The LPGA Professionals announced the following members as winners of the 2021 national awards in acknowledgement of their dedication and achievements: Marissa Kulig Crow, Lyman Orchards Golf Club in Middlefield, Conn., Teacher of the Year; Lynne Hunter, Kenwood Golf and Country Club in Bethesda, Md., Professional of the Year; Courtney Mahon, Notre Dame de Sion High School in Kansas City, Mo., Coach of the Year; and Charlaine Hirst, Pinehurst, N.C., Junior Golf Leader of the Year.
The national award winners were selected by the LPGA Professionals membership’s Executive Committee from the pool of Section Award winners voted on by officers of the six regional sections: Central, International, Midwest, Northeast, Southeast and Western.
Teacher of the Year, Marissa Kulig Crow The LPGA established the National Teacher of the Year Award in 1958. The award is given annually to the female golf professional who has demonstrated outstanding accomplishments related to the teaching of golf during the year.
Kulig Crow has been an LPGA Professionals Class A member since 2017, and she is currently a teaching professional at the Lyman Orchards Golf Club in Middlefield, Conn. She is an LPGA*USGA Girls Golf Site Director and donates her time to serve as a volunteer golf instructor for local afterschool junior programs.
As the creator of the Golf Fore Women clinic series, which has helped over 5,000 women since 2013 improve their golf game, she has established a student-centered methodology with her teaching approach, ensuring her students all feel welcome and at ease from day one.
She is also a certified Callaway Club Fitter, Frankly Golf Putting Instructor, CardioGolf Trainer and Level II Yoga for Golfers Instructor, incorporating her eclectic skills into her clinics, individual instruction, and group classes.
In her over 20 years as a teaching professional, she served as a golf instructor for Jane Blalock’s Golf for Women Clinics and instructed clinics for the Executive Women’s Golf Association (now LPGA Amateur Golf Association) between 2003-2012.
In response to a short season in 2020, Kulig Crow took her lessons online, using a variety of methods to stay connected to her students through evaluating swing videos, using simulators, and via social media. She continues to incorporate both practical and technical methods in her approach today.
“Teaching and growing the game of golf, especially with women, has been my passion and my calling for many years,” said Kulig Crow. “I am blessed to have the opportunity to work with thousands of students each year as they are the ones that drive me each day.
A student once told me that teaching new skills and instilling confidence in others is one of life's most noble paths. To be recognized with this award, among such talented and driven LPGA professionals, leaves me humbled and immensely honored."
Professional of the Year, Lynne Hunter The LPGA Professional of the Year was established in 1980 and is awarded annually to an LPGA Professionals member primarily engaged in a golf operation, golf association or industry position, promoting the game through player development, growth of the game initiatives and other golf-related activities.
Hunter has been an LPGA Professionals Class A member since 2007 and currently serves as the LPGA/PGA Head Professional for the Kenwood Golf and Country Club in Bethesda, Md. With an impressive background as a golf instructor, this is the third time Hunter has been awarded the Northeast Section Professional of the Year and her first national honor.
Throughout her career, she has also received the LPGA Northeast Section Junior Golf Leadership Award (2012), was named a U.S. Kids Golf Top 50 Kids Teacher (2008, 2009, 2011), given the Middle Atlantic PGA Bill Strausbaugh Award (2019) and granted the Kenwood Golf and Country Club Jack Weber Award for long-term commitment to the improvement of golf programs (2006).
Her career began in 1987 when she was a Summer Intern at the TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm before becoming the Golf Shop Assistant in 1990 at Hobbit’s Glen Golf Course in Columbia, Md. From there, she worked her way up to Assistant Manager at Jay Perkins Golf Shop (1993-1996) and Merchandise Manager at Westwinds Country Club (1996-1997).
Her next career move would be to Kenwood Golf and Country Club where she began as the Assistant Golf Professional (1997-2011) before settling into the Head Golf Professional role in 2012. Though the past year was challenging for her and her club, Hunter was able to successfully lead her team through a surge in member growth and an increase in overall number of rounds being played.
She created safety guidelines for her course to ensure staff and members were staying healthy and trained the staff regarding new protocols and procedures. She did this all while spearheading a membership outreach program and mentoring a female Professional Golf Management intern to help her learn the ropes for her future career.
“I am truly honored to receive this prestigious award and to represent this outstanding organization,” said Hunter. “I could not have had this success without the support of a strong team behind me, so this award is also a thank you to my family, friends, staff, and Kenwood ‘family’ that have supported me as I follow my passion for helping others to enjoy the game of golf”.
Outside of her responsibilities as Kenwood’s Head Professional, Hunter is also the Secretary of the Middle Atlantic PGA, Middle Atlantic Representative for the PGA Magazine Women Leaders platform and was a Rules Official and Host for a 2021 U.S.
Women’s Amateur Qualifier. Coach of the Year, Courtney Mahon The LPGA Professionals Coach of the Year Award was established in 1980 and is awarded annually to an LPGA Professionals member who is actively engaged in teaching and/or coaching golf at the collegiate or high school level.
LPGA Professionals Class A member Courtney Mahon’s coaching career started back in 2008 when she was named the Head Women’s Golf Coach at the University of Missouri - Kansas City. During her time at UMKC, she signed one of the top players in the state of Texas and Arkansas.
Through structured practice, positive reinforcement, and hard work each player improved their scoring average by a minimum of five shots. In addition to the improvements on the course, she also changed the culture and reputation of the school’s women’s golf program.
Mahon returned to the coaching arena in 2017 as the Head Girls Golf Coach at Olathe Northwest High School. She spent three seasons teaching her players discipline, organization, and how to work hard to accomplish their goals.
Her team qualified for the Kansas State High School Championship all three years and won several tournaments individually and as a team. Five of her players earned All-State Honors. In 2020, Mahon was offered the Head Girls Golf coaching position at Notre Dame de Sion High School.
She worked alongside long-time coach Dana Hoeper. In Mahon’s first season at Sion, the team won several tournaments individually and as a team. Coach Hoeper and Mahon have led their team to many successes on the course, but also focus on developing the person for life after golf.
“It is an absolute honor to be the LPGA National Coach of the Year! I am thankful to have had the opportunity to coach high school girls golf in Kansas at Olathe Northwest High School and Missouri at Notre Dame de Sion High School,” said Mahon.
“Both programs have made tremendous strides towards excellence, and both are extremely special to me. I am so grateful to receive this incredible award”. Mahon is heavily involved with the LPGA Professionals organization, where she has served as the LPGA Central Section Treasurer and has been a member of the LPGA Professionals Tournament Committee since 2017.
She also is the LPGA Professionals National Chair for the New Member Committees. In 2020, Mahon received the LPGA National Teacher of the Year Award. Junior Golf Leader of the Year, Charlaine Hirst The LPGA Professionals Junior Golf Leader of the Year Award was established in 2012 and is awarded annually to an LPGA Professionals member who excels in teaching and promoting golf for juniors.
Hirst is the sole owner of Charlaine Hirst Golf LLC, based at The Country Club of Whispering Pines since 2009. The evolution of her teaching business has occurred from pilot programs, group sessions and is continually tweaked.
A core niche that she has filled at CCWP and Moore County has been as a leader in growing junior golf, especially growing the number of girls playing the game. The target audience with many of her programs, specifically her junior lesson offerings, is the golfer that desires to learn to play golf or just play at a basic level with friends, family, or entry level tournaments.
She enjoys getting players comfortable playing on the course, even if their ability, access, or goals do not include playing the game at a higher level. Every summer since 2009, Hirst has hosted “Chipper’s Camps,” week-long junior summer camps that take place over eight weeks.
The camps are limited to eight students each week, introducing them to the fundamentals of the game and etiquette. Hirst employs junior assistants for each camp, many of whom are employed in their first jobs. Her current assistants are all young adults who participated in her very first Chipper’s Camp 13 years ago.
Over the program’s history, 900 juniors have been impacted and are now enjoying the game for life. Hirst is also the Site Director for LPGA*USGA Girls Golf – Whispering Pines. She served as a volunteer coach with the local First Tee chapter for eight years and saw the desire for girls to be nurtured in their own setting.
Girls Golf has been a fantastic way for her to empower girls, helping them learn the fundamentals of the game and have a lot of fun along the way. Hirst’s site has an all-female group of 24 dedicated, volunteer coaches that have added to the experience for the program.
She also encourages her participants to give back to the community, putting on campaigns such as “Howl-O-Ween” for pet food collection for their local pet rescue and Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes. “I love what I do.
I love sharing my passion for the game with the next generation of golfers and to be recognized alongside so many other LPGA Professionals doing their part to grow the game is very special,” said Hirst. Hirst received the 2020 Sandy LaBauve Spirit Award, the most coveted honor bestowed by LPGA*USGA Girls Golf, for her continued dedication and passion for empowering girls through golf.
She was also inducted into the Longwood Athletics Hall of Fame in 2007 and the Women’s Golf Coaches Association Player Hall of Fame in 2014.