For most of his 23 years as a member of the Northeastern New York PGA, fun-loving Kevin Hughes was the guy who handed out all the awards to his fellow club professionals, and told a few jokes for good measure.
On Monday, the 48-year-old Ballston Spa High School graduate was the recipient of three of the section’s most prestigious honors.
The Saratoga Golf & Polo Club head pro was not only cited as the NENYPGA Professional of the Year — the top award for local pros — but he also was presented the Bill Strausbaugh Award for club
relations/mentoring and the Roland Stafford Award for sportsmanship at the annual NENYPGA spring membership meeting at Wolferts Roost Country Club.
Hughes, currently the section’s vice president, has been a longtime member of the award committee, and it was his responsibility for the last few years to hand out the hardware. This year, he collected most of it.
“I’ve always been the awards chairman, and it’s hard to give an award to yourself,” said Hughes. “In all of my previous years in this section, I’ve only won two awards
before this, the Junior Golf Leadership Award and the Merchandiser of the Year Award. I’m extremely honored to receive these awards.”
Hughes has earned a reputation as being the NENYPGA’s top funny man and prankster.
Glens Falls Country Club head pro Tom Haggerty told a story of how Hughes called his pro shop one time, pretending to be former PGA Tour standout Wayne Levi. Another time, Hughes called the late Bobby Haggerty Jr. at the Schenectady Municipal pro shop and claimed he was Champions Tour member Blaine McCallister. Hughes told Haggerty that their scheduled match that day was called off. Haggerty had switched his lesson schedule around just so he could play with McCallister.
“You’ve got to have fun in this job,” said Hughes. “Every day, I get up and try to figure out how to have some fun. Even when you are doing things you don’t like, it’s still a good idea to try to have some fun.”
Hughes has spent his entire career working as a club pro in the greater Capital Region.
“I knew what I wanted to do when I was 16, and that was to become a club pro,” said Hughes.
Hughes worked as an assistant professional at Glens Falls Country Club before landing head pro/general manager jobs at both Hiland Golf Club (1987-1990) and Kingswood Golf Links (1990-2003). He’s been the head pro at Saratoga Golf & Polo Club since 2003.
Hughes has served on many NENYPGA committees, including three stints as member of the board of directors (1993-94, 2003-06 and 2010). He was the junior committee chairman in 1993, the tournament committee chairman from 2010-12, the awards/Hall of Fame committee chairman in 2005-06 and 2011-12, and the board of inquiry/ethics committee chairman this year.
He’s also been an outstanding player, winning the NENYPGA Match Play Championship in both 1998 and 2010. He qualified for the PGA Professional National Championship three times, participated in the annual Gazette Cup matches against the Capital Region Amateur Golf Association seven times and played on the NENYPGA team against the Central New York PGA team four times in their annual challenge match.
“The more I give to the PGA, the more I receive,” he said. “Every time I tee it up, I’m having fun, no matter where I play or who I play against. That’s the great thing about golf.”
Three of Hughes’ former assistants were on hand to help him celebrate his honors Monday.
“My assistants are still part of my family. That’s why winning the Bill Strausbaugh club relations award, which has a lot to do with mentoring, means so much to me,” Hughes said.
“And winning the Roland Stafford Award was special because Roland was a great player. It means people have a lot of respect for the way you play the game.”
Other major award winners included new Schenectady Municipal head pro Matt Daley (Junior Golf Leader), Western Turnpike Golf Club pro Casey Childs (TaylorMade-Adidas Golf Assistant Professional of the Year), Cedar River Golf Club head pro Bob Booth (Player Development Award), Titleist sales rep Jeff Kelley (Salesperson of the Year), Kay McMahon of EduKaytion Golf (Horton Smith Award) and Wyantenuck Country Club head pro Tom Sullivan (Teacher of the Year).
Steve Mazzariello of Stockbridge Golf Club (private club), Peter Tavares of Saratoga National Golf Club (public club) and David Cummings of The Sagamore Resort (resort course) were the Merchandisers of the Year.