Pine Meadow Golf Club pro wins PGA Youth Development Award
Dennis Johnsen's philosophy on golf can be traced back to legendary sportswriter Grantland Rice.
That philosophy was instrumental in helping Johnsen, the general manager and head professional at Pine Meadow Golf Club in Mundelein, win the 2016 PGA Youth Player Development Award.
“When I talked to people that gave me the award, I asked, 'Why me?' ’’ Johnsen said. "One of the things in my application that really impressed them was a quote from Grantland Rice. The great scorer in the sky does not mark that you won or lost, but rather how you play the game. That’s very important to us in our programming here.’’
The award recognizes the PGA Professional who is a leader in junior golf and who reflects the ideals of those who work with youth.
The PGA takes the following under consideration in determining the winner: demonstration of involvement in the promotion and development of junior golf at the club level; support of national junior golf programs; proven interest, concern and ability to provide opportunities and experience for youths to learn and play golf; and recognized as someone of outstanding character.
Johnsen, 63, has been a PGA member for 40 years, serves on the PGA's Youth Player Development Committee and is chairman of the Illinois Player Development Sub-Committee for PGA Junior League Golf.
"This means an awful lot to me because of the respect of my peers in the business," Johnsen said. "I find that very humbling."
A year after winning the 2015 Illinois PGA Youth Player Development Award, Johnsen was chosen for the national award out of a field of 28,000 PGA members throughout the country. Forty-one candidates were selected, and later, there were four finalists. Johnsen submitted a 12-page application that included a questionnaire. Johnsen also had to list his credentials throughout his 40-year golf career.
Johnsen will be honored in New York City in November at the 100th PGA Annual Meeting.
It's probably only fitting that Johnsen’s career started with the help of another PGA professional in his hometown of St. Charles.
"When I was 11, I had a PGA member help me out, and that guy changed my life. His name was John Benzel," Johnsen said.
Johnsen tells the story of going to Potteapomie Golf Club, where he broke his 3 wood.
"I went to the golf club, and I didn’t have much money,’’ Johnsen said. "There was a $2 barrel with clubs in it, and I asked him if I could put 50 cents down and then I told him I would pay him back the next week after getting my paper route and allowance. And he said yes."
The following week, Johnsen returned to the club and gave Benzel his money. Johnsen then asked Benzel something else.
"I asked him if there was anything I could do to help around the club," Johnsen said. "And that’s how I got into golf."
And the rest is history.