Daniel Gray, of Skokie Country Club, Honored with 2016 Horton Smith Award
By Tim Cronin
Daniel Gray’s contributions to professional education cover plenty of ground, everything from the time-honored art of calligraphy to the cutting-edge world of social media. That’s why the Skokie Country Club teaching professional was this year’s choice to receive the Horton Smith Award.
“Daniel’s attitude and enthusiasm is infectious and his love for the game and business of golf is evident in everything he does,” Onwentsia Club head professional Nick Papadakes wrote in his nomination letter. “More than just a believer that we need a strong education system within our Section, Daniel is a leader in the efforts to create them. When he first joined the committee Daniel was prepared to step up and offer his facility to host an event and since then has continued to not only host, but also organize and lead them.”
Recently, Gray has arranged multiple seminars on golf fitness – “This summit is where my heart is,” he said – and has written a series of articles posted on his website (www.danielrgray.com) covering the subject and others, including “What does Center of Pressure and Pedobarography have to do with a Better Golf Swing?” (Pedobarography is the study of foot pressure.)
“The fitness seminars I have hosted were open to the fitness professionals that I have worked with in the area over the past few years,” Gray explained. “All of them were very excited to be there and one of the points of the seminars were to introduce the two worlds and show them that we are all working with the same players and we should be more on the same page.
“This was a great business opportunity and helped instructors grow their teaching business, as well as fitness instructors. The relationship between the two worlds can help improve players faster and grow the game. All of the fitness professionals there were very excited to be a part of the summit and I felt like they left with a clear image of what the IPGA is about.
“These events were well attended and ranged from 20-50 PGA members that participated,” Gray added. “My focus with the board is to help think outside the box and bring new ways to educate the PGA member and bring educators into the process that we have not thought of in the past.”
Gray also hosted a turf grass seminar at Skokie featuring the club’s superintendent, along with the calligraphy and social media meetings.
Before arriving at Skokie as the teaching professional in 2010, Gray worked at such clubs as Onwentsia, where Bruce Carson gave then-intern Gray his start in the business, and National Golf Links of America, as well as Sea Island in Georgia.
“As a five-star/five diamond resort and one of the top learning centers in the world, our standards are very high and he exceeded our expectations in all areas,” Sea Island director of instruction Todd Anderson said.
Gray, who also teaches at the Wildcat Golf Academy, has been a member of the Section’s Education Committee since 2012.
“The day we stop learning or think we know everything is also the day we start regressing as a professional,” Gray said. “It was a very nice gesture on some people’s part to think you’ve contributed to the process of learning.
“All I can say about myself is that I try to be a person of integrity and a hard work ethic to be the best PGA Professional I can be and build the name of the PGA through educational events and develop players to the best of my ability to help grow the game I love.”