Sports Briefs: Baiting Hollow golf pro wins award

COURTESY PHOTO | PGA president Allen Wronowski, left, presenting the Patriot Award to John Hines.

GOLF: Baiting Hollow pro receives Patriot Award John Hines, the PGA head professional at Baiting Hollow Club, was presented last week with the 2011 Patriot Award. The Middle Island man, who born into a family of military veterans, was inspired by the message of Patriot Golf Day that ignited a passion to build a model local fund-raising campaign.

Hines, 53, a 14-year member of The PGA of America, is the first member of the metropolitan PGA section to receive the Patriot Award. He was honored at the 95th PGA Annual Meeting in Orlando, Fla.

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.

“My belief is that we need to make sure that we touch everyone we can,” Hines said. “Without those who sacrificed so much, where would we be? The least that we can do is to make sure we reach out our hand to help those they have left behind.”

The PGA of America president, Allen Wronowski, said: “Our 2011 national award winners reflect the best values and qualities of our association. By their career work, our recipients have left an impact among their section peers, their respective communities and influenced others throughout the country.”

Born in Queens and raised in Port Jefferson, Hines attended Flagler College in St. Augustine, Fla., and turned professional in 1979. He began his golf career that year by taking an assistant professional position at Harbor Hills Country Club in Port Jefferson. From 1981 to 1982 he served as first assistant professional at Colonie Hill Golf Club in Islip, and competed from 1981 to 1989 on the Space Coast Tour in Florida. Hines served as a PGA assistant professional at Crab Meadow Golf Club in Huntington from 1988 to 1989.

He spent a five-year period in private business, and returned to the golf industry in 1994 at the former Fox Hill Golf Club, which is now Baiting Hollow Club. In 1997, he earned PGA membership and was named PGA director of golf at Baiting Hollow Club.

Over the past 11 years, Hines has battled from the effects of chronic rheumatoid arthritis, which sidelined him from an active competitive career.

Hines served on the national PGA Education Committee and since 2010 has been a member of the PGA Disabled Golfers Committee. He was the recipient of the Metropolitan PGA Horton Smith Award in 2008, and the 2010 Section Patriot Award. He is the son of a retired Marine; has a son-in-law who is a retired member of the Army, who served three tours in Iraq; a nephew who served two tours of duty in the Persian Gulf and has two uncles in the Marine Corps, one who served on the Color Guard in Washington, D.C.

“I was accepting a Horton Smith Award at our Metropolitan PGA Meeting the same day that Major Dan Rooney’s video address was played,” Hines said of that 2008 meeting. “When he gave his speech about the origin of Patriot Golf Day, I was sitting with my two sons in the audience. It lit a nerve. With my family having so many veterans, it was something that touched me deeply. Our family service record goes back to World War I, and I had three uncles, and my dad, who served in World War II. We have had someone from the family serving in every conflict since World War I.”

For Hines, there was no hesitancy to deliver his passion to his club members at Baiting Hollow Club and to the Metropolitan PGA Section board of directors. In 2009, the section raised nearly $125,000, the largest increase in Patriot Golf Day contributions and largest per capita total that year. In 2010, the total funds raised reached nearly $170,000.

Baiting Hollow Club raised $20,000 in 2009, and boosted the fund-raising efforts to a $35,000 total a year later. That year’s Patriot Golf Day event featured 40 veterans, with 40 playing golf in the event, including honoring veterans from World War II through the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Some of the veterans arrived in a Blackhawk helicopter, two Humvees, and two armored personnel carriers. Hines partnered with Brig. Gen. Raymond Doyle, and together they inspired a four-member scramble event, where Baiting Hollow Club members played with a veteran at an entry fee of $125.

Hines encouraged the Metropolitan PGA to host Rooney, along with a family representative that had lost a spouse in service, and whose children received Folds of Honor scholarships.

The future for supporting our veterans through golf, Hines said, is just beginning. “We can all do more, and develop a national tournament to take care of them.”

AUTO RACING: Raceway champions awarded Justin Bonsignore’s off-season of accolades continued Sunday afternoon when he was officially crowned the 2011 Riverhead Raceway NASCAR Modified champion for the Whelen All-American Series in an awards ceremony in Center Moriches.

Aside from the NASCAR Modified championship trophies Bonsignore received, he also took home the Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Long Island Driver’s Cup, becoming the 11th driver in its history to do so. Following Justin in the standings last season were John Fortin, John Beatty Jr., Wayne Anderson and Shawn Solomito. Jason Agugliaro was named the rookie of the year while Chris Young took home the honor for the best appearing car.

Also honored among the parade of champions were: Mike Bologna took his first career late model title by virtue of a tiebreaker on the final night of racing, Arne Pedersen (Figure Eight), Chris Turbush (Charger), Tommy Walkowiak (Blunderbust), Dave Koenig (Super Pro Truck), Chris Young (Legend Race Car) and James Kilkenny (Demolition Derby).

HUNTING: DEC safety courses Two separate two-day programs on bow hunter safety and hunting safety will be offered in March and April by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s Sportsman Education unit.

The bow hunter safety course will be offered on March 17 and 18 and the hunter safety course will be offered on April 14 and 15 at the Peconic River Sportsman’s Club in Manorville. Both events are being sponsored by the DEC’s Sportsman Education unit, the New York State Conservation Officers Association and the Peconic River Sportsman’s Club.

“Hunting and fishing are an important part of Long Island’s heritage, and we are very fortunate that our region offers a multitude of diverse and rewarding recreational opportunities,” the DEC Region One director, Peter Scully, said. “DEC applauds our local sportsmen and women, the Conservation Officers Association and the Peconic River Sportsman’s Club for their tireless work towards the protection of our environment and natural resources. The 2012 youth conservation program is the perfect way to introduce children to hunting ethics and to teach them how to be responsible hunters.”

Each class is limited to 40 participants and selections are made by a panel that reviews a 75-word application.

Participants who successfully complete the program will receive their hunter education training certificate or bow hunter education training certificate. These certificates are required in order to purchase a hunting license.

Enrollment in the class is open to all boys and girls between the ages of 12 and 16 who have not yet taken either their hunter education or bow hunter education course.

For more information or to register for one or both of these sessions, contact the DEC Sportsman Education office at (631) 444-0255. A link to the application for these programs can be found at: