1980 – 1994
National Deaf Golf Association was formed in 1980 and the first annual tournament was held at Meadow Hill Country Club in Denver Colorado. 20 golfers participated. The first winner was Joel Jordan from Colorado and the runner-up was Jim Hynes from Maryland.
Jim Hynes learned that there were several national deaf golf associations in Europe, and someone approached him on whether the United States has deaf golfers that would be interested to compete against the European teams.
Jim Hynes initiated efforts to establish a national deaf golf association here in the United States. There was an inaugural Board meeting to make plans to establish the United States Deaf Golf Foundation (USDGF) on November 2, 1996 in Bethesda, Maryland. Mark Law was elected president, and the original Board members were Jim Hynes, Barry Steinberg, Barry Steinberg’s father, Dan Hall, Tim Dapp, Tim Clark and Leroy Christian. While the organizational details were still being ironed out, United States managed to send its first national deaf golf men’s team to participate in the first World Deaf Golf Championship in (city), United Kingdom. Ten countries competed in this inaugural (first biennial) world deaf golf championship, which was then restricted only for men’s competition. There, while the Championship was held, the World Deaf Golf Federation was formally established to oversee and sponsor the biennial world deaf golf championships under auspices of the International Committee of Sports for the Deaf (CISS). Jim Hynes of the United States was elected as First Vice President of the Federation. The United States’ deaf golf men’s team captured first place team honors while its captain, Doren Granberry scored the lowest combined individual scores to win as the first official world deaf golf men’s champion. Joining Granberry on the inaugural USA deaf golf men’s team are: Jim Hynes, Mike Maxwell, Eric Brumm, Bill Roberts and Reynold Jennetti, Jr. Members of this inaugural deaf golf team covered their travel expenses on their own.
The United States Deaf Golf Foundation (USDGF) was formally approved as a national sports organization to be affiliated with the USA Deaf Sports Federation (USADSF). USDGF was officially approved for not-for-profit incorporation with the state of Maryland.
USDGF hosted the 2nd World Deaf Golf Championship in Abbottstown, Pennsylvania under the auspices of USADSF and CISS. Eleven countries participated in the second World Deaf Golf Championship. Jim Hynes was the general chairman of the planning committee for the Championships. Also there was a National Deaf Golf Association (NDGA) tourney concurrently held with the second World Deaf Golf Championships in Abbottstown. The USA deaf golf men’s team captured first place team honors for the second straight time, and Eric Brumm of Missouri won the top world individual honors. Joining Brumm on the USA deaf golf men’s team were: Bill Roberts, John Vaughn, Reynold Jennetti, Jr., Doren Granberry, and John Rush. Neil Johnson served as a honorary captain with the team. The Federation in its regular meeting reelected Jim Hynes as its First Vice President.
The USDGF Board met for the second time in January. There were elections held for board members and officers. Claude Stout was elected as President, Jim Hynes as the Executive Vice President, Maryte Dyess as Secretary and Randy Prezioso as Treasurer. George Dyess, Gerald Lentini, Tim Clark, and Michael Paul were elected as Board members. USDGF formally was approved as a 501 © (3) nonprofit organization by the IRS. In order to retain its incorporation status with the state of Maryland, and its 501 © (3) nonprofit status with the IRS, the USDGF outlined its mission and goals as follows:
1) to organize and operate national level deaf golf tournaments under the auspices of USADSF in order to send official USA deaf golf teams to the World Deaf Golf Championships. The Championships are held biennially for both team and individual competitions at an alternate host country.
2) to sponsor a summer golf camp for deaf and hard of hearing youth.
There was a national qualifying tournament held jointly by NDGA and USDGF in Utah to determine the USA deaf golf men’s team for participation in the 3rd World Deaf Golf Championships in Sun City, South Africa. The Utah tournament chairman was Robert DeSpain. In the regular business meeting of the NDGA membership, it was approved with a majority’s vote by the NDGA membership to have NDGA be merged with the USDGF. This meant that NDGA was no longer in existence, and that its’ remaining funds were to be turned over to the USDGF treasury.
USDGF under sanctions from USADSF fielded its USA deaf golf men’s team at the 3rd World Deaf Golf Championship in Sun City, South Africa. USADSF contributed $4K for the travel expenses of the team. During the 3rd World Deaf Golf Championships in South Africa, three deaf golf women submitted a proposal to the World Deaf Golf Federation asking that there be separate Championships for deaf golf women’s play, both team and individual competition. The proposal was approved by the Federation membership in its regular business meeting, and that the Championships for deaf women would commence with the 4th World Deaf Golf Championships in Ireland in summer 2002. Susan Zupnik of the United States (New Jersey) was one of three women pioneers that contributed to the establishment of the world deaf women’s championships. The USA deaf golf men’s team captured first place team honors for the third straight time, however top individual honors in men’s competition went to Ryan Lotz of South Africa. Members of the USA deaf golf men’s team were able to cover their travel expenses to the Championships by way of fund-raising campaigns in their local communities. The members of the USA deaf golf men’s team were: Doren Granberry, Bill Roberts, Craig Bryden, Jim Hynes, Tom Bullard, and Gerald Isobe. The Federation in its regular meeting reelected Jim Hynes as its First Vice President.
USDGF held its first United States Deaf Golf Championships in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The Championships were held to determine members for both its USA deaf golf men’s and women’s teams for participation in the 4th World Deaf Golf Championships in Ireland. CSD helped substantially with the manpower and financial arrangements for the inaugural Championships. CSD’s host committee chairman was Tom Kober.
The USDGF Board welcomed Lorraine Stoltz to serve on its Board, replacing Tim Clark. USDGF under sanctions from USADSF fielded a USA deaf golf men’s team and a USA deaf golf women’s team for the 4th World Deaf Golf Championships in Dublin, Ireland. While both the USA deaf golf teams had raised funds from their respective local communities, they were able to get corporate donations. Verizon Communications donated $5K. The widely acclaimed best professional golfer of his time, Mr. Jack W. Nicklaus and his wife Barbara made an anonymous donation to the USA deaf golf teams fund.
In the world deaf golf men’s team and individual competitions, the United States failed for the first time to win first place team honors. It went to Canada, with Ireland as second, and the USA in third place. The individual men’s champion was Cedric Touzard of South Africa. However, USA took consolation with its deaf golf women’s team’s impressive success at the inaugural world deaf golf women’s championships. Patty Sue Ploysa, from New York won the first official women’s individual championship while the USA deaf golf women’s team came in first in team competition. The USA deaf golf men’s team consisted of Jim Hynes, Reynold Jennetti, George Dyess, Gerald Isobe, John Vaughn, and Keith Worek. The USA deaf golf women’s team members were: Ploysa, Susan Zupnik, Lynn Williams, Mindy Hopper, and Lorraine Stoltz. The Federation in its regular meeting reelected Jim Hynes as its First Vice President. It also made history by electing Susan Zupnik as a first female to serve on the Federation Board of Directors.
USDGF selects Pinehurst, N.C. as the site of the second United States Deaf Golf Championships. Mindy Hopper was selected to chair the local host committee for the Championships. The Championships take place on July 9-12, 2003 at the Mid-Pines Inn and Golf Club in Pinehurst.
The Championships are held to identify members for both its USA deaf golf men and women’s teams for participation in the 5th World Deaf Golf Championships in Stockholm, Sweden. A new category is formed: Senior Division as World Deaf Golf Federation adds Seniors as the third category but for individual competition only, not team to its biennial event.
In the world deaf golf men’s team competition in Sweden, the United States recaptures first place championship, while England places second place and the improving Scotland team climbs to 3rd place. The individual men’s champion is Cedric Touzard of South Africa, a repeat winner from the previous WDGC tournament. Bill Roberts and Doren Granberry of United States respectively come in 2nd and 3rd place. The United States women’s team, the defending champion two years ago in Ireland, won again. In her first appearance at this world event, Linda Davis of Australia wins first place in women’s individual competition. Patty Sue Ploysa and Susan Zupnik of USA are tied for 4th place by only 2 strokes from the 3rd place finisher. Jun Oishi from Japan wins the first official seniors’ individual championship and George Dyess from USA places third. The USA deaf golf men’s team consists of Bill Roberts, Doren Granberry, Keith Worek, Gerald Isobe, Dan Nawrocki and Craig Bryden. The USA deaf golf women’s team members are: Ploysa, Susan Zupnik, Lynn Williams, and Linda Bradford. The individuals for men’s, seniors’ and women’s individual competitions are Tom Bullard (men’s), Mike Yance (men’s), Glen Morrison (seniors’) and Dayleena Doan (women’s).
In the fall, the USDGF board meeting is held, Bernie Brown and Mike Kaika join as new members thus increasing to number of Board members to a total of ten. The USDGF selects Greater Rochester Deaf Golf Association to host 3rd United States Deaf Golf Championships (USDGC) at Ravenwood Golf Club in Rochester, NY. Keith Worek is selected to serve as Chairman of the 3rd USDGC.
The Championships are held to select members for both its USA deaf golf men and women’s teams and individual seniors for participation in the 6th World Deaf Golf Championships in Edmonton, Canada. 48 golfers participate in the USDGC from all over the United States. After four rounds, Doren Granberry (California) and Bill Roberts (Missouri) come tied for first place and a sudden death playoff takes place in which Doren wins the men’s individual championship on the first hole. Defending women’s champion, Patty Sue Ploysa (NY) wins again beating Susan Zupnik (NJ). Wally DeVe (Oregon), making his first debut at the USDGC, wins the individual seniors division championship.
While at the Championships, we have a regular membership meeting, and we vote to change the organizational name from United States Deaf Golf Foundation to United States Deaf Golf Association. The name change is appropriate for several reasons: 1.) We are not in the business of distributing funds or scholarships. 2.) We regularly host U.S. Deaf Golf Championships and deaf youth golf camps, thus we function more as a gathering of individuals who are deaf and hard of hearing, and others for social and educational purposes in golf. 3.) We are affiliated with a national deaf sports federation, and a world deaf golf federation.
The United States Deaf Golfers continued to dominate the rest of the world, winning the overall team and individual titles at the sixth World Deaf Golf Championships. The event was held at the Red Tail Landing Golf Club in Edmonton, Alberta. The US team led by individual champion Brandon Babineaux cruised to the team title on the strength of their opening round performance. Babineaux won the men’s individual title easily over fellow Americans Bill Roberts and 2005 US Deaf Champion Doren Granberry. His rounds of 72-73-76-72 provided the winning margin of 6 shots over Roberts, the 7 time U.S. Champion. The women’s championship was decided over the final round with Australian Linda Davis besting third round leader, American Susan Zupnik. Davis’ four day total of 334 easily passed the fading Zupnik winning by 9 shots. The US women hung on to win the team title. Leading by 12 going into the last round, they held off the hard charging Australians and hoisted the trophy with a 4 stroke victory. The world’s participating senior golfers were led by 3 Americans at the top of the leaderboard. Wally DeVe of Oregon won easily over Jim Hynes and Mike Finneran. The biennial championships had 13 countries competing for the individual titles for men, women, and seniors as well as the team championships for men and women. USDGA announced exemptions policy for champions and runner-ups of state and local deaf golf associations to participate in the 2007 United States Deaf Golf Championships in Caseyville, Illinois in July 2007. Executive Director Strano expanded USDGA’s outreach efforts throughout America hosting at least ten deaf golf kids camps at alternate sites. Claude Stout resigns as President of USDGA after nine years at this helm, and he is succeeded by Keith Worek from Rochester, New York.
Planning for the U.S. Deaf Golf Championships is conducted by two key people with the Association. Susan Zupnik was asked by President Worek to be the chairperson for the biennial national deaf golf championships. Rob Strano assists Zupnik as tournament director for the Championships. US Golf Association extends $20,000 grant for the Championships, a first in USDGA’s history. A Hall of Fame program will be held during the banquet of the Championships, also a first-time ever. Eleven deaf golfers (nine men & two women) will be inducted in the Hall of Fame on basis of their exemplary championship play and/or leadership at national, regional, state, and/or local deaf golf association levels.
The United States Deaf Golfers competed against 15 countries at the scenic Sam Torrance Golf Club, located in St. Andrews, Scotland. This treeless, grassy course sits on the famous St. Andrews Bay with a view of St. Andrews University and the Old Course. As expected, the tourney had its share of unpredictable weather, ranging from high winds with periodic rain and freezing temperatures. Melissa Stockton of Park City, Utah was the team’s rookie star as she was declared the world deaf women’s champion with veteran USA Patty Sue Ploysa placing second. The USA Women’s team, consisting of Susan Zupnik, Laura Ponikiewski and Lynn Williams earned a first place berth for the fourth time since 2004. The USA Men’s team did not play up to their defending championship expectations. Doren Granberry was the sixth best individual with Tim Dapp who also played well but had to withdraw after hurting his back in bad fall on the course. However, with help from Jed Barish, Daryn Taylor, Mike Houston and Dano Aldaz, the USA team struggled to fifth place finish against a very strong field of European golfers. The USA Senior Team did not do better with Jose Sermeno’s ailing case of flu and chills. Joe Rourke didn’t play to his par and 75-year old George Dyess got disqualified on the first day when he failed to sign his scorecard. For the first time, USDGA collaborated with Jason Scarth of Britannia Golf travel agency to handle logistics for golfers and non-golfers. From this experiment, it is believed that this type of collaboration should be done again when the USA teams compete at 2012 WDGC to be held in Japan.
Yankee Trace, Centerville, Ohio is the site of the 2011 USDGC Championship event with Benny Young as chairperson. Gordon Bachman (MI), Jim Potter (MN), Norman Artz (OH) and Doren Granberry (CA) will be inducted into the USDGA Hall of Fame. HOF class of 2011 members were selected on the basis of their exemplary championship play and/or leadership at national, regional, state and/or local deaf golf association levels. Please check Hall of Fame links for past and present inductees. The ceremony will be held during the banquet on Friday, July 15 with Bernie Brown, HOF Chairperson as Master of Ceremonies.