On a day perfect for playing golf, three of Kentucky’s finest were inducted into the Kentucky Golf Hall of Fame. The Induction Ceremony was held on Friday, November 18 at Marriott’s Griffin Gate Resort in Lexington on a beautiful day with temperatures in the mid-70s. Dr. Rex Chaney, the long-time Morehead State Golf Coach, Kentucky Golf Association Leader Tom Cooksey and former Valhalla Superintendent Mark Wilson were honored as the Class of 2016 – joining many other greats of Kentucky Golf who are known for playing ability, service to the game and more.
The evening was made special by those who attended and reminisced about good times and fond memories that only the sport of golf can create to bond people together for life. Wayne Martin kicked off the inductions by introducing his longtime friend and former coach, Dr. Rex Chaney. He concluded his speech by playing Kenny Chesney’s song “Coach” dedicated to Chaney by his players in a fitting tribute. Chaney introduced the family that attended the evening to celebrate his accomplishment. He acknowledged two who were also absent in his son Lee, who is caddying for his standout former player, Josh Teater in a Professional event. Next to take the stage was Kentucky Golf Association Board Member, Jim Wells and Ben and Dan Cooksey. The three told funny tales of the thorough and serious man who is still making a constant effort to grow the game of golf in Kentucky, especially in the eastern part of the state – Tom Cooksey. Their speeches were emotional, powerful and sprinkled with good-humoured digs at “Mr. 69.” Cooksey acknowledged that he certainly wasn’t able to accomplish his many accolades on his own, crediting his wife, children and peers for their help along the way. To round out the ceremony, Dr. Dwight Barkley took the crowd through the career highlights of his favorite student at Eastern Kentucky University, Mark Wilson. Wilson was humbled by the crowds of “teams” from his various moves along his career that joined him in celebrating the evening. He always considers his teams as part of his family. Those in attendance were brought to their feet by each Inductee – it was their speeches and those of the presenters that made the night truly something to remember.
Other prestigious awards were given out on this great evening. Golf House Kentucky’s Director of Junior Programs, Chris Redle presented the Golf House Kentucky Junior Player of the Year Awards to Sarah Fite and Cullan Brown. Kentucky PGA President Ralph Landrum presented the OMEGA Larry Gilbert Player of the Year Award to Blake Watts of Wildwood Country Club and the OMEGA Assistant Player of the Year Award to Weissinger Hills Golf Course’s Daniel Iceman, III. At the time of the ceremony, the OMEGA KPGA Senior Player of the Year was yet to be determined by the Senior PGA Professional Championship in Florida. Kentucky Golf Association President, Jimmy Riddle presented awards to the amateur Players of the Year, including Martha Leach (Women’s Player of the Year), Andy Roberts (John C. Owens Player of the Year), Gary Backlund (Tom Musselman Senior Player of the Year) and 2016 J.W. Janes Award (for outstanding contributions in amateur golf) to Lisa Goins.
It was an evening of fellowship and fun and we sincerely thank everyone in attendance, as we celebrated the past, present and future of golf! Our sincere thanks to Kelly Williams, Kentucky Golf Foundation President and Master of Ceremonies for a terrific program, to Don Russell for his work on the video presentations for the award winners and to Griffin Gate for their hospitality!
Three Named to 2016 Kentucky Golf Hall of Fame Class
The Kentucky Golf Foundation is proud to announce the election of the Dr. Rex Chaney, Tom Cooksey, and Mark Wilson into the Kentucky Golf Hall of Fame. Kentucky’s Family of Golf Organizations will come together to celebrate this fall the annual Celebration of Kentucky Golf that includes the Hall of Fame induction ceremony as well as recognizing the 2016 Player of the Year Awards. The Ceremony will be held on Friday, November 18 at the Marriott Griffin Gate Resort and Spa in Lexington.
Dr. Rex Chaney – (82, Morehead, Kentucky) served as the Head Men’s Golf Coach at Morehead State University for 38 seasons. He amassed four Ohio Valley Conference titles, four OVC Coach of the Year honors, six other top three OVC Championship finishes, coached two OVC Players of the Year, three OVC Tournament medalists, five tournament runners-up and 29 all-tournament and all-conference players. Dr. Chaney is the only member of the Eagle Athletic Hall of Fame to be inducted while still a member of the coaching staff. He holds bachelors and masters degrees from Morehead State and a doctorate in recreation from Indiana University. He was a student-athlete at Morehead State as a golfer and member of the track team. Throughout his career he ran a hugely popular golf camp for juniors, even spending his own money to keep the camp running when costs increased. He was recognized in 2014 with the J.W. Janes Award from the Kentucky Golf Association for his outstanding contributions to amateur golf.
Tom Cooksey – (73, Ashland, Kentucky) has served as a rules official in all levels of play, both in Kentucky and across the country since 1976. He was appointed to the Kentucky Golf Association Board of Directors in 1986 and has served the board as Director of Section 9 (Eastern Kentucky), Treasurer, Secretary, Vice-President and President. He also served the President and Honorary President of the Golf House Kentucky and Kentucky Golf Foundation Board of Directors. Cooksey ran the Tri-State Junior Golf Association from 1984-1988, hosting 32 events and serving an average of 400 members per year in Kentucky, West Virginia, and Ohio. Also in 1984, he joined with the American Junior Golf Association and founded the AJGA Bluegrass Junior at Bellefonte Country Club, introducing the concept of a junior-amateur at AJGA events. In 2004, he was appointed to the USGA Junior Championship Committee, which served on for ten years. In 2008, he founded the Eastern Kentucky Junior Golf Association, serving juniors from the 13 easternmost counties in the Commonwealth. He utilized the 501c3 system to raise sponsorships and developed a new revenue sharing program with area high schools. He donated $5 per participant back to their high school golf program, an amount that totaled more than $18,000 over five years. He also created a “Just Fore Fun” day for autistic children and their parents. He has received the Digger Smith Award from the AJGA (1997), a lifetime achievement award given for outstanding service to junior golf, the Most Outstanding Golf Official Award from the KHSAA (2005-2006) and the J.W. Janes Award (2007) from the Kentucky Golf Association for outstanding contributions to amateur golf.
Mark Wilson – (60, Louisville, Kentucky) began his career while enrolled in the Turfgrass Management Program at Eastern Kentucky University in the mid-1970’s, where he also played on the golf team. He served as Assistant Superintendent at Harmony Landing Country Club and Louisville Country Club and followed these with a Superintendent’s position at Audubon Country Club for eight years. In 1988, Wilson became the Superintendent at Valhalla Golf Club, a position held for more than two decades. He and his staff successfully oversaw the playing conditions of five Major Championships at Valhalla Golf Club: 1996 PGA Championship, 2000 PGA Championship, 2002 PGA Club Professional Championship, 2004 Senior PGA Championship and the 2008 Ryder Cup. In addition to presenting a pristine golf facility for the Valhalla members, top playing professionals, and national viewing audiences, Wilson known for mentoring many of today’s top superintendents, hiring college students through Cooperative Education Programs and being a headliner for turfgrass educational programs in Kentucky and throughout the country.
The Kentucky Golf Hall of Fame was established in 1984 as a joint effort by the Kentucky Golf Association and the Kentucky PGA to honor individuals in Kentucky with significant achievements and accomplishments in various areas of golf. The Kentucky Golf Hall of Fame’s membership includes individuals with outstanding records as players, golf professionals, golf course superintendents, educators, and golf administrators. It is located at Golf House Kentucky in Louisville.
For information regarding the ceremony, please contact Golf House Kentucky Director of Communications-Membership, Erin Horn at (502) 243-8295 ext. 306 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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