P.F. Changs at night, so he could devote the days to his passion. Joining Moon Valley Country Club last year afforded him another opportunity to improve his game with the high-level of competition he was able to find on a daily basis. The hard work paid off right out of the gate in 2009. “My initial goal was to win a tournament, which I had never done before in an AGA event,” he said. “I did that at the East Valley Short Course and it gave me a lot of confidence. Then I won the Arizona Publinks and really played awesome that week.” He followed that up with a 10-shot victory a few weeks later at the Phoenix City Championship and a playoff win at the San Tan Amateur. In contention for the Arizona Champions Stroke Play, he posted a second place finish, breaking his winning streak. But he rebounded with a victory at the Mesa City Amateur and posted the low amateur finish (and 8th overall) at the Arizona Open Championship. In post-season play he was an integral member of the winning AGA Goldwater Cup team who regained the trophy after a lengthy losing streak of 25-years. Wog won all three of his matches and also participated on the victorious team in the Arizona-Utah Shootout. In addition, he made two USGA appearances: Qualifying for the US Mid-Amateur Championship and also as a representative of the Grand Canyon state at the USGA State Team Championship. He also finished in the top 15 at the Pacific Coast Amateur Championship which was played at The Gallery Golf Club. “The highlight of the year had to be winning the AZ Publinks by nine shots and the Phoenix City by 10,” he added. “Those were really big victories and I won by a lot. Those wins gave me the confidence that I was improving and getting better. To win those tournaments by those numbers was amazing and I look back and think how did I do all of this?” Like his predecessors before him, it was a lot of work and dedication that paid off with the ultimate golfing award for amateurs in the state. Already focused on 2010 he has his goals set for next year. “I plan to play one more year of amateur golf and work on doing better in national events,” Wog said. “I still have a few things to work on and have a few months without many tournaments to get primed for March and April. I really want to play in the U.S. Amateur that will be played in my home state of Washington and then if all goes well, go to PGA Tour Qualifying school in the fall and see what happens.” McDaniel, of Tucson, a former golfer at the University of Arizona had a breakthrough year with an impressive 67.96 stroke average for the year along with a thrilling finish on the 18th hole to win the Arizona Amateur Championship. He also notched a second consecutive runner-up finish at the Arizona Publinks Championship. “I played pretty good last summer,” he said. “Winning the Mayfair Award just tells me I played really consistent last year. But my stroke average wasn’t something I was thinking about, I just went out there to play. Now, I think it shows that my golf swing got better over the last few years and I was able to score consistently.” One of the longest drivers in the field, McDaniel picked up a victory at the Falcon Amateur by posting rounds of 65-66. He also earned medalist honors at the US Amateur Public Links Championship qualifier at Aguila Golf Course, with rounds of 68 and 63. He went on to successfully make match play in the US Public Links Championship in Oklahoma, finishing tied for eighth in the stroke play portion with rounds of 72 and 71. After a number of second place finishes over the last two years in AGA major championships, the crowning achievement for McDaniel was the Arizona Amateur victory. “I played pretty good in every single match,” he added. “Winning the Arizona Amateur was the best part of the summer for me. I believe that if you just put yourself in contention enough you will eventually win and that’s what I wanted to do. You can’t win if you aren’t consistently up high on the leader board. Those second places showed me how to play under pressure and helped me in the end, by having been there before and knowing what I needed to do to win.” Masters Division Geare, 47, an attorney, who only recently started taking competitive golf seriously, is making his presence felt and enjoying the competitive spirit the game has to offer. Among his accomplishments was a victory at the Northern Divisional Four-Ball, reaching the semifinals of the Senior Match Play Championship and a third place finish in the East Valley Divisional Four-Ball. “I am very honored and humbled to be selected this year,” Geare said. “There were several worthy candidates and it is nice to be recognized as one of the top players. Overall, I just played pretty consistent all year. In January I set certain goals and fortunately was able to accomplish them. Hopefully I will be able to do more of the same next year.” He also found success in Open events and finished fourth in AGA Performance Points rankings. At the Arizona Mid-Amateur Championship he posted a strong fifth place finish after flirting with the lead. He also had a third place finish at the Southern Amateur with two other top 10 finishes. “Two events that stand out for me this year were the Arizona Mid-Amateur Championship and the Divisional Match Play,” he said. “At the Mid-Am I was tied for the lead going into the final round. While I really enjoy the Divisional events, I still consider myself competitive against all ages and this was a big accomplishment for me. “The match play was a very fun event. The match, I lost against Rusty Brown was really good and memorable. I very much respect him and that was a very memorable day.” Another highlight for Geare was his outstanding performance in the AGA’s quest to regain the Goldwater Cup, having earned the maximum three points for his squad. “Although winning the Goldwater Cup was not a part of the equation for Player of the Year, beating the pros after losing for 25 years was a really great accomplishment and doing pretty well in those matches made it that much more special,” he said. Senior Player Ellenburg, 57, a former professional bowler, had a golfing year that many can only dream of. Having played the game most of his life, he didn’t start playing competitively until the mid 1990s and finally saw all his efforts culminate in a memorable season. “Words can’t describe how I feel, elated is the closest thing I can say,” Ellenburg said. “I never thought something like this could happen and didn’t know how to react. The more I thought about it the more excited I got about it. It’s a great honor and very unexpected.” In the five Divisional events he played, he won the Stroke Play Championship, Divisional Team Championship and East Valley Championship and finished second at the Divisional Match Play and Northern Divisional Four Ball. Never expecting to have the year that he did, things just started to fall in place. “I played okay when I would play Open events and at my age to make the cut in a major, I’m ecstatic,” he added. “In a Senior event, I feel more comfortable, playing my own age. Things starting going well in May. After the first day of the Senior Stroke Play I was five under. I said wow, that was smooth and really didn’t feel a lot of pressure. I just remembered the old cliché that it was just another golf tournament, play one shot at a time and I figured someone would go low the last day and blow me out. That didn’t happen and it got me thinking this could be the start of a good year and that was the first major I had won. And I just wanted to continue it.” Like so many before him, Ellenburg wanted a Kachina of his own, a trophy that has become the symbolic award for excellence in Arizona amateur golf. “I really wanted to get a Kachina,” he said. “I play a lot of AGA events and have had some good results, but to win a individual event that is a major means a lot since there are only two of them during the course of the year. That is always the goal, to get the Kachina and now I have one and I hope that is not the only one I get.” For any amateur golfer to qualify and participate in a USGA event can be an experience of a lifetime. To reach this pinnacle is always an accomplishment and for Ellenburg earning medalist honors to qualify for the U.S. Senior Amateur Championship was a dream come true and the moment wasn’t lost on him. “To qualify for a USGA event is something very few guys do,” he said. “Some of my buddies have, and then said ‘you just won’t believe how incredibly great you are treated and how fantastic the event is.’ It really showed me that this year was really something special, after winning the Stroke Play. I don’t know I will ever have another year like this. I hope I will, but you never know. This is my hobby that has turned into my passion.” Like so many others in the game, it was a passion he shared with his father, who he wishes could have been here to share in this joyous honor. Legends Player Gough, 66, a retired Air Force officer recently relocated to Phoenix from Virginia where he had been the Senior Golfer of the Year on a number of occasions. In just four events, he won three including the Divisional Match Play, Northern Divisional Four Ball and East Valley Four Ball. “I am very honored to have won this,” he said. “I didn’t expect to win anything. This is my first year playing in events and I really love it, especially being able to play all year long.” One of his highlights of the year also turned out to be a bit of a disappointment at the Match Play Championship, but not in the traditional sense most people would think. “I really enjoyed playing at Quintero Golf Club, but was disappointed I had a bye in the first round,” Gough said. “I really wanted to play more of the course. The highlight of the tournament was a very competitive round against Tony Petronis in the semifinals. The match came down to the final hole and I was lucky to get through.” While winning any award for performance is always an honor, it was made all that more special when he celebrated over the holidays with a reunion after his two sons returned home safely from Iraq and Afghanistan to cap off a memorable year.