The SOPGA Hall of Fame recognizes extraordinary careers and pays tribute to those PGA Professionals who served the Section in an exemplary manner, set standards for promoting the game throughout our communities, and/or will long be recognized and respected for their illustrious playing accomplishments. By dedicating themselves to the game of golf, SOPGA Hall of Fame Members contributed in a special way to the Section’s growth and heritage of professionalism.
The Southern Ohio Section is proud to announce the two newest members of the Southern Ohio PGA Hall of Fame: Tom Littlepage, PGA and Ed Mitchell, PGA. Littlepage and Mitchell join an exclusive group of leaders and difference-makers in our Section’s history.
Tom Littlepage, PGA
Tom Littlepage gained his PGA Membership in 1959 and held numerous positions within the SOPGA during his career, along with winning multiple Section awards. Littlepage became the Section Treasurer in 1979 and worked his way up to Secretary and, eventually, Section President in 1983.
He was also honored as the Section’s Bill Strausbaugh Award winner in 1984 and 1986, along with being awarded the SOPGA Legacy Award in 2018. The Legacy Award honors a Past President or prominent SOPGA Member who has shown exemplary devotion and commitment to enhancing the well-being of the Southern Ohio PGA.
Littlepage’s professional accomplishments include designing and building the second nine holes at Stillwater Valley Golf Course in Versailles, Ohio. He also helped design the second nine holes at Greenville Country Club in Greenville, Ohio. He has mentored many current PGA Professionals and coached multiple levels of golf teams throughout his career.
Ed Mitchell, PGA
Joining Littlepage in the Hall of Fame is Ed Mitchell. Mitchell is extremely passionate about the education and development aspects of golf. He helped revolutionize club fitting with his signature loft & lie machine and recently developed SwingFit Data Analysis program for high school and college golfers to advance their games.
Mitchell served on the PGA Junior Golf Academy and the PGA National Education Committee for four years each. He has won numerous awards from both the South Florida Section and the Southern Ohio Section, including the 2016 SOPGA Legacy Award.
2020 – Ed Mitchell, Tom Littlepage
2019 – Bob Sowards
2018 – Pat Delaney, Paul Thomas
2017 – Tom Kendrick, Steve Jurick, Larry Drehs
2016 – Jeff Steinberg, Zachary Fink
2014 – Gil Gusweiler
2012 – Gene Samborsky
2011 – Steve Groves, Geoff Hensley, Gary Howlett
2010 – Jim Brown
2009 – Jim Gilbert
2008 – Guy Amicon
2007 – Phil Stockdale, George Sargent
2006 – Mike Crotty
2005 – Lauren King, Gary Taylor, Rino DellaFlora
2004 – John Marchi, Otto Hackbarth
2003 – Jack Nicklaus, Pete Brown, Bob Harrison, Marty Kavanaugh II
2002 – Jim Flick
2000 – Bob Hauer
1999 – Robert Kepler, Jim Slominski, Steve Zappe
1998 – Elhanon ‘El’ Collins, Robert Foppe, Walker Inman, Jack Ortman, Dick Plummer
1997 – Tom Bryant, Gene Marchi, Harry Schwab, Donald Shock, Marty Kavanaugh I, Jim Rudolph, Jack Kidwell
Mr. Gary Howlett - 2011 - retired from Worthington Hills Country Club and became a PGA Life Member in 2003 after 39 years. He has been heavily involved in serving the SOPGA while being a PGA member. He was the Columbus Chapter Treasurer, Secretary, and President. He also served as the Section Secretary/Treasurer, and was a member of the Competitions Committee for PGA of America. Howlett was named Southern Ohio PGA Teacher of the Year in 1995, the Central Ohio Chapter Teacher of the Year in 1996, and recognized as one of the top teachers of the year by Golf Magazine.
Gary Taylor – 2005 – Head Golf Professional at numerous courses in Southern Ohio – Has held numerous offices on the national, section, and chapter levels – Initiated the first PGA of America Teaching and Coaching Summit – Was awarded SOPGA Golf Professional of the Year (1993,1995)
Gene Marchi 1997 – Considered one of the Founding Fathers of the SOPGA – Served as Section President (1949-1950) – Head Golf Professional at MUGC for over 40 years – Was instrumental in bringing the 1945 and 1957 PGA Championships to Southern Ohio
Gene Samborsky– 2012 – Elected to PGA Membership in 1972, Gene retired from Western Hills Country Club in 2005. He has been heavily involved in serving the SOPGA while being a PGA member. He was the Cincinnati Chapter Treasurer and Secretary, President and Vice President of the Cincinnati Chapter, the Chapter Tournament Chairman, and was elected Golf Professional of the Year in 1979.
Geoff Hensley - 2011 - retired Pro Emeritus from Coldstream C C, 2014. He has won various section awards in past years: Player of the Year-1987; Professional of the Year- 1989, 2012; Master Professional- 1990; Bill Strausbaugh Award-1990, 2003, 2009, 2010; Merchandiser of the Year- 1990; Presidents Award- 1999; Patriot Award- 2014. SOPGA Section Champion in 1990. Played in 3 U S Opens, and 2 PGA's, 4 CPC's, and 1 Sr. CPC
George Sargent – 2007 – Head Professional at Scioto Country Club from 1919 to 1932 – Served as President of the PGA from 1921-1926 – Played in a total of sixteen U.S. Opens, which included a victory at the 1909 U.S. Open. at Englewood Golf Club – Credited with introducing motion pictures to study the golf swing
Gil Gusweiler - Director of Golf at Kenwood Country Club- Past President of SOPGA 2007-2009 Served as District 5 Director. Won the SOPGA championship 1999. Won a number of section awards including Golf Professional of Year in 2006 and Merchandiser of Year (Private) 2004.
Guy Amicon 2008 – PGA of America Member since 1972 and has been the Head Professional at Mentel Memorial Golf Course (formerly Bolton Field Golf & Learning Center) since 1971 – SOPGA Board (President 92-93) – PGA National Committee for Public Awareness – Held each Columbus Chapter Office – Serves on the SOPGA Ethics Committee.
Harry Schwab – 1997 – Head Golf Professional at Dayton Comm. GC for over 40 years – Beat out a field that included Gene Sarazen to win the 1953 Sr. PGA Championship – Also won the 1955 Sr. Section Championship
Jack Kidwell - 1997 – Beacon Light GC – Designed and Rebuilt over 120 Golf Courses
Jack Nicklaus - 2003 – 100 Professional Victories – 26 “Major Championship” Victories – Played in 4 Ryder Cup Matches – 2 Ryder Cup Captains – Established and chaired “Memorial Tournament” (1976 – 2003)
Jack Ortman – 1998 – Dayton Country Club and Sycamore Creek Country Club from 1959-1995 – SOPGA President in 1970-1971 – District 5 Vice President – Contributed in the design and building of Sycamore Creek Country Club – Initiated Junior Golf Programs in Ohio – SOPGA Section Championship in 1970
James Slominski – 1999 – Pleasant Run GC – Has been very active within the Section since 1970 – SOPGA Pres. (1980 – 1981) – SOPGA Golf Professional of the Year (1983 – 1999)
Jeff Steinburg 2016 - Has served in the PGA for over 45 years, beginning at Berkshire Country Club in Reading, Pennsylvania in 1970 as their Assistant Professional. Jeff's career has included working at Metropolis Country Club in White Plains, New York, NCR Country Club in Kettering, Ohio, Miami Valley Golf Club in Dayton, Ohio and Springfield Country Club in Springfield, Ohio. Today, Jeff works at Meadow Links and Golf Academy in Cincinnati, Ohio as a Teaching Professional.
Coach Jim Brown - 2010 - The 2008-09 season was Jim Brown’s 36th and final at Ohio State. He concluded his coaching career as the longest serving head coach in Ohio State History, the winningest coach in NCAA history, and the longest serving coach in men’s golf in Big Ten history.
Jim Flick – Head Golf Professional at Losantiville CC for 15 years – Held numerous section offices during that time – Initiated Golf Digest Golf Schools – 1998 PGA of America Teacher of the Year
Jim Gilbert – 2009 – PGA of America Member since 1963 and acted as the Head Professional at Dayton Country Club from 1963 to 1997.Previously served as MVPGA President, and SOPGA President, Vice President and Secretary. In 1961 & 1962 Jim competed in 16 tournaments on the PGA Tour. Has contributed to many charitable foundations in the area, and has acted as a mentor to many SOPGA members.
John Marci – 2004 – Has worked with numerous courses within Southern Ohio – Has held offices on Chapter, Section, and National Levels – 2 terms as SOPGA Pres. – 3 SOPGA Golf Professional of the Year Awards – Will go down as one of the most important golf professionals in Southern Ohio History
Larry Drehs - 2017 - Hired at Hyde Park Golf & CC in 1981 Represented and modeled all the that PGA badge represents to the members of Hyde Park, his community and his fellow PGA Golf Professionals. Served the Section as his Chapter’s treasurer, secretary, vice president, president 1990 - 1996. Additionally, serving as Chapter Education Chairman and a speaker at a number of winter workshops specializing in clubfitting/instruction along with marketing. Awards Received: 2013 – Horton Smith Award, 2009 – Merchandiser of the Year 2002 – Golf Professional of the Year 1995 – Horton Smith
Lauren King – 2005 – Head Professional at Wildwood GC – Has held numerous offices at the section and chapter levels – Has participated in 9 National CPC’s, 2 Sr. PGA Championships, and 1 US Sr. Open
Marty Kavanaugh II – 2003 – Currently serving as the PGA of America’s Senior Director of Member and Section Support – Has been nationally recognized for his golf programs with The Hamilton County Park District – Was the PGA of Americas Golf Professional of the Year in 1992
Marty Kavanaugh – 1997 - Spent 42 years serving as the Head Golf Professional and building The Hamilton County Park District – Grew the park from 1 to 5 golf courses and developed it into one of the finest Municipal Golf Systems in the country.
Mike Crotty – 2006 – Currently serves at Safari Golf Club and has worked in the Southern Ohio Section since 1966 – Initiated multiple Junior Golf Programs in Ohio – Founder of Greater Central Ohio Junior Golf Association and Children’s Hospital Junior Golf Classic
Otto Hackbarth – 2004 – Head Golf Professional at Cincinnati CC for 35 years – Was the winner of the 3rd PGA Sr. Championship in 1940 – His patent designed “Hackbarth” putter was used by golfing greats Chuck Evans and Arthur Bartlett
Pete Brown - 2003 - Soon after obtaining his card, Pete Brown achieved a milestone that will eternally be one of the most important events in the history of golf. In May of 1964, Pete Brown won the Waco Turner Open becoming the first black PGA Member to win a PGA Sanctioned tournament. To date, there still is some confusion over this fact. Charlie Sifford, a fellow African American and long time friend of Pete Brown, won the 1957 Long Beach (Cal) Open. However, at that time Sifford was not a PGA Member, plus this was not an officially sanctioned event. Yes, Pete Brown has the distinction of being the first. Brown successfully competed on the Tour from 1963 to 1977. He went on to win one more PGA Tour event, the 1970 Andy Williams Open, plus runner-up a few more times. In 1964, he became the 1st Black player to compete in the PGA Championship, right here in Southern Ohio at Columbus Country Club. In all, he participated in 4 PGA Championships, 3 US Opens and 4 World Opens. 1970 was clearly his best year, finishing 26th on the money list.
Phil Stockdale – 2007 – Worked at Granville Golf Course for 42 years - Past President of the Southern Ohio PGA – Named SOPGA Golf Professional of the Year in 1987 – Co-Winner of the Bill Strausbaugh Award for his volunteer efforts during the 2004 PGA Professional National Championship at Longaberger Golf Club – Former Assistant Golf Coach at Denison University
Rino Dellaflora – 2005 – Former Head Professional at several Section courses – Has held both section and chapter offices – Promoted numerous free clinics and leagues – Was recognized as SOPGA Golf Professional of the Year (1977)
Steve Groves - 2011 - is currently serving as the Head Professional at Airport Golf Course and as the SOPGA Immediate Past President. He was also named the SOPGA Golf Professional of the Year in 2007, which is one of his most memorable moments in the golf business. Groves was inducted into the Ohio State Hall of Fame in 2005 and served as the OSU Women’s Golf Coach from 1980-1986
Steve Jurick - 2017 - Former SOPGA President and Tournament Director. Finalized the formation of the Miami Valley Golf Association then developed the Miami Valley Golf Foundation which recently has generated funds to support the 2013 USGA State Team Championship. Generated funds for the MVGA Caddie Initiative. Co-Developed Play Golf Ohio (Ohio Golf Summits) and assisted with the establishment of the First Tee of Greater Miami Valley Chapter.
Steve Zappe Head Golf Professional at Springfield CC for 44 years – Won against Bobby Jones in front of a crowd of 6000 people in an exhibition match in 1923 – Winner of 2 Ohio Opens, and participated in 5 PGA Championships – Was honored by Ohio Gov. James Richards who spoke at Zappe’s retirement dinner
TOM BRYANT – 1997 – Considered one of the Founding Father’s of the SOPGA – Served as first SOPGA Pres. (1946-1947) – As Head Golf Professional at Moraine CC, he prepared the course for the 1945 PGA Championship in just 90 days.
Tom Kendrick – 2017 - Began at Miami Whitewater Forest Golf Course. Moved into the Golf Department at the Hamilton County Park District for 18 years, 5 of which were overseeing the Golf Department. Served as a PGA Employment Consultant to serve fellow professionals and the clubs/facilities that employ them was totally unexpected. Awards Received: Southern Ohio PGA - Merchandiser of the Year (Public) - 1993; Southern Ohio PGA - Horton Smith Award - 2000; Greater Cincinnati PGA - Hall of Fame - 2003
Walker Inaman – 1998 – Head Golf Professional at Scioto CC for 36 years – Was awarded the SOPGA Golf Professional of the Year in 1975 – Won 3 Section Championships and 6 Senior Section Championships – Played in several US Opens, PGA Championships, and Masters
Zachary Fink 2016 - Zachary Fink began his career in 1978 , he became involved with chapter and section affairs having served on the SOPGA Board of Directors from 1999 to. Zachary received the SOPGA Junior Golf Leader Award in 2000 for his work with inner city youth and the Tony Yates Junior Golf Academy. As a golf player, Zachary has won a variety of golf tournaments to include three time SOPGA Cincinnati Chapter Match Play Champion in 1984, 1986 and 1990. Zachary has also qualified twice for the National Senior Club Professional Championship.
Bob Foppe – 1998 – Head Golf Professional and Director of Golf at Kenwood GC for 25 years – SOPGA Pres. (1976) – SOPGA Golf Professional of the Year (1974) and 5 time Merchandiser of the Year – It is known that Bob could shoot even par playing either right or left handed.
Bob Harrison – 2003 – Served many roles within the Cin. Chapter Board – Produced and hosted a Public Access show which taught the swing, rules, and etiquette of golf – Also served on the Teaching Panel for the PGA of America’ former business schools – Had a strong reputation for being a model PGA Professional
Bob Hauer – 2000 – Has spent over 30 years at Crest Hills CC as Head Golf Professional and very dedicated Teaching Professional – Participated in 4 Sr. PGA Championships, 1 Sr. US Open, 5 National CPC’s, and 6 National Sr. CPC’s – SOPGA Pres. (1972)
Bob Kepler – 1999 – Is recognized as one of the Founding Fathers of the SOPGA – Served as SOPGA President (1955-1956) – As Ohio State University Golf Coach, he and his team won the 1945 National Championship
Dick Plummer– 1998 – Head Golf Professional at Camargo for 38 years – 1 Section Championship – 1 Sr. Section Championship – 1 Ohio Open Championship – Competed in 4 PGA Championships, 1 US Open, and 4 Sr. US Opens – Instrumental in the development of Greater Cin. Pro – Am Matches
Don Shock – 1997 – Head Golf Professional and well respected Instructor at Columbus CC for 41 years – Instrumental in bringing the 1963 PGA Championship to Columbus – Won the Sr. Section Championship (1979)
El Collins –1998 – Was the SOPGA President from 1978- 1979 served as District 5 director Longtime employee of Reed Memorial Park, El received the Legacy Award 2006, was also awarded Golf Professional of Year 1982, and Horton Smith 1983