Ahrnsbrak, Mike (2019)

About Ahrnsbrak, Mike (2019)

Michael Ahrnsbrak’s esteemed forty-year golf career earned him the Hall of Fame recognition by the Middle Atlantic PGA.   His contributions to education, leadership and administration in the Section began as a young Assistant Professional first at Leesburg Golf and Country Club, then Woodmont Country Club, and culminated in election by his peers as one of the PGA of America’s fourteen District Directors.   Throughout Mike’s tenure in the Section he served, as a Head Professional at Shenandoah Valley (1985-1999), followed by a number of years in management and organizational consulting, then returning to the Head Professional and General Manager ranks at Musket Ridge (2003-2006), Blue Ridge Shadows (2003-2016) and Lexington Country Club (2017-2018).  Mike is currently the GM/COO at Pine Valley Country Club in Wilmington, North Carolina.

Originally from Seattle, the son of a US Navy Chaplain, Mike started swinging golf clubs quite early, maybe only a year old.  His father’s naval career meant many moves for the family, so his first golf memory is caddying, actually pulling the cart, for his father in Rhode Island, before moves to San Diego, then Florida, and attending high school at four different locations, including Florida, New Jersey, Missouri and Virginia.  Though baseball was a first love, eventually golf became the prime interest.  During a short stay in Missouri, he played against Payne Stewart in junior and high school competitions, and in 1971 won the Missouri State Junior title.  Then in Virginia at Herndon HS, he lost the District High School Championship by one shot to fellow inductee Wayne DeFrancesco.  After attending Rollins College, Mike turned professional and secured an assistant’s position to Billy Pearl at Leesburg Golf and Country Club.  Soon thereafter, he won a Pro-Am at Goose Creek.  Before becoming a Head Professional he was schooled by Hall of Fame member Tony Marlowe as an Assistant Professional at Woodmont.

The “service” relationship in the MAPGA began with an Assistant Directorship in the Junior Golf Academy in 1979, followed by becoming Director in 1981.   The membership elected him MAPGA A-8 Director in 1982.  As a significant member of the Section, he first earned Assistant Professional of the Year honors in 1983.   Within the Central Chapter, Mike moved up through the leadership ranks from Tournament Chair, Vice President and then President.  His contributions to education earned him the Horton Smith Award in 1990.  He followed that with a Merchandiser of the Year (Resort) Award in 1991.   Under MAPGA President and Hall of Fame member, Allen Wronowski, he was appointed the Chair of the Employment Committee.  Mike was named MAPGA Professional of the Year in 1992, the Section’s highest active honor.  Once he won election to the MAPGA Section Secretary position in 1992, Vice President (1994-95) and President (1996-1997) ensued.   After moving through the ranks to the MAPGA Section Presidency, Mike Ahrnsbrak earned the highest distinction from his colleagues when they elected him to serve on the PGA National Board of Directors as the District 10 Director in 2010, a three-year term.

In 1997, the Dewar’s Virginia Hall of Fame for Virginia Golf Professionals named him as one of their own.  Additionally, his credits include a Golf Digest “Beat Teacher in Virginia” recognition in 2000; and an “America’s Top 100 Golf Shops” by Golf Shop Operators Magazine in 1991.   Also, he hosted at the National level a “Seminar and Social for Non-PGA and Developing Golf Facilities.”

As a leader in the Section, Mike foremost accomplishments include a major role in bringing on Colonel Dick Johns as Executive Director, and Jon Guhl as Assistant Executive Director in 1995.  He followed up as a team member that created the MAPGA “Superfund” that eventually paid for the purchase of land and the construction of an office complex unmatched throughout the PGA Section communities, replete with conference rooms, museum and library.

As a player, he earned his way into qualifying for five PGA Club Professional Championships, now deemed the Professional National Championship.  Mike has won at least one section event in each decade of his career.  Additionally, he played in the 1985 PGA Tour stop in Washington, the Kemper Open, and then the 1992 Anheuser Busch Classic and the 1994 Nike Tour Dominion Open.

Influences on his career and good work beyond his parents who introduced him to the game and championed his passion, are major figures in MAPGA circles, many of whom are Hall of Fame members, notably Bill Pearl, Carl Rasnic, Tony Marlowe, David Wortman, Bill Strausbaugh, Hank Majewski and Jim Folks.