Bob Beach, PGA head professional at Braintree (Mass.) Municipal Golf Course, who for nearly two decades has been a lead instructor in the New England PGA Section for teaching golf to the physically challenged, has been named recipient of the 2013 Patriot Award.
He was honored Nov. 23 at the 97th PGA Annual Meeting at the Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina. In addition, the Tennessee PGA Section was presented the Herb Graffis Award for exemplary contributions to Player Development.
Beach, 60, is a 28-year member of The PGA of America, and is the first member of the New England PGA Section to receive the Patriot Award.
Originated in 2008, the Patriot Award is presented by The PGA of America to PGA Professionals who personify patriotism through the game of golf and demonstrate unwavering commitment and dedication to the men and women who have valiantly served and protected the United States of America.
“I am honored for this recognition and to represent New England PGA members, along with all the volunteers who I have met through the years working with our veterans,” said Beach, who began supporting a Vietnam Veteran Tournament at Braintree Municipal in 1991. “I want to tell my fellow PGA members how lucky I am to be able to help our veterans through golf. It is such a rewarding experience. I have found it wonderful to work with the veterans and their families.”
Beach said that his attending the 2011 PGA Teaching & Coaching Summit in Orlando, Fla., had “a major influence” on his working with the physically challenged. During that Summit, former Patriot Award recipient Jim Estes of Olney, Md., and veteran Tim Lang of Ann Arbor, Mich., appeared in a teaching segment. “Witnessing that segment of the Summit really got me excited,” said Beach, who also said that his teaching was elevated by his work with PGA/LPGA Professional Judy Alvarez of Palm City, Fla., a national trainer for the physically challenged.
Born in Watertown, Mass., Beach attended Norwich University in Northfield, Vt. The son of a World War II Air Force veteran, Beach began caddying and playing golf at age 13, learning the game at Oakley Country Club in Watertown. He later earned a Francis Ouimet Scholarship.
Beach turned professional and assisted at Braintree Municipal through 1979. From 1980-81, he worked at New England PGA summer camps, and from 1982 through 1990 at the Newton (Mass.) Commonwealth Golf Course. He was elected to PGA membership in 1985, and in 1991, he became PGA head professional at Braintree Municipal.
His New England PGA Section honors include receiving the 1996 PGA Junior Golf Leader Award; the 2005 Teacher of the Year; the 2007 President’s Plaque; the 2008 Golf Professional of the Year; the 2009, ’11 and ’12 Horton Smith Award for contributions to PGA education; and the 2012 Patriot Award.
In 2008-09, Beach and his wife, Cathleen, donated golf balls, clubs, golf shirts and golf hats to Lt. Col. Gerry Hart of Westwood, Mass., and his command in Iraq. Hart returned from Iraq to visit Braintree Municipal and thank the Beach family. Since 2010, Beach and his wife have assembled care packs that include golf clubs and balls for troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Beach remains one of the most sought-after New England golf instructors for individuals with disabilities. He challenges those who do not believe that they can play golf.
“I am no expert when it comes to teaching the physically challenged, but rather someone who continues to learn with my students,” said Beach. “We continue to work and to improvise to help make their golf experience the best. I encourage all PGA Professionals to get out of their comfort zone and get certification for teaching accessible golf.” Beach did this in 2012 by completing a course offered by Penn State University.
Beach served from 2009 through 2012 on the national PGA Disabled Golf Committee, continuing his advocacy for helping veterans and all with disabilities. In 2012, Beach conducted 46 free golf clinics, incorporating New England PGA Professionals, to provide instruction for veterans and disabled veterans at four locations in Massachusetts and one in Rhode Island.
Beach and his wife, Cathleen, live in Braintree, and are parents of a son, John; and a daughter, Anne.