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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Met PGA Honors Golf's Leaders

Joe Felder and Rob Labritz
photo courtesy Met PGA
Yesterday's Metropolitan PGA Educational Forum  honored a small group of top-notch contributors to the game not just in the NY area but throughout the nation.  Hundreds of pros took time out of their busy spring schedules to not only hear fascinating speakers like Mark Broadie, Mike Diffley, and Michael Breed, but to deliver well-earned applause to some real leaders of the game.

Met PGA Special Awards went to three outstanding contributors:

Joe Felder, 2013 Met PGA Professional of the Year, has served as head pro at Griff Harris, the municipal facility of the Town of Greenwich, CT, for nearly 25 years. Under Joe's direction, the course and other facilities have grown to be one of the best in the area. Among his many accomplishments, however, one stands out: Joe has grown a junior program that could serve as a model for anyone in the industry. When he arrived at Griff Harris, there were 74 juniors in the program. Today there are over 750. Who said golf can't appeal to youngsters? All it takes is a leader like Joe Felder.

The 2013 Met PGA Player of the Year is Rob Labritz, Director of Golf of GlenArbor GC in Bedford, NY. This was the second time Rob has won the title, but it certainly wasn't the easiest. In fact, his season-long duel with Danny Balin of Burning Tree came down to the final event of the season, the Trieber Memorial at Wheatley Hills. Along with Rob's victories in the PGA Head Pro Championship at Tuxedo and the Met PGA Professional Championship at Rockland, the Treiber Memorial win put his name on the top of the list.

Mary Beth Childs was awarded the 2013 Sam Snead Award, making her the first female recipient of the Met Section's only honor that is bestowed on both professionals and amateurs. Mary Beth's role in the sponsorship by Lincoln dealers of numerous Met Section events for over fourteen years is just one of her many contributions to the game.

The Met PGA Hall of Fame inducted three members yesterday:

Jim McLean is well-known to golfers around the world as one of the leading instructors in the game and founder of the well-respected Jim McLean golf schools. He began his teaching career, however, as an assistant at Westchester Country Club in 1975. He also served as head professional at Sunningdale, Quaker Ridge, and Sleepy Hollow before moving to the Doral in Miami to launch his schools. Jim was recognized by the Met PGA as Teacher of the Year in 1986 and named National Teacher of the Year by the PGA of America in 1994.

Craig Shankland's roots to the Met PGA run deep. He served as the head pro at Rye GC, Middle Bay CC, and Fairview CC, and served as the section's president among many other positions in the organization. He was Met Professional of the Year in both 1974 and 1975, and was named PGA National Teacher of the Year in 2001.

Bruce Zabriski dominated golf in the Met area for nearly three decades, winning 22 events including the NYS Open, Met Open, Met PGA Championship, and many, many others. He competed in eleven major national championships, played the professional tours for seven years, and was named the National PGA Club Professional Player of the Year a record five times. After tiring of life on the road, he returned to the Met area to teach at Fresh Meadow, Oyster Bay, Winged Foot, and Westchester CC. Eventually, he took positions as head professional at Trump West Palm Beach, Old Palm GC, and Mayacoo Lakes in West Palm before returning to Westchester CC in 2012 to teach.

Among many other books, Dave Donelson is the author of Weird Golf: 18 tales of fantastic, horrific, scientifically impossible, and morally reprehensible golf

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