The presentation of the annual Honey Gantner Award to a New Jersey State Golf Association volunteer and the recognition of outgoing president Bill Frese were among the highlights of the NJSGA Annual Meeting on Thursday, Oct. 17, at the Montclair Golf Club in West Orange.


The tone of the well-attended meeting was overwhelmingly positive as various aspects of the NJSGA, such as the Caddie Scholarship Foundation and the Youth Foundation, enjoyed outstanding years.  


Eric Houseknecht, the vice president of the Association the past two years, was installed as president, succeeding Frese. Mark Anania of Maplewood C.C. was welcomed to the Board of Trustees, replacing Steve Hennesey of Ridgewood, who was recognized for his efforts as treasurer, Board member and advisor for nearly two decades.


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The late Paul Samanchik of North Jersey was the recipient of the Honey Gantner Award. Honey Gantner, also a member of North Jersey, and Paul were longtime friends.


A member of North Jersey for more than 60 years, Samanchik was one of the club’s most accomplished golfers. His work on behalf of the NJSGA began in the early 1980s and spanned nearly four decades until his passing on November 21, 2018, thus becoming the longest serving member of the NJSGA Tournament Committee. He also tirelessly led fundraising efforts on behalf of the NJSGA Caddie Scholarship Foundation, in his role as North Jersey’s foundation representative.


Bob Sessa, who won the 1988 NJSGA Four-Ball Championship with Samanchik, accepted the award on his behalf. Samanchik won 12 club championships at North Jersey, beginning at age 16.


 “It’s an honor to accept this award on Paul’s behalf. Golf played a huge part in Paul’s life. Golf opened doors for him. He never forgot to give back. He gave back, whether in serving on committees at North Jersey Country Club, the board of governors of North Jersey Country Club and working on the NJSGA Caddie Scholarship program,” said Sessa.


“Officiating for the New Jersey State Golf Association was probably one of his biggest thrills, as well as volunteering for the PGA and LPGA and other events. I’m sure Paul is looking down on us today and saying thank you to everyone who is here and thank you to this organization,” Sessa noted.


The achievements of Frese, who served a two-year term as President of the NJSGA, were noted by Houseknecht.


“Bill started his term with the association at what was a bit of a trying time for us. We were in the middle of a complex negotiation with the USGA and our neighboring regional golf associations surrounding the Authorized Golf Association project, and, at the same time, we were embarking on new partnership endeavors,” Houseknecht stated.


“These were very difficult issues to tackle, so I thank Bill on behalf of the association for his two years of service on our board.


“From there, Bill went on to recognize the need for a reorganization of our staff, which is a very major accomplishment, and has put us in a great position in moving forward with our objectives in the future. At the same time, Bill was doing all of this, he was also serving on the board and as president of the New Jersey Seniors. So, he worked very diligently for us and other associations, up to and including this past week,  which we all very much appreciate.


“Bill, your work ethic was inspirational to all of us and particularly your leadership in affecting the reorganization that will leave a lasting impact on this Association far into the future. So on behalf of our Association and where we are today, I thank you very much for an outstanding two years of leadership,” he concluded.


Said Bill Frese: “It has been an honor and a privilege to serve on this board and an honor and a privilege to serve as president. And Eric, good luck going forward. You are going to make our organization stronger. Congratulations to you.”

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