Rob Land, Head Golf Professional at Karsten Creek in Stillwater, Oklahoma, has been named the 2016 Golf Professional of the Year by the American Junior Golf Association. This award honors a golf professional 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 the 2017 tournament.
“The best part of receiving this award is that it validates everybody who doesn’t get recognized here,” Land said. “It’s the behind-the-scenes people like my staff and the volunteers. It shows that they do their job well. I get the spotlight but it all falls back on them.”
Land has been heavily involved in The PING Invitational since he accepted his position at Karsten Creek in 2011. Land is instrumental in the extensive volunteer base that helps make The PING Invitational a premier event every year.
“I have six co-chairs that I work with that handle different aspects, from walking scorers to ball-spotters, and without them I couldn’t do it,” Land said. “We gather more than 350 volunteers a year for this event. Sometimes we have to turn people away; that’s how popular it is.”
Land credits the large volunteer base to a longstanding passion for golf in the state of Oklahoma.
“The volunteer base goes back to the 2003 NCAA National Championship,” Land said. “The support of golf in the state of Oklahoma is overlooked by a lot in the golf industry. It’s such an important sport to everybody in the state, and they just want to be involved.”
Beyond the coordination of volunteers, Land is vital to the overall success of the tournament behind the scenes. Land works with the food & beverage staff at Karsten Creek to coordinate meals throughout the week for the AJGA staff. He also sets up housing for all AJGA staff at the event and takes a vested interest in getting to know the AJGA staff on site.
Land takes an interest every year in how the tournament field will perform at the golf course he knows like the back of his hand.
“From my perspective, it’s great to have all of the young players come in because they are the best of the best, and to see how they handle our facility is always interesting,” Land said. “The talent level still amazes me. They appreciate being here and they’re wonderful to our volunteers. It’s just a great experience all the way around from everybody on our end.”
The AJGA will return to Stillwater, Oklahoma, and Karsten Creek October 6-9 to conduct The PING Invitational for the 12th year.