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Two San Ramon Valley golf professionals win NorCal PGA awards

Balfour earns Youth Player Development Award; Watanabe is Assistant Apprentice Player of the Year

Two San Ramon Valley golf professionals were singled out with top recognition among their peers earlier this month, taking home honors during the Northern California PGA's annual Section Awards.

Shane Balfour, golf administrator and executive director of the Junior Golf Association of Northern California in Danville, received the Youth Player Development Award, and the Assistant Apprentice Player of the Year honor went to PGA teaching professional Steve Watanabe Jr. of The Bridges Golf Club in San Ramon.

The Youth Player Development Award recognizes PGA professionals who provide opportunities for juniors to learn and play the game of golf through coaching and education, according to NCPGA officials.

"Serving as a role model for my students is key," Balfour said. "Purposeful goals, whether they are short-term or long-term, are what guide my work with youth programs in the association and also out in the community."

Balfour and Watanabe joined 19 recipients from across Northern California and Nevada honored during the NCPGA's Special Awards and President's Dinner on Dec. 4 at Lake Merced Golf Club in Daly City.

Two other winners came from the Tri-Valley: Eric Jones, PGA director of instruction at the Eric Jones Golf Academy in Pleasanton, received the 2016 Horton Smith Award. And Brett Faulkner, PGA head professional of Castlewood Country Club in Pleasanton, was named the 2016 Private Merchandiser of the Year.

The evening's top award, Golf Professional of the Year, went to Stuart Smith, PGA director of golf at Somersett Golf & Country Club in Reno, Nevada.

Some of the other awards included Player of the Year, Teacher of the Year, Club Fitter of the Year and Sales Representative of the Year.

Other California winners hailed from golf clubs or organizations in communities such as Napa, San Francisco, San Martin, Valley Springs, Graeagle, Newcastle, Vacaville, Los Altos, Monterey and Auburn. All Nevada winners work in Reno.

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