The North Florida PGA kicked off the 42nd Annual Meeting June 7.
As the famous saying goes: “Reunited and it feels so good.” But this year was exceptionally different. Following a year synonymous with virtual connection and canceled events, when the opportunity arose for Section Members to congregate in-person for the 42nd Annual Meeting at Reunion Resort, people jumped at the opportunity.
The action-packed day kicked off 45 minutes after sunrise. Attendees began arriving at 7:15 a.m., strolling toward the registration counter to receive their name tags and table assignments. Taking advantage of the semblance of normalcy, Members gathered and interacted with each other. In-person! As the clock ticked, showtime approached. Section President Kevin Paschall introduced the Meeting and set the scene for the first roundtable discussion of the day: “Lessons from the Pandemic.” It was impossible to not launch Monday’s festivities with the lingering topic that has encapsulated everyone’s minds for the past 15 months. Members reveled in gratitude as they expressed their appreciation for golf not only surviving but thriving during the pandemic. As Members shared thoughts and opinions in a variety of fruitful discussions, Partners assembled inside and outside the room with tables displaying their offerings.
Speakers included Lauren Court, who provided updates about Junior Golf, and Jim West, who talked about career development. An impactful presentation came from no other than Executive Director Steve McMillen. McMillen introduced part one of an upcoming four-part webinar series: North Florida Education and Skill Development Series- “The Fundamentals of Inclusion and Diversity.”
“Does this make you nervous?” McMillen asked.
McMillen stressed the necessity of diversifying who plays golf and stressed the need to provide a more inclusive environment on and off the course.
Less than three hours after the Meeting concluded, it was time to honor the year’s greatest with the Celebration of Members. Honorees and their families entered the ballroom and indulged in an array of hors d'oeuvres, as well as casual conversation before taking their seats. Paschall thanked everyone for attending and began recognizing Members for their unique contributions and achievements. Honorees approached the stage to receive their plaques and expressed brief sentiments of thanks to the people who have impacted them the most. Winners included Rod Perry for Player of the Year, Keith Kulzer for Senior Player of the Year and Jennifer Borocz for Female Player of the Year.
After a brief intermission, the final group of honorees were acknowledged. A collective feeling of grief permeated the audience as the late Brad Brewer was recognized as the 2020 recipient of the Teacher of the Year Award. Cheryl Anderson, the 2021 recipient of the award, acknowledged the bittersweet tone of the room in her speech: “This just shows you have to live each day to the fullest,”.
The last three honorees of the evening were the 2020 and 2021 Hall of Fame Inductees: Jack Aschenbach, Jim Deaton and Gary Koch. The three inductees were recognized for their impressive contributions to golf. The three honorees gave colorful speeches, praising their biggest career influences and crediting their families for their success.
The excitement carried over into Tuesday’s Pro-Pro. With the beaming sun glazing over the 56 competitors, it truly was anyone’s game for the taking. As the day began, players began warming up for an 8:30 a.m. shotgun start on the Palmer Course. After hours of playful competition and sportsmanship, Greg Koch and Ryan Gray emerged victorious, shooting 16-under-par, and walking away with the win- and beautiful trophies to add to their collections!
Thank you to all of our incredible Partners for your unwavering support and Reunion Resort for hosting such an amazing two-day event!