Pierce Recipient of David Toms Overcoming Adversity Award presented by the AJGA
LAS VEGAS – Brandon Pierce, a senior at LSU, has been named recipient of the David Toms Overcoming Adversity Award presented by the AJGA. Pierce twice overcame injury to be one of the nation’s elite college golfers.
Pierce struggled to break the Tigers lineup his freshman year in the fall of 2013, only playing twice while balancing his studies in the engineering department. After missing out in qualifying for the first two events in the spring he was selected to play as an individual in the team’s third event. During the tournament’s final round Pierce struck a tree root. While he felt pain from the impact, he finished the round. Pierce continued to practice for the next few weeks, even though on one occassion he collapsed due to the injury.
After medication and cortisone shots could not help with the pain, Pierce and LSU consulted a doctor. The doctor informed Pierce that he had fractured his lower back. Recovery time would be six-to-nine months. Fortunately, surgery was not needed, allowing the bone to heal stronger than it was before.
Pierce continued to support the team and help his teammates reach their potential during his recovery. Personally, he was consulting a sports psychologist. He also worked on his physical strength to come back at 100-percent.
His work paid off when Pierce qualified for the first tournament of the 2015 spring season. He finished in the top 10 in that event and went on to have one of the best seasons in LSU history. In eight tournaments played, Pierce posted a 71.16 scoring average, eclipsing David Toms 26-year-old school record. Additionally, he helped lead the Tigers to the 2015 NCAA Championship with an unbeaten record in match play. Pierce earned PING Honorable Mention All-America honors and was named to the SEC Academic Honor Roll.
Soon after experiencing the high of the Tigers winning the NCAA Championship, Pierce experienced the most difficult moment of his life after fracturing multiple vertebrae in his neck and ligamentous tears in a swimming accident. He required surgery the next day as his neck was unstable. Doctors told Pierce he was fortunate that he was not paralyzed. Before the surgery they outlined the risks, including that Pierce may not walk or play golf again. Following the procedure the surgeon informed Pierce that it was the best neck surgery he had performed.
Even with the surgery’s success, Pierce faced difficult recovery and rehabilitation. He would spend months in a restrictive neck brace which limited him to laying in bed or sitting in a chair. Unlike the recovery from his previous back injury Pierce was uncertain and timid about practicing golf.
Pierce also suffered an emotional toll. Despite his positive recovery, Pierce has serious doubts about himself, his game and how one mistake could have so negatively impacted himself and those around him. He had difficutly sleeping and experienced depression.
With the support of his family and coaches, Pierce received help in his battle with depression. He attended weekly counseling sessions with a sports psychologists. Through their combined support he began to believe in himself and found playing golf fun again. Pierce was able to compete in a few events in the fall of 2015 and the entire spring 2016 schedule. He helped LSU reach match play at the NCAA Championships for the third-straight season and again was named to the SEC Academic Honor Roll. This past summer Pierce advanced to the Round of 32 at the U.S. Amateur. He won his first collegiate event, The David Toms Intercollegiate, this fall.
“I’m very honored to have even been considered for the David Toms Award,” said Pierce. “Looking back at the past recipients I wasn’t even sure I should have been in the same category. I was surprised and shocked that I had won this prestigious award and couldn’t be any more grateful. I want to thank everyone who supported me and helped me through my recoveries, they are the ones who deserve praise.”
About the American Junior Golf Association:
The American Junior Golf Association is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to the overall growth and development of young men and women who aspire to earn college golf scholarships through competitive junior golf. The AJGA provides valuable exposure for college golf scholarships, and has an annual junior membership (boys and girls, ages 12-18) of more than 6,300 members from 48 states and more than 50 foreign countries. Through initiatives like the Achieving Competitive Excellence (ACE) Grant, a financial assistance program, and Leadership Links, a service-oriented platform that teaches juniors charitable-giving skills, the AJGA fosters the growth of golf’s next generation.
AJGA alumni have risen to the top of amateur, collegiate and professional golf. Former AJGA juniors have compiled more than 600 victories on the PGA and LPGA Tours. AJGA alumni include Jordan Spieth, Brandt Snedeker, Bubba Watson, Webb Simpson, Hunter Mahan, Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods, Stacy Lewis, Vicky Hurst, Inbee Park, Paula Creamer, Cristie Kerr, Brittany Lincicome and Morgan Pressel.
West Chester’s Hammond Recipient of Labron Harris Sr. Award
NORMAN, Okla. – Harry Hammond, Head Men’s Golf Coach at West Chester and a member of the Philadelphia PGA Section, has been named winner of the Labron Harris Sr. Award presented by the Golf Coaches Association of America in cooperation with The PGA of America. The Harris Award is presented to the college or high school coach and PGA Professional whose support of the game through teaching, coaching and involvement in the community has helped ensure the continued growth of the game of golf and who represents the finest qualities the game has to offer.
“To be selected by my fellow coaches for the Labron Harris Sr. Award is an honor that I hold as one of the most important awards that I have ever received,” said Hammond. “Mr. Harris set some very high standards as a PGA member, university coach and contributor to his community that I continue to strive to achieve in my profession everyday.”
A 53-year member of the PGA of America, Hammond took the coaching reins at West Chester in 2007. He was recognized as Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference Coach of the Year in 2011 and 2015. Hammond has guided the Golden Rams to five straight NCAA Regional appearances. In 2015, his charges claimed both the PSAC’s conference championship and its top team GPA award. Since 2012 Hammond and West Chester have hosted the Dr. Edwin Cottrell Invitational, honoring the GCAA Hall of Fame Member. Additionally, Penn Oaks Golf Club, where Hammond serves as Director of Golf and part of the facilities ownership group, serves as the home course for West Chester’s men’s and women’s golf teams.
Hammond’s career in golf began in 1953 when he became a caddy at Kennett Square Golf & Country Club. Through caddying he paid for his tuition at Penn State before being hired full-time by the PGA professional at Kennett Square.
In 1963, Hammond accepted his first head golf professional position at West Chester Golf & Country Club, serving for six years. He moved to Whitford Country Club in 1969 where he remained for 38 years until he retired in 2007. In 2005, Hammond became an owner/partner at Penn Oaks Golf Club.
During his tenure at Whitford, the club’s junior program grew to 150 participats. Hammond also initiated a community youth teaching program in the Phoenixville, Pa., area. The program grew to two hundred juniors and due to its size led to the creation of an additional program in Thorndale, Pa.
Hammond has served the Philadelphia Section as an officer, committee chair and member of various section committees. He currently serves as president of the Philadelphia Section Junior Golf Foundation and member of the junior golf committee. Additionally, Hammond served on several PGA of America national committees and currently serves as an advisory board member for PGA Magazine. One of the highlights of his career was being invited to teach in 2011 and ‘12 at the PGA Ryder Cup Junior Golf Academy held in Port St. Lucie, Fla.
Elected a PGA Master Professional in 1992, Hammond was selected as PGA of America Junior Golf Leader in 1999 and recipient of the Bill Strausbaugh Award in 2012. Hammond was elected to the Philadelphia Section Hall of Fame in 2001. He was named the Sections Merchandiser of the Year three times, Golf Professional of the Year in 1991, Junior Golf Leader four times and Bill Strausbaugh Award twice.
As a teacher, Hammond has introduced the game to hundreds of young golfers. Many of these juniors went on to successful college golf careers. Four times he has been named a U.S. Kids Golf Top 50 Teacher and was recognized as U.S. Kids Master Teacher in 2012.
Hammond has also used golf to support local charities. While at Whitford Country Club, he initiated a pro-am tournament that benefited The First Tee of Chester County. For the last several years the pro-am has supported the Make-a-Wish Foundation of Chester County. Hammond has also supported the Chester County YMCA, The Arc of Chester County, Chester County Food Bank and United Way of Chester County.
Hammond has been married to his wife Sally for 45 years. His daughter Laura played for Penn State and currently serves as executive director of the Women’s Golf Association of Philadelphia.
Hammond follows in the footsteps of past Labron Harris Award recipients Jay Hardwick (Virginia Tech/Middle Atlantic PGA Section), Devon Brouse (Purdue/Indiana PGA Section), the late Rod Myers (Duke/Carolina PGA Section), Herb Page (Kent State/Northern Ohio PGA Section), Jim Brown (Ohio State/Southern Ohio PGA Section), Pat Owen (U.S. Naval Academy/Middle Atlantic PGA Section), Rick Pohle (Williams College/ Northeastern New York PGA Section), John Bermel (Northern Iowa/Iowa PGA Section), Pat Goss (Northwestern/Illinois PGA Section), Mike Small (Illinois/Illinois PGA Section), Mike Mayer (Indiana/Indiana PGA Section) and Puggy Blackmon (South Carolina/Carolinas PGA Section).
PGA TOUR Caddy Skovron to Speak at GCAA Convention
NORMAN, Okla. – Joe Skovron, caddy for PGA TOUR star Rickie Fowler, will speak at the GCAA National Convention in Las Vegas, Dec. 12-14. Prior to working with Fowler, Skovron coached at La Verne, leading the program to a NCAA Division III Championships runner-up finish.
With Skovron on his bag, Fowler has consistently found himself ranked in the top 10 of the Official World Golf Ranking. He has six wins worldwide and represented the United States in three Ryder Cups and one Presidents Cup. In 2014, Fowler placed in the top five in all four majors. He claimed PGA Tour Rookie of the Year honors in 2010.
“Joe Skovron will give our coaches an incredible perspective as a PGA Tour Caddy for Rickie Fowler,” said GCAA President Andrew Sapp. “Hearing of his experiences helping Rickie in the Majors and at events like the Ryder Cup will be invaluable. Often times as college coaches we act as caddies for our players during a round and learning from Joe will not only be a unique experience, but a valuable one that we can take back to our campuses and directly affect our players.”
Skovron played collegiatelly at La Verne where he twice earned PING All-America honors. He also excelled in the classroom, twice earning Cleveland Golf/Srixon All-America Scholar honors and graduating Summa Cum Laude in 2004.
Following his graduation from La Verne, Skovron played professionally for three years before returning to his alma mater to coach. The Leopards finished second at the 2009 NCAA Division Championships under his direction. Mitchell Fedorka was named Jack Nicklaus National Player of the Year Award presented by Barbasol recipient and was joined on the PING All-America First Team by Rizal Amin and Andrew Kramer.
An inductee into the La Verne Athletic Hall of Fame, Skovron currently serves the school as a volunteer assistant coach.
McCormick Featured Instructor at GCAA and WGCA Conventions
NORMAN, Okla. – Cameron McCormick, one of golf’s top teachers, will be the featured instructor at the GCAA and WGCA national conventions held Dec. 12-14 in Las Vegas. The 2015 PGA of America Teacher of the Year, McCormick teaches all levels of golfers.
“The opportunity to have one of the top PGA Golf Instructors in the world in Cameron McCormick speak at our annual coaches convention is incredible,” said GCAA President Andrew Sapp. “One of the objectives of our Coaches Convention is to help educate our coaches so they can bring that information back to their teams. We are very excited to have Cameron come and share his experiences of working with the world’s greatest golfers.”
"We are honored to have Cameron McCormick speak at our coaches convention,” stated WGCA President Kristi Knight. "Our goal is to provide educational opportunities and information that will continue the development of our coaches and their players. He teaches players ways to practice that will maximize their ability to perform at a high level.”
McCormick began coaching golf in his home country of Australia in 1998. Moving to the United States in 2000 he brought with him the coaching principles honed under the tutelage of the Victorian Institute of Sport coaches.
With a background in competitive golf, both collegiate, amateur and professional; in addition to knowledge in the biomechanics, motor learning and psychology domains, McCormick has developed an international reputation as a sought-after coach to players at, or aspiring to, high levels of competitive mastery.
McCormick’s client list covers the gamut from beginner to elite players. He is most well known for coaching 2015 Masters and U.S. Open Champion Jordan Spieth, since the age of 12, and 2011 US Women’s Open Champion So Yeon Ryu. His clients, past and present, include over 20 combined PGA, Champions, Web.com and LPGA Tour players & four of the last eight USGA Junior Amateur champions.
McCormick is the founder of Altus Performance and serves at the Director of Instruction at the Trinity Forest Golf Club in Dallas, Texas. He is a Golf Digest Top 50 instructor, a Golf Magazine Top 100 teacher and in 2015 was named the PGA of America Teacher of the Year.
- GCAA/WGCA -
Established in 1958, the Golf Coaches Association of America (GCAA) is the professional organization of golf coaches. The GCAA's mission is to support its member coaches by creating educational opportunities, providing resources, and promoting its members with the purpose of enhancing their overall performance as coaches, mentors, and teachers. The GCAA also recognizes the excellence and achievements of its members and their student-athletes in academic, athletic and civic endeavors.
The Women’s Golf Coaches Association (WGCA), founded in 1983, is a non-profit organization representing women’s collegiate golf coaches. The WGCA was formed to encourage the playing of college golf for women in correlation with a general objective of education and in accordance with the highest tradition of intercollegiate competition. Today, the WGCA represents over 500 coaches throughout the U.S. and is dedicated to educating, promoting and recognizing both its members and the student-athletes they represent.
GCAA to Induct Six for 2016 Hall of Fame Class
NORMAN, Okla. – The GCAA will induct six coaches - Vince Clark, Mike McGraw, Tim Poe, Jay Seawell, Mike Small and Dick Spybey - in its 2016 Hall of Fame Class. The group will be officially inducted at the GCAA Hall of Fame Reception and Awards Banquet Monday, Dec. 12 in Las Vegas.
Clark stepped into the role of head coach of the McClennan Community College golf team in 2007, having spent the previous six years as an assistant in the program. Since taking over the helm, Clark has led the Highlanders to three NJCAA Division I National Championships, back-to-back titles in 2009 and 2010 and another title in 2016, bringing the school’s title count to four.
In 2009, the team’s success earned him Coach of the Year honors from Region V, NJCAA and the Dave Williams National Coach of the Year Award presented by Golf Pride Grips. He received the region and NJCAA awards again in 2010. He was named the NJCAA District II Coach of the Year for the 2013 season, and in 2016 was inducted into the NJCAA Men’s Golf Coaches Association Hall of Fame. Clark serves at the president of the NJCAA Coaches Association and sits on several committes for the GCAA.
During his McLennan tenure, Clark has coached 15 PING All-American selections and eight NJCAA Academic Award winners, and the team has received NJCCA All-Academic Team Honorable Mention seven times.
In addition to his coaching duties, Clark has taught history classes since joining the McLennan faculty in 1994.
Three-time national champion coach McGraw is in his third season leading Baylor and his 12th season as a Division I head coach. McGraw has 19 years of experience coaching at the Division I level, including eight seasons as Oklahoma State men’s golf head coach, and he’s led teams to the NCAA Championship in 17 of those 19 seasons. In addition to three national titles, more than half of McGraw’s 19 years have ended with top-five finishes at the NCAA Championship, including 10 times in the top five and three times finishing as national runner-up.
McGraw led Oklahoma State to five Big 12 titles and was named Big 12 Coach of the Year five times in his eight seasons as men’s golf head coach. The Cowboys won 30 total tournaments and advanced to the NCAA Championships seven times, recording five top-five national finishes during his tenure. His players earned 30 individual medalist honors and he produced 21 PING All-Americans while he was men’s team head coach at OSU. He was twice honored with the Dave Williams National Coach of the Year Award presented by Golf Pride Grips.
While an assistant at Oklahoma State, McGraw received the inaugural Jan Strickland Assistant Coach of the Year Award presented by TaylorMade adidas Golf.
The 2016-17 season marks Poe’s 27th year as head men’s golf coach Central Missouri. During his tenure he has built the Mules’ golf program in to one of the best in all of NCAA Division II.
Poe has led Central Missouri to 14 MIAA Championships, including six straight from 1997-2002. The Mules have made 23 straight NCAA postseason appearances, including qualifying for the NCAA Division II National Championships 11 times and every year since 2009.
Poe has been named MIAA Coach of the Year 14 times and is a 10-time recipient of the Golf Pride Grips Division II Regional/District Coach of the Year Award.
He has produced 83 All-MIAA players, 24 PING All-Region selections, 20 PING All-Americans, seven MIAA Players of the Year, one All-Nicklaus Team Award winner, and the 2015 NCAA Division II Individual National Champion and Arnold Palmer Award recipient, Sam Migdal.
In 2010, Poe led the Mules to a second place finish at the NCAA Division II National Championships in Noblesville, Ind., the highest finish in school and MIAA history. He received the 2010 Division II Dave Williams National Coach of the Year Award presented by Golf Pride Grips. To highlight the season, he was selected to coach the 2011 United States Arnold Palmer Cup team, the first non-Division I coach to be named to the position.
He has been a member of the PGA of America since 1990.
Named Alabama’s head men’s golf coach on July 26, 2002, Seawell led the Crimson Tide to back-to-back national championships in 2013-14. His teams have captured a total of four Southeastern Conference championships. Seawell has led Alabama to 13 NCAA Tournament appearances and nine NCAA Championship berths. Seawell has coached Alabama to 46 team tournament championships with 34 individual medalists. He received the Dave Williams National Coach of the Year Award in 2013.
Seawell has coached 31 PING All-Americans during his coaching career. His golfers at Alabama have been nominated for the sport’s highest national awards, including the Ben Hogan Award, the Jack Nicklaus Award, the Fred Haskins Award, the Phil Mickelson Award and the Byron Nelson Award. Justin Thomas won the Nicklaus, Haskins and Mickelson awards in 2012 and Robby Shelton was named the Mickelson Award winner in 2014.
Alabama has put 77 players on the SEC Academic Honor Roll in the last 14 years and has seen eight players (16 honors) earn Cleveland Golf All-America Scholar accolades. Joseph Sykora was voted by the league golf coaches as the SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year an SEC-record three times. In 2008, Sykora won the SEC’s H. Boyd McWhorter Scholar-Athlete Award (all sports, all males in the league) and Alabama’s Bryant Award, as the top male student-athlete from any sport. Cory Whitsett received the 2012 and 2013 NCAA Elite 89 Award, presented annually to the golfer at the NCAA Championships with the highest GPA. He also was named 2013 and 2014 SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year while winning the H. Boyd McWhorter Scholar-Athlete Award and the Bryant Award in 2014.
Seawell began his coaching career at Anderson College, where he coached from 1991-96 and won five consecutive NJCAA Region 10 championship and earned five Region Coach of the Year awards. After briefly leaving Anderson for another career pursuit, Seawell returned to coach Anderson again in 1997-98. He was hired by Augusta State as its head coach prior to the start of 1998-99 season. He led ASU to four straight NCAA Regional appearances and three trips to the NCAA Championships. He coached three PING All-Americans during his tenure at Augusta State.
Small has brought national recognition to Illinois golf in his 16 years at the helm of the program. The 2015 Dave Williams National Coach of the Year guided the Illini to Big Ten Championship titles in seven of the last eight seasons and coached two NCAA individual champions in that span (Scott Langley: 2010 and Thomas Pieters: 2012). He also has coached five consecutive Big Ten Players of the Year. In all, Small has coached seven Big Ten Players of the Year.
Small has been named Big Ten Coach of the Year a conference-record eight times in his career (2016, 2015, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2002), taking home the top honor for the fifth year in a row in 2013. He also has been named Midwest Regional Coach of the Year eight times in his career (2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2003), including each of the past four seasons. Under his direction, Illinois athletes have won 21 All-America honors and 38 All-Big Ten accolades. The Illini have qualifed for 12 NCAA Championships, advancing to the finals 11 times - including each of the last nine years. Illinois has advanced to the match play portion of the NCAA Championships a record five times.
Several Illini have represented the program on a national level, competing in the Arnold Palmer Cup, as Langley also won the clinching match at the Palmer Cup in 2010 and Thomas Pieters, also helped Europe clinch the 2012 Palmer Cup by halving both of his singles matches in the event. Thomas Detry went 3-1 in helping Europe to a 2014 Palmer Cup win in 2014, while Charlie Danielson received the event’s Michael Carter sportsmanship award in 2016.
In addition to success on the course, Small’s players have also had academic success, capturing several Big Ten Medal of Honor awards with Scott Langley in 2011, Luke Guthrie in 2012 and Charlie Danielson in 2016. Additionally, his players have earned 45 Academic All-Big Ten and 12 Cleveland Golf/Srixon All-America Scholar honors.
Small was inducted into the Illinois Golf Hall of Fame and received the 2013 Labron Harris Award.
Spybey served as Alabama’s women’s head coach from 1985-88 and its men’s head coach from 1988-2002. He lead the Crimson Tide to eight regional appearances and advanced to the NCAA finals four times. Spybey was named Dave Williams National Coach of the Year Award recipient in 1992 and was time recognized as GCAA District 3 South Coach of the Year. He earned SEC Coach of the Year Awards as both a men’s and women’s coach, the only individual to win both honors. Spybey also served on the team USA coaching staff for the inaugural Arnold Palmer Cup in 1997.
Five of Spybey’s golfers earned All-America honors while five received All-America scholar recognition. Marten Olander received the 1993 Ben Hogan Award. Allen MacDonald represented GB&I in the inaugural Arnold Palmer Cup matches. A total of 16 golfers earned All-SEC honors and 48 were All-SEC Academic Honor Roll recipients.
An active member of the GCAA, Spybey served as the Association’s president from 1995-97 and served on the National Advisory Board from 1991-99. He served a two-year term as the GCAA representative on the USGA Committee on Amateurism and was the District 3 South Selection Committee chairman. Additionally, Spybey hosted a number of college tournaments and was tournament directoy for the 1998 Arnold Palmer Cup held at St. Andrews.
Remembering Arnold Palmer
We encourage all college golf fans to visit iam.arniesarmy.org and share your memories of Arnold Palmer.
"Many things have been said and written about Arnold Palmer from people that knew him better than I and are more eloquent than I can convey. His contributions to the world of golf have been incredible, and he has also meant so much to college golf. His legacy teaches our student-athletes generosity and sportsmanship, as well as how to be a gentleman in the most fiery of competitions. Every college golf coach and college golfer is thankful to have had Arnold Palmer as an example of how the game should be played." Andrew Sapp, GCAA President.