Met Area Pros Recognized by PGA

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. (November 2, 2017) -- Darrell Kestner headlined the PGA of America's 2017 National Awards celebration on November 1, as the longtime Deepdale Director of Golf was recognized as the PGA Golf Professional of the Year. PGA Life Member John Kennedy, formerly of Westchester Country Club, was honored with the Bill Straughsbaugh Award, while Mike Strlekar of Montclair received the PGA Merchandiser of the Year - Private Facilities.

Related: PGA of America Annual Meeting | Photos

Darrell Kestner, PGA – PGA GOLF PROFESSIONAL OF THE YEAR
Deepdale Golf Club – Manhasset, New York 
Darrell Kestner, PGA, the PGA Director of Golf at Deepdale Golf Club in Manhasset, New York, is the 64th recipient of the PGA Golf Professional of the Year Award. In winning the highest annual honor given to a PGA of America Professional, Kestner heads the 2017 PGA National Awards class for “qualities of leadership, strong moral character, and a substantial record of service” to the PGA and the game of golf. A PGA Member for 33 years, Kestner is recognized for his consistent track record of excellence, encompassing his complete body of work as an accomplished player, distinguished instructor, passionate mentor to his assistants and devoted volunteer. Kestner is the only PGA Club Professional since World War II to compete in major championships in five different decades, including 11 PGA Championships and eight U.S. Opens. He shot a tournament record 17-under-par in capturing the 1996 PGA Professional Championship (then called the PGA Club Professional Championship). Complementing his playing ability, Kestner has taught top PGA Tour golfers, including Ray Floyd, Nick Price, Tom Kite and Nick Watney. Among his other notable students are: “The Tonight Show” host Jimmy Fallon, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred, former IBM chairman and CEO Louis Gerstner Jr., former Deutsche Bank CEO Seth Waugh and real estate magnate Lew Rudin. A multiple Metropolitan PGA Section award-winner, Kestner was inducted into the Section’s Hall of Fame in 2010, as well as the Long Island Senior Golf Association Hall of Fame in 2012.

JOHN KENNEDY, PGA – BILL STRAUSBAUGH AWARD
Westchester Country Club - Rye, New York (retired in 2016)
John Kennedy, PGA, the former PGA Director of Golf at Westchester Country Club in Rye, New York, is the 2017 Bill Strausbaugh Award recipient. This honor recognizes the PGA Professional who demonstrates exceptional character, integrity and leadership by way of teaching and mentoring other PGA Professionals. The 2012 Patriot Award winner and a 2010 Horton Smith Award honoree, Kennedy has embodied what it means to serve as a PGA Professional throughout 41 years of PGA Membership. The ultimate mentor, he made it a priority to hire, train, promote and support young people who want to make golf their career. As a result, Kennedy has positively impacted the lives of more than 200 PGA Professionals, as his storied career earned him tremendous respect from his peers and across the golf community. During Kennedy’s 26 years as Director of Golf at the famed Westchester Country Club, he served as Host PGA Professional for 18 PGA Tour events, including the 2007 Barclays, the inaugural FedEx Cup event; and the first KPMG Women’s PGA Championship in 2015. Kennedy announced his retirement in 2016.

MIKE STRLEKAR, PGA – PGA MERCHANDISER OF THE YEAR – PRIVATE FACILITIES 
Montclair Golf Club – West Orange, New Jersey
Mike Strlekar, PGA, who has served as PGA Director of Golf at Montclair Golf Club in West Orange, New Jersey, for the past 16 years, is the recipient of the 2017 PGA Merchandiser of the Year Award for Private Facilities. Since 2001, Strlekar has successfully guided his team in running the 36-hole Montclair facility. During this time, his sales increases were impressive—rising 39 percent. Even after the recession affected the local market particularly hard, Strlekar’s team produced a 51 percent sales increase from 2009-‘15. When Montclair merged with Rock Spring Club in 2016 (now named Montclair Golf Club at Rock Spring), Strlekar and his staff quickly re-established the golf shop as a focal point of the club. In operating two facilities and 54 holes that are among the busiest in the highly competitive Northeast golf market, Strlekar has successfully relied on education and classic merchandising techniques—such as paper folding; lining up logos; changing merchandise and displays every seven to 10 days; using mannequins to draw attention; trunk shows; and more. Strlekar’s philosophy is simple: “Make them want to buy from us.”

The recipients of the 2017 PGA of America National Awards included:
• PGA Golf Professional of the Year: Darrell Kestner, PGA, Deepdale G.C.—Manhasset, New York
• PGA Teacher of the Year: David Leadbetter, PGA, David Leadbetter Golf Academy—ChampionsGate, Florida
• PGA Youth Player Development Award: Brendon Elliott, PGA, Little Linksters LLC— Deltona, Florida
• Bill Strausbaugh Award: John Kennedy, PGA Life Member, formerly Westchester C.C.—Rye, New York
• Horton Smith Award: Jeff Adkerson, PGA, Mississippi State University—Starkville, Mississippi
• PGA Player Development Award: Tom Morton, PGA, Haggin Oaks Golf Complex—Sacramento, California
• Patriot Award: Kevin McKinley, PGA, Treetops Resort—Gaylord, Michigan
• Deacon Palmer Award: Sam Depe III, PGA, Hickory Heights G.C.—Bridgeville, Pennsylvania
• PGA Merchandiser of the Year– Private Facilities: Mike Strlekar, PGA, Montclair G.C.—West Orange, New Jersey
• PGA Merchandiser of the Year –Public Facilities: Mark Pfingston, PGA—Bear Dance G.C.— Denver
• PGA Merchandiser of the Year– Resort Facilities: Zack Chapin, PGA, Arcadia Bluffs G.C.– Arcadia, Michigan
• Herb Graffis Award: Gateway PGA Section (parts of Missouri and Illinois)

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