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Distinguished Service Award



The lifeblood of the PNGA is the volunteerism that encompasses every aspect of the organization. The PNGA is encompassed by remarkable people that volunteer selfless and numerous hours to the game because they care so deeply about its well-being. Every two years a committee comprised of PNGA Past Presidents reviews nominees made by the golfing public and the media and then selects a recipient(s) of the PNGA Distinguished Service Award in recognition of meritorious service to amateur golf, not necessarily as a competitive player. This prestigious award is considered the Association’s highest honor, as it recognizes some of the selfless volunteers who have donated their time and treasure simply for the betterment of golf.

 


 

Jane Sossamon, Ron Nelson and Larry Giustina receive 2018 PNGA Distinguished Service Award

(L to R) Larry Giustina, Jane Sossamon and Ron Nelson, recipients of the 2018 PNGA Distinguished Service Award

At the 16th PNGA Distinguished Service Award banquet, to be held on May 11, 2018 at Overlake Golf & Country Club, Jane Sossamon, Ron Nelson and Larry Giustina will be honored for their years of dedication to the Association.

The lifeblood of the PNGA is the volunteerism that encompasses every aspect of the organization. The PNGA is made possible by remarkable people who volunteer numerous hours to the game because they care so deeply about its well-being. This prestigious award, given every two years, is considered the Association’s highest honor.

The 119th PNGA Annual Meeting will be held the next day at the club.

 


 

Ron Nelson and Jane Sossamon

Fairwood Golf & Country Club
Renton, Wash.

You most likely have seen them before, on some golf course somewhere across the Northwest, at some regional championship or USGA national qualifier or event of some kind. Ron Nelson and Jane Sossamon, married since 1977, have served the game in just about every capacity possible for more than three decades.

Jane is from west Texas, graduating from Texas Tech before moving to Washington in 1966 when she got a job at Boeing. Also getting a job that year at Boeing was Ron, although the two didn’t meet until 1973.

Ron played golf while in high school. “I had a serious strep infection as a kid and wasn’t allowed to play contact sports in school,” he says. “But they let me play golf.” He would become the No. 1 player on his high school team his senior year (“Even though I was a 12-handicap at the time.”), and lettered on the men’s golf team his first year at Willamette University in Salem, Ore.

And Jane? “I didn’t start playing golf until I met Ron,” she says. But within a dozen years her handicap was lower than Ron’s. “We did great in the couples events,” Ron says with a laugh.

Members at Fairwood Golf & Country Club in Renton, Wash. since 1983, the two would become very involved with the club’s activities. Ron served as the club’s handicap chair and also treasurer, and in 1990 served as their president. Jane served as the handicap chair for the club’s women’s division, and also served as the club’s president in 2000, overseeing the remodel of their clubhouse.

In the early 1990s, Fairwood was in need of two Club Representatives for both the PNGA and WSGA, and in 1994 Jane stepped up to fill one of the spots. Once Jane became a Club Rep, Ron kept looking around for someone from the club to fill the other spot. “I wanted to keep Jane company on her long trips to Annual Meetings, and would take a nap in the car while she was inside at the meeting,” Ron says. “So I finally just said I’ll be the other rep.”

And their involvement as volunteers in the wider golf community started gaining momentum.

Jane had already been heavily involved with the LPGA Tour’s Safeco Classic (held for 18 years at Meridian Valley CC in Kent, Wash.), co-chairing the Marshal Committee for 10 years, and chairing the Marshal Committee of the Fred Couples Invitational when it was held at Inglewood Golf Club, Overlake Golf & Country Club and the Golf Club at Newcastle.

At the 1998 PGA Championship at Sahalee Country Club, they were both asked at the last minute to step in as hole captains for another club. Ron enjoyed it so much that he went back to Fairwood and “rattled a few cages,” asking why the club hadn’t done this at the tournament, and from then on he and Jane served as hole captains for Fairwood at all the big events in the region – 2002 NEC Invitational, 2010 U.S. Senior Open, 2015 U.S. Open, and the 2016 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.

Their volunteering evolved toward Rules and championships. “In 2001 I was a forecaddie at the Sahalee Players Championship,” Ron says. “I saw a friend working as a Rules official, and I asked him how he was able to do that. ‘I went to a Rules seminar,’ he told me. And I thought, ‘That’s what I want to do.’”

With both of them retiring from Boeing on the same day in 2000, Ron and Jane were able to turn their full attention to their passion for the game.

They have attended a Rules class every year since 2001, except 2010 when Jane was recovering from knee surgery.

“Working in Rules has kept our minds active,” Jane says. “And we’ve both always been interested in them.”

The two of them would become PNGA/WSGA Master Rules Officials, with Jane working on the Rules Committees of 20 USGA national championships, and Ron working on 15 Rules Committees. Jane has served on the U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur Committee since 2008, while Ron has served on the USGA Regional Affairs Committee since 2010.

They both have served on the PNGA Championship Committee since 2006. “We were playing golf with Lynda and Jerry Adams,” said Ron, “and Lynda (a past president of the PNGA, and 2006 recipient of the Distinguished Service Award) told us she and Jerry were no longer as active in the PNGA and would we like to take their place on the committee.”

Added Jane, “We’ve been fortunate to have had so many mentors along the way, and have made so many friends. Judy Thompson (who received the PNGA Distinguished Service Award in 2010) really was terrific to work with at the Safeco Classic. I know how much the others enjoyed working as volunteers, and I’ve enjoyed getting to know the players at the events.”

And Ron reiterates Jane’s sentiments. “We’ve been really lucky to have met so many good people. We worked one championship with Joel and Jackie Belsvik (legendary volunteers who received the 2003 PNGA Distinguished Service Award) and at the next event they remembered us. They always welcomed us, and were always friendly to us. And George Egge would always ask us spur-of-the-moment Rules questions, to keep us on our toes.”

In 2009, Ron and Jane received the WSGA George Holland Volunteer of the Year Award, and in 2017 they were both inducted into the Fairwood Golf & Country Club Hall of Fame.

So it is fitting that the two of them receive together the 2018 PNGA Distinguished Service Award.

Jane Sossamon

  • Past President (2000) – Fairwood G&CC
  • Handicap Chair, Women’s Division – Fairwood G&CC
  • WSGA Representative since 1994
  • PNGA Representative since 1994
  • PNGA Women’s Division Chair 2004
  • PNGA Championship Committee since 2006
  • WSGA Board member since 2009
  • WSGA/PNGA Master Rules Official
  • U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur Committee since 2008
  • Worked 20 USGA Championships on Rules Committees
  • WSGA George Holland Award recipient 2009*
  • Inducted into Fairwood G&CC Hall of Fame November 2017*
  • Chaired Marshal Committee for all Fred Couples tournaments*
  • Co-chaired Marshal Committee for LPGA Safeco Classic for 10 years*
  • Served as Fairwood Hole Captain for marshaling 2015 U.S. Open*
  • Served as Fairwood Hole Captain for marshaling 2002 NEC Invitational*
  • Served as Fairwood Hole Captain for marshaling 2010 U.S. Senior Open*
  • Served as Fairwood Hole Captain for marshaling 2016 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship*

(*with Ron)

Ron Nelson

  • Past President (1990) and Treasurer – Fairwood G&CC
  • Handicap Chair – Fairwood G&CC
  • WSGA Representative since 1999
  • PNGA Representative since 1999
  • PNGA Championship Committee since 2006
  • WSGA Board member since 2016
  • WSGA/PNGA Master Rules Official
  • USGA Regional Affairs Committee since 2010
  • Worked 15 USGA Championships on Rules Committees
  • WSGA George Holland Award recipient 2009*
  • Inducted into Fairwood G&CC Hall of Fame November 2017*
  • Chaired Marshal Committee for all Fred Couples tournaments*
  • Co-chaired Marshal Committee for LPGA Safeco Classic for 10 years*
  • Served as Fairwood Hole Captain for marshaling 2015 U.S. Open*
  • Served as Fairwood Hole Captain for marshaling 2002 NEC Invitational*
  • Served as Fairwood Hole Captain for marshaling 2010 U.S. Senior Open*
  • Served as Fairwood Hole Captain for marshaling 2016 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship*

(*with Jane)

2018 DSA Video – Ron Nelson and Jane Sossamon

 


 

Larry Giustina

Eugene Country Club
Eugene, Ore.

At the end of the day, for Larry Giustina it was always about doing the right thing.

And this was the reason he was invaluable on any board he served on, in any office he served voluntarily, on any committee he devoted his time to.

This was the reason you always wanted him on your side, for his quiet diplomacy and friendly demeanor, and for his ability to find a way through to what is best in the long run for everyone involved.

It was always this way for Larry. Close to the land, close to his family, generous with his friends, honorable toward his beliefs.

In the early 1960s, his father, Nat Giustina, had bought a large parcel of land near the family cabin along the McKenzie River about an hour east of Eugene, Ore., with the idea of building a golf course. It became a family project, with nine holes of Tokatee Golf Club opening in 1966, followed by the other nine holes a few years later.

Nat had hired noted course architect Ted Robinson to design the course, but its philosophical foundation and spirit came from Nat; and Larry, in high school at the time, worked on the crew that built the course. Tokatee remains a Giustina family-run business to this day.

Born and raised in Eugene, instead of attending the local University of Oregon, Larry instead went up the road to attend Oregon State University, where his father had gone. He played all four years on the OSU men’s golf team, and was in the university’s ROTC program, graduating from Oregon State in 1971.

He served in the Army Reserve after college, and went to work in the family business, joining his uncle Ehrman and father at the Giustina Brothers Lumber Company.

Nat, and the family, were not yet through with their golf course aspirations. Nat helped spearhead the development of Trysting Tree Golf Course near the OSU campus in Corvallis, Ore. The course is located on government land, but Nat helped raise money to build the entire facility, and was also the largest donor. Opened in 1988, the course marks its 30th anniversary in 2018. Larry was right there again, helping to manage the construction of the course.

In 1996, Larry took over the management of all the family holdings – Giustina Land and Timber Company, Tokatee Golf Club, and the oversight and management of Trysting Tree and serving on its Board.

Through his own love of the game as a player, and his family’s ownership of Tokatee and management of Trysting Tree, Larry became a PNGA Club Representative in 1993 out of Eugene Country Club.

In 2005, he began serving on the PNGA Board of Directors, and in 2010 he joined the Board of Directors of PNGA/WSGA Properties, Inc., overseeing the management of The Home Course, jointly owned by the two Associations. He would serve as Treasurer on that board.

With his family’s heavy involvement with golf course ownership and management, Larry would soon also serve on the Board of Directors of the Oregon Golf Course Owners Association and the National Golf Course Owners Association (from 1992-2005) receiving the NGCOA Don Rossi Award in 2008 for “significant and long-lasting contributions to the Association.”

The last wish of Larry’s father, who passed away in 2005, was to give a gift to his alma mater, Oregon State University. The $4 million endowment, given to OSU Foundation, funded a full faculty member in both the university’s forest management and turf management departments. The turf program has become known for producing leaders in the golf industry, producing superintendents at some of the best golf courses in the country, including Pebble Beach and Bandon Dunes.

Always diplomatic, always able to see the larger picture, it was Larry who understood it best, and who explained it best. “(My dad) thought that without good education and good research, we were never going to solve the issues, no matter how strong the feelings were on either side,” he said. Larry served for many years on the OSU Foundation board, which owns Trysting Tree.

Always doing the right thing. Always looking at the larger picture. Always giving to tomorrow. Larry Giustina is a graceful man, and you always wanted him in the room, at your table.

Larry Giustina

  • PNGA Club Representative 1993 – present
  • PNGA Director 2005 – 2017
  • PNGA/WSGA Properties, Inc. (The Home Course) Director 2010 – 2017
  • PNGA/WSGA Properties, Inc. (The Home Course) Treasurer (2010-2016)
  • Director, Oregon Golf Course Owners & Operators Association
  • National Golf Course Owners Association (NGCOA) Board Member 1992-2005
  • Received the Don Rossi Award by the NGCOA in 2008

2018 DSA Video – Larry Giustina

 


 

Previous Honorees

  • 1997: Carl A. Jonson and Ernest A. Jonson
  • 1998: Gordon Bowers and Forest Watson
  • 1999: Charles H. Davis, William H. Mays, and Richard W. Merrill
  • 2000: Dr. Herm Dahl, Dr. Robert Jacobs, and Midge Patten
  • 2001: Raymond G. “Spike” Beeber and Dick Kanda
  • 2002: Dr. Jim Allison and Michael Riste
  • 2003: Jackie & Joel Belsvik and Elon Ellis
  • 2004: Marty Kofmehl and Dr. John Wagner
  • 2005: Margaret Maves and Sylvia Mellish
  • 2006: Lynda Adams, Robin Anderson, and Chuck Gage
  • 2008: Gary Nieland and Russ White
  • 2010: Sharon Johnston, Judy Thompson, Derek Glazer
  • 2014: Ben Stodghill and George Jonson
  • 2016: Cliff Shahbaz and Bill Bergsten