Golf Academy of America Advisory Board
The Golf Academy of America Advisory Board is composed of PGA professionals and industry experts, including national award winners. Together they are helping Golf Academy of America keep current with trends in the golf industry and provide invaluable strategic advice. They also serve as resources for both current students and alumni.
Steven Braley, PGA, CEO of Legacy Golf Advisory Group
When a six-year-old Steven Braley picked up golf clubs, he said it was "love at first site." By age 14, he dedicated himself to the game. Braley received a varsity golf scholarship to Oklahoma State University, the nation's top ranked team. He earned a business degree, then went on to establish a career in the industry with Landmark Land Company. After 20 years with Landmark, he became a senior executive with Jack Nicklaus Golden Bear and later the Senior Director of the PGA of America.
Most recently, Braley founded the Legacy Golf Advisory Group. Through this endeavor, he hopes to match banks and other lenders with open space projects, thereby increasing facilities and jobs in the industry. It was this focus that sparked his involvement with the Golf Academy of America. Braley was immediately impressed with the diversity and commitment shown by the students. Through it all, Braley hopes that he can use his skillset to "preserve the integrity and history of the industry" while saving "good career opportunities."
Braley currently resides in Tyler, Texas with his wife of thirty-eight years, Merrilee. When not following his beloved Oklahoma State Cowboys, he enjoys working as an agronomist, emphasizing new ways to improve upon turf, landscaping and golf course vegetation.
Jim Brotherton, Jr., PGA, Head Golf Professional at Old Overton Club
Jim Brotherton, Jr., has been playing golf for more than 50 years. He is currently the Head Golf Professional at Old Overton Club in Vestavia Hills, Ala.
A distinguished contributor to local junior programs, Brotherton served as national vice chairman of the former National Golf Day, a program to benefit junior golf, from 1991 to 1994. He has conducted 18 National Golf Marathons and has served as tournament director of the Jerry Pate National Intercollegiate Golf Tournament, which is considered one of the nation's premier collegiate events.
Brotherton was the first PGA director of Section Affairs at PGA national headquarters in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. He later served as PGA field representative for PGA West in La Quinta, Calif., and as marketing and public relations manager at PGA national headquarters.
Brotherton received the PGA's highest honor in 2003 when he was named the PGA Golf Professional of the Year. He was inducted into the PGA Golf Professional Hall of Fame in 2005.
Mark Darnell, PGA Master Professional and Golf Consultant
Mark E. Darnell, a PGA Master Professional, was born in Indianapolis, Indiana. At age 14, he was one of the youngest Eagle Scouts in the country. He was an All-American and captained the golf team at Purdue University that won the NCAA Team Championship and the Big Ten Championship. During one NCAA Championship, Darnell was medalist runner-up to Jack Nicklaus.
He has competed in seven national championships, including the British Open at St. Andrews. Darnell served as the Director of Golf at Augusta's West Lake Country Club for 34 years. He has conducted 250 educational seminars and workshops throughout the United States and Canada and was honored with the PGA's National Horton Smith Award given for outstanding and continuing contributions to golf education. Darnell is also a member of the PGA's Master Professional Faculty.
He was the principal author of the PGA Merchandise Manual that was mailed to every PGA member in the United States and is used as a textbook in the PGA Apprentice Program. Darnell was also named the National PGA Merchandiser of the Year. The West Lake Golf Shop was named one of America's 100 Best for ten consecutive years. Mark Darnell says his greatest pleasure in golf was the training of his 22 assistants who went on to become Head Golf Professionals or Directors of Instruction.
William Dettlaff, PGA, Consultant and Adjunct Faculty Member
If there is one thing that can be said about Billy Dettlaff, it is that golfing is in his blood. Based in Ponte Vera Beach, Fla., he is a second generation PGA Professional, and he says that golfing has been in his family for more than 100 years. The tradition is continued Dettlaff's daughter, Debbie Foley, a PGA Professional.
A 1973 Radio, Television and Film graduate from the University Wisconsin in Oshkosh, Dettlaff first worked as a photographer. The need to follow the family trade pushed him to his first love—golf. He spent nearly a decade with the Inverarry Country Club in Lauderhill, Fla., where he hosted the Jackie Gleason (Honda) Inverarry Classic. He spent the next 20 years with the TPC network and PGA tour.
Billy retired from the TPC and PGA in 2009, but he hasn't slowed down. He is currently a consultant for, among others, the PGA Tour and Titleist. He is also an adjunct faculty member for the PGA of America and on the board of the American Junior Golf Association. He is writing a book on the history of the golf profession.
Perry Dickey, PGA, Chief Operating Officer at Newport Beach Country Club
After spending several years playing on the mini-tours, California native Perry Dickey took a job in a golf shop. He's been in love with the industry ever since. As he likes to say, "It's been a great ride!"
Dickey, a legend in the Southern California golfing community, is currently the Chief Operating Officer of the Newport Beach Country Club. During his tenure, the Club has hosted the Toshiba Classic, maintained in excess of 600 members and hosted various U.S. Open qualifying events. Along with becoming a PGA Master Golf Professional, he counts working at the Club as one of his greatest accomplishments.
When he's not watching John Wayne movies or listening to Led Zeppelin, Perry can be found spending time with his wife or riding his beach cruiser.
Cathy Harbin, PGA, Vice President of Golf Revenue at ClubCorps
When ClubCorp hired Cathy Harbin to be their Vice President of Golf Revenue, she brought more than 20 years of quality experience to the company. She is responsible for assisting ClubCorp's Golf and Country Club Division in initiatives to grow the game, increase rounds, drive golf instruction and enhance the member and guest experience.
Prior to joining ClubCorp, Harbin served as executive director of Golf 20/20, a World Golf Foundation national initiative focusing on the future vitality of the game. In this role, she helped start the Get Golf Ready program, which now has more than 100,000 participants at 1,850 certified facilities. She led Golf 20/20's Image of the Game initiative, the administration of We Are Golf, Golf 20/20's economic impact research efforts, and the activities of Golf 20/20's various committees.
Harbin, a graduate of Indiana University, has also worked with Honors Golf. Because of her lifetime of dedication to the game of golf and its future, she was inducted into the North Florida PGA Hall of Fame in 2012.
Jason Helman, CPGA, President and CEO at Jason Helman Golf
Jason Helman scored a 92 on his first round of golf. A year later, he shot a 67.
At 20, Helman decided to pursue golf as a career, enrolling in the Golf Academy of America. These days, he's a top ranked golf instructor whose goal is to grow the game and help student enjoy their time on the course. He counts being awarded the 2010 National PGA of Canada Teacher of the Year as a career highlight, and made a guest appearance on Golf Channel's Morning Drive to mark the occasion.
The Toronto-based Helman is a lifelong learner, continually searching for new or better ways to present information to students and to expand his own knowledge. "l really enjoy seeing people succeed at whatever level they're playing at," said Helman. He likes, "putting a smile on their face when they finally see the shot they've been hoping to produce for such a long time."
In high school Helman was the rhythm guitarist for a band. Their hit song became the number one request 6 straight weeks in a city of 200,000 people. They were even approached by Warner Bros., and lucky for the golf industry, never came to an agreement for a recording contract. He enjoys an occasional game of poker and fishing, when time permits.
Chris Hunkler, PGA
Before retiring in 2013, Chris Hunkler served as President of Golf Academy of America at Education Corporation of America.
Hunkler began his education career in South Carolina, where he was an Assistant Principal. He ventured into golf by working as an Assistant Golf Professional at a local country club. He later became Head Professional, then General Manager before joining The PGA of America's headquarters staff in 1987. At the PGA, Hunkler served as Managing Director of Membership Programs.
Over his PGA career, Hunkler was directly responsible for the development and administration of the PGA Certified Professional program, the PGA's Apprentice Training program, and the specialty certification programs. He received the American Society of Association Executives Award of Excellence twice, as well as the Horton Smith Award for Excellence in Education, Carolina PGA Section.
Brent Krause, PGA Master Professional, General Manager at Wynlakes Golf and Country Club
An Alabama native, Brent Krause has taken pride in showing that his state's passion for golf matches its passion for football. He has spent the last 20 years growing the Wynlakes Golf and Country Club, located in Montgomery, Ala., into one of the Southeast's premier golfing communities. This hard work culminated when he was named the 2007 PGA of America Golf Professional of the Year. He was inducted into the PGA of America Hall of Fame in 2009.
Having attended Harvard University's Graduate School of Design, Krause is uniquely qualified in the area of clubhouse and site planning. He is currently the only PGA Master Professional in Alabama.
Throughout his career, Krause has shown a passion for helping others. He has mentored seven former assistants who are now head trainers, and he has trained more than 30 Gold Management interns. Krause founded the Capital City Junior Golf Tour and has been a frequent speaker with the PGA.
Whether it's mentoring future trainers or fostering youth golf programs, Brent's passion and background will serve him well on the Golf Academy of America Advisory Board.
Ken Morton, Sr., PGA Master Professional, CEO at Morton Golf
Sacramento native Ken Morton, Sr., got his start in the golf industry at 11 years old. He began caddying at the Del Paso Country Club and went on to work in the shop, repair golf clubs and work at the driving range, all before high school graduation. He won the Northern California High School Championship and later, while attending Sacramento City College, won the California State Junior College Championship.
Morton began working part time at The Haggin Oaks Golf Complex in 1958 and is still there nearly 50 years later. He was part owner of the Auburn Valley Country Club from 1986 to 2001 and managed AVCC part time from 1991 until he and his partners sold their interests in 2001. At the same time, he was a partner in Golf Resources, which managed, owned or operated six golf courses in California and Oregon. Golf Resources was eventually sold to Meadowbook Golf, a large publicly held management company.
Morton became a member of the PGA of America's Education faculty in 1978. He has run several PGA Apprentice Training Schools and presented hundreds of PGA Training Seminars. Morton worked with the Stanford Research Institute to design the new PGA Apprentice Training Program and also participated on the design team to create Specialized Certification Programs for Head Golf Professionals.
Morton completed contract work for the PGA of America to consult the Pentagon on military golf course operations all over the world. He has performed consulting work throughout the continental United States, Japan, Korea, England and Alaska.
Morton founded SAY Golf, today called The First Tee of Greater Sacramento. He was the President from 1983 to 2001, and was an officer until 2006, when he became an Emeritus Board Member.
His recognitions include 1986 National Junior Golf Promoter of the Year from Golf Digest Magazine, Northern California Golf Association's Grand Master Award, California Golf Writer's Contribution to Golf Award, Arthur Anderson's Best Business Practices Regional Award and Golf Pro Magazine's 72 Most Powerful People In Golf.
Today, Morton is a Certified PGA Master Professional and is certified to grade and interview those members applying for certification and PGA Master Professional status. He is the only person who has been awarded six national PGA Awards. He was inducted into the National PGA Hall of Fame in 2005.
Stephen Napoli, PGA, General Manager and Director at Liberty National Golf Club
Steve Napoli was born in Worcester, Mass., and raised in Newport, R.I. He attended Florida Southern College and graduated from The University of Rhode Island with a degree in Business Administration. He played collegiate golf at both schools, before turning professional in 1977. He has been a member of the PGA of America since 1979.
Napoli served as the Head Professional at Pawtucket Country Club for nine years before becoming the Director of Golf at the famed Wannamoisett Country Club where he served for 15 years and was presented a lifetime honorary membership. He spent four years as Director of Golf at The Carnegie Abbey Club before joining Liberty National Golf Course in 2012. Steve served as interim General Manager at Liberty National in 2013 and successfully led the club as host of The Barclays, the first PGA Tour stop of the FedEx Cup Playoffs.
Napoli was named the New England PGA's Junior Golf Leader in 2010. He received the Bill Strausbaugh Award in 1998, and was recognized as the Professional of the Year in 1998. He received the PGA of America National Bill Strausbaugh Award in 2003 for his role in mentoring fellow PGA Professionals, employment relations and service to the community. He has been recognized as an outstanding instructor and supporter of junior golf. Several of his juniors went on to play in college, and four played professionally on the PGA Tour.
Before being elected President in 1999, Napoli held every office in the New England PGA. He has served on numerous PGA of America committees and was appointed to the Board of Control of the PGA of America, 2006-2010. He has served on the Board of Directors for the Francis Ouimet Fund and The Golf Foundation of Rhode Island. He also served four terms as President of the John P. Burke Memorial Fund, the second oldest caddie scholarship program in the United States.
On the golf course, Steve won the 1988 Rhode Island PGA Championship and the 1999 New England PGA Senior-Junior Championship. He finished second to PGA Champions Tour player Dana Quigley in the 1992 Rhode Island Open and represented the New England PGA seven times in the Bermuda Cup matches.
Steve was elected into the New England PGA Hall of Fame in 2013. Mary Ann, his wife of more than thirty years, is an avid golfer, and they have two grown children, Stephen, Jr., and Sarah.
Jock Olson, PGA, Vice President of Marketing and New Business Development at ForeTees
With "Jock" as his given name, Jock Olson jokes that it worked out well for him to end up with a career in sports.
Olson hails from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, a city that both he and professional golfer Zach Johnson claim as their hometown. It was here that Olson and his father, a high school educator, spent their summers on the golf course, and Olson fostered a love for the game.
Olson started out with a Bachelor's degree in Radio, Television and Film from Southern Illinois University. He went on to become a PGA Master Professional and was a longtime Professional at Interlachen Country Club in Minneapolis.
These days, Olson works for ForeTees, a company that manages online reservations for private clubs internationally. He attends major PGA events as a company representative, and still teaches on a regular basis. His teaching focus is primarily veterans and those in the armed forces.
Olson was the 2002 PGA Golf Professional of the Year and is a member of the PGA Hall of Fame. As a member of the Golf Academy of America Advisory board, Olson will continue his career-long commitment to growth of the game. "I decided to serve on the board because I believe in the Golf Academy of America's mission," said Olson. "I respect those who have been involved in the past. In meeting GAA alums, I was impressed with their skills and commitment to serve the game."
Olson lives in Eden Prairie, Minnesota with his wife Cheri, and enjoys spending time with their daughters and grandchildren.
Cindy Rarick, LPGA Legends Tour Player
On the course, LPGA Legends Tour player Cindy Rarick is focused, but her interests don't stop at golf. She plays enjoys a good game of ping-pong, and is an ambassador of goodwill to the island of Kauai. She's also an investor in a Washington State winery, and an advocate of wine education.
Rarick was awarded a college scholarship for golf, but after two years, decided to leave and pursue her dream of playing competitively. Thirty years later, she can count 24 years on the LPGA tour and seven years on the LPGA Legends tour among her achievements. "Golf has been the greatest, most fulfilling career, allowing me to compete, travel the world and meet wonderful people," she said.
As a professional golfer, Rarick has five LPGA victories and one international win in Japan. She scored a 65 on the 73-par Wailer Blue course in Maui, Hawaii and has scored six holes-in-one during competition.
Rarick has made it a career goal to promote growth in the game of golf, particularly among women. She supports junior golf in Hawaii and Arizona.
On the Golf Academy of America Advisory Board, Rarick will bring fresh ideas and perspective on enrolling more female students.
Brad Redding, PGA Master Professional, Director of Instruction at The Resort Club at Grand Dunes
Brad Redding has more than 20 years of experience teaching golf, and has been ranked nationally as a Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher.
As a six-time Tennessee PGA Teacher of the Year and Golf Digest's pick for South Carolina Teacher of the Year, Redding works on golf swings with players of all levels. He credits his success to a keen eye for imperfections and the ability to prescribe clear solutions.
Redding is director of Instruction at The Resort Club at Grand Dunes, where he operates The Golf Academy at Grand Dunes. He is a PGA Master Professional in Instruction, and a Golf Channel "Golf Academy Live" Instructor. He contributes to Golf Magazine, Sports Illustrated, Golf Digest, PGA Magazine and USA Today.
Redding is a faculty member for the PGA Master Professional Program in Instruction and serves on the Titleist Leadership Advisory Board.
Paul Reinking, Retired National Director of the PGA
Paul Reinking has been a lifelong golfer. At just six years old, his father and grandfather, both avid players, taught him the game. At twelve, he caddied alongside four other young men, each of whom became professional golfers. He went on to play on his high school and college golf teams, turning pro in 1969.
Throughout Reinking's 43-year career, one thing has remained constant: his love and enjoyment of the game. His passion for golf has led him to a wide-ranging and remarkable career. Reinking has served the PGA on virtually every level, including the chapter, state, regional and national levels. His efforts culminated when he was designated as a National PGA Director. Through it all, Reinking believes he "received far more than [he] was able to give."
It was through his association with the National PGA Board of Directors that he first became involved with Golf Academy of America. Reinking hopes that his unique and varied background in PGA education and employment will give him the expertise to help season new professionals.
Although retired, Reinking is still serving the golf community. He regularly teaches and volunteers at his local course through junior programs and charity events.
Reinking resides in Goodyear, Arizona with his wife, Judy. There, he enjoy playing pickleball, spending quality time with his wife and supporting his two grandsons in all of their endeavors.
Todd Sones, PGA, Owner at Todd Sones Impact Golf
When Todd Sones started playing golf as a teenager, he didn't waste any time getting involved with the PGA. He entered the apprentice program at 18, before he even graduated high school. He's been working in golf ever since.
Sones, who worked at the Golf Academy of America for six years, currently owns Todd Sones Impact Golf, a school in Vernon Hills, Ill. Here, Sones and his team analyze swings, then break player plateaus by teaching personalized swing mechanics. He has been named the Illinois PGA Teacher of the Year twice, and has been named to the Golf Digest "50 Best Teachers" list, as well as to the Golf Magazine "Top 100 Teachers." PGA Magazine ranked him in the "Top 50 Influencers of the Game."
"I always want to keep learning and improving," Sones said. "It's been a great journey…I wouldn't want to do anything else."
Sones has a strong faith, and is active in his church. He travels to Honduras annually to volunteer at an orphanage. He enjoys spending time with his wife Linda and sons CJ and Owen.
Mike Tinkey, Deputy CEO at National Golf Course Owners Association
Mike Tinkey is the Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the National Golf Course Owners Association. In this role, he is responsible for developing business relationships with suppliers to the golf industry. These relationships help NGCOA members increase efficiencies and enhance revenues.
Since joining the Association in 2004, Tinkey has been instrumental in establishing a number of sponsorships and partner relationship programs including the Smart Buy Purchasing Program, which provides owners and operators with discounts on the equipment and services needed to run their businesses.
Tinkey is a former golf course operator, and a past president of the South Carolina Golf Course Owners Association and the Low Country Golf Course Owners Association. He served as the Chief Operating Officer of Royal Golf and Tennis at Shipyard and Port Royal Resorts on Hilton Head Island, S.C., and as the President of the Wild Dunes Resort in Charleston, S.C.
He currently serves on the board of the National Alliance for Accessible Golf and on advisory boards at the University of Wisconsin and the University of Central Florida's Rosen College of Hospitality Management. Past board positions include the Southern Innkeepers Association, the Hilton Head Island Chamber of Commerce and the Hilton Head Island Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Tinkey holds a bachelor's degree from Auburn University, where he also pursued graduate studies in History.