By ALAN HOSKINS
KANSAS CITY, KAN. ----- Little did Jeff Johnson know that when he sent in a nomination for a media award for the Midwest Section of the Professional Golf Association (PGA) that he would be the featured golf professional at the Section’s annual awards luncheon Dec. 2.
In his 32nd year as head professional at Sunflower Hills, Johnson became the 12th member of the PGA Section’s Hall of Fame, joining such icons of Kansas City golf as Tom Watson, Jug McSpaden, Stan Thirsk and Duke Gibson.
“Fortunate, honored, surprised and humbled,” said Johnson in accepting the prestigious award. “I will be the very first to tell you that I have been very lucky not only in my career but life in general. I’ve been married to my soul mate and best friend, Lucy, for 30 years and have two of the greatest children, Nick and Katie, that a parent could ask for.
“But I’ve also been lucky to have worked at Sunflower Hills where I’ve been able to meet with a variety of great people and work with people like my right-hand man, Chuck Ettinger; Bill Fenton, Randy Smith, Mike Yadrich and Mike Shatto.”
Johnson was introduced by his son, Nick.
“I do not know of many people who wake up every day excited to go to work but my dad wakes up every day excited about what lies ahead, about impacting the lives of the many junior golfers who take lessons each summer; about helping someone improve their putting stroke; and about golf and life.
“His motto is ‘It’s a beautiful day for golf.’ No matter the weather or how full the tee time book is, it’s always a beautiful day for golf. But what I take away from that is that it’s a beautiful day for life. No matter what is going on in the world, he has a positive outlook on life and an excitement about the day’s challenges that lie ahead.”
A lifelong resident of Wyandotte County and one of only two master professionals in Kansas City, Johnson was instrumental in the design and building of a 6-hole practice facility for juniors offered through the First Tee.
Sunflower also has the largest Senior Men’s Golf Association in the metro area and the largest and longest running amateur tournament in Kansas City. The Midwest Section Golf Pro of the Year in 1992, he was named Junior Golf Leader in 2005.
A graduate of Baker University where he’s a member of the Baker Sports Hall of Fame, Johnson is obviously also a talented journalist. His nomination earned Alan Hoskins of KCK the Section’s Media Award for 2013. The Sports Information Director at Kansas City Kansas Community College, Hoskins is a regular contributor to Tee Times Golf Guide.
“The epitome of a sports journalist, Alan is always ready for a good story and picture,’ wrote Johnson. “A dedicated golfer and fan of the sport, he never misses an opportunity to promote the game and the PGA professionals who are involved in it. He has a keen instinct when it comes to golf news and promotes golf and the Midwest Section through Tee Times with a writing style that is factual, entertaining and positive.”
PHOTO: The 12th and newest member of the Hall of Fame of the Midwest Section of the PGA, Sunflower Hills master professional Jeff Johnson (left) also successfully nominated fellow KCK resident Alan Hoskins for the Section’s Media Award for 2013. (Photo by Nick Johnson)