In 2000, the Association introduced its NWGMA Distinguished Service Award, to be given annually to an individual who has made significant contributions during their careers to promoting golf in the Northwest.
Kent Gilchrist, 2015
Kent Gilchrist, a retired sports editor and columnist at the Vancouver Province who is already enshrined in the Canadian Football League's Hall of Fame wing for reporters, did most of his golf coverage from 1988-2011 during his 37-year career at The Province. Before that, he was the B.C. Lions beat reporter for 11 years and sports editor for six years in the 1980s before becoming a columnist and starting his considerable golf reporting. He covered everything from PGA Tour majors to British Columbia amateur championships before retiring in 2011.
Although he covered Canadian golfers who won on the PGA Tour, Gilchrist considers James Lepp of Abbotsford, B.C. "the best competitor I ever watched." Lepp won the 2005 NCAA championship as a Washington Husky and was twice named the PNGA Men's Player of the Year, turned pro for a couple years and then formed a golf shoe and apparel company while twice appearing on Golf Channel's Big Break.
Gilchrist, who shares the same nickname and last name with the former Buffalo Bills and CFL running back, began his journalism career as a high-school graduate at the Brandon Sun in Manitoba. It was a career that took him from the Grey Cup to the Stanley Cup, from the Super Bowl to the U.S. Open before he retired.
Gilchrist is the third Canadian in the past four years to receive this award from the NWGMA, following golf historian Mike Riste (2013) and Vancouver Sun golf writer Arv Olson (2012).
"Cookie had fun at his job, and was a natural-born storyteller, and he added a lot of color to the media community during his career," said NWGMA President Tom Cade. "He is a great choice for this year's Distinguished Service Award."
Jeff Shelley, NWGMA co-founder, said, "It's wonderful that the stellar, long-time contributions to golf by another Canadian are being recognized by our organization."
Dan Murnan, 2014
In 1995, after working 17 years for golf courses and golf-related businesses, Dan Murnan founded Cybergolf. In 1994 he had begun researching this new thing called "the Internet," having a vision that every course would need a website to market its facility. He also believed golfers wanted an online resource to find courses and read local golf news. In December of '94, he and his wife Amy formed Cybergolf, and a month later signed on their first two clients, Willows Run and Bear Creek east of Seattle.
During those early years, Dan literally pioneered the Internet as a viable tool for the golf industry. When he approached clients they'd respond with "A what?" or "I have read about the Internet but have never been on it." Yet by the end of 1995 he had 11 clients sporting new websites. During this period Cybergolf received many favorable write-ups in newspapers, from the Los Angeles Times to the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
"In the early days," says Dan, "I spent most of my time explaining to people what the Internet was, instead of actually pitching Cybergolf. I just felt strongly that golf courses would need a website. At first, they all just wanted a website as though it were a brochure, like it was an ad - I would build their site for them, a simple landing page, and then they'd just leave it alone. Nobody had any idea of the interactive capabilities, such as video streaming, online tee times, all that stuff."
Dan remembers when the 56k modems came out. "We all went 'Wow, look how fast it is,' and it would take a full minute to load anything."
Over the past two decades the company has created over 3,000 websites for golf courses, associations and management companies encompassing all 50 states and 10 countries. Cybergolf works with many of the top names in the business, including the PGA Tour.
In addition, Dan's strong support of editorial director Jeff Shelley has resulted in nearly 15,000 stories and over 2.5 million monthly visitors to Cybergolf, whose contributors have included NWGMA members Tony Dear, Blaine Newnham, Tom Cade, Craig Smith, Allen Schauffler, Bob Spiwak, Bart Potter, Jim Moore, Bob Sherwin, Crai Bower, Dan Raley, David Wood, Dr. John Wagner and Paul Ramsdell, while the site has published many of Rob Perry's photos. Dear, Raley and New York-based Jay Flemma are multiple Golf Writers Association of America award-winners, honors that prove Dan's original vision - and his longtime backing of golf writers - was very perceptive.
Mike Riste, 2013
Mike Riste first became involved in golf in the spring of 1960 when Capilano Golf and Country Club (in West Vancouver, B.C.) advertised for caddies for their opening day tournament. He immediately fell in love with a game and a golf course, often sleeping on the floor of the club's pro shop so that he could be there early the next morning for a caddie job. He would become the very first Evans Caddie Scholarship recipient from the Northwest.
In 1986, when the University Golf Course clubhouse (in Vancouver, B.C.), which was built in 1930, came vacant, Riste assembled a group of volunteers to renovate the structure into a golf museum. Today, BC Golf House is in a building that is the oldest structure still used for golf in B.C., and the BC Golf Museum is the only provincial or state standalone golf museum in North America.
Riste has transformed the BC Golf House into a go-to place for golfers and researchers, almost single-handedly creating exhibits and explaining the rich heritage the game enjoys in the Pacific Northwest. He's also amassed a wonderful collection of golf memorabilia, from old magazines, postcards, books, clubs, balls to other items that show the game as being big in the Northwest for a very long time. Incredibly, he's done this since 1987 on a voluntary non-paid basis. He is still the driving force at the Museum, which also houses the Golf Hall of Fame of BC.
"I have always considered myself nothing more than a researcher," said Riste, when informed of his being selected for the award. "I am not really a writer. In fact I find it difficult to get from the research stage to the writing stage. I am far more comfortable talking. People say I am certainly not afraid of a microphone."
Riste may claim that he is not a writer, but his body of work is substantial. He co-authored (with NWGMA co-founder Jeff Shelley) the monumental "Championships & Friendships," the centennial history book of the Pacific Northwest Golf Association; "Just Call Me Mac," the biography of noted Northwest course architect, A. Vernon Macan; is preparing another biography, "The Blacks of Troon," about the seven Black brothers who came to Canada from Scotland in 1910-1922 and would all become prominent golf professionals all along the West Coast; and will soon publish the history of the Jericho Country Club, the oldest organized golf club west of the Mississippi.
Arv Olson, 2012
For 38 years Arv Olson was the voice of golf as a sports writer at the Vancouver Sun newspaper. He has received lifetime achievement awards from the Royal Canadian Golf Association (now Golf Canada), the PGA of BC and the B.C. Rugby Union (he also covered hockey and rugby at the Sun). He has served on the selection committees of the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame and the Golf Hall of Fame of British Columbia.
Arv is greatly admired by his fellow writers and is recognized for his dedication to the sport of golf and his passion for the game. He is a true golf historian and has written three books on the subject. His first book, "Backspin: 120 Years of Golf in British Columbia" (which he has recently updated) is considered the bible of B.C. golf-related history. "Golflore: Notes, Quotes and Anecdotes" was released in 2005, and his most recent book is titled, "Stan Leonard: Canada's forgotten golf legend."
In an earlier interview with Sun columnist Iain MacIntyre, Arv said he took over the golf beat at The Sun in 1957 because "nobody else wanted it."
"I put my hand up and said 'I'll take it," he recalls. "My first tournament was the New Westminster Amateur and it was won by a guy named Doug Bagus. He was 6'5" and growly. He used to throw clubs and everything. I had to go interview him and he scared the hell out of me."
Arv survived the ordeal and went on to cover several hundred more tournaments.
He didn't play golf until he started covering it. Growing up in North Vancouver, he played rugby and football, but earned pocket money by caddying at Capilano G&CC in West Vancouver, BC.
"I never could play, but I tried," Arv says. "I fell in love with the people in the game. There were so many interesting people."
Since retiring from The Sun, he and his wife Alice have lived on Vancouver Island in Fanny Bay, B.C.
Arv Olson on receiving the 2012 Distinguished Service Award:
John Bodenhamer, 2011
John Bodenhamer served as the CEO and Executive Director of the PNGA since 1990, the CEO and Executive Director of the WSGA since 1992, and Executive Director of the Pacific Coast Golf Association since 1998. He also served as the CEO for The Home Course in DuPont, Wash., which was the assisting course with Chambers Bay in hosting the 2010 U.S. Amateur Championship. He served as president of the International Association of Golf Administrators in 2000-01, and was also on the board of directors for the First Tee of Greater Seattle.
John has become synonymous with golf in the Pacific Northwest. A few of his many accomplishments are the founding of Pacific Northwest Golfer magazine, which has become the standard for excellence in golf association publications and for which he served as publisher for 17 years; overseeing the successful reorganization of the WSGA in 1992; the publication in 1999 of the monumental regional golf history book, Championships & Friendships: the first 100 years of the PNGA; hosting the 2010 U.S. Amateur Championship at The Home Course as the event's assisting course; and seeing the WSGA grow into the ninth largest golf association under the USGA GHIN umbrella.
Bodenhamer was a founding member of the NWGMA, providing administrative assistance to the fledgling media group, and serving a crucial role in assisting with its formation as a non-profit organization.
In 2011, John left the Northwest to accept a position on the senior staff of the United States Golf Association. At the USGA, Bodenhamer's title is Senior Managing Director of Rules, Competitions and Amateur Status.
John Bodenhamer on receiving the 2011 Distinguished Service Award:
Paul Backman, 2010
Paul attended Western Washington University, where he played on the college golf team (he had been club champion in 1988 and 1989 at Tumwater (Wash.) Valley GC while still a teenager). He later graduated from Oregon State University with a degree in horticulture, and got a job at Overlake G&CC (in Medina, Wash.), and then moved on to become Assistant Superintendent at Everett (Wash.) G&CC.
For 12 years Paul was the Executive Director of the Western Washington Golf Course Superintendents Association and the Northwest Turfgrass Association. Because of this, Paul quite literally touched every single golf facility in the Northwest.
A longtime member of the NWGMA, Paul was instrumental in bringing several golf course superintendents in as members, recognizing the value of the sharing of information and communication among media and golf industry professionals.
It was Paul who coordinated the efforts of the WWGCSA, PNGA, WSGA, Club Managers Association and Pacific Northwest Section PGA to develop a golf lobbyist (funded by the NTA, WSGA and other organizations) in Olympia, which protects the interests of every golf facility, whether public, private or resort, regardless of affiliation.
It was Paul who pestered the media to bring attention to a movement which led to a bill being passed by then-Governor Gary Locke (Wash.) which ensured the survival and existence of high school and junior golf programs throughout the state.
It was Paul who spearheaded the efforts in compiling information for the Economic Impact Study for golf in Washington, recently completed by the World Golf Foundation and Stanford Research Institute.
Paul was a good colleague, and a friend to golf and the golf media. He passed away April 13, 2010. He was 41.
Craig Smith, 2009
Craig was born in Seattle and attended the University of Washington. His career began as editor of the UW Daily. After graduating, he worked for the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner in Alaska before moving on to the Associated Press, Seattle P-I, Charleston Gazette in West Virginia and Northshore Citizen in Bothell, Wash. Before retiring from the Seattle Times in late 2008, he penned a popular high school sports column under the byline “Sideline Smitty”, as well as being the newspaper's golf reporter. A former caddie at Inglewood Golf Club in Kenmore, Wash., Craig remembers shooting 142 the first time he played. He now shoots in the mid-80s.
Paul Ramsdell, 2008
A graduate of the University of Oregon, Paul has been on the frontlines, the bylines and sightlines of the Northwest golf world for many years. He has been a sportswriter for the Tacoma News Tribune, the Seattle Times andthe Eugene Register-Guard, an online editor for ESPN.com, and is a past editorial director for the Pacific Northwest Golfer magazine. Paul has also been the editor for many regional tournament programs including the 2006 U.S. Amateur Public Links and the 2007 U.S. Girls' Junior, and is a past president of Fircrest Golf Club and past manager of Kitsap G&CC. Paul spent six years as President of the NWGMA and four years as Secretary. Although his golf game is sometimes a little suspect, his contributions to the game through his work as a journalist and as an administrator, along with his generosity in sharing his experience with others, has made Paul a worthy recipient.
Jeff Shelley, 2007
Jeff has over 20 years experience in golf writing and research. The co-founder of the NWGMA, he has been editorial director of Cybergolf.com and golfconstructionnews.com since 2000. He has authored three editions of the book, Golf Courses of the Pacific Northwest. An honorary member of the Washington Turfgrass Association, Shelley has volunteered his time to several golf organizations. Jeff established Fairgreens Media, Inc., a company that that publishes books, magazines and consulting materials. A former editor of Golfing the West and Back Nine magazines, Shelley co-authored the history book, Championships & Friendships: the First 100 Years of the Pacific Northwest Golf Association. He is a regular member of the Golf Writers Association of America.
Bill Yeend, 2006
Bill is best known for his 30 years as the on-air news anchor at KIRO Radio in Seattle, where he played a major role in winning five Edward R. Murrow awards for journalistic excellence. His local Emmy award winning “The Golf Club” television show ran for eight years, as did his “Golf Tour Northwest.” For years, he was anchor on KIRO-TV's broadcasts of the Champions Tour's GTE Northwest Classic and the LPGA Tour's Safeco Classic. Bill has returned to the airwaves, serving Puget Sound as the voice of KOMO Radio weekday mornings. He has also served as the Master of Ceremonies for the PNGA's Hall of Fame banquet since 1995 and continues to help out with numerous golf and charitable events throughout the Seattle area.
Blaine Newnham, 2005
Blaine started as a sportswriter for the Oakland Tribune, covering the Raiders from 1965-71. He was then the Sports Editor for the Eugene Register-Guard until 1982, before moving to Seattle to become the Times' Associate Editor and Sports Columnist from 1983-2005. Blaine covered five Olympic Games, from Mexico City in 1968 to Athens in 2004. He covered the 1966 U.S. Open, following Ben Hogan around the Olympic Club. He covered his first Masters in 1987, when Larry Mize won it in a playoff with an unlikely chip shot. He covered the four majors of the “Tiger Slam”, when Woods won his four consecutive championships. In 2002, Newnham wrote a book called “Golf Basics”, for the Barnes and Noble booksellers. He has made two pilgrimages to Ireland to play golf, and has had two holes-in-one, one of which came during the U.S. Golf Writers tournament in 2001.
He had been covering the UW Huskies since 1982, and has lived through Brian Bosworth, Ken Griffey Jr. and the Kingdome to enjoy Safeco Field and Ichiro. He says he tries to ask the questions that the fans want to but can't.
Now retired, Newnham still writes a weekly column for the Seattle Times, and is a contributing writer for several of the region's golf publications.
Bob Robinson, 2004
Bob joined the Oregonian newspaper in 1961, and began covering golf for the newspaper in the mid-1960s. During his time there, he covered 24 major championships, two Ryder Cups, and more than 30 LPGA Tour events. With Robinson leading the way, the Oregonian had the most complete and detailed year-round golf coverage of any media outlet in the Northwest. His knowledge of the game and his graceful writing style made him one of the most well-known sportswriters in the region, if not the country.
Robinson grew up in Independence, Ore, and graduated from the University of Oregon in 1956 with a degree in journalism. He worked at the Register-Guard in Eugene, and the Capital-Journal in Salem, before joining the Oregonian. He was named the Oregon Sportswriter of the Year in 1977 for his daily coverage of the Portland Trail Blazers during their run to the NBA title. In 2003 he was presented with the Dale Johnson Media Award from the Oregon Golf Association.
Bruce King, 2003
A true Seattle sports icon and legend, Bruce King was a long time sports director and anchor with KOMO-TV in Seattle for 31 years, starting in 1968 and retiring in 1999. A graduate of the University of Oregon, Bruce started out as the sportscaster at KEZI TV in Eugene, Ore. from 1960-65. While at KOMO in Seattle, he also hosted KOMO's Prep Athlete of the Month, UW Husky basketball play-by-play and Post Game Shows, as well as the Seahawks' Monday Night Highlight Shows. He has been the host of the Federal Way (Wash.) Boys & Girls Clubs Celebrity Golf Tournament since 1975.
Bruce was the Media Coordinator for the 1998 PGA Championship held at Sahalee CC in Sammamish, Wash., and was on the Executive Committee of the 2002 World Golf Championships NEC Invitational, also held at Sahalee.
He is a past president of the Puget Sound Sportswriters and Broadcasters Association, and has won the Washington State Sportscaster of the Year Award four times. And along with two Emmy Awards, he won the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Silver Circle Award, and the Media Support Award from the Washington State Special Olympics Board. Bruce volunteers his time as a guest speaker, emcee, celebrity judge, host or participant for numerous community and charity events.
Margaret Maves, 2002
Margaret has been a fixture in the Northwest media world for many years, known to all golf media personnel as the “go to” person for answers at tournament sites. She served as the media coordinator for many years at the LPGA Tour's Safeway Classic held in Portland, a position which led her to serve as media coordinator at several Solheim Cups and Ryder Cups. She also served as media coordinator at numerous USGA national championships that have visited Oregon, as well as for several Pacific Coast Amateur Championships. A longtime volunteer for the Oregon Golf Association, Margaret has also volunteered at many PNGA championships – Junior Girls', Women's Amateur and Mid-Amateurs and Men's Amateurs. She serves on the PNGA Communications Committee and Hall of Fame Committee. She is also a founding member of the Committee that annually conducts the Evans Cup of Oregon, a fundraiser for Evans Caddie Scholarships. Margaret is the 2005 recipient of the PNGA Distinguished Service Award.
Dale Johnson, 2001
It is fair to say that Dale was a founding father of the modern Pacific Northwest Section PGA (PNWPGA) and the Oregon Golf Association (OGA). He became a full time Director of the Section in 1964 and for more than a quarter century he wore three hats: Executive Director of the PNWPGA, Oregon Chapter PGA, and OGA. His legendary husbanding of resources made it possible for the Section to become a model for other Sections across the country. His leadership of the OGA helped make possible the funds that laid the groundwork in the association building its own golf course. Johnson was a sportswriter for the Oregonian from 1947-58, and covered or administered almost every Northwest Open championship until his retirement in 1989.
Doug McArthur, 2000
Doug McArthur was presented with the NWGMA's inaugural Distinguished Service Award in 2000.
Doug is a graduate of Tacoma's Lincoln High School and later went on to earn degrees from both Washington State University (Communications) and the University of Puget Sound (Journalism).
Doug's first stint in the media world came in 1956 when he became the Sports Director for Tacoma's KTAC Radio. That same year, he also coached the team that won the National Amateur Baseball Championship.
From 1966 to 1978, Doug headed the University of Puget Sound athletic programs as the university's Director of Athletics. In 1976 and 1977, the Tacoma News Tribune recognized him as the state's College Athletic Administrator of the Year.
In 1978 he was named the Tournament Director of the LPGA Tour's SAFECO Classic, held at Meridian Valley Country Club in Kent, Wash., a position he held for 13 years. In 1993-1994, he was selected to serve on the Board of Directors of the Tournament Sponsors Association, where he assisted in managing the affairs of that national association.
Doug served as the Vice President of Marketing and Communications for Golf Resources Northwest, a golf facility development and management company based in Lakewood, Wash. His work with GRI helped new and existing golf facilities market themselves effectively.
Perhaps the most revealing aspect about the man is the number of people in the golf and sports world that point to him as a friend. His character, integrity, and charm are all traits, which have endeared him to so many and just happen to be synonymous with the game of golf that he so dearly loves.