NJPGA/NJSGA Distinguished Service Award
Frank O’Brien, current NJSGA Youth Foundation Chairman is the 2022 recipient of the NJPGA/NJSGA Distinguished Service Award.
The Distinguished Service Award is presented annually to honor an individual who has provided exemplary service and contributions to growing the game of golf in New Jersey, consistent with the honor, values and traditions of the game.
“I'm honored,” O’Brien conveyed. “There are so many people that are deserving of an honor like this. I’m extremely appreciative, my family is, but I receive this with the fact that I contributed to a great team and let’s hope that the NJSGA will always be just a great team, not just individuals.”
“When I think about leadership, I think of Frank O’Brien,” expressed NJSGA President Michael McFadden. “As I’ve worked with him in the Golf Association, what’s become clear to me, is that he would never ask someone to do something that he wouldn’t do himself. He always thinks of the organization first and always thinks about what’s right thing to do. He’s almost always, if not always spot on in his thoughts and actions.”
Under his leadership, the NJSGA’s Youth Foundation, which supports deserving youth golf and sports-related programs throughout the state of New Jersey, has grown exponentially.
O’Brien has spearheaded the Youth Foundation Pro-Am for over six years. In 2022, the Pro-Am raised a one-year record of over $90,000 through entry fees, raffle ticket sales, hole sponsorships, and other donations.
Additionally, the Youth Foundation annually awards a dozen grants to youth-related organizations and recently pledged $40,000 to ARCS of Essex County and Union County over the next three years.
“Everybody on our board feels very, very strongly about their (ARC) mission and what they do to help children with issues whether they are emotional or physical,” explained O’Brien. “It’s a great cause and all of us are firmly behind it 100%, and we will continue to work with them for as long as we possibly can.”
During his presidency from 2014-15, O’Brien began a club visitation program where members of the Board of Trustees visited club officials to discuss how the association could better serve their needs. He was also instrumental in the hiring of current Executive Director, Kevin Purcell following the retirement of Steve Foehl.
“I’m literally here because of Frank,” said Purcell. “As President during the interview process and the initial months of my hire, I could always count his support and encouragement. His friendship means the world to me.”
“We had some very difficult choices, and we made what we feel was a tremendous choice in Kevin,” O’Brien added. “Having Steve Foehl there for 25 years and then having a new person come in, it really was kind of educational for all of us. To me, that was a big part of what I did in my first couple of years.”
O’Brien also oversaw the NJSGA move to a new headquarters at Galloping Hill Golf Course along with former NJSGA President, Tom McGovern at the helm.
“I don’t think you would find anyone in the state of New Jersey around the game of golf that doesn’t have a good thing to say about Frank, his leadership skills and his friendship,’ McFadden commented.
O’Brien has served on the Board of Trustees for the NJSGA for 14 years, including his 2-year term as President. He continues to serve on the NJSGA’s Executive Committee and Advisory Committee of Past Presidents, providing counsel to the association. Furthermore, O’Brien served as President at Plainfield Country Club from 1998 to 2001. He’s also active in the New Jersey Seniors Golf Association.
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