LINCOLN, Neb.— Gil Russell, PGA, Assistant General Manager at Happy Hollow Club in Omaha, NE was selected for the Section’s highest honor bestowed on a PGA Member as the 2020 Nebraska Section PGA Golf Professional of the Year. 

A native of Grant, Nebraska, Russell was a 2011 graduate from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln PGA Golf Management with a bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources.  Russell was elected to membership into the PGA of America in May of 2011 where he began his PGA journey at ArborLinks in Nebraska City under famed PGA Professional Jeff Porter, PGA.  Under the mentorship of Porter and working closely with the Landscapes Unlimited Management Group, Russell’s duties and responsibilities would blossom as he was exposed to the General Manager and Head Professional roles.  Through this dynamic role, Russell would work with an Agronomy team, Food and Beverage, Accounting Department, Human Resources, Payroll and Membership Sales.  These opportunities drove Russell to learn more about the business of golf realizing his passion of leading a team.  In 2017, Russell became the General Manager at Norfolk Country Club where he would spearhead the club’s largest facility renovation project to the clubhouse and pool.  In the fall of 2019, Russell accepted the Assistant General Manager position at Happy Hollow Club where he would be instrumental in leading an $8 million dollar Activity Center project that was recently completed.

Growing the game and giving back to his community is another trait that has played a key role in Russell’s PGA Career.  In the fall of 2013, then Nebraska PGA President Mike Antonio, PGA asked Russell to serve on the Player Development Committee, an experience that ignited his interest in running for office.  In the fall of 2015, Russell became the Nebraska PGA’s youngest officer in its history and hit the ground running.  Under Russell’s leadership, the Nebraska PGA launched a strategic plan of creating a digital footprint with a hired internship that today has resulted in a full-time Digital Sports Director.  As Russell ascended through the officer chairs, the Nebraska PGA continued its growth in growing the game through junior golf and in the rebranding of its foundation to PGA REACH Nebraska aligning its mission and vision with the PGA of America’s foundation.  In 2020, the Nebraska PGA was the recipient of the Herb Graffis Award, given to a PGA of America Section that has shown tireless dedication to growing the game of golf and furthering player development programming in the community.  Russell’s belief in growing the game at the grassroots level and driving engagement through digital media was front and center of this prestigious award and one that represents the tireless efforts of nearly 300 men and women who are dedicated to growing the game of golf.
Russell and the other special award winners and players of the year from 2020 will be recognized on Monday, March 29, 2021 at Wilderness Ridge Golf Club during the special awards portion of this meeting.

The other Nebraska PGA Award Winners for 2020 are:

Golf Professional of the Year:  Gil Russell, PGA, Happy Hollow Club, Omaha, NE

Teacher of the Year:  Jonathan Mielke, PGA, Oak Hills Country Club, Omaha, NE

PGA Professional Development:  Greg Neujahr, PGA, Champions Run, Omaha, NE

Bill Strausbaugh:  Mike Antonio, PGA, Happy Hollow Club, Omaha, NE

Youth Player Development:  Jonathan Mielke, PGA, Oak Hills Country Club, Omaha, NE

Merchandiser of the Year-Public:  Matt Shaner, PGA, Golf Fit USA, Kearney, NE

Player Development:  Sarah Pravecek, PGA, Wilderness Ridge Golf Club, Lincoln, NE

Merchandiser of the Year-Private:  Brandon Wedding, PGA, Happy Hollow Club, Omaha, NE

Facility of the Year:  Happy Hollow Club, Omaha, NE

Sales Representative of the Year:  Matt Geschke, PING

Assistant Professional of the Year:  Brandon Wedding, PGA, Happy Hollow Club, Omaha, NE

Patriot Award:  Seth Scollard, PGA, Nebraska Section PGA, Lincoln, NE

In addition to these awards the Nebraska Section PGA would also like to recognize the
Players of the Year for 2020:

Nebraska Section PGA Players of the Year for 2020

OMEGA Nebraska PGA Player of the Year:  Ryan Vermeer, PGA, Happy Hollow Club, Omaha, NE

OMEGA Nebraska PGA Senior Player of the Year:  Ted DiGiacomo, PGA, Golf Galaxy, Omaha, NE

OMEGA Nebraska Section Assistant Professional Player of the Year:  Mike Coatman, Firethorn Golf Club, Lincoln, NE

All of the winners will be recognized at the Nebraska Section PGA Spring Meeting to be held  Monday, March 29, 2020 at Wilderness Ridge Golf Club, Lincoln, NE.