2009 Was A Great Year
The AGA recently honored its 2009 award winners at the annual spring meeting and awards dinner at Phoenix Country Club. Awards are presented to individuals who have demonstrated excellence both on and off the golf course.
Updegraff Award Established in 1990, the Updegraff award is the AGA’s highest honor,given in recognition of those who, by their actions, exemplify the spirit of the game. The 2009 recipient is Doug MacDonald, Emeritus Professional at Desert Forest Golf Club.
MacDonald’s philosophy has been to simplify the game for his students, while ensuring that the element of fun remains.
“I’m overwhelmed,” MacDonald said. “To think I am considered worthy, and that Dr. Updegraff agreed, is beyond my imagination.A number of my good friends have won this in the past and it’s just incredible to be included with them.” During his career, MacDonald has had only two head professional positions.
His first job spanned 17 years at Ahwatukee Country Club, beginning in 1973. In 1990 he moved to the famed Desert Forest Golf Club, which he calls his “dream job.”
An active member of the SWSPGA, he was on the board from 1977 to 1986 and was named the PGA Professional of the Year in 1981. He held the position of secretary in 1980-1981, was treasurer in 1978 and was the delegate to the national meeting in 1980 and 1981. He also participated on a variety of committees, held numerous chairmanships and competed on several Goldwater Cup teams.
“This award is a reminder that the game of golf is a gentleman’s game,” MacDonald added. “And no one represents the traditions of the game better than Dr. Updegraff. I like the simpler game, to walk and carry my bag, the roots of the game. The same thing that Dr. Updegraff represents as do previous honorees and friends Bill Rodie, Fred Hickle, Tim Kloenne, Bob Laubach and Bob Graves, who have all been an inspiration to me.”
AGA Player of the Year
Michael Wog II, 28, of Phoenix, 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 known early, he began 2009 with a four-tournament win streak that included his first AGA major championship: a stunning nine-stroke victory at the Arizona Publinks. He also won the East Valley Short Course, San Tan Amateur and Phoenix City Amateur. His streak ended at the second major of the year when he finished second in the Arizona Stroke Play Championship. He got back on the winning train shortly thereafter with a victory at the Mesa City Amateur, followed by posting the low amateur finish (and in eighth place overall) at the Arizona Open Championship.
“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 I hope I can build upon that and keep getting better.”
In post-season play, he was an integral member of the winning AGA Goldwater Cup team, winning all three of his matches. He also participated on the victorious team in the Arizona-Utah Shootout. In addition, he made two USGA appearances: qualifying for the U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship and representing Arizona at the USGA State Team Championship.
“The highlight of the year had to be winning the Arizona Publinks by nine shots and the Phoenix City by 10,” he added. “Those were really big victories and I won by a lot.Those gave me the confidence that I was improving and getting better.”
David McDaniel, of Tucson, a former University of Arizona player, received the Mayfair Award.
Named after Arizona native and PGA Tour player Billy Mayfair, the award is presented to the individual who has the lowest stroke average for the year. To be eligible, an individual has to play at least 12 rounds in select tournaments during the year.
McDaniel had a breakthrough year with a 67.96 stroke average, captured the Arizona Amateur Championship and finished second at the Arizona Publinks Championship.
“I played pretty well last summer,” he said. “Winning the Mayfair Award just tells me I played really consistently. But my stroke average wasn’t something I was thinking about, I just went out there to play.”
One of the longest players in the field, McDaniel picked up a victory at the Falcon Amateur with rounds of 65-66—131 and earned medalist honors at the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship, qualifying with rounds of 68-63—131.
After a number of second-place finishes during the last two years in AGA major championships, the crowning achievement for McDaniel was winning the Arizona Amateur.
“I played well in every single match,” McDaniel said. “Winning the Arizona Amateur was the best part of the summer for me.”
Masters Division Player of the Year
Patrick Geare, 47, an attorney from Tucson who only recently turned his focus back to competitive golf, is making his presence known.
Among his accomplishments is a victory at the Northern Divisional Four-Ball, reaching the semifinals of the Senior Match Play Championship and a third-place finish at 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. I hope I will be able to do more of the same next year.”
He also found success in open events and finished fourth in the AGA Performance Points Standings. At the Arizona Mid-Amateur Championship, he posted a strong fifth-place finish after flirting with the lead, finished third at the Southern Amateur and collected two other top-10 finishes.
Senior Player of the Year
Frank Ellenburg, 57, a former professional bowler who lives in Chandler, had a successful year that many can only dream about.
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.”
In the five divisional events he played, he won the Stroke Play Championship, the Divisional Team Championship and the East Valley Championship. He was second at the Divisional Match Play and Northern Divisional Four-Ball. In addition, he earned medalist honors and qualified for the U.S. Senior Amateur Championship.
“I don’t know if I will ever have another year like this,” he said. “I hope I will, but you never know. This is my hobby that has turned into my passion.”
Legends Player of the Year
Jamie Gough, 66, a retired Air Force officer, relocated to Phoenix from Virginia, where he was the Senior Golfer of the Year on a number of occasions.
Gough won three out of four events he played in during his first tournament season in Arizona: 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.”
Adding to the honor Gough received was the reunion with his two sons, who returned home safely from Iraq and Afghanistan, which capped off a Jamie Gough Frank Ellenburg memorable year.