Golf Community Honors the Best of 2019 at Celebration of Golf
Photo: Bill Frese, Ben Del Vento, Mickie Gallagher, III, Bob Sessa
Over 200 members of the New Jersey golf community enjoyed an evening of awards and camaraderie when the New Jersey State Golf Association and the New Jersey Section of the PGA hosted the 16th annual Celebration of Golf at the Canoe Brook Country Club in Summit on Thursday, Oct. 24.
Highlights for the event included Mickie Gallagher III, the Head PGA Professional and Director of Golf at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, receiving the annual NJPGA/NJSGA Distinguished Service Award and Montclair Golf Club named the NJSGA Caddie Scholarship Foundation Club of the Year.
The late Paul Samanchik of North Jersey Country Club named the recipient of the Honey Gantner Award.
Chris Gotterup of Rumson named NJSGA Player of the Year, Anina Ku of Neshanic Valley named NJSGA Women’s Player of the Year, and Jay Blumenfeld named NJSGA Men’s Senior Player of the Year.
Keith Stewart, Head Professional at Springdale Golf Club, recognized as the 2019 NJPGA Golf Professional of the Year.
Tyler Hall, Director of Instruction at Upper Montclair Country Club was cited as NJPGA Player of the Year for the second consecutive year.
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 honors, values and traditions of the game.
For the New Jersey Section, PGA of America, Gallagher served as president from 2005-2006, vice president from 2003-2004 and secretary from 2001-2002. Prior to his position as an officer, he served on the Board of Directors and acted as chairman of numerous Committees including the Tournament Committee and the Nominating and By Laws Committee.
Gallagher has also been recognized by his peers with multiple New Jersey Section Special Awards, including their highest honor – the Golf Professional of the Year in 2010. This award recognizes a PGA Professional for leadership, performance and promotion of the game of golf.
“My father introduced me to golf. He always said golf is a game that will always give more to us than we can ever give back to the game. My life is a living testament of that quote. I’ve very proud to represent and be a part of who serves our great game,” Gallagher said.
“Golf in New Jersey has always been very strong and respected throughout the country. I’m blessed, thankful, honored and proud to have served New Jersey golf for almost 30 years. Golf is as strong as it’s ever been. I urge you to give back to the game and we can be as strong as we possibly can be.”
Bob Sessa, Samanchik’s best friend and long-time golf partner, accepted the Honey Gantner Award on behalf of Samanchik, a decorated golf who won may championships. He was a long-time volunteer who served on the New Jersey State Golf Association’s Tournament Committee and Caddie Scholarship Foundation. The award is given annually to a NJSGA volunteer for exemplary service to the Association.
A junior at Rutgers University, Men’s Player of the Year Chris Gotterup’s summer included victories in both the NJSGA Open Championship and the Metropolitan Golf Association Amateur Championship, a rare double. He was also third low amateur in the Met Open and fourth in the NJSGA Amateur Championship.
Ku, a sophomore at Harvard University, won the NJSGA Women’s Amateur Championship in match play, a day before her 19th birthday. Just two weeks later, Ku won her second consecutive NJSGA Women’s Public Links Championship, firing a course-record 65 at Heron Glen Golf Course in Ringoes.
Men’s Senior Player of the Year Jay Blumenfeld of Mountain Ridge Country Club won the award for an unprecedented fourth time. Previously, he won in 2014, 2016 and 2017, in addition to being named the overall NJSGA Men’s Player of the Year in 2006 and 2009. Blumenfeld’s highlights for 2019 included a tie for first in the Boff Invitational.
Montclair Golf Club members donated $47,775 to the total of $950,000 raised by the NJSGA Caddie Scholarship Foundation in 2018. That resulted in more than 150 young men and women receiving Caddie Scholarships and attending 88 different colleges throughout the country.
“Last year was a very special year with the amount of donations presented to the Caddie Scholarship Foundation by the Montclair Golf Club,” said NJSGA CSF chairman Ben Del Vento. “It is an honor to recognize Montclair for their efforts and to be named our Caddie Scholarship Club of the Year.
David Reasoner of Ridgewood Country Club was announced as winner of the national Bill Strausbaugh Award which recognizes PGA Professionals who have distinguished themselves by mentoring their fellow PGA Professionals in improving their employment situations and through service to the community.
Stewart is an active volunteer for growth of the game programs and initiatives. He has won the NJPGA’s Horton Smith Award three times, and is also a three-time finalist for the national Horton Smith Award. The honor recognizes a PGA Professional who personally displays a strong desire for lifelong education and continuing contributions to professional education.
He served on the Board of Directors of the NJPGA from 2011-17. Over the past nine years, Stewart and his staff have helped raise more than $100,000 for the Ewing-based charity called “Christine’s Hope For Kids,” which benefits area children in need.
Hall won the NJPGA Greg Norman Collection Match-Play Championship and was runner-up or co-runner-up in five events.