Joe Starzec of Pine Orchard Yacht & Country Club Named Connecticut Section PGA Golf Professional of the Year
Section announces 11 Special Award Recipients for 2022

By Bruce Berlet

SOUTH GLASTONBURY, Conn. (August 25, 2022) – Talk about going out on top.

Joe Starzec is retiring this year after nearly a half-century at Pine Orchard Yacht & Country Club in Branford, and he’ll be heading to his rocking chair with the Connecticut Section PGA’s highest honor, the Golf Professional of the Year Award.

“What a great way to end your career — with the pinnacle of awards in the organization,” Starzec said.

During his more than four decades at Pine Orchard, Starzec has been the driving force behind a successful golf program, with his service to the membership always his top priority.

“Why change when you have the best people and the best setting on the shoreline,” Starzec said when asked about serving the membership.

“I want to make sure they have the most enjoyable, relaxing and first-class experience each time they come to the course,” said Starzec, who lives in Branford with wife Linda. “I’ve had so many memorable moments, but special ones were taking our Pine Orchard team to the Oldsmobile Scramble in Houston, Texas, and the growth of the Pine Orchard junior program through the years.”

“I’ve been honored to work with juniors, then their kids and, in some cases, now their grandchildren,” Starzec said. “These people are more than members, they are like family.”

As a kid, Starzec played baseball, but golf was a focus in his family. He played with his father at the Valley Hi Country Club in Elk Grove, Calif., and his uncle, Stan Starzec, was the golf professional at Pine Orchard and recruited Joe to work for him during the summer.

“Joe has had a long and storied career at Pine Orchard,” said Connecticut Section president Howie Friday, the head pro at Stanley Golf Course in New Britain. “He has served the membership for well over 40 years, and he has been the consummate golf professional who is respected by his peers. I wish him all the best in his upcoming retirement.”

Starzec has had an active role in many Section events and served in various capacities — executive board member, rules official at junior tournaments, provided New Haven Green golf lessons for inner-city children for multiple years, served on the Section PGA Membership Committee, hosted PGA Junior Tour and Connecticut State Golf Association junior qualifiers and participated in teaching and educational seminars.

Starzec’s multitude of activities and successes led to him being named Section PGA Merchandiser of the Year for private courses in 1980, receiving the Player Development Award in 2016 and now the Section’s No. 1 honor.

Starzec has also always encouraged his assistants to take part in all PGA Assistants tournaments and programs and has mentored many assistants, encouraging them to grow in the profession. Some of his many assistants have included: Terry Crimmins, head pro at Nehoiden Golf Club in Newton, Wellesley, Mass.; Archie Cart, vice president of operations, Troon Golf; Matt Benton, Old Marsh Country Club in West Palm Beach, Fla..; Dave Stewart, Lexington Oaks Golf Club in Wesley Chapel, Fla., Todd Ogborn, Sleepy Hollow Country Club in Scarborough, N.Y.; and Zach Parker, recently named one of Golf Digest’s Top 100 Best Young Teachers.

Other Connecticut Section award recipients announced are Sue Cart, Stonington C.C., Teacher and Coach of the Year; Brian Keiser, Longmeadow (Mass.) C.C., Professional Development; Bobby Brown, Tashua Knolls G.C., Youth Player Development; Jason Gobleck, Golf Center at Lyman Orchards, Player Development; Mike Svab, Norwich G.C., Merchandiser of the Year-Public; Brad Lusenhop, Country Club of Waterbury, Merchandise of the Year-Private; Frank Carta, Madison C.C., Bill Strausbaugh Award; Dan Malarney, PGA Life Member, Patriot Award; Josh Carney, Manchester C.C., Assistant Professional of the Year; and Chris Catapane, Sales Representative of the Year.

Starzec and the award winners will be recognized at a private ceremony at Pine Orchard on a date to be announced.