On Episode 24 of On The Green Podcast, I sat down with Steve McMillen, CEO and Executive Director of the North Florida PGA Section. Steve’s PGA Section is incredibly large – it covers 43 counties in North Florida and includes 658 golf-related businesses.
Steve has had an impressive 32-year career in golf, including working with golf legend Tom Watson. But more than anything, Steve’s favorite part of his job is giving back. Keep reading to find out three incredible ways the North Florida PGA section gives back, and be sure to listen to the full episode of the podcast above to hear more about the incredible work Steve and his team are doing.
The Patriot Award
Each year, the North Florida PGA Section honors one extraordinary person with the Patriot Award. This award is given to a golf professional who is passionate about giving back to the men and women who serve our country. One incredible recipient was Ken Juhn (2018), who has since died of cancer. On the podcast episode, Steve told an emotional story about how when Ken was battling cancer, he was still giving military members golf lessons – even with a chemo pump hanging out of his back pocket.
“That’s the award that gives everyone chills,” said Steve. “You get to hear the stories of the men and women who win that award, and what they do to give back. It’s incredibly special.”
PGA Junior League
The North Florida PGA Section owns and operates the PGA Junior League, a league that gets kids involved in the game in an inclusive way. In this special league, boys and girls play together as teams and partners, and the goal of the league is to simply get kids excited about the game in a fun way.
“When you go to the local grassroots level and see these kids, they’re just having fun,” said Steve. “They run around the green giving each other high fives.”
The league continues to grow. This year, Steve is excited to say that over 1,500 kids are participating through the North Florida PGA Section. But for Steve, keeping the game fun is the most important part not only for the children who participate, but for the adults and parents who watch and teach. “For so long, golf has had this tradition that it’s old and stuffy,” said Steve. “But that’s not golf at all. Golf is an incredible game and it brings the whole world together.”
PGA Hope, an acronym for ‘Helping Our Patriots Everywhere”, is a program that provides recreational therapy to military men and women through the game of golf. At PGA Hope, PGA professionals get military members together and teach them the game, no matter if they have a physical or mental disability due to their time spent serving. “It’s all about giving them something that they can believe in and giving them something that rekindles their passion,” said Steve.
These are just three impressive ways that the North Florida PGA Section gives back to those around them. If you want to learn more about the incredible work that Steve and his team are doing, listen to the full podcast episode above.