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Student and Alumni Newsletter - May 2014

May 16, 2014



Graduation for students of the five GAA campuses took place on Saturday, April 26. In total, there were 230 graduates from coast to coast:

  • The GAA San Diego graduation was held at Hilton La Jolla Torrey Pines for 49 graduates.
  • The GAA Myrtle Beach graduation was held at Landmark Resort for 49 graduates.
  • The GAA Orlando graduation was held at Hilton Altamonte Springs for 58 graduates.
  • The GAA Dallas graduation was held at The Windsor at Hebron Park for 36 graduates.
  • The GAA Phoenix graduation was held at Ocotillo Golf Club Resort for 38 graduates.

We extend our heartfelt congratulations and best wishes to every one of these grads and are excited to see what they accomplish as the future leaders of the golf industry!

GAA Dallas Graduating Class
In front of staircase (left to right): John Nicholson, Ricky Parker, Travis Lynch, Christopher Morrow, Matt Lassen, Guy Gilmore, Charles Reeves, Garrett Wright, Patrick Grimes, Jarrod Williams, Tyler Morrow
Front row of staircase (top to bottom): Thomas Allred, Chad Almy, Matt Baumann, Jim Canon, Herbie Champlin, Clayton Chenault, Russell Dale, Robert Dix, Nicholas Douthit, Melvin Luckey, Chris Elizondo, Carlos Garcia, John Goray, Aaron Thomas
Back row of staircase (top to bottom): Tyler Paine, Mitch Little, Eladio Garcia, Christopher Gent, Wade Thomspon, Kris Radford
Not pictured: Michael Baca, Derek Brayton, Ford Fowler, Cameron Jackson, Keith Sarao

GAA Phoenix Graduating Class
GAA Phoenix Graduating Class

Charlie Raymond
GAA Phoenix Valedictorian Charlie Raymond

GAA Phoenix Graduates
GAA Phoenix Graduates Celebrating

GAA President Award Winners
GAA Phoenix President Award Winners
(left to right): Kyle Earl, Michael Holbrook, Taylor Hugg, Travis Kruger, Charlie Raymond

GAA Phoenix PGA Professional Staff
PGA Professional Staff at GAA Phoenix
Tim Wilkins, Warren Pitman, Gary Balliet, Fred Barr, Jay Friedman, Sean Ferris, Ed Ekis, Tim Eberlein

GAA San Diego Graduating Class
GAA San Diego Graduating Class

GAA Orlando Graduating Class
GAA Orlando Graduating Class

GAA Myrtle Beach Graduating Class
GAA Myrtle Beach Graduating Class


Duckering headed to golf academy

Sean Duckering

Sean Duckering, the 2013 Central Section Individual Champion and Bee Player of the Year, will enroll next fall in the GAA San Diego.

The left-handed senior at Buchanan High School in Clovis, Calif. would rather play than own a golf shop.

"My dream is to make the PGA Tour, obviously," he said.

Entering the academy instead of playing college golf involved "hours of soul searching," said Duckering, who has had discussions with coaches from Fresno State and UNLV.


The American Century Championship

The American Century Championship is offering complimentary tickets to military for the 25th anniversary of the celebrity golf tournament, July 15-20, in appreciation of their service to the country.

As part of the tournament's initiative, GAA Phoenix alum and Retired United States Army Corporal Chad Pfeifer, an Iraqi War veteran and amputee whose golf-centered rehabilitation has turned him into a top-tier tournament player, will join the field in competition for $600,000 in prize money and will be recognized for his service.

Pfeifer, a three-time winner of President George W. Bush's Warrior Open and the 2011 National Amputee Tournament champion, is a working PGA Club professional at the Golf Club of Estrella in Goodyear, Ariz. While serving in Iraq in 2007, Pfeifer's life changed when a bomb exploded under the patrol vehicle he was driving and he lost his left leg above the knee.

Now 32, he used golf to help overcome the adversity and found a talent that had roots in his three-sport high school athlete days. He attended the Golf Academy of America to learn the business end of the sport and now brings his competitive skills to the 80-player field at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course, where John Elway, Steph Curry, Aaron Rodgers, Jerry Rice, Jason Kidd and Andy Pettitte hold forth each year. The American Century Championship has a history of promoting and fundraising for military and first responder causes. In 2002, following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, three New York City firemen who had worked tirelessly at Ground Zero were added to the celebrity field and the tournament raised over $150,000 for the Uniformed Firefighters Scholarship Fund to aid the children of those lost in that tragedy.

NBC Sports and NBC Sports Network will televise the tournament live as follows: 
Friday, July 18: 1 to 4 p.m. on NBC Sports Network
Saturday, July 19: Noon to 3 p.m. on NBC
Sunday, July 20: Noon to 3 p.m. on NBC.


Orange Belt Conference Coach of the Year

Tony Brus

Congratulations to GAA Alum Tony Brus for being named the Orange Belt Conference Coach of the Year! Tony led the Celebration High School boys' varsity golf team to the Orange Belt title and the District title last season and was named Orange Belt Conference Coach of the Year. We're proud of you, Tony!


Hope this email finds you doing well. Just wanted to pass along some information.

I have been at Celebration since graduation. I went to Mayfair as an interim GM when our company took over management there. Last year I was asked to coach the varsity boys golf team for Celebration High School. I gladly accepted and took over the team. We went on to win the Orange Belt title and District title last season. This is a first in the history for Celebration High School.

I have learned that I was named Orange Belt Conference Coach of the year. I am humbled by this.

I have to give thanks to you, Ron, Bruce and John for the training and ability you guys taught me at GAA to pursue such an endeavor.

I will be back as coach this year for the high school and will work hard to repeat as champs again. Just wanted to drop you a note and thank you and the staff at GAA one more time!


Tony Brus
December 2012 Grad GAA

Cleveland Country Club

Dear GAA Carolinas Staff,

It's been almost five months since I left my "vacation" house in Myrtle Beach and had to come home to Tennessee and find a real job. I am currently the Assistant Professional at Cleveland Country Club in Cleveland, Tenn. and I wouldn't trade this job for anything! (Unless it was a few million dollars in cash up front but, hey, that is a different story.)

Seriously, though, I am very happy where I am right now and I just wanted to say that the instructors at the Golf Academy gave me the tools I needed to succeed in this industry and I walked in feeling confident I could do anything that was asked of me inside that Pro Shop.

I plan on starting the PGA process by this Fall and I've been thinking of eventually coming back to the Golf Academy and teaching. That is a little down the road though. Thank you all for sharing your knowledge of the game and the industry with me.

I would like to stay in touch and come back to visit in the future.

Thanks again and I hope all is well in Myrtle Beach!

-Kyle Kilgore