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THE GOG BLOG by RORY SPEARS, Director of Content and Creation. Follow Rory on Twitter @GogBlogGuy Linkedin and Facebook. With the Bear, at the start of the Bear Trap at this weeks Honda Classic.

The Illinois PGA Section has announced it’s Special Award winners for 2018.

At the top of the list is the Illinois PGA professional of the year award, which goes to Chris “Gumby” Gumbach of the River Forest Country Club in Elmhurst.

Gumbach (46) has worked at River Forest for 25 years, after growing up in Binghamton NY. In 1993 Gumbach in interned at Itasca Country Club, then returned to Illinois after graduation from New Mexico State to work for Terry Russell at River Forest, and has been at the club ever since.

“I’m very humbled and honored to be recognized by my peers as the Illinois Section Golf Professional of the Year,” said Gumbach. “This is certainly not a solo effort and I have a number of people including my parents, family, friends, members, mentors and fellow golf professionals to thank for their support an encouragement over the years. I really enjoy the game and the camaraderie being involved in all aspects it brings. My passion for the game and the desire to be engaged has been the driving force during my career.”

In 2013 Gumbach was elected the 25th IPGA Section President, he was the IPGA Section Assistant Professional of the Year and is now the only Illinois section professional to win the assistants and PGA Professional of the year awards. One of his biggest contributions to the section, is raising contributions for the sections Birdies for Charity Event, that has raised over $1.5 million dollars over eight years for local children’s charities.

Gumbach and the other award winners will be honored at a special ceremony on March 11th, at Bobak’s Signature Events in Woodridge Illinois, sponsored by EZ-GO Elite Professionals.

The remaining winners are.

Claire Castetter, Onwentsia Club-Assistant Professional of the Year.                                 Mike Carbray, Butterfield Country Club-Teacher of the Year.                                             Mark Krizic, Ridge Country Club-Player Development Award                                             Lance Olson, Champaign Country Club, Youth Player Development Award.                     Paul Betteridge, Pekin Country Club-Bill Strausbaugh Award                                             Nick Papadakas, Onwensia Club-Horton Smith Award.                                                     Harland Kilbourn, PGA Life Member-Bill Heald Career Achievement Award                     Shaun McElroy, North Shore Country Club-Merchandiser of the Year-Private Club.         Jon Parsons, Schaumburg Golf Club-Merchandiser of the Year-Public Course.               Lloyd McWilliams, Rockford Park District-Distinguished Service Award.

“We are privileged to have such an outstanding group of PGA Professionals in the Illinois PGA Section that are dedicated to growing the game for everyone from the junior player to the weekend player to the elite player,” said Carrie Williams, executive director of the Illinois PGA Section. “And this year’s Special Award winners exemplify all the PGA of America has to offer as the experts in the business of the game of golf.”

For more information on the IPGA Section special awards, visit

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About Rory Spears

Rory spent over 8 years growing up working at Rob Roy Golf Club in Prospect Hts.IL, then two years at Chevy Chase in Wheeling. He has covered golf in Chicago since 1986. Rory was one of the initial members of WSCR all-sports radio Chicago and covered golf there for 5 seasons, before moving on to work for ESPN/Sportsticker and ESPN Radio. In addition to hosting Golfers on Golf Radio on WCPT AM820 Chicago, he writes for both the Chicago District (CDGA) Magazine, and formerly Chicagoland Golf. Rory has played over 525 courses in 39 states, and rates golf courses. He does golf course management and communications consulting, within the golf industry.