Coleridge native is named Neb. PGA Golf Pro of the year

GOTHENBURG — Coleridge native Don Graham was recently honored by the PGA.

Don Graham, PGA, Head Golf Professional at Wild Horse G.C. in Gothenburg, was selected for the Section’s highest honor bestowed on a PGA Member as the 2019 Nebraska Section PGA Golf Professional of the Year. 

The Nebraska Section of the PGA is one of 41 Sections that together comprise the PGA of America.  The Nebraska Section PGA is a non-for-profit organization comprised of approximately 270 PGA Members and 23 PGA Associates who strive to promote the enjoyment and growth of the game of golf.  The Nebraska Section PGA encompasses the entire State of Nebraska, western fifth of Iowa and a small portion of South Dakota including Dakota Dunes and Yankton.  

Graham was elected to membership into the PGA of America in May of 1995.

The former Bulldog graduated from Wayne State College with a degree in business management and a minor in economics in 1991.

Graham’s PGA journey began at a 9-hole hidden gem in Northeast, Nebraska called Summerland Golf Course.

In 1993, Graham went to work for then Director of Golf at Norfolk Country Club in Norfolk, Mike Antonio, PGA.  

After a short stint at Eldorado Hills Golf Club  in Norfolk and Elkhorn Acres in Stanton, Graham took the PGA Head Professional job at Wild Horse Golf Course in Gothenburg in 1999.

Under Graham’s leadership, Wild Horse is consistently ranked in the top 100 of Golf Digest’s List of America’s 100 Greatest Public Courses. 

In 2016, Graham championed a half million-dollar on-site lodging project to make Wild Horse Golf Course a true destination course. 

Life-long learning has been instrumental in Graham’s professional development as he is on track to become a Certified Professional in the Spring. 

This year will mark another key milestone professionally as he will join the Quarter-Century Club as a PGA Member.

Growing the game and giving back to his community is another trait that has played a key role in Graham’s 25-year PGA Career. 

In the fall of 2019, the Wild Horse Foundation was formed to help further the game of golf by providing members and guests the opportunity to give back to the game that has made a difference in their lives. 

These goals will come to life in 2020, as this foundation will sponsor supplies for a Family Fun Day, help defray some of the student costs for the junior golf program and establishment of a scholarship for one male and one female local golf scholar-athlete. 

Graham takes great pride in serving the community and his service in many areas. Graham is a Board Member on the Gothenburg Health Foundation which helped bring a $5 million YMCA project to fruition in the Gothenburg community. 

Hosting national, regional and local events has played a vital role in Wild Horse being recognized across the country. 

Events such as the Adrian Fiala Memorial Tournament which has raised over $150,000 for at risk children in the Gothenburg community is near and dear to Graham. One of his largest passions is coaching area scholar-athletes from Gothenburg High School.

Graham and the other special award winners and players of the year from 2019 will be recognized on Monday, March 9, 2019 at Hillcrest Country Club during the special awards portion of this meeting.

The other Nebraska PGA Award Winners for 2019 are:

Golf Professional of the Year: Don Graham, PGA, Wild Horse Golf Club, Gothenburg.

Teacher of the Year: Mike Schuchart, PGA, Wilderness Ridge Golf Club, Lincoln.

Horton Smith-Education: Brad Goetsch, PGA, University of Nebraska, Lincoln PGA Golf Management.

Bill Strausbaugh-Club Relations: Greg Neujahr, PGA, Champions Run, Omaha.

 Facility of the Year: Miracle Hill Golf & Tennis, Omaha.

Assistant Professional of the Year: Alphonse Peterson III, Country Club of Lincoln, Lincoln.

Patriot Award: Chris Thomson, PGA, Wilderness Ridge Golf Club, Lincoln.

In addition to these awards the Nebraska Section PGA would also like to recognize the Players of the Year for 2019:

Nebraska Section PGA Players of the Year for 2019

 OMEGA Nebraska PGA Player of the Year: Ryan Vermeer, PGA, Happy Hollow Club, Omaha.

OMEGA Nebraska PGA Senior Player of the Year: Ted DiGiacomo, PGA, Golf USA, Omaha.

OMEGA Nebraska Section Assistant Professional Player of the Year: Justin Herron, Pacific Springs, Omaha.

All of the winners will be recognized at the Nebraska Section PGA Spring Meeting to be held Monday, March 9 at Hillcrest Country Club, Lincoln.

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