Last Updated on Sunday, 18 November 2007 15:52 Sunday, 18 November 2007 15:41
PORT ST LUCIE, FLA (November 18, 2007) - The Canadian PGA honoured its 2006 National Award winners at the PGA Village Historical Centre Sunday in Port St. Lucie, Florida. Each year, a National Selection committee evaluates nominations from more than 3,500 Canadian PGA Members coast-to-coast and recognizes winners in each of the four categories; Club Professional of the Year, Teacher of the Year, Jack McLaughlin Jr. Leader of the Year, and Merchandiser of the Year.
The award winner's names were released in February of this year, for their contributions to the game in 2006. Tonight, each recipient received their award in front of their peers on the evening before the first round of the 2007 Canadian PGA Titleist & FootJoy Club Professional Championship.
"Our 2006 National Award winners are symbols of the passion and dedication to excellence that Canadian PGA Members bring to their profession in making the game of golf better for Canadian golfers," said Warren Crosbie, President of the Canadian PGA. "The 2006 winners have set standards of excellence that all Canadian golf professionals can aim to achieve. On behalf of the Canadian PGA, the Zones, and the
membership, I congratulate them all for receiving this recognition."
The 2006 winners are:
. Club Professional of the Year-Ron Laugher of Calgary
. Teacher of the Year- David Woods of Markham, Ont.
. Merchandiser of the Year-Matthew Yustin of Toronto.
. Jack McLaughlin Jr. Leader of the Year Award-Glenn Cundari of North Bay, Ont.
Club Professional Award - Mr. Ron Laugher
In winning the Club Professional Award, Laugher (pronounced lough-er) is the second consecutive Albertan to win the award following Tiffany Gordon of Alberta's Cottonwood Golf and Country Club in DeWinton, Alta. Laugher was recognized by a National Selection Committee that judges award nominees based on a wide range of criteria that includes business operations at their own club, promotion of the game and playing ability. Laugher exemplies in excellence in a Head Professional, and he was recognized for innovation, sound business practice and high standards in overseeing a staff of about 50, managing almost 30 tournaments a year, dealing with more than 35 corporate accounts, and helping run charity tournaments that have raised more than $1.7 million for cancer, while still finding time to teach weekly junior clinics.
Laugher's long lists of accomplishments are highlighted with his extensive involvement in promoting the game. Laugher has introduced a Sponsored Junior Program to Priddis Greens, developed a tee time booking system free of playability restrictions, hosted the 1995 Canadian Club Professional Championship and the Canadian Amputee Championship, served on several golf committees both at the professional and amateur level, donated his time for junior camps and free clinics to name just a few.
All through Laugher's career, he has been extremely dedicated, loyal and proficient. After moving from St. Catherines, Ont., to follow his dream job in Alberta, Laugher has been the Head Professional at Priddis Greens for the past 18 years. "I started playing golf at 13 years old and I got my first job in the back shop at the St. Catherines Golf Club at 15. Bruce Murray hired me, took me under his wing and helped me with my game. Then, years later Al Ewen, the pro at Royal Oak Resort and Golf Club in Florida invited me out to work as an assistant in Alberta. I've been here for 18 years and I've never looked back. I watched it grow from an 18-hole semi-private course to a 36-hole private golf club."
Through the mentorship of professionals Bruce Murray, Al Ewen and many others, Laugher has developed into an exemplary golf professional. "With their help I have been able to pass on many of the things I learned from them to several other APGA Members at other Clubs. I just love the game. It's the people, the atmosphere-it's just where I want to be and, I'm one of the lucky people who loves where they work."
Teacher of the Year Award - Mr. David Woods
Wood's history of awards speaks for itself. As the 2005 and 2006 Ontario Teacher of the Year, it is only natural that Woods is the most worthy candidate for the National Teacher of the Year Award. "I was pretty thrilled when I heard the news. It's the next step in the right direction for me." Woods is the Director of Instruction at the Angus Glen Golf Academy in Oakville and he defiantly promotes the game best through his success and accessibility at this course. His programs involve both individual and group instruction clinics and development workshops for beginners, intermediates and corporations alike.
Woods comes from a family of golfers and knows what it's like to be a junior whose skills are just developing. "My dad has been the greatest influence on me more than anything. He's a big time golfer. He always has been. As a result, I was one of those kids who was lucky enough to be a junior myself." As a result, Woods is committed to helping both his junior and senior members reach their goals on and off the course while making golf more fun for golfers of all ages and abilities. So, in a business where sharing and mentorship can be forgotten, Woods is one of those few individuals that love to exchange ideas in attempt to help those around him. "Golf is a sport that will always be motivating for me. It's always a struggle to be the best in this sport. But, you can never hope to be the best if your not willing to both teach others and learn from them as well."
Woods has a great staff that he both learns from and teaches. He is always there to support his team of co-workers to improve their teaching ability and performance at clinics, golf schools and private lessons in order to provide the best for his members. Due to his great combination of expertise and approachability, the number of people taking lessons with Woods has increased every year to well over 200. Through his teaching, Woods has greatly enhanced Angus Glen's profile well beyond its reputation as a very successful and busy 36-hole golf facility. His rapid rise in the field of instruction and his reputation with some of the country's best players, including John Mills, Andrew Parr, Jeff Fitzgerald, Gordon Oudyk, Matthew Lam, Brandon Ng and Rebecca Lee Bentham, has allowed Angus Glen to stay at the forefront of high-end
public golf in Toronto.
Merchandiser of the Year Award - Mr. Matthew Yustin
With a merchandising philosophy focused on "always exceeding the members' expectations," Yustin aims at achieving an ever-evolving Pro Shop. "We want every customer to feel that they are special and our number one priority while they are visiting our shop." Through using the book entitled Be Our Guest - Perfecting the Art of Customer Service, which was written by the Disney Institute, Yustin has led his team with the understanding that providing first class service, exemplary product knowledge and presenting a professional image is what separates the successful golf professional from his peers. But, it is also the love for the game that separates Yustin from his peers. "In 1973, while I was living in Singapore, I had the pleasure of attending my first golf tournament - The Singapore Open. It was then and there that I knew that all I ever wanted to be was a golf professional. I feel blessed to be doing what I love to do each and every day."
For those who have visited Yustin's Pro Shop, it is no surprise that he won this award as nominees are judged on criteria such as merchandising philosophy, Pro Shop layout and display techniques. "From the second you enter our Professional Shop, you can expect five star customer service in a boutique-like setting." Yustin's shop was completely empty other than an oak counter when he started at Lambton 3 years ago. As he owns the professional shop and is a personal collector of antiques, he was able to incorporate a unique eclectic blend of the old and the new in his furnishings. The result is a very warm and inviting shop with merchandise displayed on antique harvest tables, hanging from old wooden ladders, stacked in a wooden wagon with antique trucks and suitcases for nesting.
For Yustin, his Pro Shop is a place to escape the harsh Ontario weather. "In Ontario we have long winters to anticipate the upcoming seasons. Each spring is like a clean slate that's just waiting to be filled up with new adventures." Yustin, while confident in the layout and merchandise of his shop, is an un-assuming man and was elated by hearing the news that he had won this award. "I was humbled and honoured to be recognized by my peers." Also, Yustin did not take sole credit for this award as his unique and innovative ideas are the collaborative efforts of both his wife and himself. As such, she has been so much more to him than just a life partner. "My wife who is also my buyer and merchandiser has always been there to support me in all of my endeavors."
Jack McLaughlin Jr. Leader of the Year Award - Mr. Glenn Cundari
Take one quick look at Glenn Cundari's resume and it is no wonder that he has been named as the Jack McLaughlin Jr. Leader of the Year. Nominees for this award are judged on their contributions to the development of junior golf in terms of their leadership, inspiration and promotion of the game. Cundari has gone above and beyond this role. In addition to organizing and facilitating nine different junior programs for about 225 girls and boys between the ages of 4 and 16, Cundari miraculously still has time to spare to be a volunteer, a member of various committees, a spokesperson and facilitator of charity events, a weekly editorialist for the local Amateur Sports News, and also launch a new golf radio talk show.
To top it all off, Cundari does not brag about his accomplishments. "When I first heard that I won the award, I was both surprised and overwhelmed with enjoyment. At the end of the day it was really humbling to hear the news. There are so many others who could have won this award. You see I'm not that great at talking about myself so, I just don't do it. As a result this whole process was really quite difficult for me to do."
Cundari allocates his achievement to the support he has received from his family. "I could not have achieved this award without the love and support of my wife, children and parents. As a kid, my parents were never judgmental about my golf performance. Whether I shot a 110 or a 65, all I ever felt from them was pure unconditional love. It's the same with my wife and kids now." Cundari knew he wanted to be a golf professional at the age of 9 as a direct result from his childhood teacher. "When I was 9,10,11, I told my dad I wanted to be a pro. At the time, I didn't know what it meant or how I would become one. I just knew that I wanted to be one. It was because of Jeff Rogerson. He was my first golf pro as a kid. I'm not exactly sure what he did or how he encouraged me but, he did and I hope to inspire the kids that I'm teaching in the same way that Jeff inspired me."
Cundari is seen by his peers and comrades as a golf professional who "sets the standard" for junior golf development. Much of his teaching is not working with elite level tour players, but specializing in the development of juniors who want to start to compete locally, regionally or provincially. Cundari has single-handedly identified the development of junior golfers as a niche market that is currently not being filled in his region. For this reason, Cundari is a leader in the industry who has introduced juniors and their families to training programs, development techniques and competition preparation. His programming is inclusive and helps support children with all types of needs including those who face both physical and mental challenges.
Cundari is a man who is driven by continuing education and utilizes state of the art coaching and teaching techniques to work with each child on a one-on-one basis. "The challenge that golf creates is self-development. There is always room for improvement in the game and I love learning, researching and observing how kids grow and develop their skills. With this information, I can help them with their own personal levels of self-development. It's great to be able to pass my enthusiasm for the game on to them."
For more nformation please visit www.cpga.com.