Pacific Northwest Section PGA Names 2016 Special Award Winners

The Pacific Northwest Section PGA of America has named their 2016 Special Award Winners. The top Pacific Northwest PGA professionals in 15 categories were recognized by their peers for outstanding performance during 2016.
The winners listed below represent the very best of the Pacific Northwest Section’s 1,100 PGA Professionals in Washington, Oregon, Northern Idaho, Western Montana and Alaska.pnw-pga-logo

These outstanding PGA Professionals will be honored at the Pacific Northwest Section Special Awards Ceremony, March 19, 2017 at Glendale Country Club in Bellevue, Wash.

Chris Nowlen, PGA, received the Section’s highest honor in being named the 2016 Golf Professional of the Year. A PGA member for nearly two decades and an eight-time Western Montana Chapter Award Winner, Chris has shown expertise in every aspect of golf operations. He is also highly involved in the PGA, every aspect of Missoula Country Club and in a variety of community boards and service groups as well. Chris is constantly striving for excellence in himself, his staff, his facility and his community – all for the success and future of golf.

Ryan Young, PGA, Director of Instruction at Chambers Bay Golf Course in University Place, Wash. was honored with the Player Development Award. In his first year in his position, he has already developed a great number of in-depth programs, systematically formulated to take people from their first round of golf all the way to competitive golf. These include Get Golf Ready and 17 other player development programs aimed at growing the game of golf. He scientifically and accurately tracks the success of each program.

Cameron Milton, PGA, Head Professional at Polson Bay Golf Course in Polson, Mont. received the Youth Player Development Award.  In 2016, Cameron successfully brought a “Golf in Schools” program to Polson Middle School, where he introduced golf to over 400 kids via PE classes.  Its success earned a grant from the Montana State Golf Association to administer “Golf in Schools” in St. Ignatius schools during the winter of 2016-2017. Cameron is a huge force in bringing golf to kids in rural Montana.

Jim Pike, PGA, Head Professional at Sahalee Country Club in Sammamish, Wash. was recognized for being an outstanding mentor with the Bill Strausbaugh Award. Jim’s management style is collaborative and empowering to his employees. He has mentored 12 assistants who have gone on to become Head Golf Professionals. A former intern returned to Sahalee as the Championship Director of the 2016 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship. Jim’s mentoring philosophy is “The way you see people is the way you treat them, and the way you treat them is what they become.”

Jason Aichele, PGA, Teaching Professional at Meadow Springs Country Club in Richland, Wash. was named Teacher of the Year for the third consecutive year. In 2016 he brought Meadow Springs to a new level in the eyes of its members and the community when he started a PGA Junior Golf League of 45 kids at the club. Jason has a passion for teaching, and this year has taught over 1,200 lessons to students of all levels from beginners to tour professionals.  Jason also hosts player development seminars for PGA Professionals at his own indoor facility during the winter months.

Harold Bluestein, PGA, was honored with the Horton Smith Award, an award that goes to a PGA model educator. In 2016 he created the “High School Golf Coaches Workshop,” a unique educational opportunity that brings together PGA Professionals and high school golf coaches, with the goal of developing young players and building successful golf programs. It was a tremendous success. Dominic Marconi, Director of the Oregon Chapter PGA, called it “the greatest thing the Oregon Chapter has ever offered its professionals.” Harold is an Assistant Golf Professional at Tri Mountain Golf Course in Ridgefield, Wash.

Chris Gonzales, PGA, of Riverside Golf & Country Club in Portland, Ore. was named the 2016 Assistant Golf Professional of the Year. He stepped up during managerial changes at his facility using his leadership and expertise to make the transition seamless. Even with the additional responsibilities, he also gave over 100 private lessons and many club fittings.

Chris Runyan, PGA, of GolfTEC-Spokane, received the Patriot Award, an award that goes to a PGA Professional who gives back to our nation’s veterans through the game of golf. Year after year, Chris demonstrates his commitment to veterans and is an inspiration to his fellow golf professionals. He is chairman of the Board for Northwest Golfers for Warriors, the mission of which is to support wounded warriors and local veterans and their families.  To date, Northwest Golfers for Warriors has donated $178,000 to local veterans organizations.

Mark Rashell, PGA, of the Golf Club at Newcastle was named the 2016 Merchandiser of the Year for Public facilities. In 2016, Mark demonstrated many innovative ways to promote and grow his business, including creating specific golf shop events to generate sales.  He partnered with Titleist and developed “Titleist Tuesdays”. He also created a successful new member event program. Mark keeps his sales team engaged with goals and rewards.

Dave Christensen, PGA, of Gamble Sands in Brewster, Wash. was honored with the 2016 Merchandiser of the Year for Resort facilities.  Dave and his team at Gamble Sands have created a golf shop that makes people want to shop. The use of creative theme displays and incorporating non-golf related merchandise reflects the uniqueness of Gamble Sands. The “outside the box” approach increased sales dramatically in 2016 for a very successful season.

Chris Peterson, PGA, of Meadow Springs Country Club in Richland, Wash. received the 2016 Merchandiser of the Year award for Private facilities. He is the Head Professional, as well as full-time merchandiser and buyer. Chris runs a very successful and customer-focused golf shop, providing incentives and enticements to his members.  His sales in the Titleist Loyalty program ranked Meadow Springs in the top 5 percent in the country.

Kathleen Brown, PGA, of Esmeralda GC in Spokane, Wash. was honored with the Perry Williams Award. In addition to serving the PNW PGA Rules Committee since 2013, she was the PGA Rules Official on the 2016 Rosauers Open Invitational.

Brian Thornton, PGA, of Meridian Valley Country Club in Kent, Wash. was recognized as the 2016 OMEGA Player of the Year. In addition to playing well all year in Pacific Northwest Section majors, he won the Northwest Open Invitational and the Club Car Western Washington Chapter Championship. On the National level, he placed T-21st at the PGA Professional Championship and advanced from the US Open Local Qualifier to the Sectional Qualifier.

Jeff Coston, PGA, of Semiahmoo Resort in Blaine, Wash. won the 2016 OMEGA Senior Player of the Year Award. He won the 2016 Muckleshoot Casino Washington Open Invitational and 2016 Senior Washington Open Invitational, as well as placing second and third in three other Pacific Northwest Section majors. On the National level, he tied for 18th at the 2016 Senior PGA Professional Championship, earning a spot to advance to the 2017 Senior PGA Championship. He also placed 74th at the 2016 Senior PGA Championship.

John Cassidy, PGA, of The Home Course in DuPont, Wash. was recognized as the 2016 Assistant Player of the Year. He won the National Car Rental Pacific Northwest PGA Assistant Championship. He placed T-4 in the Muckleshoot Casino Washington Open Invitational and also placed well in the Rosauers Open Invitational and Oregon Open Invitational. On the National level, he placed T-19 in the National Car Rental PGA Assistant Championship.

For more information, contact Jeff Ellison at 360-456-6496 or [email protected].

The Pacific Northwest Section is organized as a not-for-profit corporation and is one of 41 geographical regions of the PGA of America.  It includes the states of Washington, Oregon, and Alaska, as well as northern Idaho and western Montana.  It is the largest geographic section of the PGA of America, and with approximately 1,200 PGA members and apprentices, ranks sixth among the sections in number of professionals.  For more information visit