Annually the Wisconsin PGA honors several golf professionals throughout the section for their great accomplishments on and off the course. The deadline to submit nominations is November 1, 2020.
After a professional is nominated it is his or her choice as to whether to submit materials for consideration. Materials are generally due by early December. The materials are then reviewed by a different sub-committee for each award. The WPGA Past President then takes their feedback and finalists are determined. Once the finalists have been selected, their materials are forwarded on to the finalist committee made up of the District Directors, Independent Directors and WPGA Executive Director. The finalist committee then votes on their top choice for each award. Once all the votes have been compiled, the winners are notified in February and the information is released to the general public a week or two later. The winners are then recognized for their accomplishment at the Spring Meeting awards ceremony.
This year’s Golf Professional of the Year is SentryWorld Head PGA Professional Danny Rainbow. The Golf Professional of the Year award recognizes total contributions to the game that best exemplify the complete PGA professional.
“I am completely overwhelmed with gratitude for this award. There is no higher honor than being nominated and selected for this award by my peers. When I look at all of the tremendous work that is being done by golf professionals in Wisconsin, I am incredibly humbled to have been selected for this prestigious award,” said Rainbow. “This award is validation of my outlook that if you find a career you love, not only will you never work a day in your life, but you will also have the best opportunity to achieve great success.”
This is Rainbow’s third special award of his professional career, previously being honored for his merchandising efforts in the public category in 2018 and he won the Horton Smith Award in 2017. Notable career accolades include receiving the Acushnet PGA PGM Scholarship Award in 2004 and the GCOW Leadership Award in 2001. He is also currently the education chairperson for the section and a PGA Certified Professional in General Management.
Rainbow’s golf career stems back to age 12 working as a caddie at Nakoma Golf Course (Madison). He then worked in various positions at University Ridge Golf Course (Madison) for 10 seasons. Additional work experience includes time at Interlachen Country Club (Edina, Minnesota) serving as Assistant Golf Professional. The next step in Rainbow’s career was serving as General Manager and Head Golf Professional at The Meadows of Sixmile Creek (Waunakee). For the past 5 years he has served as Director of Golf at SentryWorld.
Rainbow credits the following people for influencing him throughout his career: General Manager Mike Urben at Univesity Ridge, PGA Master Professional Jack Olson, PGA Member Bill Reller, and SentryWorld General Manager and PGA Member Mike James.
Attending University of Wisconsin – La Crosse he earned a Bachelor of Science in Sports Management in 2003. Rainbow was born in Madison and currently resides in Stevens Point.
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Jeff Kaiser, PGA of the TaylorMade Player Development Center is the recipient of the 2020 Teacher of the Year Award. This award recognizes a WPGA Golf Professional who has performed outstanding services as a golf teacher and coach.
“This award means a great deal to me,” said Kaiser. “An award coming from a nomination, by my industry peers, voted on by my industry peers, that which reflects on my work with my players.”
Kaiser acknowledges the following people for positively impacting his career: Brian Bishop, Brian Coffman, Tom Fisher, Matt Flaten, Tom Gees, Shaun Rezachek, Jim Schuman, Derek Schnarr, Sean Toulon, Dr. Benoit Vincent, and Joel Zucker.
He takes great pride in several of his accomplishments including; qualifying for the 2015, 2019 and 2020 PGA Professional Championships; participating in the National Assistant PGA Professional Championship in 2010 and 2012; playing for the University of Wisconsin-Madison Men’s Golf Team from 2004-2008; earning his Class A PGA Membership in 2014; and becoming a TaylorMade MAT-T System Certified Master Fitter.
Beginning his professional career in 2008, Kaiser has held positions in golf retail stores and was an Assistant Golf Professional at Maple Bluff Country Club in Madison. Currently Kaiser manages the TaylorMade Player Development Center in Madison and is the location manager at Nevada Bob’s Golf in Madison where he oversees the daily operations of the golf shop located within Vitense Golfland. He also is a dedicated fitter and instructor for the Balance & Believe Academy at Blackhawk CC.
Kaiser attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Business and Management. He is originally from Onalaska and now resides in Verona.
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Lead Assistant Golf Professional Will Young, PGA of North Shore Country Club of Mequon, is this year’s Assistant Golf Professional of the Year. This award recognizes outstanding services as an overall PGA Professional/Associate. As one of the highest honors the WPGA can bestow, candidates must possess outstanding qualities of leadership, strong moral character, and a substantial record of service to the Association and the game of golf.
“I feel that this award is a culmination of years of hard work and dedication to the golf industry, and it is the beginning of more good things to come,” said Young. “When I look at all of the qualified candidates for this award in our section, I am truly humbled that I have been chosen to represent my fellow assistant professionals this year. I am using this honor to motivate myself to become an even better professional and build on my experiences.”
Young has a strong network of colleagues and family that have supported him throughout the years including his wife Alexandrea Young, mother Theresa Young, father Dale Young, North Shore Country Club Head Golf Professional Gunnar Stapp, Head Golf Professional Reunion Resort (Orlando, Florida) Victor Shallow, and Thornberry Creek at Oneida (Green Bay) Superintendent Steve Archibald.
“I cannot take all the credit for this award as it would have not been possible for me to accept this honor without the love and support of my family, especially my wife, and the help of my co-workers.”
Prior to receiving the Assistant Golf Professional of the Year Award, Young has received the following notable awards and accomplishments: Callaway Certified Fitting Specialist, 2012 Guiding Principle Award – Reunion Resort and 2015 Osceola County Hospitality Award.
Young’s professional career includes serving as the First Assistant PGA Golf Professional at Reunion Resort in Reunion, Florida, and working on the grounds crew at Thornberry Creek at Oneida in Green Bay, Wisconsin. He attended Professional Golfers Career College and Northeast Wisconsin Technical College. Young was born in Green Bay and currently resides in Hartford.
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The Wisconsin PGA Section awards Travis Becker, PGA of Ironworks Golf Lab and Beloit Club, the 2020 Youth Player Development Award which is given annually to a professional recognized for excellence in junior golf and youth development.
“I am humbled and thankful to win this award. It is a great honor to win any award in the Wisconsin Section with all of our hardworking golf professionals,” said Becker. “My passion and enjoyment as being a golf professional is the opportunity to develop relationships. I spend the majority of my days working with junior golfers and getting to know them like they are family.”
Becker is thankful for both mentors and junior golfers alike that have impacted his professional journey. Becker credits PGA Professionals Dennis Tiziani (retired golf professional and coach) and Larry Tiziani of Cherokee Country Club (Madison) for being key mentors for 17 years.
“They have taught him how to be an integral part of a successful system in the golf industry,” said Becker.
Additionally, Becker acknowledges PGA Professional Kent Instefjord, General Manager of Beloit Club (Beloit), for his leadership and support.
“The Youth Development award holds a special place in my heart and I would like to say thanks to the thousands of junior golfers that I have met along the way,” said Becker.
Additional accomplishments of note include:
– 2015 & 2019 WPGA Teacher of the Year
– 2009 WPGA Assistant Golf Professional of the Year
– 2016 Golf Digest By-State Top Teacher List
– Five-time recipient of the Top 100 Club Fitter with Titleist and Ping
– SAM PuttLab Level 3 Coach
– Certified Club Fitter with Titleist, Ping, TaylorMade, Callaway, and PXG
Joining Beloit Club in 2016, Becker was hired as the director of instruction. Prior to Beloit Club, he was with Cherokee Country Club in Madison for 17 years serving as head golf professional from 2010-2015. Additionally, he has been the head coach of the Wisconsin PGA Junior League State Champions. As an instructor, Becker has extensive experience with various launch monitors and teaching software and specializes in putter fitting and putter instruction, performing more than 10,000 lessons and club fittings. Becker has experience in many facets of the golf business; however, his true passion has always been instruction and club fitting. Becker attended San Diego Golf Academy in San Diego, California, graduating in 1998. Originally from Holmen, Becker currently resides in Sun Prairie with his wife, son and daughter.
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The 2020 PGA Professional Development Award recipient is Dave Hawkins, PGA of Lake Geneva Country Club of Lake Geneva. This award is designed to give special recognition to an individual PGA Professional for outstanding and continuing contributions to professional education.
“Winning the PGA Professional Development Award motivates me to continue to assist and bring great educational opportunities to our membership,” said Hawkins.
Hawkins credits the following folks with positively impacting his career and life:
Jon Swanson, PGA of Purple Hawk Country Club (Cambridge, Minnesota) for giving life lessons & learning about relationships
Dave Edwards, PGA of Dubuque Golf & Country Club (Dubuque, Iowa) for providing the wonderful opportunity to learn the complete golf business.
John McGowan, PGA of Lake Geneva Country Club for creating opportunities for visibility and how to run a golf business.
In addition to the PGA Professional Development Award, Hawkins is proud to have worked the Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals during Masters week in 2015, become a PGA Professional Certified in Golf Operations, and completed a golf certification from BodiTrak.
Hawkins has been with Lake Geneva Country Club since 2007 serving as Assistant Golf Professional and then as Head Golf Professional starting in 2016. Following his time at Southwest Wisconsin Technical College studying Golf Course Management he worked as 1st Assistant Golf Professional at Dubuque Golf & Country Club. Hawkins was born in Cambridge, Minnesota, and currently resides in Burlington with his wife Jamie and son Ben.
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The 2020 Player Development Award is presented to Rob Elliott, PGA of Rob Elliott Golf of Pewaukee. This award recognizes a WPGA Golf Professional who has displayed extraordinary contribution and achievement in the area of player development. The award considers the PGA Professional’s growth of the game leadership, commitment at the Section and National levels in the player development arena, and the meaningful impact made at the facility.
“Winning this award is a highlight of my golf career. It means that my peers have recognized the work that I have done and have awarded me for it. It is a special feeling to be chosen and I am very humbled by this!” said Elliott.
Many people have influenced Elliott including Rob Muranyi, while working at Monona & Glenway Golf Courses (Madison), Eddie Terasa, during his tenure at Oconomowoc Golf Club (Oconomowoc), Paul LoCicero, Head Golf Professional at The Legend at Bristlecone (Hartland), and Wisconsin PGA Section Executive Director Joe Stadler.
“Each of these individuals helped me to see the path a bit clearer and helped me to become the professional that I am today,” said Elliott.
Three influencers outside of the golf industry impacting Elliott’s career include his father Bob Elliott, friend, golf partner and business advisor Tom Kiekow and his wife Kathy.
“Kathy pushes me each and every day to be a leader and an innovator,” said Elliott. “She inspires me and her support and dedication has allowed me to pursue the career path that I am on, which has allowed me to stay successful and give everyone the best that I have.”
In addition to this award, Elliott holds the following accomplishments:
Prior to starting Rob Elliott Golf Academy, Elliott was most recently the Head PGA Professional at Western Lakes GC. Elliott is originally from Delafield and currently lives there with his wife Kathy.
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Westmoor Country Club PGA Professional Vince Pulizzano is awarded the 2020 Bill Strausbaugh Award. Presented by the Wisconsin PGA Section to a PGA Professional who by their day-to-day efforts have distinguished themselves by mentoring their fellow PGA Professionals in improving their employment situations and continuing contributions to professional education.
“This award means EVERYTHING to me!” said Pulizzano. “I have been surrounded by golf professionals whose main priority was to positively influence and mentor their subordinates. This has been bestowed upon me from an early age and has carried over into my years at Westmoor Country Club where I can be the mentor. I take immeasurable pride in mentoring, teaching and leading by example. This award validates my work as the leader our staff can emulate and train under in order to positively influence their own careers.”
He credits many golf professionals including Billy Cleveland of Elk River Club in North Carolina, Tom Wildenhaus of Olde Florida Golf Club in Florida, Jeff Mory of Conway Farms Golf club in Illinois, and Matt Freitag of Hamilton Farm Golf Club in New Jersey, for influencing him, mentoring him and ultimately for helping him achieve his accomplishments including the following notable awards:
2012 Club of the Year (New Jersey PGA)
2017 Merchandiser of the Year – Private (Wisconsin PGA)
2019 Horton Smith Award (Wisconsin PGA)
Pulizzano graduated from Ferris State University in Michigan in 2004 earning a Bachelor of Science Degree in Marketing and Professional Golf Management. He has been a member of the PGA of American since 2005 and achieved Certified Professional status in 2018. Prior to joining Westmoor Country Club in 2014, Pulizzano was the Head Golf Professional of Hamilton Farm Golf Club in Gladstone, New Jersey, (2010-2013) and as the Assistant Golf Professional at Conway Farms Golf Club in Lake Forest, Illinois, (2005-2009). Originally from Chicago, Illinois, Pulizzano currently resides in Brookfield with his wife Marsha and two daughters Olivia and Emma.
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Owner and PGA Professional of The Legend Clubs Jack Gaudion, Jr., is the recipient of the 2020 Patriot Award. This award is given to a PGA Professional who embodies patriotism and shows dedication to the men and women who have served in the United States Armed Forces.
“I’m humbled and so very proud of our members and staff of The Legend Clubs being recognized for their generosity and support of The United States military and their families. I am the son of an Air Force fighter pilot, Jack Sr., who flew 3 combat tours and who I buried at Arlington National Cemetery in 1988. My son Jason, a marine that served 2 tours of duty in combat received his medical discharge in 2009. I didn’t serve in the military, so I hope my dad and my son are proud of all the efforts our club makes to honor their service and the attention and fundraising we generate for active duty and veterans of the armed forces,” said Gaudion. “I am honored to be able ask our members and staff to continue their generosity for the men, women and families of the armed forces that sacrifice so much and are forever changed having served in combat.”
Many initiatives are executed by Jack and his teams at each of the Legend Clubs venues. In timing with Armed Forces Day active and retired military members are invited to enjoy a complimentary round of golf as honored guests. The club also hosts a traditional Patriot Day Event on Labor Day and an annual moment of silence every Memorial Day at all four Legend Clubs. The club encourages financial support for military charities such as the Wounded Warrior Project, Folds of Honor, navy Seals, Birdies for the Brave, Veterans Shield, Oscar Mike, Troops First Foundation, and Fisher House Foundation. Since 2008, The Legend Clubs has donated almost $300,000 to these military charities.
Crediting many people for having an influence in his professional and personal life he said his success is ultimately due to his wife Cindy’s love and support for him and the family structure she provides their daughters Taylor and Isabelle. Other influencers are those he calls “special people” are Brent Buckman, Terry Anton, Dennis Tiziani, Tony Coleman, Ed Karrels, Ron Kuhlman, and Risa Kuhlman.
In addition to the Patriot Award Gaudion is honored to have the following on his list of accolades and accomplishments:
WPGA Board of Directors 2001-2013
Legend Clubs Professionals Junior Golf Leader of Year, 5 time recipient
1996 WPGA Merchandiser of Year – Public
AJGA 2010 Golf Professional of the Year
AJGA 2016 Hospitality Award
His tournament play accomplishments include: qualifying and competing in 4 PGA Tour Events: Texas Open in 1984, 1985, 1986 and the Atlanta Classic 1990, WPGA Senior Champion in 2010 and runner-up in 2017, Wisconsin State Senior Top 3 in 2010, 2011 and 2015.
“I have been blessed to have had many amazing opportunities in the golf business and lucky to be living my dream of owning my own facilities,” said Gaudion.
Gaudion attended the University of Texas and became a member of the PGA of American in 1983. His hometown is Austin, Texas and he currently resides in Wales.
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Tuckaway Country Club Head Golf Professional Matt Taken takes the award for Merchandiser of the Year Private in 2020. This award recognizes a WPGA Golf Professional at a private golf club who has performed outstanding services in the area of golf merchandising.
“This award speaks volumes about the Tuckaway membership. Receiving this award wouldn’t be possible without the overwhelming support of our members,” said Taken. “The members are extremely active creating a fun, vibrant environment to be part of.”
Taken also credits his team at Tuckaway Country Club for their effort, a team effort.
“I certainly didn’t win this award on my own as this was a team effort all season,” said Taken. “The team we have in place in our Pro Shop continues to raise the bar which cultivates the growth of our culture. It is a testament to the sacrifices our team makes to help grow our business. I am grateful to my assistants for their hard work and dedication.” Taken attended Winona State University of Winona, Minnesota. Prior to Tuckaway Country Club, Taken worked at the following golf clubs: Ozaukee Country Club in Mequon, Wisconsin; The Wisconsin Club in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; and Glen Echo Country Club in St. Louis, Missouri.
“Working at Ozaukee Country Club and the Wisconsin Club laid a great foundation to be successful in golf,” said Taken. “Rich Tock took a chance and hired me at Ozaukee which I am forever grateful for. Curt Larson helped to drive my professional growth while at the Wisconsin Club and was instrumental in helping me advance in my career.” Working through the PGA PGM 2.0 Apprenticeship Program Taken was elected to PGA Membership in 2015. Acknowledgments of note include Titleist Performance Institute Level 2, Callaway Certified Master Club Fitter, and Certified PGA Professional. “I am truly honored to win Merchandiser of the Year. Knowing the quality of the other professionals up for this award I was shocked that I won and I am truly grateful to be recognized,” said Taken. “From the very start of my career in golf I knew I wanted to own the Pro Shop and be a successful merchandiser so I take great pride in winning this award and accomplishing my goal.”
Taken is a current resident of Franklin and is originally from Cedarburg.
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Brown Deer Park Golf Course’s Andrew Barrett receives this year’s Merchandiser of the Year – Public Award presented by the Wisconsin PGA Section. Barrett was also the recipient of this award in 2016 and 2017.
When asked about winning this awards Barrett said, “I feel very fortunate to be at a great facility, surrounded by a supportive team, where I have the opportunity to succeed. There are many qualified PGA professional merchandisers that do not have this opportunity to showcase their merchandise skills. I feel lucky to work at Brown Deer Park, driven to achieve merchandise success, and thrilled to accept this award. I’m grateful.”
He credits several groups and people for helping him achieve his accomplishments.
“The past private facilities I worked at and the PGA Head Golf Professionals I worked for have greatly influenced my career. Mainly Bill Graham at Chenequa Country Club and Jim Schreiber at Tripoli Country Club, both teaching high standards towards golf operations,” said Barrett. “Once I joined the Milwaukee County Parks team as a PGA Head Golf Professional I utilized those standards leading to merchandise success. My former assistants have moved on to become Head Golf Professionals themselves all finding great merchandise success as well! Today I find these new professionals greatly influencing me, pushing me to do better, as we exchange operation ideas.”
Barrett’s passion for golf stems back to the first time he picked up a golf club at the age of 15. He played competitively for his high school team and enjoys tournament play still today. Prior to landing at Brown Deer Park Golf Course, Barrett’s professional experience includes time serving as a PGA Professional at the following Wisconsin courses: Oakwood Park Golf Course in Milwaukee and University Ridge Golf Course in his hometown of Madison. Following graduation from Colorado Tech University in 2012, Barrett worked at Arizona State University Karsten Golf Course while earning his PGA Golf Professional Certification.
He is proud to be a First Tee Coach for Southeast Wisconsin and a PGA Member since 2005. Previous accomplishments and awards include:
2017 WPGA Merchandiser of the Year Award-Public
2016 WPGA Merchandiser of the Year Award-Public
2010 WPGA Assistant of the Year Award
2004 US Bank Championship Player
Off the golf course Barrett enjoys woodworking, cards and hiking. He resides in West Allis.
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Words of advice: Look forward
The Wisconsin PGA Section honors Director – Retail for Destination Kohler & Destination St. Andrews Josue Reyes as Merchandiser of the Year – Resort for the seventh time previously winning the award in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, and 2016.
“I am very honored to once again be recognized by my fellow PGA peers for this section award. Winning this award speaks volumes to the work and commitment our retail and golf professional staff has towards our resort at Destination Kohler and the business of golf,” said Reyes.
Another notable plaque on the Reyes’ wall of accomplishments is from the national chapter of the PGA of America. In 2013 Reyes was awarded National Merchandiser of the Year Resort Category.
Reyes credits fellow PGA members Jim Richerson, Senior Vice President of Operations for Troon and PGA of America Vice President, Glen Murray, Chief Operating Office at Paloma Resort Properties, and Dirk Willis, Vice President of Golf, Landscape & Retail – Kohler Co., for their positive impact, influence, leadership, and encouragement. Wise words he strives to work by are to learn to service your team of staff better than you would a guest.
A proven professional with over fifteen years’ experience in the retail industry, Reyes has noteworthy results in revenue generation, inventory management, retail business development and visual merchandising.
Joining Kohler Co. in 2008 as the Manager – Merchandising, Blackwolf Run & Whistling Straits, Reyes worked to ensure the Blackwolf Run and Whistling Straits retail businesses lead the industry in terms of service levels, aesthetics, product offerings, guest experience, recognition and profitability. Currently as Director – Retail, in addition to his responsibilities with the golf businesses, Reyes provides support to all Destination Kohler and Destination St. Andrews retail outlets including The Shops at Woodlake Kohler and Sports Core, and is responsible for centralizing the retail receiving practices and growing the resort’s e-commerce presence.
Reyes previously served as Head PGA Golf Professional with The Ritz-Carlton Members Golf Club in Sarasota, Florida. Prior to becoming Head Professional, he served as the club’s Golf Shop Manager and was instrumental in the initial design and layout of their golf shop. Reyes’ professionalism and attention to detail helped the club become the only AAA Five-Diamond Ritz-Carlton Golf Club Resort in the U.S. Additionally Reyes worked for the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club in Orlando, Florida and many years with Disney. Reyes graduated from University of Central Florida in 2004 with a Bachelors of Science in Hospitality Management. Born in Humacao, Puerto Rico, Reyes currently resides in Sheboygan with his wife Melissa and two children Roberto and Anna.
• PGA Class “A” Member since 2006
• PGA Magazine Advisory Board
• 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015 and 2016 Wisconsin Section PGA Merchandiser of the Year for Resort Facilities
• 2013 National PGA Merchandiser of the Year for Resort Facilities
• 2010 PGA Championship Merchandise Executive Vice Chair
• 2012 U.S. Women’s Open Merchandise Team Leader
• 2015 PGA Championship Merchandise and Media Services Division Chair
• 2020 Ryder Cup Division Chair for Merchandise and Media Services
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Who are you inviting to a once-in-a-lifetime dinner for four? Dad Manuel, Brother Felix and Son Roberto.
For the third season in a row a familiar theme played out in both the Member and Senior Player of the Year races. The top-notch play of Jim Schuman proved to be too much for his challengers to overcome in each competition.
In the member race the Madison native got off to a nice start and never looked back. Before the in-state point events got underway he navigated his way through the 312 player field at the PGA Professional Championship for a 51st place finish at the national event. The showing in the late April event gave him a 200 point head start on almost everyone in the section. He would then back that up with three victories at one-day competitions during the summer, which came at the Memorial Classic, the Prestwick Golf Group Classic and the WSGA / WPGA Summer Showdown.
The impressive play had created a solid lead by early August. That lead would only get bigger in the coming weeks as the PGA director of instruction at Blue Mound Golf & Country Club put on a great performance at the 99th Morgan Stanley Wisconsin State Open.
The 56-year-old would almost pull in his third 99th Morgan Stanley Wisconsin State Open win. However Dan Woltman and Patrick Stolpe were in a class of their own and it would leave Schuman with a third place finish.
“Obviously, the State Open was great; it was a lot of fun playing with and seeing those young guys play so well,” said Schuman.
Although Schuman would have preferred the win, the State Open finish would seal the deal for the Member Player of the Year race. After the WPGA Professional Championship he would conclude the season with 1350 points. Finishing in second place was Ryan Helminen with 979.17 points.
As for the senior side of things it was a case of just pure domination. For the second straight year Schuman was able to sweep the WPGA Senior Professional Championship, Wisconsin State Senior Open and WPGA Senior Match Play. He also qualified for his third straight U.S. Senior Open and capped off the season with a tie for 12th at the Senior PGA Professional Championship. His play in Austin at the event earned him a chance to compete in the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship next May.
In total Schuman was the low senior professional at eight different point eligible events throughout the season. His play gave him 2,440 points, which was about 1,000 more points than second place finisher Eddie Terasa.
“It’s hard to know what to chalk it up to,” Schuman said when asked about his play. “The membership at Blue Mound has really encouraged me to play. As you know, if I’m going to go play, I’m going to try to be at my best. I just appreciate them giving me the opportunity to play. The more often you play helps and they’re really a big part of the success I’ve had the last three years winning both the senior and the member division.”
Schuman has now earned WPGA player of the year honors six times (he also did it in 2001, ’02, ’11, ’18 and last year). The WPGA senior player of the year honor is his fifth straight.
A relative newcomer to WPGA events, David Bach played like a veteran in 2019. The second year WPGA associate from Whistling Straits was able to put together a run of top 10 finishes to earn his first Assistant Player of the Year honor.
The former UW-Stout student got his year off to a nice start with a second place finish at the WAGPA Stroke Play at The Bull in May. For the next three months he would have some nice finishes and hover in contention, but never hold the point lead. During this time most would have viewed him as a long shot to win, but it turned out he was just waiting to make his big move.
That move would be a tie for 6th at the 99th Morgan Stanley Wisconsin State Open. His 1-under-par 287 total was good enough to be the low assistant professional in the field by one shot. The finish secured him 350 points and vaulted him up into first place of the standings.
“I really just had my eye on being exempt in 2020 and not having to go through qualifying again,” Bach wrote via email. “It definitely ranks on top of my accomplishments so far. Hopefully keep on working hard and have many more tournaments like that one.”
In the end the Brown Deer native was able to accumulate 810 points in the seven events he played in. The total was good enough to hold off Tom Burton by 35 points.
“It means a lot,” Bach wrote about winning the honor. “This was my first full year playing in section events. I really started 2019 with the mindset of making the Royal Cup team and just placing in the top 10. Having the season over and being on top of a talented list of guys, I couldn’t be more happy about it.”
Bach is the ninth different winner of the Assistant Player of the Year award in the past nine years.