PGA News

Gallacher becomes PGA Captain and joins an elite band

Bernard Gallacher has begun his year as PGA Captain and in doing so became just the eighth person to lead the Association and a home Ryder Cup team.

Gallacher captained Europe in 1991, 93 and 95 and joins a distinguished list comprising PGA co-founder J H Taylor, Ted Ray, George Duncan, Sir Henry Cotton, Eric Brown, Bernard Hunt and Dai Rees.

Each captained either Great Britain or Great Britain and Ireland before Team Europe began contesting the biennial match and Gallacher said: “It’s a great honour to be made captain and follow in such illustrious footsteps.”

The 72-year-old Scot, who won 22 professional tournaments and played in eight Ryder Cup matches, qualified as a PGA Member in 1971 and, in succeeding Peter Hanna, has become the Association’s 80th Captain.

“I am a proud PGA Member and I am honoured and humbled to captain the Association,” he said.

“When I turned pro my mission was to become a fully qualified PGA Member. It’s the pinnacle for a professional.

“The PGA is a strong brand, represents excellence, service and a lot more besides. That’s what it means to me.

“I’m really looking forward to representing the PGA Members and doing do my best to promote the Association at all times.

“There’s a paradigm shift going on at the moment in The PGA with the introduction of the 2020 Vision Initiative.

“I think it’s great the way there are different facets of membership. You can be a PGA Professional, you can be a PGA Coach, you can be a PGA Manager.

“This is the way forward and I think it’s a very good idea. And, of course, the letters PGA are at the front of those descriptions, which is a sign of excellence.”

Gallacher was made a PGA Honorary Member in 1994 and awarded the OBE for services to golf in 1996.

He relinquished his role as head professional at Wentworth in the same year after a quarter of a century spent combining his duties at the exclusive club with his tournament career and spells as Ryder Cup captain.

“There’s no chance that could happen now,” he said. “The demands on Tour players make that an impossibility.

“Similarly the role of Ryder Cup captain is a full time one - that wasn’t the case in my day. I was still head pro at Wentworth when I captained the team and some of the members came out to Kiawah Island in 1991 to support us.”

Gallacher succeeded Hanna on April 1st and PGA chief executive Robert Maxfield said: “We are delighted to welcome Bernard in joining the special band of PGA Professionals who have the honour of becoming the Association’s Captain.

“Bernard is one of the game’s most respected and well-known figures and he will be a superb ambassador for us during his year in office.  

“In welcoming Bernard we would like to thank Peter Hanna, his predecessor, for his sterling work in the role. Based in Northern Ireland, Peter has been a familiar presence at almost all our national tournaments wherever their location, not least the 2019 PGA Cup in Texas. It’s a great shame his spell as Captain has been disrupted by the pandemic.”

Hanna, the outgoing Captain, added: “It has been such an honour and pleasure to have served as PGA Captain during 2019-21.

“It is hard to believe that the four years, two as Vice and two as Captain, have come to an end, but I am left with a lot of wonderful memories which Lynne and myself will never forget.

“To my successor Bernard Gallacher, I wish him all the very best. His reputation in the world of golf needs no introduction, from club professional at Wentworth and his heroics in the Ryder Cup to name a few. I know he will be a great ambassador for the Association and will enjoy every minute of the term.”

Wesley Pappin – a stalwart of Irish golf

The PGA is saddened to report that Wesley Pappin, who served the Southern Branch of The PGA in Ireland tirelessly as its secretary for four decades, has passed away at the age of 92.

Although he was not a PGA Member, Wesley flew the Association’s standard and championed its cause from the moment he accepted the role as secretary in the mid 1970s.

“He was a PGA Man through and through – he was everything but a Member,” said Gavin Kavanagh, a former PGA in Ireland board member. “He was committed to working for the Association.”

That had begun 16 years after he had attended his first golf tournament – the Canada Cup in 1960 at Portmarnock where he watched Sam Snead partner the then newcomer, Arnold Palmer. He was appointed captain of Foxrock Golf Club in 1977 and later became its President.

Prior to becoming involved with golf, Wesley had represented Ireland at table tennis and was the country’s non-playing captain for many years; his long association with the Southern Branch began when he was invited to join its committee and look after the PGA Tankard, its biggest event. 

Wesley’s success in organising a competition that helped finance the Southern Branch and make valuable contributions to its Benevolent Fund led to his 42-year stint as its secretary.

“He ran the PGA Tankard for all those years,” recalled Kavanagh, the head PGA Professional at Delgany Golf Club, the venue for a surprise dinner in 2018 that celebrated Wesley’s 40 years with the Branch.

“It generated significant income for the Branch and its Benevolent Fund. It would not have been there without his work and input. There’s no doubt about that. 

“The amount of money he raised for the Benevolent Fund down through the years served so many of our Members who were struggling.

“He ran our events and had a huge amount of time for all professionals. He understood what a PGA Professional was and the difficulties we can experience in our jobs. He was an all-round good guy and a good friend to all of us.

“It’s difficult to over-praise him because you can’t. He was unique and definitely irreplaceable.”

Robert Maxfield, The PGA chief executive, added: “Members of the PGA in Ireland Southern Branch are indebted to Wesley for the work he performed on their behalf.

“That he was still working for the Branch at such an advanced age and after so many years is testament to his dedication. He will be sorely missed.”

In addition, to the PGA Tankard, Wesley was involved with the Moran Cup and many PGA in Ireland pro-ams, one of which was initiated by him at Foxrock during his captaincy year and is still being contested.

Reflecting on his time as secretary shortly after the celebration dinner during which he was presented with a silver salver to commemorate his 40 years of service, Wesley said: “Within a short space of time it wasn’t only the Tankard I was organising.

“Things just went on from there! Thankfully I wasn’t in it for the money as it wasn’t very well paid but I thoroughly enjoyed the role of secretary and all the organisation and administration that came with it. 

“The Branch must have been happy enough with the arrangement too, seeing as they kept me around for all those years!  But it was a bit like being a willing horse, everything gets put onto him!

“Overall I’ve had a marvellous time with the Branch over the years. I’ve met some wonderful people and had some amazing experiences.”

Such was Wesley’s dedication to the cause that, despite several months of failing health, he was still in office when he passed away at The Brabazon House, Sandymount, Dublin.

Vivienne, his wife of 65 years, passed away there two years ago and Wesley is survived by his sister Joyce, nieces Joan, Colette, Glynis, Diane, Catherine and Jackie, nephews David and Ian. The PGA extends heartfelt to condolences to them and Wesley’s many friends on their loss.

PGA backs Prostate Cancer UK’s Big Golf Race in bid to beat killer disease 

The PGA has extended its partnership with Prostate Cancer UK and is backing the charity’s fundraising competition - The Big Golf Race - to beat a disease that kills one man every 45 minutes in the UK.

Aimed at golfers of all abilities including PGA pros, The Big Golf Race challenges them to raise money by completing a golfing Marathon or Half Marathon – four or two rounds respectively - in a day.

The challenge will raise funds to improve the way prostate cancer is diagnosed and treated, but also engage Association members with a disease disproportionately affecting themselves and their members.

Males aged 50-plus, black men or those with a family history of the disease are at higher risk of prostate cancer. 

And, with the average age of a male PGA Member just shy of 50, the partnership further highlights exactly why the link-up between the Association and Prostate Cancer UK is especially symbiotic.

“Promoting the health and wellbeing of our Members is a top priority,” said Richard Barker, The PGA’s executive director – business development.

“Prostate Cancer UK’s Big Golf Race challenge allows our Members to raise money while at the same time engaging with golfers and their communities on this vital subject.

“We are delighted to be continuing our partnership with Prostate Cancer UK for a further three years and look forward to supporting them to help beat the most common cancer in men. The Big Golf Race will be key in helping us do this.

“We’re encouraging PGA Pros to promote this great idea at their clubs and help their members to take part.

“And it doesn’t stop with club members – it would be fantastic to see as many Pros as possible getting involved.

“To that end we have created the Team PGA Big Golf Race Challenge and are inviting PGA staff, PGA Members and their golf club membership to join individual fundraising pages together to contribute to the total fundraising goal.

“The money raised by this challenge will help fund research into life-saving work to develop new ways to diagnose and treat prostate cancer, while also providing practical support for men and their families.”

Matt Holdstock, sport engagement manager at Prostate Cancer UK, added: “We’re excited at the launch of Team PGA and further developing our relationship with The PGA and their membership.

“Now more than ever the PGA Professional’s influence is central to the running of golf clubs and their communities. They are in a great position to help us build a strong team to beat prostate cancer, a disease killing one man every 45 minutes in the UK – the time it takes, on average, to play three holes of golf.

“Thanks to The PGA our Big Golf Race will be even bigger this summer. We look forward to Team PGA putting in a marathon effort to help beat prostate cancer and keeping more golfers in the game for longer.”

In addition to its partnership with The PGA, Prostate Cancer UK is enlisting the help of elite players such as 2016 US Masters champion Danny Willett, golf creators on YouTube, and media partners Bunkered, Golf Monthly and  HowDidiDo to get its message across to golfers.

Willett, an Honorary PGA Member as a result of representing Europe in the Ryder Cup, commented: 

“I’m delighted two of the organisations I’m associated with are continuing the fight against prostate cancer - the most common cancer in men.

“PGA professionals do all sorts of different roles which puts them in touch with golfers we are trying to reach.

“Whether that’s choosing Prostate Cancer UK as their charity of choice like me, engaging their community in The Big Golf Race or simply sharing lifesaving health awareness. 

There’s lots we can do.”