Paul Runyan

Paul Runyan started out as a caddie and then an apprentice at a golf course in his hometown in Arkansas, before turning pro at age 17. He became an assistant pro to Craig Wood at Forest Hills Golf Club in White Plains in 1931 and later was named head professional at Metropolis Country Club. In 1934, Runyan defeated Wood in a playoff in the title match, to win the first of his two PGA Championships. Of Runyan's 29 career PGA Tour wins, 16 of them came in 1933 and 1934. His nine wins in 1933 make him one of only seven golfers to win nine or more times in one year on the PGA Tour. Runyan won the PGA Tour money title in 1934, and was a member of the U.S. Ryder Cup team in 1933 and 1935. He won the Met PGA Championship three times (1931, 1935, 1936) and the Met Open in 1934. Runyan won the PGA again in 1938 defeating Sam Snead 8 and 7. He maintained his game as a after turning 50, winning the PGA Seniors Championship in 1961 and again in 1962. Runyan was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1990. In addition, he is a member of the World Golf Teachers Hall of Fame and the Arkansas Hall of Fame. He received the Harvey Penick Lifetime Teaching Award and the PGA of America Distinguished Service Award and in 1991 was honored by the Met PGA with their Sam Snead Award.

Gene Sarazen

Gene Sarazen was born in Harrison, New York and began caddying at age ten at local golf clubs, took up golf himself, and gradually developed his skills; he was essentially self-taught. Sarazen took a series of club professional jobs in the New York area from his mid-teens, and worked hard on his game. Among the clubs he enjoyed affiliation with in the Met area were Fresh Meadow and Brooklawn. Sarazen won his first major championships — the 1922 U.S. Open and PGA Championship — at age 20. The winner of 39 PGA Tournaments, Sarazen, known as The Squire, was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame as a charter member in 1974. He was the Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year in 1932, and won the PGA Tour's first Lifetime Achievement Award in 1996. He played on the first six U.S. Ryder Cup teams: 1927, 1929, 1931, 1933, 1935, and 1937. He won the Met Open in 1925 and the Met PGA Championship in 1927, 1928, and 1938. Sarazen invented the modern sand wedge in 1930. The Met PGA established the Squire Cup Matches in the ‘80’s in his honor.

Craig Shankland

A native of Leeds, England, Craig Shankland’s rise to prominence as a teacher followed years of service to the game, the Association and to the Met Section. The son of a famous English teaching professional, Bill Shankland (who worked with Bobby Locke, Henry Cotton, Kel Nagle and Tony Jacklin among others) and the brother of fellow PGA Member Dale Shankland, Craig was obviously a product of golfing genes. He was elected to PGA Membership in 1962 while at Canoe Brook in New Jersey. After a short stint in Illinois, Craig returned to the Met area and served as the head professional at Rye Golf Club, followed by Middle Bay Country Club and then finally Fairview Country Club. It was during his tenure at Middle Bay that he became immersed in the governance of the Met PGA, following Bob Watson as President. His tenure was filled with accomplishments. During his administration the Met PGA published a high gloss Newsletter to improve communications, established an Employment & Club Relations Committee that Craig chaired for several years, initiated the first semblance of the Junior Tour, identified new major sponsors for the Section Championship and tournament program, refined the membership process and created an Assistants Association to provide playing and educational opportunities for the area’s assistant professionals. An outstanding player in his own right, Shankland won the 1969 PGA Championship at Wee Burn and was a role model for the complete professional who excelled as a teacher, player, merchandiser, manager and promoter. His success in the Met Section preceded most of the PGA’s Annual Awards but he is one of only two Met PGA Professionals to ever be recognized as the Section’s Professional of the Year in back to back years in 1974 and again in 1975. His playing record also includes playing in 7 major championships (four PGA’s, two British Opens and one US Open). In 1985 Shankland purchased Ocean Palm Country Club in Ormond Beach and quickly established himself as one of the game’s premier teachers. He won the North Florida PGA Teacher of the Year Award four times (1996, ’97, ’99 and 2001) in addition to being named the Horton Smith nominee in 1994. Now in his 70’s Craig is still listed among the top 25 teachers in Golf Digest, and has enjoyed that distinction in Golf Magazine as well. He served as Vice-Chair for the 1998 and 2000 Teaching & Coaching Summits, was part of the PGA Teaching Manual and GPTP Training Program Committees and received the Association’s ultimate instructional honor when he was named PGA Teacher of the Year in 2001.

Alex Smith

Alex Smith was a member of a famous Scottish golfing family. His brother Willie won the U.S. Open in 1899, and Alex won it in both 1906 and 1910. Like many British professionals of his era he spent much of his adult life working as a club professional in the United States. He won the 1906 U.S. Open at the Onwentsia Club in Illinois, and the 1910 U.S. Open at the Philadelphia Cricket Club when he won a three man playoff against American John McDermott and another of his own brothers, Macdonald Smith. Alex Smith played in eighteen U.S. Opens in total and accumulated eleven top ten finishes. He also played in 8 PGA Championships, winning over 50% of his matches in those events. Smith also won the Met Open four times, including the inaugural Met Open in 2005 when the Nassau Country Club professional beat Willie Anderson in a playoff at Fox Hills.

Jimmy Thomson

Jimmy Thomson was born in North Berwick, the son of pro golfer Wilfred Thomson. His cousin Jack White won the 1904 Open Championship. In 1921 his father Wilfred was appointed pro at The Country Club of Virginia. The following year Jimmy sailed to the U.S. with his mother and sister. Thomson finished second in the 1935 US Open and in the 1936 PGA Championship. In all, Thomson played in 17 US Opens and 14 PGA Championships. He was also known for his personal life as a celebrity having appeared in the movie “The Caddy” with Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin and was also featured in “Shoot Yourself Some Golf” with Ronald Reagan. He was married to silent film star Viola Dana from 1930 to 1945.

Jim Turnesa

Jim Turnesa was born in New York City. He was one of seven famous golfing brothers; Phil, Frank, Joe, Mike, Doug, Jim, and Willie. All but Willie turned professional and Jim was the only one to win a major, the 1952 PGA Championship, besting Chick Harbert 1 up at Big Spring CC in Louisville, Kentucky. He had previously lost to Sam Snead in the 1942 PGA Championship final. Jim Turnesa played in a total of 23 PGA Championships and 16 US Opens, his best showing being a 3rd place finish in 1948 at Riviera. He won one other PGA Tour event, the 1951 Reading Open. Turnesa played on the 1953 Ryder Cup team where he won his singles match in Wentworth, England against Peter Alliss. He also won the 1959 Met Open Championship, beating Shelley Mayfield by a stroke at Woodmere Club. Among his professional posts in the Met Section were stints at Briar Hall in Westchester and Mill River on Long Island.

Joe Turnesa

Joe Turnesa, another of the famous Turnesa family made his impact on the Metropolitan PGA in the very first Championship in 1926 when he won that title and is the first to have his name engraved in the J.J. Lannin Trophy. In that inaugural Met PGA, Turnesa tied for 7th in the 36-hole qualifying then ousted Joe Sylvester in the finals at Salisbury. He worked his way up from the caddy yard to become the professional at Fairview Country Club (in Westchester) as well as at Rockville on Long Island. He finished second to Walter Hagen in the 1927 PGA Championship at Cedar Crest CC in Dallas. He was a member of the first two U.S. Ryder Cup teams of 1927 and 1929. Joe Turnesa played in 7 PGA Championships, 17 Masters, and 14 US Opens, including his best finish in 1926 when he was runner-up to Bobby Jones at Scioto in the first year the USGA played 36 holes on the final day. Joe Turnesa added the 1930 Met PGA title to his ’26 crown.

Mike Turnesa

Mike Turnesa was another of the famed Turnesa family who’s life and career revolved around golf. Turnesa's first job in golf came in the pro shop at the Metropolis Country Club. He then became assistant professional at Inwood in the late 1920s before being named "playing professional" representing Fairview in 1931. Mike continued to play the tour circuit for more than 18 years, winning six times, before settling down at Knollwood Country Club. He won the 1933 and 1941 Westchester Opens, and the 1949 Metropolitan PGA at Ardsley. He is certainly best known for having finished second to Ben Hogan in both the 1948 PGA Championship and the 1942 Hale America Tournament, the war-time substitute for the U.S. Open. Mike also played in the inaugural Masters Tournament in 1934 along with his brother Joe. Mike Turnesa was the 1963 Met PGA Professional of the Year and the 1986 Sam Snead Award recipient. Turnesa's son, Michael is a professional at Rockville Links (where Joe Turnesa also served) while his grandson, Marc Turnesa, has won on the Nationwide Tour and the PGA Tour.