Meet the Competitors of the Kentucky Assistant and Women's Section Championships

On Tuesday, September 6, Wildwood Country Club will be the site of this year's National Car Rental Kentucky Assistant PGA Professional Championship and Kentucky Women's PGA Professional Championship. These are the second and third of the four Section Championships that will take place in Kentucky in the late summer. Assistants and Associate Professionals from across the state will play 36 holes with two spots in the National Car Rental PGA Professional Championship on the line. That event will take place in Florida this November. The ladies will play 18 holes hoping to lay the claim of being the top female Professional in the state. 

Playing ability aside, these ladies and gentlemen represent the core of Kentucky's golf workforce with most being in the early stages of their career in the golf industry. Bright futures await them and Tuesday's competition offers them the spotlight in Kentucky golf while they have the opportunity to enjoy a fun-filled day playing golf with their peers. Check out who will be in the field and a little about their backgrounds. 

Alec Bahnick, PGA – An Assistant Golf Professional at Lake Forest Country Club. Bahnick graduated from the PGA Golf Management program at Eastern Kentucky University in 2020 but did a lot of traveling before settling into his current role in Louisville. He did his final internship at Seattle Golf Club and was promoted into a full-time Assistant Professional role once the internship was complete. That led to a position with the Pacific Northwest PGA Section as a Chapter Director. Now, he’s back in the Commonwealth and has been at Lake Forest since last winter.

Mack Baten – An Associate Professional at Summit Hills Country Club. Baten began his journey towards PGA Membership late in 2021 and started out working at Isleworth Golf & Country Club in Orlando, Florida. Now, he’s in Northern Kentucky working under Tom Walters, PGA, who also used to work at Isleworth.

Matt Bloom – An Associate Professional at South Park Country Club. Bloom has finished in the top-ten of this championship each of the last two years. It’s been an exciting year for Matty B, as his 2022 began with marrying his wife Gabbi and receiving the Section’s Assistant Golf Professional of the Year award.

Austin Burke – An Associate Professional at Audubon Country Club. Burke has been at Audubon for multiple seasons and had previously gotten his start in the golf industry working at nearby Iroquois Golf Course. His autumn of 2021 was highlighted by his beloved Atlanta Braves winning the World Series, and his autumn of 2022 could be remembered for a repeat performance, but his fiancé Taylor would probably prefer it be memorialized for their upcoming wedding. He finished T3 at this event in 2021.

Gavin Burns – An Associate Professional at Man O’War Golf and Learning Center. Burns is approaching two years of working at the Lexington facility. He is a Tennessee native and competed collegiately at Lincoln Memorial University while obtaining his degree in business management.

Joe Davis – An Associate Professional at Canewood Golf Course. Davis is wrapping up his second season at Canewood and will be making his second start in the Section’s Assistants Championship after debuting in 2021.

Zachary Day – An Associate Professional at Hurstbourne Country Club. It’s always a good day to be Zachary Day, and Day’s days have been spent at Hurstbourne under Section President Danny Baron, PGA for close to a year now. It’s his second stop in Kentucky after previously being employed at Triple Crown Country Club. Prior to that, he worked at Naples Grande Golf Club in the South Florida Section.

Chad Douglas, PGA – An Assistant Golf Professional at The Club at Olde Stone. Douglas is at the tail end of his fourth season at Olde Stone after previously working at Louisville Country Club and Oxmoor Country Club. He posted a top-ten finish in this event last season.

Matt Duwel, PGA – An Assistant Golf Professional at Big Spring Country Club. He completed the PGA Golf Management program at Eastern Kentucky and then crossed the river into Ohio to spend several years working at Terrace Park Country Club in Milford. He came back to the Kentucky side of the river late in 2019 to work at Big Spring. He was active in his travels during his internships, venturing to facilities in Nebraska, Massachusetts, North Carolina, and Arizona.

Aaron Eldridge – An Associate Professional at Traditions Golf Club. Eldridge joined the staff at the Hebron facility earlier in the year and began his path to PGA Membership after a solid amateur career. The working days of his amateur timeline were spent working at The Golf Exchange in Florence. He made the cut in the Kentucky Open earlier this summer and finished T70. He is fresh off being part of the winning team at the 2x2 Pro-Am supported by ahead and Sun Mountain.

Jake Finn, PGA – An Assistant Golf Professional at Valhalla Golf Club. Finn is relatively new to the Kentucky Section as he joined the Valhalla staff as their First Assistant early in the year. Valhalla is the latest stop in a long line of illustrious clubs Finn has worked at, which has been preceded by Linville Golf Club in North Carolina, Old Collier in Florida and Shoal Creek in Alabama among others. 

Josh Gregorich, PGA – An Assistant Golf Professional at Lexington Country Club. Gregorich was part of EKU’s 2018 graduating class within PGA Golf Management. LCC has been his home for quite some time as his second, third and fourth internships with the program were all spent there. He was hired full-time after getting his degree and has become one of the Section’s top assistants in the time since.

Stefanie Giacchini, PGA – An Assistant Golf Professional at Lexington Country Club. An alumna from Eastern Kentucky’s PGA Golf Management program, Giacchini will make her first start in the Women’s Section Championship with this appearance.

Ben Hartsell, PGA – An Assistant Golf Professional at Seneca Golf Course in Louisville. After graduating from the Mississippi State PGA Golf Management program in 2017, he first came to Kentucky in 2019 to work at Persimmon Ridge Golf Club. Hartsell has since taken his talents a dozen miles southwest to Seneca, where he has spent the last couple of seasons. His Instagram profile is very aesthetically pleasing to look at.

Nathan Hincks – An Associate Professional at The Club at Olde Stone. Hincks and his boss Kevin Childers, PGA have been a powerful duo in the Section’s Pro-Pros this year, as they won the first such event at Woodhaven Country Club in April and followed it up by winning the Callaway Pro-Assistant in May.

Erin Horn, PGA – The Marketing and Communications Coordinator at Valhalla Golf Club. Horn has been a welcoming face at several destinations across the Louisville area in the last decade, having worked at Golf House Kentucky, the University of Louisville, the Persimmon Ridge family of courses, Big Spring Country Club, and now Valhalla. A certain week in the middle of May in 2024 will be a busy but fun one for her.

Daniel Iceman III, PGA – An Assistant Golf Professional at Weissinger Hills Golf Course. Iceman played collegiately for the University of Louisville and is a two-time winner of the ROLEX Assistant Player of the Year in Kentucky, having won in 2016 and 2018. He has also taken the Section’s Assistant Match Play Championship in consecutive years, attempting to three-peat later in September. A victory in this event would mark his fourth occasion winning it.

Paul Jackson – An Associate Professional at Owl Creek Country Club. Jackson is the only senior in the field and is a recent addition to the PGA Associate program, having enrolled in it last winter. Before doing so, he was a usual contender in KGA tournaments and posted a top-ten finish in last year’s Clark’s Pump-N-Shop Kentucky Senior Amateur.

Josh Luster, PGA – An Assistant Golf Professional at Lake Forest Country Club. Luster made his way through the PGA Golf Management program at Eastern Kentucky in the late 2010s and graduated in 2019. He hopped aboard the Professional staff led by Keith Ohr, PGA afterwards and has quickly become a well-respected member of the Lake Forst team. He completed internships at some courses seen by the best in the world, including Georgia’s Sea Island Golf Club and Atlanta Athletic Club.

Jake Martin, PGA – An Assistant Golf Professional at Big Spring Country Club. In 2020, Martin was presented with the Section’s Assistant Golf Professional of the Year Award. He was born in the San Francisco Bay Area and competed on mini-tours in California in the 1990s, lodging a couple of victories. He was elected to PGA Membership in 2000. Martin moved to Louisville in 2017 and has been with Big Spring ever since.

Jeremy Martin – An Associate Professional at Griffin Gate Golf Club. Quietly, Martin has had a very strong year in KPGA competition. He shared low pro honors in the Pro-Am Championship supported by Sun Mountain and the Callaway Pro-Assistant before finishing T35 in the Kentucky Open presented by Persimmon Ridge. He’s in second in the ROLEX Assistant/Associate Player of the Year standings and more strong performances in the final two months of the season could vault him to the top.

Matthew McCrady – An Associate Professional at Man O’War Golf and Learning Center. McCrady has been with Man O’War for about three years now and was previously at Lexington-area clubs such as Keene Trace Golf Club and Thoroughbred Golf Club. He is a diehard Pittsburgh Steelers fan and is as much of a golf tragic as you’ll find in this field.

Sean Miller – An Associate Professional at The Club at Olde Stone. Miller had previously been in Illinois working at Eagle Ridge Resort before accepting his current role last offseason. He played college golf at Western Illinois University.

Blake Moody – An Associate Professional at Green Meadow Country Club. Relatively new to the golf industry, Moody graduated from the University of Pikeville where had a successful tenure playing college golf. He has previously caddied for Zac Blair at The Memorial’s Pro-Am in Columbus, Ohio and for Brendon de Jonge at the Barbasol Championship. He enters fresh off a top-five showing in GHK Classic #3 supported by Hole-in-One U.S.A.

Tyler Oldham - An Associate Professional at the host facility, Wildwood Country Club. Oldham migrated from Nevel Meade to his current workplace towards the end of 2021. He was featured in GHK’s top 10 photos of 2021.

Robbie Parsons - An Associate Professional at Drake Creek Golf Club. Parsons has been at Drake Creek for several years now and is an instrumental cog in their junior golf machine that continues to produce exceptional talent in Western Kentucky. Last year in this championship, he had the most improved round two performance after recording rounds of 88-73.

Whitney Paul, PGA – An Assistant Golf Professional at University of Louisville Golf Club. Paul completed the PGA Golf Management program at Eastern Kentucky in 2016 and has worked at the home of the Cardinals ever since. While Paul has established herself as a premier Assistant, the big thing that’s happened in her life since arriving in Simpsonville has been falling in love with her coworker Chris, whom she has been married to for almost a year now.

Brandon Sanner, PGA – An Assistant Golf Professional at Hurstbourne Country Club. Sanner is finishing his second season as a PGA Member after graduating from Eastern Kentucky’s PGA Golf Management program in 2020. His first year as a Pro was at Algonquin Golf Club in St. Louis and then returned to Kentucky early in 2022. He had one of the more unique internships of all the PGM students in the field, having gone to TopGolf – Doral for the summer of 2019.

Jacob Schakat, PGA - An Assistant Golf Professional at Indian Hills Country Club. Schakat has recorded top-five finishes in this event each of the last two seasons, including a runner-up result in 2020 at Hunting Creek Country Club. That performance qualified him for the National Championship in Florida, something he hopes to return to this autumn.

Shawn Sergent, PGA – An Assistant Golf Professional at Bellefonte Country Club. Sergent attended the PGA Golf Management program at Eastern Kentucky and at first bounced around Kentucky working at various facilities in Ohio or Tennessee before settling into his Ashland home early in 2021.

Collin Smith, PGA – An Assistant Golf Professional at Big Spring Country Club. One could argue he is the second-best player in the world to Morikawa when having Collin with two “L’s” in his first name. But the facts are that he is also a product of Eastern Kentucky’s PGA Golf Management program having graduated in 2019. Big Spring was his first full-time job after graduating and still is. Much of his internships were spent at the major championship venue of Olympia Fields Country Club just outside of Chicago.

Sara Stephens, PGA – The General Manager at Stephens Golf Center. Sara and her husband Andrew were recently featured in a CBS special celebrating PGA Professionals from across the country. She is the two-time defending champion of the Women’s Section Championship and currently tied with Andrew for overall number of Section Championship victories. She could edge ahead this week with Andrew’s opportunity to get a third looming in a couple of weeks at Olde Stone.

Ryan Sullivan, PGA – An Assistant Golf Professional at Wildwood Country Club. Sullivan has been a Member of the PGA for a few years now and Wildwood is his second workplace after first coming to the Section to work at Nevel Meade Golf Club. He is an alumnus of the Coastal Carolina PGA Golf Management program and would likely argue their 2020 football team should have been National Champions.

Terence Thornton – An Associate Professional at Persimmon Ridge Golf Club. Thornton entered the PGA Associate program earlier this year and will be making his first appearance in the Assistants Section Championship.

Eric Voss, PGA - An Assistant Golf Professional at Bowling Green Country Club. Voss was born and raised in Decatur, Alabama. He obtained PGA membership through the Mississippi State PGA Golf Management program. He joined the staff at Bowling Green in 2021 after previously working in the Carolinas Section. He finished T16 in the Section Championship at his home club last year and was 11th in last year’s Assistants Section Championship.

Gabe Wheeler – An Associate Professional at Country Club of Paducah. Wheeler enters the tournament with a commanding lead in the ROLEX Assistant/Associate Player of the Year standings and could lock up that title with a good performance this week. He is an alumnus of the Murray State Racers.

About Golf House Kentucky

Golf House Kentucky is the umbrella organization for Kentucky’s Family of Golf Organizations: Kentucky Golf Association, Kentucky PGA and Kentucky Golf Foundation. The vision of Kentucky’s golf leaders, Golf House Kentucky was founded in 1978, and is headquartered in a picturesque country setting in Louisville, Kentucky. Golf House Kentucky conducts competitions for golfers of all ages, gender and skill levels (amateur, professional and junior), and provides valuable services to Kentucky PGA professionals and member golf facilities. Working in partnership with the USGA, Golf House Kentucky provides individual golfers and member golf facilities with a wide range of services: Handicapping, USGA Course and Slope Rating, award programs, club consulting and golf management software. The family’s philanthropic affiliate, Kentucky Golf Foundation promotes the Kentucky Golf Hall of Fame, Kentucky golf museum and provides grant and scholarship programs for youth in the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

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