The annual PGA of America national awards were officially announced Tuesday, Aug. 4 as 11 PGA members and one Section were honored for their various contributions to the game and the Association on the national and local levels. The NJPGA Section claimed two of these awards, as Bill Castner, of Edison, was honored with the PGA Youth Development Award and the NJPGA Section was given the Herb Graffis Award.
Below are the profiles of Castner and the Section, as released by the PGA of America, that describe their respective contributions this past year and how they qualified for the awards’ standards of achievement. For a complete list of this year’s national winners and their profiles, click here.
BILL CASTNER, PGA – PGA YOUTH PLAYER DEVELOPMENT AWARD
Plainfield West 9 Golf Club – Edison, New Jersey
Bill Castner, a PGA Master Professional, and the Head Professional at the Plainfield West 9 Golf Club, in Edison, New Jersey, has been named the recipient of the 2015 PGA Youth Player Development Award—an honor that recognizes a PGA Professional who has displayed extraordinary and exemplary contribution and achievement in the area of youth player development in golf. Castner, a PGA member for more than 30 years, also serves as Program Director of The First Tee of Plainfield. Since the chapter’s inception in 2009, when Plainfield Country Club became the first private club to establish a First Tee program, the program has grown to more than 650 participants. Additionally, Castner has led several First Tee initiatives, including the Path to College Scholarships for graduating high school students. Castner served as the Junior Golf chairperson for six years on the New Jersey PGA (NJPGA) Section Board of Directors and also has been involved extensively with the New Jersey Golf Foundation – the charitable arm of the NJPGA. He earned his PGA Master Professional certification in 2003, and has won five NJPGA Section Youth Player Development Awards.
NEW JERSEY PGA SECTION – HERB GRAFFIS AWARD
The New Jersey PGA Section (NJPGA) was named the 2015 Herb Graffis Award recipient, as a PGA of America Section that has shown extraordinary and exemplary contributions in Player Development. Led by NJPGA President Scott Paris, the Section hosted a variety of successful youth golf programs this year that helped grow the game of golf among all demographics. The Section also won the Award in 2012. The New Jersey Golf Foundation (NJGF), the Section’s charitable arm, played an integral role in supporting youth player development programs throughout the state, highlighted by the growth of PGA Junior League Golf and the operation of one of the nation’s largest Golf In Schools Programs. PGA Junior League Golf expanded to more than 500 boys and girls in 2015, spread out over 60 teams. The league, which started with 12 teams in 2012, provides an outlet for beginners in the game to play in a “team” scramble format. The NJPGA/NJGF operates one of the nation’s most prolific Golf In Schools programs, impacting more than 110,000 boys and girls (K-8th grade) at over 200 schools. Under the guidance of PGA Professionals, the program is fully funded by the NJGF and offered at no cost to school districts. Additional NJPGA programs that have seen overwhelming growth in 2015 include: PGA HOPE, the flagship military program that introduces golf to Veterans with disabilities; Els For Autism golf programming for children; Special Olympics NJ; Goddard School Program; Father English Community Center; and High School JV Programming.
Photo courtesy of PGA of America