| EAST LANSING, MI–Michigan Section PGA Golf Professional of the Year Doug Bell, Golf Executive of the Year Dean Kolstad, and Teacher & Coach of the Year Scott Wilson headline the Michigan PGA’s Special Awards for 2023. The 13 winners were unveiled during the 2023 Michigan PGA Spring Meeting yesterday at Eagle Eye Golf Course.
2023Michigan Section PGA Special Awards Recipients
Golf Professional of the Year
Doug Bell, PGA
American Dunes Golf Club
Golf Executive of the Year
Dean Kolstad, PGA
Gull Lake View Golf Club & Resort
Teacher & Coach of the Year
Scott Wilson, PGA
Bay Meadows Family Golf Course
Assistant Golf Professional of the Year
Tiffany Simons, PGA
Country Club of Lansing
Bill Strausbaugh Award
Mark Wilson, PGA
Ferris State University PGA Golf Management
Merchandiser of the Year-Private
Kyle Horton, PGA
Kalamazoo Country Club
Merchandiser of the Year-Public
Dean Marks, PGA
Milham Park Golf Course
Merchandiser of the Year-Resort
Steve Niezgoda, PGA
Bay Harbor Golf Club
Ian Ziska, PGA
American Dunes Golf Club
Jimmy Wisinski, PGA
Kent Country Club
Charley Vandenberg, PGA
Thousand Oaks Golf Academy
Youth Player Development
Raquel Bryant, PGA
Thousand Oaks Golf Club
Distinguished Service Award
John Celestino, PGA
Doug Bell, PGA, a 30-year PGAMember, has captured the 2023Michigan Section PGA Golf Professional of the Year award. This prestigious honor is awarded to the professional whohas demonstrated outstanding qualities of leadership and strong moral character. The individual must also maintain a substantial record of service to the Association and game of golf, and be well-regarded as a model PGA Golf Professional.
Bell was chosen by his peers for the award based on his overall performance as a Golf Professional. He is also being recognized for his service to the Section and the Association, leadership ability, image and ability to inspire others, and his promotion and growth of the game. During his career, Bellwas instrumental in the construction and operationofthree Michigan golf courses—Eldorado Golf Club, Manistee National Golf & Resort, and American Dunes Golf Club. Hesimultaneously had to be in the construction mindset while remaining in operations mode to ensurethat every golfer received professional service in a friendly atmosphere.
Doug believes that if PGA Professionals do their job properly and professionally, and treat others with respect, it will encourage and inspire the people they interact withto do the same. For Bell, setting out to inspire someone is not really a goal, it is rather the result of other goals a person sets for themselves and the activities they pursue.
Dean Kolstad, PGA, Director of Golfat Gull Lake View Golf Club & Resorthas captured the Golf Executive of the Year award. The honor bestows special recognition on a PGA Golf Professional who has performed outstanding services for a multiple facility/course management/ownership operation, allied association, or golf industry executive management position. As one of the highest honors the PGA can bestow, candidates must possess outstanding qualities of leadership, vision, courage, strong moral character, and a substantial record of service to the Association and the game of golf.
As the Director of Golf, Kolstad is responsible for overseeing sixgolf courses, fourgolf shops, and 64 villas.Additionally, he managesover 400 employees, teacheslessons, and spendstime at the VA hospital as a PGA HOPE program instructor. For the past 19 years, Kolstad has been servingthe Sectionat all levelsand is currently exemplifying his leadership asthe Michigan Section PGA President.He continues to prioritize others and contribute to the Section, recentlyassistingin the implementation of a charity hockey game between Michigan PGA Professionals and Detroit Red Wings Alumni. The gamebenefited three Veteran organizations, including PGA HOPE Michigan.
Scott Wilson, PGA, Teaching Professional at Bay Meadows Family Golf Course, has been named the Teacher & Coach of the Year. Wilsonwill be honored for his overall impact on teaching and coaching along with his innovative and special teaching programs he implemented.
Wilson began as the Director of Instruction at Crystal Mountain Resort where he implemented a nationally recognized golf school. He immersed himself into youth programming at Bay Meadows Family Golf Course by implementing and growing in-school programs, clinics and camps, league play, individual tournament play, high school golf, and junior elite. His unwavering commitment to improving golfers at every level awarded him the 2019 PGA of America Youth Player Development Award.He helps his fellow PGA professionals by sharing his knowledge and experience through presentations and seminars, and holding leadership roles on chapter and Section levels.
Tiffany Simons, PGA, Assistant Golf Professionalat the Country Club of Lansing, has been named the Assistant Golf Professional of the Year. Simons has worked at two of the top resorts in the country, Kiawah Island Golf Resort and Whistling Straits where she gained valuable experience that has helped shape her career.She is enjoying working in the private sector of the industry where she is able to build relationships with her members. Simons said, "One of the most rewarding aspects of being at a private club is seeing my students succeed". She has taught over 300 lessons since joining the CCL team two years ago and has implemented a women's program called "Women, Wine and Wedges" that continues to bring new golfers to the game. She is devotedto her membersand is active in all areas of the CCL facility.
Mark Wilson, PGA, Player Development Director atFerris State University, has been selected as the recipient of the Bill Strausbaugh Award. Wilsonwas honored for his outstanding integrity, character, and leadership through a commitment to mentoring and making significant impacts on the careers of PGA Professionals.
Established in 1979, the Bill Strausbaugh Award is presented to a PGA Professional who by their day-to-day efforts, have distinguished themselves by mentoring their fellow PGA Professionals in improving their employment situations and through service to the community. The award reflects the characteristics and qualities of Strausbaugh, a Middle Atlantic PGA Master Professional who died in 1999. Wilson was the 2008 recipient of the PGA of America Horton Smith Award.
Charley Vandenberg, PGA, Golf Professional and Instructorat Thousand Oaks Golf Academy, has been selected by the Michigan Section PGA as the recipient of the Professional Development Award. The Professional Development Award is awarded annually to a PGA Member for their outstanding contributions to professional education, leadership, networking ability and contributions made by the candidate to grow and strengthen the image of a PGA Professional.
Kyle Horton, PGA, Head Golf Professional at Kalamazoo Country Club, has been named the Merchandiser of the Year for Private Golf Facilities, Dean Marks, PGA, Head Golf Professional at Milham Park Golf Course, has been named the Merchandiser of the Year for Public Golf Facilities, and Steve Niezgoda, PGA, Director of Golf at Bay Harbor Golf Club, has been named the Merchandiser of the Year for Resort Golf Facilities by the Michigan Section PGA. This award recognizes excellence in business and merchandising at public golf facilities as well as innovation in displays, merchandising techniques, staff training and overall success and growth.
Ian Ziska, PGA, Head Golf Professionalat American Dunes Golf Club has been selected by the Michigan Section PGA as therecipient of the Patriot Award. Ziskawas honored for personifying patriotism through the game of golf and demonstrating unwavering commitment and dedication to the men and women who have valiantly served and protected the United States of America. The Patriot Award originated in 2008 following the inspiration of Patriot Day founder Lt. Col. Dan Rooney, a PGA Professional from Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. Ziska was the PGA of America Merchandiser of the Year- Public award recipient in 2023.
Jimmy Wisinski, PGA, Director of Instruction at Kent Country Club has been selected by the Michigan Section PGA as the Player Development Award Winner. This award recognizes a PGA Golf Professional, who has displayed extraordinary and exemplary contribution and achievement in the area of player development. It also considers the PGA Professional’s growth of the game leadership, commitment at the Section and National levels in the player development arena, and the meaningful impact made at the facility.
Raquel Bryant, PGA,Teaching Professionalat Thousand Oaks Golf Club, has been selected by the Michigan Section PGA as the Youth Player Development Award Winner. This award bestows special recognition on a PGA Golf Professional, who has displayed extraordinary and exemplary contribution and achievement in the area of youth player development. The award considers the PGA Professional’s focus on youth through their growth of the game leadership, commitment at the Section and National levels in the youth player development arena, and the meaningful impact made upon youth through the introduction and participation in the game. Bryant is proud of the junior programs she has been running at Thousand Oaks Golf Club forthe past 13years.
John Celestino, PGA, Life Member,has been named by the Michigan PGA as the 2023recipient of the Distinguished Service Award. This award honors outstanding individuals who display leadership and humanitarian qualities, including integrity, sportsmanship, and enthusiasm for the game of golf. Celestino was the Head Golf Professional at Cascade Hills Country Club for over 38 years where he created a golf shop for the members, established an excellent junior program, and created a stellar reputation for himself as a teacher of the game. Celestino made history in Michigan golf when he encouragedmembers of Cascade Hills to create the "John Celestino Endowed Scholarship" in 1993. The scholarship isawarded annually to students in the PGA Golf Management Program at Ferris State University. Over $230,000 has been awarded to 43 students.Celestino has provided the golf community with unconditionaldedication and service.
The Michigan Section PGA will award and honor its 2023Special Award Winners at the President's Dinner to be held this fall. The President's Dinner celebrates PGA Members who have excelled in their profession as well as those who have volunteered and given of themselves to serve the Section.