Jim Brown Honored with Bob Wells Volunteerism Award
The Texas Golf Association is pleased to announce longtime director and past president Jim Brown has received the Bob Wells Distinguished Service Award, the TGA’s highest honor for individuals who’ve contributed to the growth of the game through their volunteerism and meritorious service.
The words volunteerism and service define Brown, a retired personal injury attorney who joined the TGA Board of Directors in 2010 and in less than a year promptly received the North Texas Volunteer of the Year Award. From the outset, Brown annually has averaged more than 50 days a year working both on the course as a TGA Rules Official at multiple men’s, women’s and junior championships and off the course attending to association-related business matters at board meetings. That’s in addition to the time he’s given volunteering as a Rules Official for the United States Golf Association, Southern Golf Association and Trans-Mississippi Golf Association.
Brown was surprised when he received the news – “aghast” is the word he used – but there’s been no one in recent TGA history who is more deserving.
“I have admired the people who previously have received this award ever since I’ve been involved with the TGA,” Brown said. “Those people have mentored me, with or without their knowledge, with all the dedication they’ve shown. That’s what makes me so gratified to just be considered among those people. I’m so grateful I found the Texas Golf Association. The people and the association add immense value to my life.”
TGA Executive Director Stacy Dennis said there is no better representative for the game of golf and the association than Jim Brown.
“He is the kind of person I imagine this award was created to honor,” Dennis said. “He has meant more to the TGA than the deep Rules knowledge and countless days he’s contributed as a volunteer. He is a gentleman in the truest sense of the word. He sincerely loves the game and, most importantly, he loves our players.”
One of the foremost experts on the Rules of Golf in Texas, if not the entire country, Brown served as TGA President from 2016-18.
“His heart and soul are in the TGA,” said his friend, neighbor and colleague Carey Schulten, an esteemed Rules Official in his own right who succeeded Brown as TGA president from 2018-20. “Jim has done everything. The number of days he does Rules work is virtually every tournament that is within his reach.”
Schulten, who lives two streets away from Brown in central Dallas, met his friend back in 2010 when they found themselves working TGA championships together. Schulten, a former U.S. Air Force and Delta Air Lines pilot who won the Legends Junior Tour’s Volunteer of the Year Award in 2015, said it’s the lawyer in Brown that makes him such a trusted expert on the Rules.
“I think he sleeps with a Rules book,” Schulten joked. “He drinks and sleeps the Rules book. He’s on it all the time, and it reflects his background. He’s down to the fine print on that Rules book.”
First presented in 2005, the Bob Wells Distinguished Service Award is named after the late Bob Wells, who served as TGA president from 1980-87.
Current president Leslie Henry met Brown in 2012 when she began serving on the Board of Directors for the Women’s Texas Golf Association, which eventually merged with the TGA in 2014. Henry said Brown joined her in championing the idea of the men and women golfers in Texas coming together as an inclusive statewide association.
“I’ve had the privilege of working closely with Jim,” Henry said. “He is one of the most caring, compassionate human beings I have met in my lifetime. He’s the true example of treating everyone with respect and fairness. The award is so deserving, and we are all proud to call Jim Brown our friend and a force for the TGA.”
Brown, 75, is in his 12th year as a director of the TGA. Prior to his tenure as president in 2016-18, Brown served two-year terms as 1st Vice President and 2nd Vice President. He’s also put in countless hours as a member of several sub-committees, including Nominating, Finance, Compensation and Rules & Competitions.
A longtime advocate for amateur golf, Brown has also been a member the Southern Golf Association’s Board of Directors since 2001 and a member of the Executive Committee since 2011. He’s a former SGA president, too, and previously served as the SGA’s 1st Vice President, 2nd Vice President and Treasurer.
Brown received his BBA and JD from SMU in Dallas. He was a letterman on the Men’s Golf Team from 1963-1965 and has continued to support his alma mater by taking an active role on the Payne Stewart Cup Committee, the SMU Golf fundraiser, since 2003, serving as Chairman in 2009 and 2011. He’s also just about the biggest SMU fan anyone will ever meet.
Brown and his wife Camille have two adult children and four grandchildren.
The Spirit Golf Association Announces Appointment of Charlie Epps, PGA, as Interim President
HOUSTON, Texas (August 20, 2020) – The Spirit Golf Association (SGA) announced today that long-time PGA Professional Charlie Epps will serve as interim president. Epps has served on the SGA Board of Directors since January 2020.
The Spirit Golf Association, a 501 (c) (3) charity dedicated to the promotion of amateur golf for the benefit of health-related causes, was formed in 1999 by Houston philanthropist Corby J. Robertson, Jr. Corby established the SGA and Whispering Pines Golf Club, rated by Golf Digest as the #1 course in Texas, as a mission for philanthropically minded people to support charitable causes, enjoy membership privileges at a world-class golf property and to conduct The Spirit International Amateur Golf Championship.
“We are so fortunate to have Charlie step into this role after being an invaluable member of our Board of Directors and take the reins as we continue our charitable missions and promoting the international goodwill of amateur golf,” said Robertson. “Right now we’re focusing heavily on our recently created Spirit Food Fund, and Charlie has been instrumental in helping us raise more than $1.35 million for the food insecure. He brings years of unmatched experience and expertise in the golf industry and will continue to be a great asset to our organization.”
As interim president, Epps will be responsible for executing the mission and vision of the SGA, in addition to recruiting members to Whispering Pines and sponsors for SGA events while achieving the financial and managerial objectives of the association.
“I’ve been involved in a volunteer capacity with the Spirit Golf Association since the beginning,” said Epps. “I share Corby’s passion for golf in addition to giving back through the game. I look forward to continuing to grow our organization and coordinating events that have a positive impact on our Texas communities.”
Epps, a member of the teaching staff at Golf Club of Houston, has always been committed to giving back to the game of golf, especially in the development of young players. He spent 15 years as the Head Professional at Houston Country Club and six years Pine Forest Country Club.
In his service to the PGA of America and the game, he has held positions of prominence on local, state and national leadership boards and committees gaining him recognition as the recipient of numerous PGA and Southern Texas PGA awards and honors. He was inducted into the Texas Golf Hall of Fame in 2012 for his work as a club professional and golf instructor.
He and his friend, the late Dick Harmon, partnered to provide opportunities for young players to develop their game. He founded the Yellowstone Academy Foundation Golf Tournament to raise funds to help Houston’s inner-city kids gain access to golf. He also helps organize the Dick Harmon Memorial Invitational along with numerous other charity events.
On the PGA Tour, Epps coached two-time Major Championship winner Angel Cabrera and five-time Tour winner Blaine McCallister. Epps is currently featured weekly on the Charlie Epps Golf Hour which airs nationally on the SportsMap Nation Radio Network Saturdays 8-9 a.m. CT (97.5 FM in Houston).
Whispering Pines Golf Club is currently undergoing construction and is on track to reopen in fall 2020. Just 80 miles north of Houston along the shores of Lake Livingston sits Whispering Pines Golf Club, one of the best private golf clubs in the country. The club was founded not only to offer its discerning members a superior golf experience on an exceptional course, but it also was created to promote amateur golf and to benefit charitable causes on a local, national and international level. Whispering Pines is ranked #1 in Texas and was recently ranked #21 in the top 200 modern courses in the country by Golfweek.
111th Texas Amateur Set for Aug. 6-9
The 111th Texas Amateur will be contested Aug. 6-9 at Boot Ranch in Fredericksburg. This year’s championship was originally slated for June but was rescheduled due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Conducted by the Texas Golf Association since 1906, the championship brings together the state’s most accomplished amateur players to compete for the H.L. Edwards Memorial Trophy.
“We are incredibly thankful to everyone at Boot Ranch for their flexibility and support as we worked through the logistics of the date change,” said Ian Davis, TGA Tournament Director. “It is a privilege to be able to conduct this edition of the Texas Amateur on one of the state’s most acclaimed courses, which undoubtedly will identify a worthy champion.”
This will be the first Texas Amateur and second TGA major held at Boot Ranch. Previously the club was the site of the 2010 Texas Mid-Amateur, won by Mike Minicucci of Austin.
“Boot Ranch’s ownership, members and staff are excited to host the 111th Texas Amateur,” said Alex Rhyne, Head Golf Professional at Boot Ranch. “It is our honor to host one of Texas’ oldest traditions. The entire Boot Ranch family is committed to providing a memorable experience during the Championship.”
Opened for play in 2006, Boot Ranch was designed by PGA Tour great and 2004 U.S. Ryder Cup captain Hal Sutton. The 7,155-yard, par-72 layout, which will play to a par-71 for the Texas Amateur, meanders through groves of trees, natural water features and along the ridges and valleys of the scenic Texas Hill Country.
Sutton’s imaginative routing challenges players at every turn, with a variety of long and short holes, doglegs, sloping fairways, swirling winds and undulating green complexes. It is a demanding, but fair test of a golfer’s entire skill set that places a premium on intelligent course management and confident shot-making. Since its debut, Boot Ranch has garnered rave reviews and has consistently has been ranked as one of the best courses in Texas by national and state golf publications.
With a $2 million renovation completed in 2017 that included reconstruction of all bunkers and regrassing of all greens with TifEagle Bermuda, Boot Ranch will be in superb condition when the Lone Star State’s foremost amateur golfers gather in Fredericksburg.
The starting field for the 111th Texas Amateur will include 132 players, who earned entry into the championship through an exemption category or 18-hole sectional qualifying at one of 12 sites across the state from June 29 – Aug. 3.
Format for the championship is 72 holes individual stoke play. All contestants will play 18 holes Aug. 6-7. After 36 holes the field will be cut to the low 54 players and ties heading into the final two rounds on Saturday and Sunday.
At the 110th Texas Amateur, played on the Blue Course at Dallas Athletic Club, Ryan Grider of Lewisville was declared the champion after lightning and thunderstorms washed out the final round. The 20-year-old junior at Baylor University captured the title with a 54-hole total of 11-under-par 205. Addison’s Chris Wheeler took second place at 9-under 207. Scott Abbott of Dallas and Arlington’s Paul Gonzalez shared third place at 5-under 211. Katy’s Michael Cotton, who won the 106th Texas Amateur in 2015, took fifth place at 4-under 212.
Once the action gets under way from the 111th Texas Amateur at Boot Ranch, log on to txga.org for live scoring updates and daily recaps, as well as starting times and pairings.