Mesa, AZ – Bob McNichols, General Manager of Longbow Business Park & Golf Club, was the American Junior Golf Association’s 2020 Golf Executive of the Year.
Each year, the AJGA presents awards to the tournaments with the best individual hospitality, Junior-Am Fundraising Tournament, charitable giving, and volunteer base. Awards are also given to the events with engaged media and social media participation. Finally, the AJGA recognizes the year’s most outstanding golf professional, superintendent, and golf course executive, as well as the most game changing event, best new event, best Preview Series tournament, best AJGA Junior All-Star Series tournament, best Invitational and overall tournament of the year. Tournament awards for the 2020 season will be presented on-site at 2021 tournaments.
Longbow Golf Club has previously been the recipient of the AJGA Tournament of the Year, AJGA Golf Professional of the Year, AJGA Superintendent of the Year, and AJGA Media Award. Longbow Golf Club is recognized as “The Essence of Arizona Golf’ and is managed by Troon Golf, the world leader in golf facilities management.
I’m deeply gratified and honored to accept this recognition on behalf of the excellent hard working management team and staff members at Longbow Golf Club who gear up every day for our public play, our Cardmembers, visitors and guests to offer the tournament ready experience and quality conditions throughout the golf year that we have become known for. A vital part of that conditioning and readiness for junior, collegiate, amateur and professional has been our experience for 18 years with the AJGA and the PING Heather Farr Classic. Our list of past champions reads like a golf Hall of Fame, which it is!
Bob McNichols has been instrumental to the success of the AJGA since the first Heather Farr Classic was held at Longbow in 2004. In the pandemic year of 2020, McNichols hosted two events at Longbow Golf Club in back-to-back weeks. The first week was the annual PING Heather Farr Classic and the second week was the AJGA Longbow Golf Club Open. The AJGA Longbow Golf Club Open was created in part to increase playing opportunities on the west coast after the cancellation of early 2020 events due to the COVID-19 pandemic in the region. Longbow Golf Club will again host two AJGA Tournament events in 2021. Bob McNichols currently serves the state of golf, Arizona as the President of the Arizona Golf Association and its 600 member clubs and 84,000 individual members.
“I’ve known Bob since he first hosted our Heather Farr tournament at Longbow Golf Club. I don’t know of a more generous or sincere gentleman in the golf business,” said AJGA Board Member Gayle Champagne. “I wouldn’t know how to measure the impact he has had on people through the game golf. I think he’s happiest when kids from The First Tee or Mesa elementary schools are swarming all over the practice areas. In addition to giving young kids an opportunity to learn the game he has hosted the LPGA Symetra Tour, NCAA tournaments, Handicapped Golf Association events and fundraisers for many local charities. It’s hard to give enough praise to someone who has done so much but asks for no recognition.”
McNichols also annually serves as the Tournament Chair for the PING Heather Farr Classic, now in its 23rd year. In this role, he has helped secure donated product for tournament participants, which aid in achieving Project Zero initiatives. In 2020, he assisted in raising $40,000 via the Junior-Am Fundraising Tournament which benefitted the AJGA’s Achieving Competitive Excellence (ACE) Grant. McNichols in his role also coordinated tee fences to be on each tee during the tournament to add to the player experience and organized a day for the AJGA staff to play at Longbow Golf Club.
“Bob embodies the spirit of what we aim to accomplish here at the AJGA. He is a huge advocate for junior golf, and cares so much about putting on a great event that not only showcases great talent, but also impacts the local junior golf community through charity dollars raised. Bob and his team here at Longbow Golf Club are what makes the PING Heather Farr Classic so successful year after year,” said PING Heather Farr Classic Tournament Director Madi Hearney. Personally, it has been so much fun to work with Bob over the last few years, and we look forward to many more AJGA events at Longbow Golf Club.”
“Bob is one of the most dedicated individuals to junior golf that I know. He has been on our board of directors at the First Tee-Phoenix for several years and currently serves on our Governance committee. One of our largest and most successful programming sites is at Longbow Golf Club, which he owns and operates. He allows us the use of his beautiful facility to teach our youth and with his support of our program and school programs in the Mesa, Az community, we impact nearly 50,000 youth by introducing them to our great game and our 9 core values here at First Tee-Phoenix. He allows us to host several clinics for under privileged youth at Longbow Golf Club as well,” said Executive Director of the First Tee of Phoenix Kevin Terry. “No one is more deserving of this award and I couldn't be prouder of him and am honored to call him my friend.”
McNichols investment in the PING Heather Farr Classic extends far beyond the tournament. McNichols follows the careers of each past champion from their junior days to amateur and collegiate careers and into professional. This is all to continue to build the ‘Walk of Champions’ each year at the PING Heather Farr Classic.
“Bob is one of the biggest ambassadors for junior golf that I know. From the AJGA PING Heather Farr, First Tee of Phoenix, Youth on Course to hosting the JGAA Fisher Bryan Invitational, I'm not sure there is a General Manager or Golf Course that does more for junior golf than Bob and Longbow Golf Club. And I can say the same about amateur and professional events,” said Executive Director of the Junior Golf Association of Arizona Scott McNevin. “He's always ready and willing to host any type of tournament and does so with eager enthusiasm.”
The AJGA would also like to recognize the work of Golf Executives Dan Baxter (Southpointe Golf Club) and Richard Cromwell (The Blessings Golf Club).
Baxter, Vice President of Southpointe Golf Club, serves as the tournament chairman for the AJGA Junior at Southpointe presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods. The Canonsburg, Pennsylvania event owes its success to Baxter. Since 2019 the Vice President of Southpointe Golf Club has helped secured complimentary hotel nights for AJGA staff, donates meals to volunteers each day of the tournament and always has the experience of everyone involved with the tournament top of mind.
Cromwell, General Manager and Chief Operating Officer at The Blessings Golf Club, has been key to the success of the annual KPMG Stacy Lewis Junior All-Star Invitational. The Blessings Golf Club who has hosted the tournament annually since 2016 is generously donated by Mr. John Tyson. Cromwell in the leadup to the tournament is responsive to AJGA needs and critical in the planning process for the event. In 2020, Cromwell secured additional golf carts needed to ensure COVID protocols were followed with the switch to a two-tee tournament. The staff at The Blessings Golf Club managed by Cromwell is hardworking and will do anything to ensure a successful AJGA tournament.