The Midwest PGA Section, with its headquarters in Blue Springs, has been honored by the PGA of America.

The Midwest PGA Section, with its headquarters in Blue Springs, has been honored by the PGA of America.

The Midwest Section, composed of 280 members and apprentices, recently received the first Herb Graffic Award “for extraordinary or exemplary contributions in player development, whether by conducting or supporting Play Golf America initiatives.”

The Midwest Section was recognized at the 93rd PGA Annual Meeting at The Ritz-Carlton Hotel in New Orleans.

“It’s not what happened the past year, as our Section Professionals have worked for years and years continually promoting golf in all areas of the Section,” said Midwest PGA President Ken Leland of St. Joseph (Mo.) Country Club. “Several years ago, we revised our mission statement to read ‘Visible, Valuable and Viable.’ Our efforts are to ensure that we all can remember the ‘three V’s.’

“It is gratifying to see how our professionals are more than willing to assist with any promotion. We had 100 percent participation in Patriot Golf Day, and it’s another example of when a Section member grabs on and goes for a cause, he or she will do an outstanding job.”

The PGA of America cited the Midwest Section for its Play Golf America initiatives that included “Play Golf Kansas City,” when 41 PGA Professionals gave 21 hours of free 10-minute lessons to more than 6,000 golf enthusiasts at the Kansas City Golf Show on Feb. 6-8. It also praised the Midwest Section’s role in the Women’s Golf Expo, which has grown from 120 attendees in its inaugural year (2006) to 272 this year at Tiffany Greens Golf Club in Kansas City.

“The response to the Women’s Golf Expo continues to be tremendous,” said Section Player Development Committee Chairman Michael Zadalis, “and we want to keep the momentum. Our members understand that the women’s market is the chance for growth in our industry. Everybody is getting on board in this Section to try to grow the game of golf.”

PGA of America also lauded the Midwest Section’s online section business site as a way of promoting PGA professionals and “growth of the game initiatives.”

Section Executive Director Brad Demo said the Midwest Section’s teamwork makes it exemplary.

“The members of our Section truly understand the importance of player development,” Demo said. “We all know the challenges of getting sponsors in this economy, but we continue to work hard in that area. I was at a mall recently, wearing a Midwest PGA Section logoed shirt, and a lady approached me and told me she attended the Women’s Golf Expo at Tiffany Greens. She wanted to know when the next event was being held. And, she was a beginning golfer. That makes all our work so worthwhile.”