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Golfer in good company with Hall of Fame honor

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Chip Essig is a pretty unassuming guy. If you know him, he is truly someone who likes to stay behind the scenes, and he really shies away from the limelight.

In that sense, he is perfect for the PGA Rules Committee. Every good rules official will tell you that it is always a primary goal to do their work and remain anonymous.

But Essig has been under the spotlight since he was named 2011 PGA Golf Professional of the Year. He joined Jack Barber of Meridian Hills Country Club as one of two Hoosiers to receive this prestigious recognition in a three-year period of time. Barber won the award in 2009.

Last week Essig reached the pinnacle of his profession by being inducted into the PGA of America Hall of Fame at a ceremony in Port St. Lucie, Fla. Chip was one of eight individuals to have a brick inscribed with his name and added to a list of golf’s who’s who in the annals of the PGA of America.

He joined his father, Don, as a PGA Hall of Famer. That’s only the second time that a father-son combination has been named to the Hall by the PGA.

Essig’s Hall of fame Class was impressive, and I think it will help you to know who Chip’s classmates were in order to appreciate the magnitude of his accomplishment.

Jimmy Roberts, of NBC Sports, conducted a fireside chat with each inductee. The event was attended by more than 500 people. It was an emotionally charged evening for Essig and his peers.

Jimmie Devoe, PGA is one of golf’s unheralded pioneers in growing the game, and was among the generations of African-Americans who were denied equal opportunity in virtually all aspects of life. He was the first African-American to gain PGA of America membership after the rescinding of the PGA’s “Caucasian-only Clause” in 1962.

Michael Hebron is a PGA Master Professional. The St. James, New York, native was the 1991 national PGA Teacher of the Year and is highly respected throughout the international golf community. Hebron has been nicknamed “The Teacher’s Teacher.”

Bill Ogden established an unparalleled tradition of mentoring young professionals while also carving an enviable playing career in the Illinois PGA. Considered one of the most inspiring and engaging members in Illinois Section history, Ogden took great pride in mentoring young PGA professionals. He had 43 PGA assistant professionals go on to earn head professional positions.

William Powell is the only African-American to build, own and operate a golf course in the United States. Powell’s legacy is his resolute campaign to make the game of golf color blind by building Clearview Golf Club in East Canton, Ohio. The course is among the National Register of Historic Places.

Bob Toski is one of the most popular and unforgettable golf instructors of any era. He has provided more than six decades of service to the game and has inspired players of all abilities. Toski is the only hall of fame teacher to also capture a PGA TOUR money title (1954).

At 47, Chip Essig is one of the youngest PGA members to achieve induction into the PGA Hall of Fame. He is the director of golf and owner of Hickory Stick Golf Club in Greenwood. Essig earned Master Professional status in 2004.

Born in Indianapolis, Essig grew up playing the game at the former Hoosier Links in New Palestine, a course his father owned and operated. By the time Essig had graduated from high school he had performed basically every job at the facility. He graduated from Purdue in 1987 and became a PGA member in 1990.

“It is an obvious honor to join my dad with our names on that wall of bricks at the PGA Golf Professional Hall of Fame,” said Essig. “When he was inducted, I thought how cool it was that my last name would be forever etched in the Hall of Fame. I never thought that my first name would be added someday.”

This is the classic story of local boy makes good. Essig shares this honor with every PGA Professional in the Hoosier State. Congratulations, Chip.

Ted Bishop is PGA of America president and director of golf and general manager of The Legends Golf Club.

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