The LPGA Professionals announced today the following members as winners of the 2022 national awards in acknowledgement of their dedication and achievements: Gia Liwski, Fiddler’s Elbow Country Club & Golf Experiences for Her® in Bedminster, NJ, Teacher of the Year; Marissa Kulig Crow, Lyman Orchards Golf Club in Middlefield, CT, Professional of the Year; Debbie Williams-Hoak, Saline High School in Saline, MI, Coach of the Year; and Satomi Sugiyama in Tokyo, Japan, 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.
Teacher of the Year, Gia Liwski
The LPGA established the National Teacher of the Year Award in 1958. The award is given annually to the female golf professional who has demonstrated outstanding accomplishments related to the teaching of golf during the year.
Liwski has been an LPGA Professionals Class A member since 2001, and she is currently a teaching professional at the Fiddler’s Elbow Country Club in Bedminster, NJ. She has been teaching golf for more than 20 years helping countless students improve their game. While looking to better serve her clients in 2016, she founded Golf Experiences For Her®, an enterprise focused on golf and lifestyle-centered events created to break down the “golf is so challenging” mentality and to help women gain the confidence to accept their next golf invitation while discovering fun in the game.
She consistently works to find ways to combine her life’s passions of mentorship and entrepreneurship; and even after launching her business, Liwski has maintained her commitment to teaching. She prides herself on establishing a student-focused approach always creating a relaxed and open learning environment leaving her students confident and playing better.
With an impressive list of distinctions as a top golf instructor, Liwski has been nominated for the Nancy Lopez Award in 2021 and 2022. She was also recognized as an LPGA Top 50 Instructor from 2019-2023, consecutively. She was named Northeast Teacher of the Year in 2020 and was awarded Golf Digest Top 40 Under 40 in 2014 & 2015. She was among the top four in 2021 for Golf Digest Best of State (NJ) and was included among Golf Digest Best of State (NJ) from 2017 – 2021.
Liwski is heavily involved with the LPGA Professionals organization. She serves as the Chair of the LPGA National Media and Marketing Committee since 2020, spoke at the LPGA National Conference in 2021 and recently completed coaching at her sixth LPGA Leadership Academy.
“Winning the LPGA National Teacher of the Year is the highlight of my career,” said Liwski. “I am truly humbled to receive this recognition, particularly in light of all the great female instructors who I share this award with. It’s an honor to have been selected and it means the world to me.”
Professional of the Year, Marissa Kulig Crow
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.
Kulig Crow has been an LPGA Professionals Class A member since 2017 and has spent the last ten seasons as Director of Women’s Instruction at the Golf Center of Lyman Orchards in Middlefield, Conn, recognized as the #1 women’s program among the more than 100 programs that Troon Golf offers for women nationwide.
After more than 28 years in the golf business, Kulig Crow has held various positions ranging from greenskeeper, assistant golf professional, head golf professional, to General Manager and more.
As the creator of the Golf Fore Women program, she has helped over 5,400 women improve their golf game since 2013, reaching more than 2,000 female participants this year alone. She has established a student-centered methodology ensuring her students feel welcome and at ease from day one. Over the years, her programs have grown exponentially attracting more women to the game and even more qualified teaching professionals to her club generating four times the facility revenues since 2017. Her teaching program has become the main pipeline to the ladies’ golf league comprised of more than 280 female golfers who play more than 275 rounds per week.
She is also a certified Callaway Club Fitter, Frankly Golf Putting Instructor, CardioGolf Trainer and Katherine Robert’s Level I Yoga for Golfers Instructor, incorporating her eclectic skills into her clinics, individual instruction, and group classes. In her decades as a teaching professional, she served as a golf instructor for Jane Blalock’s Golf for Women Clinics for five seasons and instructed clinics for the Executive Women’s Golf Association (now LPGA Amateur Golf Association) for nine years between 2003-2012.
Outside of her responsibilities at Lyman Orchards, she is also an LPGA*USGA Girls Golf Site Director and donates her time to serve as a volunteer golf instructor for local afterschool junior programs.
Kulig Crow was most recently awarded the 2021 LPGA National Teacher of the Year. She was the recipient of the LPGA Northeast Teacher of the Year in 2019 and 2021. She also received the 2021 Golf Range Association of America Top 100 Growth of the Game Teaching Professionals and the 2021 Golf Fitness Association of America Award Winner.
“I’m speechless and in awe receiving this tremendous honor. To be chosen among the extremely talented, dedicated professionals within this wonderful organization makes me feel truly humbled,” expressed Kulig Crow. “I share this award with my facility Lyman Orchards, the most supportive General Manager, Jason Beffert, and my entire work family. I will continue to work hard, share our successes, and keep growing this great game we all love.”
Coach of the Year, Debbie Williams-Hoak
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 Debbie Williams-Hoak knows what it takes to compete at the highest levels. She is a former LPGA Tour Player and Track & Field athlete who represented U.S. Track and Field in Russia and West Germany. She is a 4 time Big Ten Champion, a member of the Ohio Track & Field Hall of Fame, University of Michigan Women’s Track Hall of Fame member and a member of the Michigan Golf Hall of fame as a player, coach and teaching professional. This year, she is being inducted into the University of Michigan Athletic Hall of Honor.
Having been a multi-sport athlete accustomed to competing at the highest level, Williams-Hoak brings something unique to her coaching style. She has successfully coached boys and girls golf for the past 16 years at Saline High School in Saline, Michigan, currently serving as the first female President of the Michigan Interscholastic Golf Coaches Association. Williams-Hoak feels proud that every girl on her team shot career lows while maintaining 100% academic eligibility this season, while her boys’ team placed 2nd in the Conference Championship and qualified for their 2nd straight State Finals appearance.
She is dedicated to instilling a lifelong love of the game while empowering students through golf and hopes her example will pave the way for other women coaches to lead as well.
Williams-Hoak received the 2017 Sandy LaBauve Spirit Award, the most coveted honor bestowed by LPGA*USGA Girls Golf, for her continued dedication and passion for empowering girls through golf. She was honored with the Midwest Youth Leader of the Year and Goldie Bateson Award winner two times, in addition to numerous recognitions as Coach of the Year from Saline High School.
She is deeply involved with the LPGA Professionals organization, where she currently serves as the LPGA Midwest Secretary since 2021. She has been Site Director for LPGA*USGA Girls Golf of Greater Washtenaw Country since 2015 and acted as an advisor for the Site Director Certification program in 2021. From 2018-2021, she worked as an Expert Committee member for LPGA*USGA Girls Golf. She also coached at the LPGA Leadership Academies in Michigan over the last two years.
“I am extremely humbled by this award, as there are so many outstanding LPGA coaches in our association. What an honor to represent the LPGA, the state of Michigan and the game of golf as a coach,” said Williams-Hoak. “It is a privilege to work with so many wonderful players who make coaching so rewarding. I am also fortunate to have such great fellow coaches in Michigan and throughout the LPGA. Thank you so much for this very special recognition.”
Junior Golf Leader of the Year, Satomi Sugiyama
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.
Satomi Sugiyama has been an LPGA Professionals Class A member since 2019. She is the Founder/CEO and Director of Instruction of the Sugiyama Global Education Inc. and Satomi Kids Golf Academy with three locations in Tokyo, Japan.
Sugiyama discovered her passion for golf when she first played at age 26. Three years later, she decided to leave her corporate job and dedicate herself to a one-of-a-kind program in Japan. She launched her first SNAG golf lessons in a dance studio for kids over the age of three and has spent the last 11 years teaching junior golf at elementary schools across Japan. She enrolled more than 824 students ages 6-12 in a year increasing the number of girls by 60% and helping to make the game more accessible to young children. She prides herself on the diverse makeup of her students and believes children growing up in Japan should live a spiritually rich social life respecting each other and celebrating language and cultural differences. Her golf academy was selected as one of the best junior golf schools in Japan in 2020 and 2021.
As Class A LPGA member, she was the first Japanese to obtain the following qualifications: U.S. Kids Golf Coach, the Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA) Double-Goal Coach, Little Golf T.R.A.I.N. certified Conductor, Colour Path Golf Certificate Coach, and CardioGolf Certified Trainer and Ambassador. She has been a Site Director for LPGA*USGA Girls Golf in since 2019 and completed her online certification in 2020. She spares no effort to educate children.
She keeps working to promote the many benefits of being an LPGA Professionals to the Japanese golf industry and has served as an official LPGA Ambassador in Japan from 2019-2020. In 2020, she won the LPGA Professionals International Section Junior Leader of the Year award.
”I am truly proud to be a part of this outstanding organization and am deeply honored to receive this prestigious award. I cannot tell you how much this recognition means to me,” said Sugiyama. “I would like to extend my eternal gratitude to everyone at the LPGA. I remain committed to contributing to the development of junior golf in Japan and around the world. I hope I can up to your expectations and further advance the success of such an amazing organization.”