It was a full house at the San Jose Country Club on Tuesday, Feb. 19, when a crowd of 250 people attended the seventh annual “Celebration of Golf Banquet” to honor Elizabeth “Anne” P. Nimnicht, who received the Deane Beman Award, and numerous other 2018 winners and award recipients.
Nimnicht holds the distinction of being the only person to chair events on the three main tours of the PGA TOUR — the PGA TOUR, PGA TOUR Champions and the Web.com Tour. Born in Gainesville, she attended Jacksonville University and never left the First Coast, where she met her future husband, Billy Nimnicht. A large contingent of family members, tennis companions and friends from the golf community were on hand to honor their friend. Nimnicht, the first female chairperson of THE PLAYERS (1997), was introduced by fellow PLAYERS Championship “Redcoat” Mike Hartley.
Nimnicht is the fifth recipient of the Beman award, following in the footsteps of Deane Beman (2014), Herb Peyton (2015), John Hayt (2016) and Joe Louis Barrow, Jr. (2017). The award was named for the former PGA TOUR commissioner who brought the PGA TOUR to Ponte Vedra Beach more than 40 years ago. It recognizes a lifetime of contributions to professional golf and other community-benefitting activities.
Longtime First Coast resident, Nease High School graduate and two-time PGA Tour winner Len Mattiace was the evening’s guest speaker. In a question and answer format conducted by 2018 Jacksonville Area Golf Association (JAGA) Director of the Year and former PGA TOUR executive Duke Butler III, Mattiace talked about the impact junior golf in North Florida has had on him. He also discussed his highs, lows and lessons learned as a PGA TOUR member, as well as his dedication to helping others, particularly those impacted by bullying in his adopted hometown of Jacksonville.
Dennis Walters, who will be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame this summer at the U.S. Open, also attended as a special guest. A paraplegic since 1974, Walters shared stories about his unique and inspirational life in golf and answered questions from attendees prior to the start of the banquet, with his trusty dog and sidekick, Bucky, seated next to him. On hand to support their longtime friend were former TOUR winners Billy Maxwell and Bob Dickson.
The banquet is co-sponsored by the Jacksonville Area Golf Association (JAGA) and the Northern Chapter of the North Florida PGA, and supported by the Jacksonville Women’s Golf Association, The First Tee of North Florida and the North Florida Golf Course Superintendents Association. The event was a sellout affair for the fourth year in a row.
Other groups represented were the North Florida Junior Golf Foundation, the PGA TOUR, THE PLAYERS Championship and many from its “Redcoat” leadership group, along with area golf clubs and officials.
Brent Martineau, sports director of Action News Jax and a strong supporter of golf on all levels in Jacksonville, served as the emcee for the third time.
In addition to Nimnicht, the following people and organizations were recognized:
Jacksonville Women’s Golf Association Award (presented by Suzanne LaPlante, President/JWGA)
• 2017-18 JWGA Championship Award – Therese Quinn
2018 JAGA Awards (presented by Randy Nader, President/JAGA)
• Club Executive of the Year – Greg Sheara (Timuquana Country Club)
• Community Service Award – Jeff Willoughby (The First Tee of North Florida)
• Director of the Year – Duke Butler III (TPC Sawgrass)
• Earl Kelly Long Time Service Award – Tom Dudley (Timuquana Country Club)
• Professional of the Year – Ray Barr, Jr. (Jacksonville Golf & Country Club)
Northern Chapter of the North Florida PGA Awards (presented by Tim Cooper, Chapter President)
• PGA Professional of the Year – Russ Libby (Hidden Hills Golf Club)
• Teacher of the Year – Byran Kipnis (Eagle Harbor Golf Club)
• Assistant of the Year – John Grzybek (The Plantation at Ponte Vedra)
• Superintendent of the Year – Jeff Plotts (TPC Sawgrass)
• Senior Player of the Year – Brad Rollinson (Ponte Vedra Beach)
• Player of the Year – Bob Wallace (Ponte Vedra Inn & Club)
• Amateur of the Year – Jeff Adams (TPC Sawgrass & JAGA)
Timuquana Country Club superintendent Alan Brown was called on to reflect on the activities and 2018 highlights of the North Florida Golf Course Superintendents Association, while Jacksonville Golf & Country Club head professional Ray Barr Jr. introduced three elite golfers from his club who achieved a milestone in JAGA history in 2018 when they became the first winners from the same club to capture JAGA’s three men’s “majors” in the same year. They are: John Lobb/62nd Senior Amateur, David Wicks/9th Match Play Championship and Davis Roche/57th Jacksonville Amateur.
Chairing the banquet this year were JAGA's Michael McKenny of Timuquana Country Club, with administrative coordination provided by JAGA director and PGA Northern Chapter member Kevin Glynn and his wife, Nikki.