Worthy Honorees

Bunch, Harvanek voted into Colorado Golf Hall of Fame; CWGA, Pfingston, Billings, Bryant, Schalk earn awards

by Gary Baines - 10/25/2017

Two Coloradans whose service in golf has made an indelible impact were voted into the Colorado Golf Hall of Fame on Wednesday.

Jim Bunch of Denver and Danny Harvanek of Littleton will make up the 46th class of the Hall of Fame and will be inducted on May 20 at Sanctuary golf course in Sedalia.

Bunch has served in high-powered volunteer roles at the USGA and with the Western Golf Association, including as the chairman of the USGA Rules of Golf Committee, of the WGA and of the Evans Scholars Foundation that awards full tuition and housing college scholarships to high-achieving caddies with limited financial means.

"Considering who's been inducted (into the Hall of Fame), it's a great honor," Bunch said on Wednesday. "It's quite a surprise -- and still sinking in. It wasn't something I was expecting."

Harvanek, a longtime PGA Master Professional in Colorado, has long been touted for his highly-effective instruction work with junior golfers, which helped lay the groundwork for the Colorado PGA Golf in Schools program.

"To be recognized by the collective body of golf in Colorado is pretty humbling," Havanek said. "It's hard to put into words."

Bunch and Harvanek will become the 140th and 141st inductees into the Colorado Golf Hall of Fame, an organization which honored its first class in 1973, when Babe Zaharias, Dave Hill and Babe Lind were inducted.

In addition to Bunch and Harvanek being voted into the Hall of Fame on Wednesday, several people/organizations were selected to receive CGHOF awards at the banquet in May: the CWGA (Distinguished Service Award), Mark Pfingston (Golf Person of the Year), Rich Billings (Lifetime Achievement Award), and Davis Bryant and Hailey Schalk (Future Famers). See details about those honorees below.

Bunch was a member of the USGA's Executive Committee, one of the most powerful ruling bodies in golf, from 2003-10. At various times during that span, he chaired the USGA's Rules of Golf, Finance, Grants and Bob Jones Award Committees. During his time chairing the Rules of Golf Committee, Bunch spent more than 150 nights on the road on USGA-related business -- often largely at his own expense.

Two years after leaving the USGA Executive Committee, Bunch became the first chairman of the WGA from Colorado during a time when Western Golf was awarding more Evans Scholarships than ever before. Then in 2014, he moved on to be chairman of the board of trustees for the Evans Scholars Foundation. In both cases, it was a labor of love for Bunch, who caddied as a 12-year-old in the Chicago area. The WGA administers the Evans Scholarship for caddies, including the chapter at the University of Colorado, and oversees the PGA Tour's BMW Championship, which benefits the Evans Scholarship. Bunch first joined the WGA board of directors in 1992, and still serves as an Evans Scholars Foundation trustee. (Bunch is pictured in a WGA photo alongside TV broadcaster Dottie Pepper.)

"The Evans Scholars program is one of the great things golf has done," said Bunch, a Denver resident since 1970. "It changes lives for families. When you're touching lives, I can't think of anything more worthwhile as a golfer.

"As for the USGA, it has international scope, so to be involved with such an organization is an honor. And as chair of the Rules Committee, I had the privilege of walking with the final groups at national and international championships.

"When you're dealing with non-profits, you might think about what you're putting into it (as a volunteer), but you never think what you get out of it. And you get a lot more out of it than you put it. And the people you meet working for these organizations, they're very good people and many become friends."

Bunch, who will soon turn 75, is a member at Denver Country Club and The Club at Cordillera in Colorado, as well as at The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews and Prestwick in Scotland.

Like Bunch, Harvanek has been a longtime fixture in Colorado. After growing up in western Kansas where he took up the game at age 15 and won a state high school title as a senior, Harvanek moved to the Centennial State in 1979 to take a job on Warren Smith's staff at Cherry Hills Country Club. Then in 1984, he became the first PGA head professional at Bear Creek Golf Club, remaining in that position through '92.

Three consecutive years beginning in 1990, Harvanek received the Colorado PGA's top honor as Golf Professional of the Year. In 1990, he was also given an award from the CGA for outstanding contributions to amateur golf.

But it was as an instructor -- particularly working with junior golfers (pictured) -- that Harvanek particularly made an impact in the new millennium. Using a concise, simple way of communicating while teaching paid off for him. After being the Colorado PGA's Teacher of the Year in 2003 and the Junior Golf Leader in 2006, Harvanek earned a very prestigious PGA of America award in 2007 as the national Junior Golf Leader.

In the early 2000s, Harvanek wrote eight golf books, many particularly effective in teaching the game to youngsters.

"I've always had strong passion for kids and the growth and development of children," said Harvanek, the Colorado Golf Hall of Fame's 2008 Golf Person of the Year. "I want them to have a positive energy in their life to pursue their hopes and dreams."

While working as an instructor at Broken Tee Golf Course and The Golf Club at Bear Dance, Harvanek developed a program for exposing kids to golf through their P.E. classes at school. When he approached Denver Public Schools officials with the idea, the result was 22 schools signing up in just two days.

Over a period of about 10 years working at schools in the Denver metro area, Harvanek said he personally taught over 13,000 kids. "It started growing legs," he noted. "I created a model so I could pass it on."

That and similar seedlings planted by others in the Colorado golf community led to the Colorado PGA Golf in Schools Program, which has reached roughly 70,000 students over the last seven years.

"Because of Danny's leadership in our Section, many of us have had a roadmap to follow in our own junior programming," instructor Ann Finke, another national PGA Junior Golf Leader award winner, noted in supporting Harvanek's induction into the Hall of Fame.

"Danny Harvanek has done more for junior golf in Colorado than anyone I know," added Clayton Cole, like Finke a member of the Colorado Golf Hall of Fame.

Harvanek, 68, now resides in Littleton.

As for the CGHOF award winners:

-- The CWGA will be given the Distinguished Service Award for its long history of serving female golfers in Colorado and promoting the game. The CWGA, a non-profit which celebrated its 100th anniversary last year, long has been viewed as one of the most highly regarded women's golf associations in the region. Currently, it's in the process of joining forces with the CGA in an effort to better serve all golfers in the Centennial State. The unified association, which will move forward with volunteer and staff leadership from both the CGA and CWGA, will be known as the Colorado Golf Association. Current presidents Joe McCleary from the CGA and Juliet Miner from the CWGA will serve as co-presidents in 2018.

The CWGA currently features a membership of almost 17,000 from approximately 250 member clubs.

-- Mark Pfingston, the PGA head professional at The Golf Club at Bear Dance in Larkspur, was named Golf Person of the Year after earning the PGA of America's national 2017 Merchandiser of the Year Award for public facilities. Pfingston. the head pro at Bear Dance since 2006 after previously being an assistant for three years at the club where the Colorado PGA is based, is scheduled to receive the national award next week in Austin, Texas at the PGA of America's annual meeting. Pfingston was the Colorado PGA's Public Merchandiser of the Year in 2005, ’15 and ‘16.

This marks the sixth time a Colorado PGA professional has received a PGA of America national honor for merchandising -- and the fourth time since 2012. Overall, CPGA members or the Section itself have received national PGA of America awards nine times in the last 11 years.

-- Rich Billings, who has a long history of supporting the Colorado Golf Hall of Fame, will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award. Billings once served on the CGHOF board of directors and has heartily backed the Hall of Fame's endeavors over the years, both in spirit and financially.

-- And Davis Bryant of Aurora and Hailey Schalk of Erie earned "Future Famer" honors, given to Colorado players under 20 who have had particularly outstanding years. Bryant and Schalk recently were named the Junior Golf Alliance of Colorado's 2017 Players of the Year.

Bryant won three of the four boys JGAC major championships in 2017 -- every one in which he competed. The 17-year-old future Colorado State University golfer also captured the 5A boys state high school title. On a larger scale, Bryant finished ninth individually while playing for Colorado at the Junior America's Cup and 14th at the national Boys Junior PGA Championship. He also advanced to the match play round of 64 at his second U.S. Junior Amateur.

Schalk became the first Coloradan to claim a girls or boys title at the AJGA Hale Irwin Colorado Junior. The 15-year-old won both of the JGAC majors in which she participated. With her victory in the 3A girls state high school tournament, she became the first freshman to win a girls state prep title since 2002. Schalk also finished 14th individually while competing for Colorado at the Girls Junior America's Cup. 

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