The presentation of the NJSGA/NJPGA Distinguished Service Award to Ben Del Vento, Sr., former New Jersey State Golf Association president and long-time vice-chairman of the NJSGA Caddie Scholarship Foundation, highlighted the 13th annual Celebration of Golf on Thursday, Nov. 3, at Liberty House in Jersey City.

Other highlights of the event, which capped the 2016 season of the New Jersey section of the PGA and the NJSGA, included NJSGA Player of the Year Award to Trevor Randolph of Arcola, NJSGA Women’s Player of the Year Award to Tara Fleming of New Jersey National, and NJSGA Senior Player of the Year Award to Jay Blumenfeld of Mountain Ridge.

Also, the Honey Gantner Award was presented to the late Phillips Babcock of Rockaway River. Upper Montclair Country Club received the NJSGA Caddie Scholarship Foundation Club of the Year Award.


The top NJPGA award of the evening was presented to Doug Steffen of Baltusrol as NJPGA Professional of the Year. (List of other NJPGA award winners below)

More than 210 people attended the evening which was held at a facility other than a country club for the first time. Liberty House provided spectacular view of the New York City skyline.

“I feel very proud but humbled. I’ve been blessed in my voyage through life. I’ve had opportunities that golf has presented me and this recognition of my dedication and commitment to the game of golf is one I will always cherish the rest of my life,” Del Vento said.

While he was NJSGA president, the Caddie Scholarship Foundation had its most successful fundraising campaigns. In 2009, Del Vento raised more than $800,000 for the Caddie Scholarship Foundation which was distributed to a record 224 caddies, who attended more than 100 different colleges.

Del Vento still serves on the Advisory Board of the NJSGA, and his son, Ben Jr., is on the NJSGA Board of Trustees.

The Distinguished Service Award is presented annually by the NJPGA in collaboration with the NJSGA 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. He is the fourth NJSGA past president to receive the award, joining Ed Batta (2011), and Bob Cronheim and Bud Foley, both in 2013.

This year, NJSGA Player of the Year Trevor Randolph enjoyed a tremendous season, winning the Met Mid-Am, NJSGA Mid-Am, the Travis Memorial and the Hochster Memorial and was runner-up at the New York City Am and Bergen Amateur.

Jay Blumenfeld is the winner of the NJSGA Senior Player of the Year Award for the second time in three years. He is also a two-time winner of the State Player of the year. This year, he won the NJSGA Senior Amateur Championship.

Women’s Player of the Year Tara Fleming had a fine season, winning the Garden State Women’s Round-Robin championship, finishing runner-up in the NJSGA Women’s mid-Amateur and the WMGA/MGA Mid-Amateur and as a semifinalist in the NJSGA Women’s Amateur.

The NJSGA’s Honey Gantner Award is the first such award in the history of the NJSGA to be named after an individual, the late Honey Gantner of North Jersey Country Club and is presented each year in her honor at the NJSGA Annual Meeting to an outstanding individual who has served the NJSGA on a volunteer basis.

Mr. Babcock, who passed away this year on August 20 at age 88, is the fifth winner of the award which began in 2012 with a presentation to Honey Gantner herself. Other recipients are Vic Bacile (2013), Bob Krueger (2014) and Bernie Samons (2015).

Mr. Babcock, a member of Rockaway River Country Club, served as an NJSGA board member, treasurer, rules official and NJSGA Caddie Scholarship Foundation supporter and club representative. He is the winner of the prestigious NJSGA Honey Gantner Award for 2016.


Player of the Year: Alex Beach

Assistant Player of the Year: Tyler Hall

Senior Player of the Year: Jim McGovern

Golf Professional of the Year: Doug Steffen

Assistant Professional of the Year: Mike Marvin

Teacher of the Year: Jason Carbone

Bill Strausbaugh: David Reasoner

Horton Smith: Keith Stewart

Player Development: Kevin Beirne

Youth Player Development: Debby Murphy

Merchandiser of the Year-Private: Kevin Syring

Merchandiser of the Year-Public: Pat Lawler

Patriot Award: Walt Baker

Club of the Year: Fiddler's Elbow Country Club

Salesperson of the Year: Joe Testa

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