Cheryl Anderson is Teacher of the Year, Melissa Hatten is Professional of the Year, Kelley Hester is Coach of the Year and Megan Younkman is Junior Golf Leader of the Year
DAYTONA BEACH, Fl., (October 5, 2023) – The LPGA Professionals announced today the following members as winners of the 2023 national awards in acknowledgement of their dedication and achievements: Cheryl Anderson of the Mike Bender Golf Academy in Lake Mary, FL, Teacher of the Year; Melissa Hatten from Talisker Club in Kamas, UT, Professional of the Year; Kelley Hester of Clemson University in Clemson, SC, Coach of the Year; and Megan Younkman of Bethpage Black Golf Courses in Farmingdale, New York, Junior Golf Leader of the Year.
The national award winners were selected by the LPGA Professionals membership’s Executive Committee from the pool of Section Award winners voted on by officers of the six regional sections: Central, International, Midwest, Northeast, Southeast and Western.
Cheryl Anderson, Teacher of the Year
The LPGA established the National Teacher of the Year Award in 1958. This award is given annually to the female golf professional who has demonstrated outstanding accomplishments related to the teaching of golf during the year.
This is Cheryl Anderson’s second time being recognized as the LPGA’s National Teacher of the Year. She has been an LPGA Class A Professional for more than 25 years. After working at private clubs in New York, she moved to Florida, serving for more than 15 years as the Director of Instruction with the Mike Bender Golf Academy where she enjoys the challenge of working with every level golfer from beginners to touring professionals.
She runs successful programs for all ages and levels of golfers, including LPGA*USGA Girls Golf, Get Golf Ready, and LPGA Golf 101 clinics for women wanting to learn the game. She was nominated for the LPGA’s Sandy LaBauve Award in 2020 for bringing in the women’s NJCAA championship team from Seminole State College to serve as role models for her Girls Golf program. Also, inspired by her daughter, Anderson developed her own program, iCan GOLF, for athletes with special needs.
Her teaching has been strongly influenced by her very successful playing career which has included qualifying for six LPGA Tour tournaments while a full-time teacher. She is the only five-time Metropolitan PGA Section Women's Player of the Year. In 2021, she finished 17th in the U.S. Women's Senior Open and shot 32, one of the lowest 9-hole scores in tournament history. Her playing background has greatly influenced her journey to mastery and has helped her improve diagnosing issues in her students' games, train a new motor pattern, put the skill under pressure in practice, and, finally, transfer it to the course so the student has ingrained it.
It is easy to see why her teaching schedule is always full. Anderson has always been passionate about growing the game, and has the numbers prove it. She has helped coach more than 170 juniors who have gone on to earn college golf scholarships. In 2022, she introduced 30 new women to the game, increased memberships at the academy by 15 percent, and had many of her students commit to the academy’s full-time elite training program.
In addition to her demanding teaching schedule, she serves in leadership roles within the industry. She is active on both the LPGA’s National Education Committee, and the PGA’s National Education Committee. Her passion for sharing her knowledge has led her to spend the last year writing the junior chapter for the LPGA Teaching Manual, while hosting shadowing days for dozens of professionals and serving as a mentor in the LPGA Southeast Section program.
Anderson was previously named the LPGA National Teacher of the Year in 2006. She is included in every major teacher ranking including Golf Digest's 50 Best Teachers in America, Golf Magazine's Top 100 Teachers in America, and the LPGA’s Top 50 Women Teachers. She was awarded the North Florida PGA Teacher and Coach of the Year two years in a row in 2021 and 2022. She was also named the Metropolitan PGA's Teacher and Coach of the Year in 2007. She is currently one of only three women to be included on both Top Instructor lists for Golf Digest and Golf Magazine.
“For the past three decades, I’ve been very proud of my LPGA membership. Countless teachers and competitors in the organization have shaped my career in so many positive ways,” remarked Anderson. “The LPGA has consistently provided me with quality education to help me hone my craft. To be chosen a second time by the organization for National Teacher of the Year is a pinnacle honor for me. I hope in some small way I’m able to inspire the next generation of LPGA Professionals the way I was inspired by the previous generation.”
Melissa Hatten, Professional of the Year
The LPGA Professional of the Year Award was established in 1980 and is awarded annually to an LPGA Professionals member primarily engaged in a golf operation, golf association, or industry position, promoting the game through player development, growth of the game initiatives, and other golf-related activities.
Melissa Hatten has been an LPGA Class A Professional since 2007 having spent the last 22 years in the golf industry across eight different states and is currently the Head Golf Professional at Talisker Club in Park City, Utah. She is one of the few women in the country appointed to the role of Head Golf Professional and she is making her impact.
With her extensive background in operations, tournaments, merchandising, teaching, and playing, Hatten has had the opportunity to work at top clubs across the country. Her commitment to continuing to improve her skillset is evident as she is one of only 99 professionals certified in Golf Genius Tournament Software. Her understanding of logistics and her attention to detail have contributed to the operational success while her creativity and approachability have led to growth on the lesson tee as well, resulting in a 10% increase in club participation.
She prides herself on giving her clients an unparalleled level of customer service and high-quality golf instruction by creating a fun, welcoming atmosphere for all golfers. Her player development programs have grown in participation by 50% and her clinics are in high demand with waiting lists to join.
Hatten has excelled in her career due to her strong commitment to communication and relationship building with both staff and members. She combines a coaching leadership style with a lead by example model in team development inspiring the team to be better. She believes that listening, the art of delegating, and being a strategic forward thinker are the skills that make her an effective leader.
Outside of her daily responsibilities at Talisker, Hatten is focused on giving back to the organizations that have supported her throughout her career. She has been an instructor at LPGA Lesson Zones and currently serves as the Vice President of the Central Section of the LPGA. Hatten is a dual member of the PGA and LPGA and was recently selected to be a member of PGA Lead Cohort VIII, a PGA National Leadership Development Program. She also volunteered as a mentor within the Florida Gulf Coast Professionals Golf Management Program to help open doors within the industry.
“Being named LPGA Professional of the Year is a culmination of many years of hard work, and this award is a testament to the support my family, friends, amazing mentors, members, the LPGA, TaylorMade Golf and Talisker Club have given me over the years,” expressed Hatten. “This award is even more special with the number of talented professionals within the LPGA membership. My life goal is not just to make a difference but to BE the difference, and I am excited for my future, and the future of both golf and the LPGA.”
Kelley Hester, Coach of the Year
The LPGA Professionals Coach of the Year Award was established in 1980 and is awarded annually to an LPGA Professionals member who is actively engaged in teaching and/or coaching golf at the collegiate or high school level.
LPGA Professionals Class A member Kelley Hester has spent the last 25 years of her life coaching college golf, selflessly putting her athletes ahead of herself. Taking an honorable approach to her work, Hester’s goal is to be an athlete-centered coach who encourages a growth mindset in her students, ultimately allowing her program to be student-led. With a strong focus on culture, she strives to build a strong team of like-minded players who fully support one another.
Starting in 1998, Hester began her coaching career at Mercer University before moving to other universities. She started UNLV’s golf program and went on to serve as Head Coach at the University of Arkansas, the University of Georgia, and Furman University before landing her current role at Clemson University. After seven years of coaching there, the women’s golf team won their first-ever ACC Championship in the 2022-23 season.
This year, the Clemson University Women’s Golf Team improved in overall stroke average across the board, firing 18 rounds of 68 or better, and saw team players compete at the highest levels including the Canadian Open and LPGA Dow Team Championship. With such notable accomplishments under her belt, Hester was voted the 2023 ACC Coach of the Year by her peers.
She is an engaged member of the LPGA and plays an active role in leadership as a member of the LPGA Membership Growth Committee since 2021. For the last three years, Hester has hosted the LPGA Coaching Seminar. In 2022 and 2023 she organized the Clemson LIFE golf clinic for intellectually challenged students. She also coached at the LPGA Leadership Academy in New Jersey in 2022 and 2023.
“I am truly humbled to be named the LPGA National Coach of the Year. There are so many worthy coaches out there and I feel blessed to be honored,” said Hester. “The players on my team at Clemson as well as our entire support staff work incredibly hard to represent Clemson Women’s Golf. We enjoyed a banner year at Clemson, and they deserve all the credit. The LPGA has been so good to me, and I cherish every minute of my time spent serving junior and college golfers as well as fellow LPGA members who join me in the coaching ranks."
Megan Younkman, Junior Golf Leader of the Year
The LPGA Professionals Junior Golf Leader of the Year Award was established in 2012 and is awarded annually to an LPGA Professionals member who excels in teaching and promoting golf for juniors.
Megan Younkman, LPGA Class A Professional, serves as the Director of Instruction at the renowned Bethpage Black Golf Courses and the Golf Channel Academy with Kelley Brooke in Farmingdale, New York. She is also a managing partner of the Montauk Downs State Park Golf Course in Montauk, New York. Prior, Megan owned and operated her golf schools in Tampa Bay, Florida from 2003-2018.
Younkman got her start in golf at age 14 and led her high school team to two back-to-back state championships as the team captain. After ranking 8th in the State of Ohio, she went on to play collegiate golf for The Ohio State University and The University of Toledo. She has since dedicated her career to providing accessibility to golf courses and practice facilities while coaching as many junior golfers as possible.
Through her role as a teacher, Younkman runs a Junior Golf Development Academy, a Virtual Junior Golf Program, Junior Summer Golf Camps, an LPGA*USGA Girls Golf program as well as a PGA Jr. League Program. One of her proudest moments came in 2019, when her PGA Jr. League U13 Team made it all the way to the National Championship, even appearing on ESPN. In 2023, that same group came back together, now as an U17 team, and won the same opportunity.
Under her leadership since 2019, junior golf participation at her facility has increased over 100%, staff size increased, broadening capacity and allowing for internships for future teachers, and overall revenue growth has allowed the Golf Channel Academy to expand. It’s no surprise, she was an LPGA Top 50 Teacher in 2022 and 2023.
She plays an active role in LPGA leadership as a member of the LPGA Global Education Team. She was appointed to serve on the LPGA’s Executive Education Committee in 2019 and served as the Chair of the National Continuing Education Committee from 2014-2018. She has also served as an instructor at the LPGA Leadership Academies and the LPGA Lesson Zones.
“I am so honored to receive this award while representing this prestigious organization! Teaching junior golf was my first love and continues to be 27 years later,” stated Younkman. “Young players are learning life lessons through golf’s motor. I absolutely love creating paths for them to succeed and enjoy this front-row seat supporting their successes in both life and golf! What an incredible honor.”