Pelham, AL (January 9, 2019) – The Alabama – NW Florida PGA is pleased to announce the 2018 class of Section Special Award winners.  The Section’s Special Awards are distributed annually by the Special Awards Committee who aim to highlight and recognize the PGA Professionals who have represented both the Section and the Association with the utmost class and respect.  Through their unwavering commitment to bettering those around them and stewardship to the game of golf, this class of nine PGA Professionals represents the best and brightest in the Section.

The class is headed by Steve Smith, PGA Director of Golf at Greystone Golf and Country Club in Birmingham, who received the 2018 Professional of the Year Award.  Steve’s career is highlighted by more than 27 years of PGA Membership.  He began his career back in 1981 in upstate New York and then moved to New Orleans working at both English Turn and New Orleans Country Club.  Steve was elected to Membership in 1991 and made the move to Birmingham in 1996 where he climbed the ranks starting as the Assistant Golf Professional at Greystone Golf & Country Club – a then fairly new 18-hole facility situated in a sprawling suburb of Birmingham.  Steve was promoted to Head Golf Professional of the Founders course in 2000, and just one year later assumed the role of Director of Golf for the newly expanded 36-hole facility.

Steve emphasizes that teamwork is the number one priority in the overall operation at Greystone.  “We always hear it said, ‘it’s about the team,’” says Smith.  “I couldn’t agree more.  A great team is so important and working with two great Head Golf Professionals…affords me the freedom to move between our two [golf] courses and work on concepts that help keep our members engaged – I am so thankful to have them both.”

Steve and his team pride themselves on creating memorable moments for members and guests through the variety of amenities and activities the club conducts every year.  Whether it’s coordinating big-time events like a PGA Tour Champions Major, the Regions Tradition, managing two separate merchandise locations, or trying to keep up with the times through the club’s digital and social media activations.   “Being innovative is a must for us… so we work hard to stand out.”

Steve’s dedication to the Section and passion for advancing those around him is uncanny.  Whether it’s ensuring the highest quality and level of service during an event or passing along knowledge to a PGM student or Associate.  Steve continues to set the bar high for PGA Professionals across the Section.

Additional Section Award winners include:

Horton Smith Award

Mark Blackburn, PGA  |  Blackburn Golf Academy

Bill Strausbaugh Award

Brent Krause, PGA  |  Wynlakes Golf & Country Club

Teacher of the Year

Aaron Croyle, PGA  |  The Country Club of Birmingham

Youth Player Development Award

Paul Whitman, PGA  |  Pine Tree Country Club

Player Development Award

Max Doster, PGA  |  Greystone Golf & Country Club

Merchandiser of the Year – Private

Jonathan Gibbons, PGA  |  Greystone Golf & Country Club

Merchandiser of the Year – Public

Kenny Szuch, PGA  |  Lake Forest Yacht & Country Club

Merchandiser of the Year – Resort 

Dominic Diaz, PGA  |  Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail at Ross Bridge



The Alabama – NW Florida PGA is one of 41 Sections that make up the PGA of America.  The Section is headquartered in the Birmingham suburb of Pelham, Alabama at Ballantrae Golf Club.  Established in 1969, the Section consists of over 400 Members and Associates in the state of Alabama and the Florida Panhandle.  The Section exists to support its Members who are the driving force to growing the sport and business of golf while promoting initiatives that introduce and sustain the game in surrounding communities.

For media inquiries please contact Hayden Lewis, PGA at