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Darrell Kestner, David Leadbetter Lead 11 PGA Members Honored At 2017 PGA Of America National Awards Ceremony
November 1st 2017 -


Kestner Receives PGA Golf Professional of the Year Award;
Leadbetter PGA Teacher of the Year;
Recipients Honored at 2017 PGA Annual Meeting in Austin, Texas

AUSTIN, Texas (Nov. 2, 2017) – PGA Golf Professional of the Year Darrell Kestner and PGA Teacher of the Year David Leadbetter led a contingent of 11 PGA Professionals who were honored during the PGA of America’s 2017 National Awards celebration at the Hilton Austin on Wednesday, Nov. 1, in conjunction with the 101st PGA Annual Meeting in Austin, Texas.

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)

(*Note: The Herb Graffis Award is being presented on Nov. 2 during the PGA Annual Meeting.)

“The 2017 class of national award recipients were all truly deserving of this recognition, having distinguished themselves as inspirational leaders, mentors, and pioneers among their peers,” said PGA President Paul Levy. “The PGA of America proudly recognizes them for their unwavering commitment to represent the PGA Professional and the game of golf at the highest of levels.”

Darrell Kestner, PGA, the PGA Director of Golf at Deepdale Golf Club in Manhasset, New York, was honored as 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.

David Leadbetter, PGA, Founder of The Leadbetter Golf Academy—with more than 30 worldwide locations—was named the 2017 PGA Teacher of the Year for his “outstanding services as a golf teacher, innovator and coach.” One of the most recognized and sought-after instructors and presenters in the world, Leadbetter can usually be found working directly with one of his students or imparting wisdom by teaching other teachers. He has served as a featured presenter at premier events around the globe, including several PGA Teaching & Coaching Summits and PGA Section instructional presentations.

Among Leadbetter’s world-class students are the winners of 24 major championships and seven World No. 1s, such as Nick Price, Nick Faldo, Ernie Els, Lydia Ko, Se Ri Pak, Lee Westwood, Justin Rose, Rafa Cabrera-Bello, Byeong-hun An, Michelle Wie and 2017 KPMG Women’s PGA Champion Danielle Kang. Leadbetter founded the first specialist junior golf academy in 1993, and can be credited with the development of some of the world’s top junior players. The author of several books and a regular contributor to Golf Digest, where he is annually rated as one of the best teachers in America, Leadbetter has been recognized with various awards and accolades on the global stage, including the World Golf Teachers Hall of Fame in 2007, and as an Asia Golf Awards Global Golf Legend in 2016.

For more information on the individual award winners, click here.

About the PGA of America
The PGA of America is one of the world’s largest sports organizations, with nearly 29,000 professionals who daily work to grow interest and participation in the game of golf. For more information about the PGA of America, visit, follow @PGA on Twitter, and find us on Facebook.

Media Contact:
Michael Abramowitz, PGA of America
Jared Minski, Mastro Communications, Inc.