How the NWGMA Began
The Northwest Golf Media Association was founded in August 1995 by Jeff Shelley and Bob Spiwak. The idea for the group came as they chatted around the campfire after a summer tournament at Spiwak’s Whispering Rattlesnakes Golf & Flubbers Club in Winthrop, Wash. As long-time golf writers from the Northwest, they were lamenting that the Golf Writers Association of America didn’t pay much attention to our region.
At the time, they were members of the GWAA, but primarily due to transportation costs, rarely traveled to its shindig in South Carolina, held annually just prior to the Masters. So they chose to do what any renegade Northwesterner would do: form their own golf media association. It was Bob's letter to the "Great Unwashed Eastsiders" in the media that was the catalyst for he and Jeff to coordinate efforts. And since Bob was in the hinterlands of the Methow Valley and removed from many members of the Northwest golf media, he began hustling contacts in Spokane, the Tri-Cities and the smaller outposts of Eastern Washington, while Shelley took charge in the Seattle area.
In the spring of 1996, they began seeking members for the NWGMA. Shelley sent out questionnaires to all his golf-media pals in the Northwest, including folks in Oregon, Washington and British Columbia, soliciting their support. Their response was tepid at best. But he cajoled and twisted arms, and the NWGMA gradually grew.
The first meeting was held in September of 1996. During the Association’s first four years it was conducted out of Shelley’s house. Jeff arranged quarterly meetings at area golf courses, called members to ensure their attendance, wrote and mailed meeting minutes, and generally tried to make the NWGMA a factor in Northwest golf circles. His wife, Anni, then designed the official NWGMA logo, which is still used today.
In 2000, the Association earned non-profit status. It also introduced its inaugural 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.
Today, the number of NWGMA members has grown to over 100. The NWGMA is a 501c7 non-profit organization.