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In Memory of John Semander

It is with deep sadness that the TGA announces the passing of John Semander. Semander gave selflessly of his time, energy and resources to promote golf in Texas for many years. His contributions to the game of golf are immeasurable and have impacted the state’s entire golfing community. The longtime TGA volunteer and Past Director passed away on July 27. He was 89 years old.

Semander was a gentle spirit who didn’t know a stranger. He seemed to be friends with everyone and had a warm-hearted story to share about each one to back it up. The Houston native was recognized numerous times for his steadfast dedication and efforts in helping the TGA.

He was the recipient of the 2005 South Texas Volunteer of the Year Award and the 2009 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.

In addition to duties as a TGA Director, Semander also served as a member of the TGA Rules Committee, as well as the USGA Junior Amateur Committee.

In 2010, Semander captained the South Texas team to victory in the Texas Shootout held at The Club at Carlton Woods in The Woodlands.

The longtime Shell employee was also very active with the Houston Golf Association among other pursuits.

In 2017, the TGA established the John Semander Family Scholarship to financially assist golfers who are seeking higher education. Semander’s dedication, character and lifelong connection to golf were attributes that the scholarship program endeavored to honor and encourage in the next generation of golfers.

The TGA mourns the loss of John Semander and sends its condolences to his family and friends.

 

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Remembering Nick Bramlett

“Generous.” This word, more than any other, was used by the people closest to Nick Bramlett when they described him. The longtime TGA Volunteer and Rules of Golf expert passed away on April 27. He was 81 years old.

Known as “PoPo” to his family and closest friends, Bramlett loved being outdoors. He was an avid bird hunter, but especially enjoyed hunting white-tailed deer on his West Texas deer lease near Sonora.

Another of Bramlett’s loves was the game of golf. Volunteering and mentoring were in his blood. He was named the Legends Junior Tour’s Volunteer of the Year in 2013 and was also the recipient of the TGA’s South Texas Volunteer of the Year award in 2016.

“He was very generous with his time, particularly in the support of amateur golf,” said A.J. Cortez, a TGA Volunteer and close friend of Bramlett. “In the last 10 years, I don’t know of anyone who volunteered more for the TGA, USGA, LJT and the Houston Golf Association. Additionally, he was extremely generous with his skills and knowledge and served as an important mentor to many of the new volunteers starting their path to becoming a certified Rules Official.”

Bramlett was passionate about all things golf – it was what originally led him to becoming a Rules Official. He loved spending time on the course playing golf, but he was equally passionate about giving back to the game that meant so much to him. Bramlett was a dedicated servant of the game and from 2010-19 he spent nearly 250 days volunteering at TGA events. And that’s not counting the days he spent helping other associations during that time.

“He loved the sport. He loved being a Rules Official no matter what event he was working, whether it was for the STPGA, NCAA or lending a hand at a local qualifier,” said TGA Volunteer Bobby Grabstaldt. “He just loved being a team player. There was no one in the TGA that was more generous with their time and willing to help and be a part of a team than Nick was.”

Bramlett’s peers spoke just as highly about who he was outside of golf.

“He was just a really kind, thoughtful person,” Grabstaldt said. “He was always there for everybody and was a true friend to all.”

“Nick was one of those lucky people who never met a stranger,” Cortez said. “Nick was well known to all the people we dealt with from the players and parents to the caddies and volunteers. Nick was never without a story and he relished telling them to anyone and everyone who would listen.”

Bramlett also had a deep impact on the TGA staff.

“I worked a number of events with Nick over the years, and I always looked forward to seeing him,” said Mark Button, the TGA’s Senior Director of Communications. “He was always so welcoming, nice and genuinely interested in helping people. I was really sad to hear of his passing.”

The TGA sends its deepest condolences to Nick Bramlett’s family and friends. Instead of sending flowers, his family asked that you might consider making a donation to the TGA on Nick’s behalf. He would’ve liked that very much.

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Volunteer Spotlight: Steve Suhey

Steve Suhey’s father introduced him to the game of golf when he was 6 years old in 1956. They spent Sunday evenings looping the nearby course in central Pennsylvania. Today, Suhey continues to create lasting memories on golf courses more than 1,500 miles away from where he grew up and learned to play.

“I love the challenge of golf throughout your lifetime,” Suhey said. “It’s a game you can play your whole life, and as you grow older you face new challenges. I’ve really enjoyed that.”

In 1982, Suhey and his wife, Louise, moved to Texas. The avid amateur golfer played in competitive events across the state, including championships conducted by the Texas Golf Association. He’d always loved and appreciated the Rules of Golf, but it wasn’t until met Marty Javors that he began to get involved as a Rules official.

“In the late 1980s, I met Marty, who had been a TGA and USGA Rules official for many years,” Suhey said. “He encouraged me to get involved with the Rules, but because of my businesses and travel schedule, I could never do it. I promised Marty that when I retired I would turn my attention to the Rules and get involved as a Rules official.”

In 2016, Suhey delivered on his promise. Following his retirement as an insurance broker, he attended his first USGA/PGA Rules of Golf Workshop, took his first Rules of Golf exam and volunteered with the TGA.

“When he finally pulled the trigger he didn’t hold back at all,” Javors said. “He’s a very smart guy and learned the Rules very quickly. He loves the game and he’s been a huge help to the golf community in Texas.”

Over the years, Suhey has become one of the most dedicated TGA volunteers. In 2020, he officiated over 40 days at local and statewide men’s, women’s and junior championships.

“As a volunteer, my goal is to help the competitors play by the Rules,” Suhey said. “In order to do that, you have to ask a lot of questions to find out the exact situation and make sure the player knows what his options are.”

Suhey values the interactions he has with players, working with TGA staff and building relationships with other volunteers. His “team-first” mentality has not gone unrecognized by the TGA.

“Steve’s presence makes our championships better and our job as a staff easier,” TGA Tournament Director Ian Davis said. “It doesn’t matter what his assignment is for the day, he is the first one on site and he is the last to leave. Steve is a staunch individual and you can always count on him. He’s always available to stick around for a playoff or help with packing up the equipment when we finish.”

Golf is an ever-evolving game. It teaches lessons on and off the golf course, and Suhey has been a part of unique lessons for so many amateur golfers across the state. Sixty-four years since he touched his first club, Suhey continues to grow from the lessons of golf.

“Because of what golf has given me over the years, this is my way of giving back,” Suhey said. “I learn something at every tournament I officiate and every meeting I attend. And like the game of golf itself, you keep learning and learning and learning and it never stops throughout your life.”

The TGA extends its sincere appreciation to Steve for his efforts in making our championships a success. The work and dedication from all our volunteers allows the TGA to grow and continue to support the game we all love.

To learn more about the TGA Volunteer Program, click here.