NAPLES — Rick Neet received the Southwest Chapter PGA’s top prize at its spring meeting on April 29. Neet, who has been the head pro at Royal Palm Country Club since 1981, was named the chapter’s Golf Professional of the Year.
“Anytime your colleagues and your peers do something like this, it’s just a huge honor,” Neet said. “I’m so appreciative of it, and I told them that.”
Neet credited many people, but two in particular — Ray Yarrington, a St. Petersburg pro who first suggested he get into the golf business; and Andy Beljan, the pro at Hole-in-the-Wall in Naples where Neet finished up his apprenticeship.
“You couldn’t have asked for a better mentor than Andy,” Neet said. “He was literally an expert in private club, member service. There was nobody better.”
From there, Neet landed at Royal Palm, and has been there an incredible 32 years.
“I certainly want to thank my board of directors and the members for having me for all of those years,” said Neet, 54, whose son graduated from Florida Atlantic with a civil engineering degree last weekend, and whose daughter, Jennifer, is in marketing/public relations in Atlanta.
Neet wrapped up his week by talking to his father and mother.
“Both he and Mom were very happy for the award,” Neet said.
The chapter also distributed funds from its Tournament of Charities to Southwest Florida Addiction Services, Southwest Florida Junior Golf, The First Tee of Naples/Collier ($5,000 apiece), and the Florida Gulf Coast University Professional Golf Management Program, and the FGCU golf teams ($10,000 apiece).
Other Chapter awards — Teacher of the Year, Mark Durland; Horton Smith (Education), Mike Blosser; Bill Strausbaugh (Club relations), James Butler; Junior Golf Leader, Robert Usher; Assistant of the Year, Clayton Rodgers; Merchandiser, Charles Bisignano (private), Jeff Nixon (public), Edward Weber (resort); Henry B. Watkins Award, Mariane Drahos and Carol Egan; Player of the Year, Chris Trout; Vince Smith (stroke average), Gene Fieger.
$1,000 scholarship winners — Courtney Churchill, Cypress Lake; Thomas Jewell, Naples; Michael Stuckert, Barron Collier; Glenn Ireland, Riverdale; Daichi Dougherty, Ida Baker; Matt Leiti, Gulf Coast; Samantha Shrader, St. John Neumann; Daniella Debitetto, Fort Myers; Samantha Camposano, Lely; Emily Thorp, Fort Myers; Hannah Gorton, Barron Collier; Shivana Desai, Cape Coral; Kelly Carney, Naples; Cheyenne Hemberger, Gulf Coast; Grace Rokela, Gulf Coast; Anthony Myers, Ida Baker; Anastasia Talalenko, Gulf Coast; Brandon Black, Lely.
First Tee of Naples/Collier: Madison Hotchkiss and Gerardo Lugo were selected to represent the chapter at the 2013 First Tee Life Skills and Leadership Academy in San Diego from July 24-30.
Hotchkiss and Lugo will join more than 90 participants of The First Tee, ages 13-17, in the national event.
“The First Tee of Naples/Collier is extremely proud of Madison and Gerardo for their accomplishments,” executive director Cindy Darland said. “To be selected out of more than 300 applications nationwide is a great testimony to their outstanding leadership qualities.”
The Academy provides participants character education and leadership instruction.
Hotchkiss, 17, is a junior at Barron Collier. Lugo, 16, is a sophomore at Immokalee. Hotchkiss has achieved the ACE level in First Tee, while Lugo is currently at the Eagle Level. They have been active in The First Tee for six years as participants, mentors and volunteering, and other community projects.
For more information about The First Tee of Naples/Collier, go to www.thefirstteenaplescollier.org.
Naples Area Men’s Interclub Championship: Stonebridge and Collier’s Reserve faced off in the 43rd annual finals on May 1 at The Country Club of Naples.
Collier’s Reserve took home the “Old Mug” trophy inscribed with the names of the winning clubs since the inception of the Men’s Interclub in 1971.
Members of the Collier’s Reserve team — Charles Arthur, Ed Sheehy, Robb Gilman, Tom Phillips, Chris Rudolph, John Donley, Jay Ortlip and Terry Stewart.
Franklin Templeton Shootout Summer Series: Craig Morton and Rick Radunz won the gross division of the series’ first event on Saturday at Tiburon. Morton and Radunz shot a 67, then won a scorecard playoff against Jay Gargiulo and John Nolan. Chad Nigro and Cory Schaub were third with a 69. Morton and Radunz won passes to the Collier Club, a hospitality suite on the 18th hole during the PGA Tour’s Franklin Templeton Shootout, which will be played at Tiburon in December.
In the net division, Kyle Benz and Christian Potts shot a 66, and also won a scorecard playoff over Ludwig Wilczak and Peter Swift. Scott and Ralph Bazley were third with a 68.
Teams play six holes of modified alternate shot, six holes of scramble and six holes of better ball. The next event is Saturday, June 22 at Naples Grande. For more information, go to franklintempletonshootout.com.
Sun Cup: Trumbull, Conn., resident Tom Tower on the second annual Sun Cup on Friday at Old Corkscrew Golf Club in Estero.
Tower shot a final-round net 66 to edge David Wilson of Clarkston, Mich., by four shots. Dalton, Ga., resident J.T. Foster was third with a 74.
Twenty-three players advanced to the final round after tournament rounds earlier in the week at Heritage Palms, The Plantation, and two courses at The Forest.
Others to earn flight trophies were — Wendy Rejna (220 over three rounds), Lopez Flight; Bill McKiegan and Edward Ziegler (223), Mickelson Flight; Thomas Drasites (204), Palmer 1 Flight; Louis Price (213), Palmer 2 Flight; Fred Nagelson (203), Snead Flight; J.T. Foster, Watson Flight.
FSGA Mid-Amateur Stroke Play: Naples’ Howard Logan finished sixth Sunday at Vero Beach Country Club. Logan shot 69-73-73/215 to finish eight shots behind Joe Alfieri of Lutz.
David Herzfeld and Rob Thorngate of Naples were part of a tie for ninth with 218s.
SFPGA Junior Tour: Naples’ Ryan Celano won the boys title at Vineyards on Sunday. Celano, a Community School golfer and University of Florida recruit, shot 68-67/135 to win by three strokes. Cape Coral’s Anthony Myers was third.
Naples’ Emma Bradley lost a scorecard playoff and finished third in the Girls 13-15 division. Bradley had a 155 total.
Florida Junior Tour: Naples’ Emma Bradley finished second at Old Corkscrew on April 28. Bradley shot 84-73/157 in the Girls 13-15 division to finish a stroke behind Kendall Griffin of Sebring. Bradley made five birdies in the second round.
Cape Coral’s Brittany Shin was fourth with a 164, and Jenna Tuccio of Marco Island was sixth with a 169.
Andy Zhang, who qualified for the U.S. Open as a 14-year-old, won the boys division with scores of 73-75/148.
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