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Fleming Island golf pro gets top award

From PGA Golf
Posted 12/31/69

ORLANDO - Fleming Island resident and former teaching pro at Eagle Harbor Golf Club Stephanie Connelly-Eiswerth, now a PGA/LPGA Teaching Professional at San Jose Country Club in ​​Jacksonville, …

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Fleming Island golf pro gets top award


Posted

ORLANDO - Fleming Island resident and former teaching pro at Eagle Harbor Golf Club Stephanie Connelly-Eiswerth, now a PGA/LPGA Teaching Professional at San Jose Country Club in ​​Jacksonville, Florida, enjoyed a standout 2023 while collecting 938.83 points to win her first national Women’s PGA Professional Player of the Year Award.

“I played really solid all year,” said Connelly-Eiswerth, who played college golf at Ohio State and the University of Central Florida.“It feels good to have that accomplishment and I’m really thankful to have the opportunity to play the game that we work in and love so much.”

The Professional Player of the Year Award, according to Connelly-Eiswerth, is competition among golf professionals like herself.

"Most of the players are professional in the sense that we work for a living doing something with golf like me being a golf teaching professional or golf course management," she said. "We just stay competitive with our peers and keep score and at the end of the year, someone wins."

Connelly-Eiswerth, 36, who was a Maryland high school state champion three times, then won the New Buckeye Award in 2006 as the top freshman golfer for Ohio State after being named All Big-10 Conference, set the tone for a successful season with a runner-up finish in the Women’s Stroke Play event at the PGA Winter Championships in February.

“I got to Eagle Harbor after I transferred from Ohio State to the University of Central Florida and just stayed here because the weather was nice,” said Connelly-Eiswerth, who has won at golf since age 11 with a Mid-Atlantic PGA Player of the Year award in 1998, then the Maryland Junior Golf Champion in 1999 in 13-Under play. “I stayed one winter and practiced at Orange Park and I just never left.”

Connelly-Eiswerth finished T-34 in the 2023 PGA Professional Championship and later made her fifth consecutive appearance in the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship in June.

Connelly-Eiswerth did have a stint as a professional golfer in what was known as the Epsom tour.

"It's kind of like the Korn Ferry tour that they have now," said Connelly-Eiswerth. "I got to the University of North Florida for a few years and, this year, I've been teaching for about four years in the area."

She claimed North Florida PGA Women’s Player of the Year honors following a T-2 finish at the NFPGA Section Championship and a runner-up finish at the NFPGA Professional Championship. Connelly-Eiswerth finished her final round with a 69 score off four birdies in the final nine holes.

Connelly-Eiswerth finished 2023 on a high note by recording a historic victory at the PGA Tournament Series Event No. 1, becoming the first woman to win a PGA Tournament Series event in its 46-year history. Connelly-Eiswerth shot a final-round 4-under par 67 (10-under 132) on the Ryder Course at PGA Golf Club en route to a one-shot victory.

Connelly-Eiswerth prides herself on being a “grinder” and taking advantage of her strengths: hitting it straight and a strong short game.

“I never count myself out of it,” said Connelly-Eiswerth. “I’m always going to keep fighting and that was the theme of the year, give myself chances and even if I didn’t have success at each tournament until the end of the year, it worked out, that patience and sticking with the grind.”

Her advice to up-and-coming golfers, like Fleming Island's state champion Tyler Mawhinney and, on the girl's team, Alyzabeth Morgan, is to, first, love the game, and, second, just keep practicing and learning.

"The technology today is incredible in the faster advancement of young golfers," said Connelly-Eiswerth. "Just the conditioning and fitness level of kids today makes for better golfers, but you still have to hit the ball 100 times a day."

Also winning awards from the PGA were Michael Block, the PGA Head Professional at Arroyo Trabuco Golf Club in California, as the PGA Professional Player of the Year Award and Bob Soward of Ohio, who won the Senior PGA Professional Player of the Year Award.