Special to the Journal
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – David Hutsell of Baltimore, Md., and Sonny Skinner of Sylvester, Ga., whose respective season journeys featured career-shaping moments and emotional twists, have earned the respective 2011 PGA Professional and Senior PGA Professional Player of the Year awards.
It was the first national award for Hutsell, 41, the second player from the Middle Atlantic PGA Section to capture the honor and whose campaign included winning the PGA Professional National Championship in a playoff last June at Hershey (Pa.) Country Club. Skinner, 51, whose year began with the death of his father, Henry Skinner Sr., who was his inspiration, finished as the Low PGA Club Professional in the Senior PGA Championship on his way to earning his second consecutive Senior PGA Professional Player of the Year award.
Hutsell and Skinner will be honored Jan. 27, in Orlando, Fla., during the 2011 PGA of America Awards program, in conjunction with the 59th PGA Merchandise Show at the Orange County Convention Center.
The final Player of the Year standings were determined based on a point system involving both national and PGA Section competitions from Jan. 1 through Dec. 15, 2011. Hutsell, in his sixth season as PGA director of instruction at Elkridge Club in Baltimore, defeated fellow Section PGA Professional Faber Jamerson of Appomattox, Va., and Scott Erdmann of Tigard, Ore., in a two-hole playoff at Hershey Country Club and became the third Middle Atlantic PGA member to win the National Championship.
Despite winning the Middle Atlantic PGA Section Championship and Section Player of the Year honors, Hutsell did not secure the PGA Professional Player of the Year award until Dec. 15, following the six-event PGA Tournament Series in Port St. Lucie, Fla. He earned 1,230 overall points, including 500 for winning the National Championship, 300 for Section Player of the Year and 180 through the PGA Tournament Series, where he won one event and finished fifth on the money list. Three-time PGA Professional Player of the Year Bob Sowards of Dublin, Ohio, was runner-up with 1,172 points, followed by Rob McClellan of Butler, Pa., with 1,102.5 and Danny Balin of Greenwich, Conn., with 987.5.
Sowards dominated the PGA Tournament Series, winning one event, capturing the money title, yet falling 58 points short of the national title. Hutsell joins Rick Schuller of Chester, Va. (2009) as the only Middle Atlantic PGA members to earn the PGA Professional Player of the Year Award.
“It has been quite a journey,” said Hutsell, who was fifth in last year’s point standings. “I wasn’t looking to become Player of the Year, but it turned out to be a very special ending to the season. It is still a bit of a shock, but some hard work paid off. I had success in the Section, winning the Northern Chapter Championship in June, the Maryland State Open in July, and the Section Championship after coming back from the PGA Championship.
“To receive praise from my fellow professionals and from the members of my home club (Elkridge Club), is a great feeling. To hold down a job and try to be competitive in events is not easy. It is a lot to manage a job and a family, and then go out and compete. You have to have a supportive family to do that.”
Hutsell spent a week off from the PGA Tournament Series, returning to working at his club before finding time to hit practice balls from a covered range during a rainy week in Baltimore. He then flew to South Florida, won a PGA Tournament Series event on Dec. 13, and held on to claim the title.
SONNY SKINNER, the PGA head professional at River Pointe Golf Club in Albany, Ga., finished with 945.33 points to edge close friend, Craig Stevens of Dallas, Ga., (873.5) for Senior PGA Professional Player of the Year honors. Bob Gaus of St. Louis, Mo., was next with 674.17; followed by Stu Ingraham of Harrisburg, Pa., with 625.75, and Chris Starkjohann of Oceanside, Calif., with 612.5. Skinner is the only Georgia PGA Section member to win the award. In 2008, he captured PGA Professional Player of the Year, which made him the only PGA of America member to win both awards.
Skinner collected 225 points in the PGA Tournament Series, winning one event and finishing second on the money list. He shared 10th in the Senior PGA Professional National Championship; was runner-up in the PGA Senior Stroke Play Championship and finished as the Low PGA Club Professional in the Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid.
“What made this year different was the fact that I spent the year without my dad, who was my inspiration,” said Skinner. “We played a lot of golf together. I played all year with him on my mind. He inspired me to pursue my interest, my passion. I guess if I was not a golf professional, I would be a high school teacher and coach. Today, I’m coaching others at the club to learn the game. I have said it before that I am very fortunate to have a home club that encourages me to play. The year was quite a duel, as it turned out. I was very happy to join David Hutsell and others and play for my country in the PGA Cup. And, I did something different when I registered for the U.S. Senior Open, entering my given name, Henry Skinner Jr. It was my way of honoring my dad.”
The PGA Professional Player of the Year award began in 1984, while the Senior PGA Professional Player of the Year honor made its debut in 1995.
–Final 2011 Point Standings Follow –
2011 FINAL PGA Professional Player of the Year Standings
Player/Residence PGA Section Points
1. David Hutsell, Baltimore, Md. Middle Atlantic 1,230
2. Bob Sowards, Dublin, Ohio Southern Ohio 1,172
3. Rob McClellan, Butler, Pa. Tri-State 1,102.5
4. Danny Balin, Greenwich, Conn. Metropolitan 987.5
5. Sean Dougherty, Overland Park, Kan. Midwest 785
6. Rick Schuller, Chester, Va. Middle Atlantic 765
7. Rob Moss, Broadview Heights, Ohio Northern Ohio 737.5
8. Lonny Alexander, New Braunfels, Texas Southern Texas 712.5
9. Craig Stevens, Dallas, Ga. Georgia 705
10. Mike Small, Champaign, Ill. Illinois 638.5
2011 FINAL Senior PGA Professional Player of the Year Standings
Player/Residence PGA Section Points
1. Sonny Skinner, Sylvester, Ga. Georgia 945.33
2. Craig Stevens, Dallas, Ga. Georgia 873.5
3. Bob Gaus, St. Louis, Mo. Gateway 674.17
4. Stu Ingraham, Harrisburg, Pa. Philadelphia 625.75
5. Chris Starkjohann, Oceanside, Calif. Southern California 612.5
6. Jeff Coston, Blaine, Wash. Pacific Northwest 609.83
7. Jim Empey, Boise, Idaho Rocky Mountain 565
8. Eddie Terasa, Waukesha, Wis. Wisconsin 540
9. Bill Britton, Rumson, N.J. New Jersey 538.21
10. Kirk Hanefeld, Acton, Mass. New England 501.5