Caldwell Named KPGA Golf Professional of the Year
The Kentucky Section PGA is proud to recognize the recipient of this year’s Golf Professional of the Year Award, Donnie Caldwell, PGA. Caldwell is the Head Golf Professional at Wasioto Winds Golf Course in Pineville and the Program Director of The First Tee Pine Mountain. Caldwell’s humble roots and unique introduction to junior golf have molded him into one of the finest PGA Professionals in Kentucky, which began with Caldwell’s days as a junior golfer.
“I got introduced to golf because it was quality family time,” Caldwell said. “I would go out with my dad and my brother to the original Pine Mountain nine-hole course before it was renovated into its current state as Wasioto Winds. A local PGA Professional, Luther Minor Sr. donated junior clubs to me and amazingly, my mom made my first golf bag on her sewing machine forty years ago. I still have that bag today.”
Caldwell’s love for golf and the tutelage of PGA Professionals he was introduced to fostered a desire to enter the golf industry. “I had such an admiration for the Golf Professionals I was introduced to at a young age. I wanted to emulate them, so I went to Florida and experienced what the “Five Star Resorts” were like and gained additional insight from quality PGA Members. I worked at a 36-hole resort called Ponte Vedra Inn & Club during the summers before coming back to Kentucky in the fall to resume school.”
Caldwell would transition back to Kentucky on a full-time basis in 1992. In 2000, he became part of Kentucky State Parks’ staff and was elected to PGA Membership in 2005. The impact he made was felt instantly after his hiring, as he quickly launched The First Tee at Pine Mountain for Dr. John H. Brock, which at the time was one of the first in the country.
“I wanted to get involved with growing golf in Kentucky as much as I could. We unified to start The First Tee Pine Mountain, LPGA Girls’ Golf in Pineville, and supported junior golf tours throughout the state. Next, we focused on securing scholarships for our participants and national participant opportunities with The First Tee.”
It is no accident that Caldwell has been at Wasioto Winds for nearly two decades and he has enjoyed his progression becoming The First Tee Master Coach and National Trainer. The southern Kentucky demographic, a continued family dynamic, and Caldwell’s goals make Wasioto Winds the perfect place for him to continue his impact in the golf industry.
“I want to introduce people to the game and do my best to make golf more accessible to people in this area. This job doesn’t get old for me. I am blessed to get to work at a nationally recognized course with hundereds of appreciative junior golfers in The First Tee. My brother is the superintendent here, I live only half an hour from where I grew up.”
Being recognized as Golf Professional of the Year in Kentucky is no small feat to Caldwell. He considers it to be the “top achievement” of his career, one in which being a PGA Professional alone is an honor to Caldwell.
“I don’t take this award lightly. God has blessed me in many ways and I’m proud to be the recipient of this award as a reflection of teamwork and the people who have supported me along the way. Many have mentored me, given me advice, and supported my development. I’m very appreciative towards everyone who has supported The First Tee, Kentucky golf, or me personally. I’m also proud of my PGA Membership and the impact it can have on so many people. I haven’t dreaded coming into work for 20 years and I don’t see that changing.”
Caldwell and the other PGA Professionals that are recipients of this year’s Special Awards were recognized at the 2019 Spring Member Conference on Monday, March 4 at Marriott Griffin Gate in Lexington.