Chad Cockerham, General Manager and PGA Golf Professional of Otter Creek Golf Course, has been named the 2016 General Manager of the Year by the American Junior Golf Association. This award honors the general manager who displays unwavering support of the AJGA and junior golf by creating a memorable tournament experience for players, families, staff and volunteers.
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 general manager, as well as the most improved event, best new event, best Junior Golf Hub Preview Series tournament, best ACDS Junior All-Star Series tournament, best Invitational and overall tournament of the year. Tournament awards for the 2016 season will be presented on-site at 2017 tournaments.
“It’s great to see the health of the game and the level and spirit of competition that the AJGA delivers,” Cockerham said. “It’s great to be a part of that. Being able to host and be a part of a junior golf tournament has helped me to recapture a little bit of the passion that I had growing up with the game.”
Cockerham has been involved with the golf scene in Columbus, Indiana, from a young age and remembers the AJGA’s first appearance at Otter Creek Golf Course in 1987.
“When I was in middle school, I would come up to Otter Creek to the tournament that the AJGA had,” Cockerham said. “I remember [David] Duval and [Phil] Mickelson winning here. To see those guys come in and play left a mark on me.”
Phil Mickelson won the 1987 Midwestern Junior Championship at Otter Creek on the way to his second of three Rolex Junior Player of the Year awards.
AJGA Midwest Regional Director Ryan Flanagan cited one memory in particular as an embodiment of Cockerham’s commitment to the AJGA.
“In 2015, we experienced heavy rain that caused flooding during the tournament,” Flanagan said. “Chad stood between Nos. 4 and 11 in the pouring rain, running from one fairway to another, to give players casual water rulings.”
Cockerham has helped set the gold standard in leading his staff to assist with the Otter Creek Junior Championship. In addition to his normal duties with the golf course, Cockerham also serves as the Senior Rules Official of a 144-player field.
“I’ve always enjoyed officiating,” Cockerham said. “I’ve done a lot of college events and it’s been a passion of mine. There’s not many places that players can hit it now where I haven’t given a ruling in one way or another.”
As the Otter Creek Junior Championship enters its fifth straight year at Otter Creek Golf Course, Cockerham will remain an integral part of the AJGA’s success at the tournament, July 3-6.