Article by: Bruce Berlet of the Connecticut Section PGA
Glastonbury, Connecticut (October 22, 2021) – On September 1, Gary and Mim Reynolds were having a friendly chat on ZOOM with PGA of America President Jim Richerson as they sat in the Connecticut Section PGA office in Glastonbury.
But the banter soon became a memorable declaration of the highest order. After rattling off countless things that Gary had done for the Section and many of its member professionals and officials, Richerson revealed Reynolds will be one of six inductees into the PGA of America Hall of Fame in November.
“Oh, that’s so cool,” a beaming Mim said.
“I’ve given a few speeches in my life,” Reynolds said, “but I can’t really respond to this, Mr. President. I’m truly, truly, truly honored.”
Gary might have been speechless but not others whom he has been associated with in nearly a half-century in the business. Within minutes of the news being posted on the Connecticut Section PGA social media, dozens of associates and friends congratulated someone whose merits have enabled him to join Walter Lowell (Class of 2005) as the only Section members to receive the highest honor for club professionals.
“Gary is a master at fostering relationships and spreading goodwill,” said Tom Hantke, the Section executive director for 28 years. “His kindness resonates with everyone he meets. We could all strive to be more like Gary.”
PGA Hall of Fame Tribute Video
Richerson said, “there has never been a better mentor for the Connecticut Section or the Association. All your work and involvement from a governing standpoint, so many different committees, and chairs being a past president and your involvement in the (Section) Foundation and all that you have done for Special Olympics and giving back to The First Tee, all of your Section awards and national Strausbaugh winner, all of the PGA Professionals and apprentices that you have mentored over the years and on and on and on. We really need that more than ever, so it’s really gratifying to see someone who has done so much for the organization get recognized and I’m really proud to be able to tell you that you’re going into the Hall of Fame.”
Reynolds, 73, will be inducted on November 3rd, during the PGA of America’s annual meeting in Milwaukee, Wisc. Others in the Class of 2021 are Kyle Heyen, Ed Ibarguen, Paul Levy, and deceased PGA Members Marty Lyons and Al Watrous.
“It’s a wonderful culmination to my career,” Reynolds said.
Reynolds was born in Alexandria Bay, N.Y., and has been a golf professional for 47 years. His career began in Massachusetts as an assistant professional at Longmeadow Country Club. He was then named head professional at the Country Club of Pittsfield, before serving 27 years at Hartford Golf Club, where he retired in 2008. He has received numerous Section awards, most notably its highest honor as Golf Professional of the Year in 1989. He received the Bill Strausbaugh Award three times locally and in 2001 nationally, the Merchandiser of the Year Award in 1995, and the President’s Award for fundraising in 2002 and 2005. He’s one of only eight people to be inducted into the Connecticut Section PGA Professional Hall of Fame (2008, the inaugural class) and Connecticut Golf Hall of Fames (2011).
Reynolds, who graduated from St. Lawrence University in 1970 with a bachelor of arts degree in history, was nominated for the Hall of Fame in the golf professional category as someone who through his career as a PGA Member, service to the Association and/or their record as a player in PGA golf professional events had significant and enduring impacts upon the PGA of America, their fellow PGA members and the game of golf.
Besides numerous awards and Section duties, Reynolds and his Hartford Golf Club staff were renowned for an operation that delivered outstanding instruction, innovative programming and extraordinary customer service. His operation was named Best in Connecticut for customer service at a private club by Connecticut Magazine, and during his tenure at Hartford, he mentored 14 assistants who went on to achieve head professional positions.
In addition to his assistant professionals, Reynolds’ wife Mim played an integral role for all 27 years at Hartford.
“Mim worked shoulder-to-shoulder with me and is totally instrumental in everything I have accomplished,” Reynolds said. “She managed the golf shop and was a great partner, adviser, and mentor to much of my staff. She was universally loved and respected by the members and all of her customers.”
While at Hartford, Reynolds launched and conducted innovative programs such as Festival of Golf, Lunch with the Pro, and Walk with the Pro. In 2005, the club named a prestigious member-member tournament the “Reynolds Classic,” the only time in its 125-year history that an event has been named after its professional.
Reynolds’ service to the Section included being President (1993-94), Vice President (1989-92), committee member on employment (2005, 2009-10), scholarship (2013-14) and special awards (2002), and a member of the board of directors (1985-88, 2001-04). He also was the PGA of America District I Director from 2001-04, when he contributed to the roll-out and implementation of the PGA of America’s strategic vision, “PGA 2011.”
Reynolds was also a co-founding director of the Connecticut Section PGA Golf Foundation and served as Foundation President from 1995-1996 and still serves as a Director. The Foundation helps fund golf programs that serve youth, Veterans, and disabled and developmentally challenged individuals in Connecticut and Western Massachusetts. He became a prolific fundraiser by conducting an annual golf marathon alongside his assistant professional, raising more than $230,000. He also created the PGA Foundation Charity Classic at Hartford in 2010 that has raised more than $325,000. The Foundation has now awarded more than $1,165,000 to their beneficiaries.
Reynolds was a founding member of The First Tee of Hartford that morphed into The First Tee of Connecticut. He has been a member of The First Tee’s board of directors since 2002 and a part of the task force responsible for the creation of a home site at TPC River Highlands, Cromwell, CT, a learning center, and four-hole “short” course.
Starting in 2014, Reynolds played a significant role as a Section consultant in helping the recovery and restoration of two severely neglected courses in Hartford; Keney Park and Goodwin Park. He was part of a unique and historic relationship between a city and a PGA Section.
One of Reynolds’ major duties in semi-retirement has been the head of a 25-person committee that worked on a year-long odyssey in 2014 on the nomination of Suzy Whaley as the first female officer in the PGA of America. He obviously did a stellar job on his speech in Indianapolis, Ind., as Whaley beat two male opponents with more than 50 percent of the vote on the first ballot, a rarity on both fronts. Reynolds also gave the nominating speech for Whaley before she became president in 2018, and helped Derek Sprague and Jim Remy become PGA of America presidents.
“Gary’s induction is the pinnacle of a PGA member’s career,” said Whaley, “His leadership, service, mentorship, acumen, and passion demonstrate his commitment to the advancement of the game and to all that cross his path.”
“On a personal note, as the leader of my campaign to become an officer of the PGA of America, Gary’s tireless work, support, and total belief in my abilities led me to holding office. He is an incredible man who sees ability and passion over gender. As a cherished friend, we consider him a member of our family. We are so proud to call him a Hall of Famer.”
Reynolds credited his success to several professional mentors, including Hantke, Foundation Co-Founder Frank Selva, and Dick Stranahan at Longmeadow.
Section President Howie Friday, the head pro at Stanley Golf Course in New Britain, said Reynolds’ induction is a no-brainer.
“Gary Reynolds is the consummate golf professional,” Friday said. “He has been a mentor/friend to me and countless other PGA professionals. His work with our Foundation will leave a lasting legacy and will help countless people have better lives for years to come. I can think of no more deserving person to enter the PGA Hall of Fame.”
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About the Connecticut State Golf Association
The Connecticut State Golf Association functions as an extension of the USGA and provides stewardship for amateur golf in Connecticut. Founded in 1899, it is the country’s oldest state golf association and conducts over 60 Championships, Qualifiers, and One Day Tournaments throughout the year.