An Icon of the Golf Industry Retires

By Troy Andrew, PNGA/WSGA CEO/Executive Director

(This article can be seen in the May 2018 issue of Pacific Northwest Golfer magazine)

When I sit down at my computer, I don’t typically have a hard time collecting my thoughts or hesitate to start typing.

But today is an exception.

How do I summarize an amazing journey with a colleague and friend I have worked side-by-side with for 19 years?

There are so many great memories and fun stories to share. And, too, it is difficult to condense on a single page all the hard work, dedication and leadership that John Saegner Jr. has given to the Pacific Northwest Golf Association and Washington State Golf Association – and, really, the entire golf industry – for the past 28 years.

At the end of April, John Saegner Jr., our PNGA and WSGA Senior Director of Handicapping and Course Rating, retired.

At John Saegner’s retirement party on April 14 held at The Home Course in DuPont, Wash., he was surrounded by friends and mentors from his course rating career. Left to right are Kevin Jones, who’s been on the PNGA staff since 2014 and will be taking over John’s role as director of handicapping and course rating; Kelly Neely, senior director of handicapping and course rating at the Oregon Golf Association; Gretchen Yoder, Manager of Handicapping and Course Rating at the Oregon Golf Association; and Doug Sullivan, director of course rating for the Southern California Golf Association and member of the USGA Course Rating Committee.

His name is so engrained in all that we do, that there is a very good chance you have heard his name or have even met him. He is famous for his genius-level knowledge of the Handicapping and Course Rating Systems, and his dedication to taking care of our members and member clubs.

John was hired in June of 1990 by my predecessor John Bodenhamer, who is now the USGA Senior Managing Director of Championships and Governance. Back in early 1990, Bodenhamer had just been hired by the PNGA to serve as the Executive Director, and John was his very first hire. Bodenhamer had a longstanding friendship with John, and he knew he would be the perfect hire because John had a reputation of being reliable and never late on the job, something very important in golf administration.

John was originally hired as the Director of Rules and Competition and Course Rating. But as the PNGA and WSGA expanded and the staff grew, John’s focus turned to Course Rating and Handicapping. This has always been a perfect fit for John because he is a numbers guy. You can ask him just about anything about the Handicapping or Course Rating System and he will give you a detailed answer with calculations that will make your head spin. He won’t admit it, but he has a photographic memory, which is probably why he once got an audition to be on Jeopardy.

John was a member of the USGA’s Course Rating Committee from 1998-2011, and has been the “go-to guy” of Course Rating in the Pacific Northwest and North America.

He has also been invited to Alaska, Canada, and even Amsterdam to help consult and train Course Raters, and early in his career he earned the rare certification of being a USGA Master Course Rater.

As we look back on John’s 28 years, I have estimated that he has rated over 1,000 golf courses in the region, trained over 200 Course Raters, administered over 100 handicap seminars, administered over 250 amateur championships, put over 350,000 miles on our company van, and processed over 250 amateur status request forms. All while telling everyone he talks to that he “couldn’t be any better” or that it’s a “hunky-dory day!”

It has truly been a labor of love for John Saegner Jr.

I know he won’t get too far away from us, but we will miss him dearly. He has been an icon for our associations and a fixture in the Northwest golf community, and he has taught many of us the definition of work ethic and loyalty.

Thanks for all you have done, John!