PGA of Canada 2023 National Award Winners

PGA of Canada 2023 National Award Winners

By: Brendan Stasiewich, PGA of Canada with excerpts from Award Nomination Forms

We're excited to present the winners of the 2023 PGA of Canada National Awards. Winners will be celebrated during Canada Night at the PGA Show in Orlando on January 24. Registration for the event can be found here.  A link to a live stream of the event will be sent in the new year.

Murray Tucker Club Professional of the Year 

Winner: Andrew Steep, Southwood Golf & Country Club, Manitoba Zone Andrew has dedicated his life to his chosen career in golf, honing his skills in all aspects of the profession. His personal skills enable him to relate to golfers of all ages with respect to teaching, club-fitting, sales and promotion of his club, himself and our Association.   Andrew has served on the PGA of Manitoba Board of Governors for 12 years, including being the Zone President from 2021 - 2023. In his time as President, he helped in the transition of bringing in a new Executive Director that has positively impacted the way the Zone operates. During this transition period,he helped in the process of handover, the recruitment process of finding a new ED, and in setting up the new ED to be successful. This transition period during his time as President will have a positive impact on the Zone for the years to come.  In Andrew's seven seasons as the Head Golf Professional at Southwood, he has created a team atmosphere where he was able to retain staff during his tenure at the club.   In addition, Andrew's team has seen a steady increase in sales since taking over the Golf Shop with total sales number peaking this past season.

Dick Munn Executive Professional of the Year 

Winner: Brian McDonald, Fairview Mountain Golf Club, BC Zone In 2017, a forest fire threatened Fairview Mountain Golf Club. A massive landslide followed which had devastating effects on the property, as much of the course was covered in mud/debris.   Luckily for the club, Brian McDonald was the leader who was able to bring the club out of the crisis, developing a plan for removal and leading staff/members through this process, recognizing that the alternative was permanent closure and job loss.   Brian put on a brave face assuring staff/members they would be fine even though the task was near insurmountable. Brian leveraged his relationships within the community to have most of the work done for free and created a huge volunteer team, personally working side by side with them and the staff to save the course.   This is one anecdote of Brian’s incredible leadership skills. In addition to overseeing golf operations (Golf Shop, Food and Beverage, and Grounds Department) and mentoring senior staff, Brian takes on duties beyond those expected of GMs. These include project management, interior/exterior design, financial planning, and club advocacy, creating a culture of striving for excellence through teamwork. An active member of the community, Brian also ensures the club is involved in charitable events. Brian works to maintain the club's fiscal viability, a difficult task considering it is one of two 18-hole facilities in a very small community. From 2009-2015, Brian became an active PGA of BC board member and held the position of President from 2013-2014. While on the board, he worked with the other members to positively change PGA of BC business operations and ensure the association put greater focus on highlighting its brand and members. Brian believes the Executive Professional role is twofold, firstly lead by example and secondly mentor and support the staff. Because of this, Brian makes a great effort to hire people who have the attitude, aptitude and skills needed vs. focusing primarily on experience. After that, Brian coaches’ staff and makes every effort to bring the best out in them, allowing them to have opportunities not only to learn but to shine.

George Knudson Teacher of the Year 

Winner: Jean-François Richard, Louis Melanson Golf Academy, PGA of Atlantic Canada Zone   Since 2017, Jean-François has assisted the Louis Melanson Golf Academy (LMGA) in the development and delivery of all its programs (junior, men, women and school-based programs) while offering teaching services to an ever-growing adult clientele. Jean-François has taught over 1000 private lessons/clinics (junior and adult) during the past 5 years including over 260 lessons/clinics in 2023. Moreover, his involvement in junior golf from teaching and developmental points of view has been nothing short of significant.   Golf NB named Jean-François as its U19 Boys Coach in 2022. On a broader scope, Jean-François has recently been hired by the PGA of Canada as a Learning Facilitator and a Coach Evaluator for various courses part of the PGA of Canada Training Academy presented by Titleist and Footjoy.   Jean-François has spent over 25 years in higher education as a scholar and an educator with a particular interest in youth development through physical activity and sports. Jean-François has published over 50 refereed papers over the past 25 years, including research articles, one book and four book chapters.   Jean-François’ dedication to his craft and helping golfers of all abilities enjoy the game makes him a worthy recipient of this national award.

Jack McLaughlin Junior Leader of the Year

Winner: Wayne Allen, Humber Valley Resort, PGA of Atlantic Canada Zone Wayne is the provincial coach of the development & high-performance teams as well as the Canada Games coach for the past two games as well as the 2025 games. The role Wayne has with the provincial development teams in on a voluntary basis and he conducts weekly training programs year-round to enable junior players to fulfil their potential. He also volunteers at various junior tournaments to help provide the best experience possible for the golfers, from organizing events as well as putting on clinics and rules sessions.  Wayne was awarded Golf Canada's National award for 'Grassroots Program of the Year’ for his program at Blomidon Golf Club in 2022.   Wayne has incredible passion for helping junior golfers get the most out of the game, he puts in countless hours behind the scenes planning and developing sessions. His leadership skills are impeccable, and he is well respected by the coaches he mentors.   Wayne is the ultimate professional and loves to give back to coaches and the community. He is a proud member of the PGA and is constantly improving his knowledge and resource base to deliver great programs, being certified in the CDC context through the NCCP.   Wayne’s dedication to junior golf, and the hours he spends on a volunteer basis growing the game for youth is admirable and the Jack McLaughlin Junior Leader of the Year award is a fitting honour.

Ben Kern Coach of the Year 

Winner: Keri Moffat, Mayfair Lakes Golf & Country Club, BC Zone   Keri’s involvement in the PGA and community as a coach is staggering. She has been a provincial coach with BC Golf, coach with the University of British Columbia, sat on the Golf Canada Future Links Junior Golf Board, attended numerous conferences, facilitated numerous coaching sessions, and has won many Team Championships with UBC, including five NAIA titles – that is only scratching the surface of what she has accomplished as a coach.   A leader in every sense of the word, after 13 years of coaching the UBC Women's Golf Team, there has been an increasing number of graduating athletes following in Keri’s footsteps, noticing her passion, and joining the association, knowing there is a place for them in the PGA of Canada. Keri has succeeded in creating a welcoming environment for young women to fall in love with golf and continue their participation in the sport throughout their lives.   A PGA of Canada member since 1997, Keri’s passion and skillset has only increased as the years have gone on. In 2021/22, the UBC team went undefeated, winning all 12 events they played. Nine women Keri coached won individual titles.   Keri was named the PGA of BC teacher of the year in 2011 and coach of the year in 2019 and 2023 – she now has a national distinction to add to her impeccable resume as 2023 Ben Kern Coach of the Year.  

Pat Fletcher Retailer of the Year

Winner:  Alexander McIntyre, Essex Golf & Country Club, Ontario Zone The discussion regarding the increasing significance of merchandising in the day of a golf professional is an important one. Most clubs have moved to hiring merchandising managers to assist with planning, purchasing, inventory, sales, promotions and so forth but it remains Alex’s responsibility to oversee the activities and manage staff. The expanded skillset translates into untold hours improving the business, technology and management skills through professional development, education, and research outside the merchandising facility. The tagline of Essex Golf & Country Club, "It's more than a club. It's a legacy of excellence." exemplifies the level of service promised to the members. It is not just a saying. Essex has long been considered one of Canada’s top-tier golf establishments and has a rich history of committed PGA of Canada professionals and staff who enrich and promote the game of golf.  The club takes immense pride in exceptional year-over-year performance and unwavering commitment to providing superior golfing and retail experiences, firmly establishing Essex as a leader in the industry. The golf shop has seen a significant increase in revenue since 2022. Personal shopping appointments, shows (fashion, trunk), e-blasts, newsletters and printed sales flyers are a few ways the club ensures the brand is reaching the entire membership – going the extra mile in their retail services.

Moe Norman Apprentice Professional of the Year

Winner: Mitch Bach, The Willows Golf & Country Club, PGA of Saskatchewan Zone.   Mitch's journey through the golf industry has been nothing short of outstanding and inspiring, marked by unparalleled commitment, passion, and dedication to growing the game. Since earning his PGA of Canada apprentice status in 2021, Mitch has shown triumphant and renowned leadership to those at The Willows Golf Club and the entire community as a whole — stretching beyond the walls of the golf world.   On top of his day-to-day duties within The Willows pro shop, Mitch spearheads the marketing and social media department of the golf club, utilizing his background in journalism and corporate affairs.   Mitch's visionary leadership extends beyond the traditional boundaries of the golf world. Through Clubhouse Golf Academy, he passionately strives to broaden the sport's reach, with a particular focus on engaging new golfers, especially professional women. Embracing principles of diversity and inclusivity, Mitch has paved the way for new Canadians to discover the joy of golf.

Stan Leonard Class "A" Assistant Professional of the Year 

Winner: Stephen Yanitski, Valley Ridge Golf Club, PGA of Alberta Zone   Above anything else, Stephen excels at basing his actions around "Servant Leadership", which involves doing whatever he can to provide peers and colleagues a platform to succeed and enjoy their time at Valley Ridge and in the PGA.      By going the extra mile to ensure comfort and participation among colleagues and customers with anything from daily operations to more specialized programs and situations, Valley Ridge becomes a brighter place to be as an employee or golfer.   A proven leader, Stephen was elected to the PGA of Alberta Assistants’ Board in March 2020 and re-elected in 2022, being selected as President by his peers on the board.  He has been actively involved on the Education Committee since 2019 and has moderated numerous sessions both online and in-person since.   All on-top of his day-to-day duties as a golf professional, Stephen served as SAIT’s Head Coach for five years and strives to promote women’s golf at Valley Ridge, creating one of the most respected Women’s Leagues in the city.

Tex Noble Professional Development Award

Winner: Bri-ann Tokariwski, Elmhurst Golf & Country Club, PGA of Manitoba Zone   Bri-ann has been involved in the educational programs of the PGA of Canada Zones since she joined the association. She believes that education is the gateway to getting zone members and students to develop their skills. She has attended the National Tee Talks Live Conference nearly every year that it has been offered since 2018.   In addition, Bri-ann is the Junior Girls Development Coach and represents the PGA of Canada whenever she is onsite with the team. She leads by example while trying to encompass the morals, principles and standards set by the PGA of Canada. She has helped several PGA Professionals that she has met at events and seminars understand concepts that have been discussed and implement different strategies to better their own businesses.   She participates in higher learning events such as Coaching for Developing Competitors and Instruction for Intermediate Golfers whenever they are available.   Bri-Ann was chosen to be one of eight women to be a part of the first cohort in 2021 of the PGA of Canada Women in Coaching Program.

Warren Crosbie Community Leader of the Year 

Winner: Dustin Wilson, Whitewater Golf Club, Manitoba Zone   Dustin Wilson is a true inspiration in the community of Thunder Bay, Ontario. He continues to show excellent leadership through his story of addiction and working with others. He is an active member of his recovery groups, speaks at meetings and has been a real influence in helping others in their journeys.   One of his students, Dustin Barr, who he coached for 10 years, was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 17 and after a seven-year battle passed away in his sophomore year while on a scholarship in the states. This was extremely hard on Dustin as the family went through so much after his passing. Wilson confounded with the Barr Family the "Raising the Barr" foundation in June of 2020. To date, the foundation has raised $250,000 supporting local families in Northwestern Ontario whose children struggle with life threatening illnesses.   In addition, Dustin has partnered up with the local hospital and its foundation to donate funds for housing opportunities and renovations. When families travel from remote areas for cancer care and chemotherapy, they have a place to stay.   Dustin also helps lead a charity golf tournament called the Golf Balls from Heaven Helicopter Golf Ball Drop, spending many hours facilitating and selling tickets for the event.   This is just a small anecdote of what Dustin has done for the community and his own personal journey. Dustin’s story was documented on the PGA of Canada website here.

Brooke Henderson Female Player of the Year

Winner: Katy Rutherford, Silver Springs Golf & CC, Alberta Zone   Co-low PGA of Canada professional at the ORORO PGA Women's Championship of Canada and was the runner-up at the PGA of Alberta Women's Championship.

Mike Weir Male Player of the Year 

Winner: Kevin Stinson, Cheam Mountain GC, British Columbia Zone   Claimed the BetRegal PGA Championship of Canada, sinking a 35-foot putt up a slope to extend a playoff with David Li-Sheman, winning on the next hole.