Three new directors have been elected to the Society of Hickory Golfers – from left, Bill Ernst, Eddie Breeden, and Barb Kopec. They will take their seats effective June 1, 2014.
Retiring from the board are Breck Speed, Rob Ahlschwede, and Bob Caston. These three have worked very hard to make the SoHG a success on behalf of all its members. We appreciate their service and wish them well as they now have more time to work on their swings.
Voting turnout was above average – 84 percent of those who opened the ballot completed their votes. It’s a rare thing to find this degree of participation in membership organizations such as ours. It speaks to the dedication of SoHG members and their passion in ensuring their voices are heard. Thanks to all of you who took the time to vote.
“We especially thank all the members who stood for election to the board,” said outgoing president, Bob Caston. “The Society will greatly benefit from these new members and their input.”
“It’s hard to believe, but this is my last month as president of the SoHG,” Caston said. “The past 12 months have been both enjoyable and challenging. While we have seen much growth in hickory golf over the past few years, there are still plenty of opportunities and challenges to keep us all busy. We are very lucky to have members who offer up their time and experience to support the SoHG and the growth of hickory golf.”
As with any board, the addition of “freshmen” members brings new life, new ideas, and energy. For his part, Bill “Ernie” Ernst of Neenah, Wisc. says he’s “looking forward to the challenge and seeing how I can help grow this great game.”
Eddie Breeden of Upland, Calif., said “I was very surprised to be voted in for the SoHG board. I thank those who voted for me and hope to represent the spot on the board well. I think having representation from the West Coast on the board will be good to help grow the game out here. I hope to see the SoHG cover more ground/areas of the states and have events rotate with participation in many areas of our country. I look forward to learning a lot, and to helping out where I am needed.”
The third new member of board is Barbara Kopec of Niceville, Fla. She and husband, Ted, have long been supporters and players in such events as the Southern 4-Ball, and the Mountain Valley HIckory Open. She is hoping to make hickory golf more accessible to everyone. “We need to to find ways to give the ‘regular’ golfers the opportunity to feel the challenge and the joy of hitting hickories,” she says.
The SoHG seems poised to meet new challenges and, with new faces on its board and the support of its membership, ready to strengthen and expand the sport of hickory golf to more players and more regions.
Incoming president wants to keep the energy going for hickory golf, SoHG
Hamp Munsey, who will take office on June 1, is the fifth chief officer in the history of the SoHG. He comes to the role in the wake of a challenging period which saw the SoHG wrestle with questions of transparency and a transition to reduced support from long-time sponsor Mountain Valley Spring Water.
“I’m looking forward to the term and the challenges,” Munsey says, noting that “I want to make sure our organization continues to grow and offers the best experience possible in hickory golf. That includes being open and inclusive at all our events.”
Munsey, of Greensboro, N.C., says the SoHG must maintain open lines of communication with members and ensure that all its activities are transparent. “This is one of the most important things we can do and it begins with the tone we as board members set for ourselves in working on behalf of the group. We need to thank Bob Caston for his leadership in helping to make the SoHG more transparent.”
Regional hickory groups are an immediate interest with the SoHG, which recognizes their importance to the growth of the sport. Currently, there are about 15 or more such groups in the U.S. and more are forming. “Regional groups are the ‘grass roots’, if you will, of hickory golf and we will do all we can to support them,” Munsey says.
The SoHG’s long-time sponsor, Mountain Valley Spring Water, is scaling back its involvement, a planned move, which means the Board is actively seeking new sponsors. “We are financially sound, but the addition of new sponsors means we can continue to provide and improve services for our members,” Munsey says.
Among these are website improvements, the addition of a Championship Series event on the West Coast, and a strengthened marketing voice to ensure the SoHG’s message is one that resonates with its members and communicates the value that the SoHG brings to all who love hickory golf.
As for the three new board members, “I am really looking forward to working them,” Munsey says. “They will bring fresh ideas, diversity, and the perspective of their own geographical regions.”
All in all, 2014 is a year of changes, of fresh starts and a new look for the SoHG. With a new international event, new sponsors, new faces on the board, and growing numbers of regional groups, it’s no stretch to say the future of hickory golf and the SoHG looks very bright.