The Philadelphia Section PGA recently handed out its awards for 2016 and Robert Kleckner of Linfield National Golf Club heads the list as he was named Golf Professional of the Year.
Kleckner is all-in at Linfield as he is also the owner of the course. He has been generous in making Linfield National available as the home track for college and high school teams and in hosting a Junior Tour stop each year and staging Patriot Golf Days.
He has also played the often overlooked role of mentoring many young assistant pros.
The Philadelphia Section PGA has pros at some of the most prestigious courses in the country, but, obviously with a choice like Kleckner at a public-fee course like Linfield National as its top pro in 2016, it does not overlook the job all of its pros are doing, no matter what the address.
“I am truly humbled and honored to accept this award,” Kleckner told the Philadelphia Section website. “It is humbling because the Philadelphia Section has so many outstanding professionals who inspire me daily and I am honored to be a part of such a distinguished group of professionals.
“There are so many people along my journey who have helped me become the PGA professional I am today. I love what I do and I believe that equates to success.”
The Philadelphia Section also went to a public-fee course, Ed Oliver Golf Club in Wilmington, Del., in naming Rebecca Dengler its Teacher of the Year. It is the first time the Philadelphia Section has recognized Dengler as its top teacher, but she has previously received top teacher designations from the LPGA, Golf Digest and U.S. Kids Golf.
“I am truly grateful for being selected as the 2016 Philadelphia PGA Teacher of the Year,” Dengler told the Philadelphia Section website. “As a member of the Philadelphia PGA, I am honored to be surrounded by fellow section staff and members who are working diligently to promote the game of golf.
“My greatest appreciation goes to all the players that have shared with me their joy, love and struggles of the game. I believe these challenges make us all better at the game of life.”
The pro shop at Aronimink Golf Club earned a pair of 2016 honors, including the Horton Smith Award that went to Aronimink head pro Jeff Kiddie.
Kiddie serves as the secretary of the section’s executive committee and is the co-chairman of the Philadelphia PGA education committee. In addition to being a member of the section’s rules committee, he is a member of the PGA of America’s rules committee.
His education committee put together a two-day education summit on a variety of subjects in November and he lends his rules expertise to PGA/USGA Rules of Golf workshops.
Kiddie was named the Philadelphia Section’s Professional of the Year in 2012 and was recognized by the PGA of America as its Merchandiser of the Year for private courses in 2011.
Aronimink assistant Bryan Kienke was named the section’s Assistant Professional of the Year. Kienke is a co-chairman of the Philadelphia Assistants’ Organization. He has also been involved in Gregg’s Wings, Inc., an organization that has raised nearly $340,000 for the Cancer Center for Kids at Winthorp University in Mineola, N.Y.
The section’s Bill Strausbaugh Award went to Joe Hughes, the PGA general manager and head professional at the Penn State University Golf Clubs.
The Penn State operation also produced the winner of the section’s Player Development Award, which went to Steve Wager. He has worked in a variety of programs aimed at developing golfers of all skill levels.
The winner of the section’s Youth Player Development Award went to Steve Sieracki, the director of instruction at Indian Spring Golf Course.
The section’s Merchandiser of the Year awards went to Bob Doria of Makefield Highlands Golf Club among public courses, Sara Muldoon of Hershey Country Club among resort courses and Tom Gilbert of Gulph Mills Golf Club among private courses.
The section’s Salesperson of the Year award went to Mark Krahe of TaylorMade.