Mass Golf | Celebrating Investment in the Game Award honorees

Nine Individuals Receive Financial Awards For Golf Workforce Advancement In Massachusetts

For Immediate Release: March 21, 2024

NORTON, Massachusetts – Mass Golf is excited to announce the initial recipients of the Investment in the Game Award, which provides funding for those connected to the association and are seeking to further their commitment and advancement in the business, management, operations, and/or administration of golf.

Merit-based awards have since been granted to nine qualified individuals, who have used the funding for opportunities such as turfgrass education, specialized workshops and seminars for club management, and adaptive golf cart services.

“We are extremely pleased with the initial group of award honorees,” said Eddie Cordeiro, who serves on the Board of Directors and the selection panel for the Investment in the Game Award. “By providing resources and expanded networking for future leaders within our game, many of this year’s recipients have made significant strides in improving the communities around them.”

The 2024 Investment in the Game Award application period is now open to all those who meet the outlined eligibility requirements listed on the Investment in the Game Award website. All applications submitted by 5 p.m. May 3 will be reviewed and considered by the award committee. To view the application, CLICK HERE.

Online: Award Information | 2024 Application | Mass Golf Home

2023 Investment In The Game Award Winners

Michael AwClubhouse Manager
Zachary DeckerGolf Course Maintenance Staff
Holly GalvisEvents Coordinator
Fergus KeaneAssistant Golf Professional
Steve KuketzPresident of Non-Profit Golf Organization
Richard MilkoGolf Course Maintenance Staff
Jordan Tate-DaSilvaGolf Course Maintenance Staff
Daniel VerryGolf Course Maintenance Staff
Adam ZamisGolf Course Maintenance Staff

Brockton native Steve Kuketz is among the inaugural recipients and is using the funds to purchase two additional adaptive golf carts for the Massachusetts Para-Golfers Association, which sponsors events and optimizes specialized carts for golfers with disabilities. This pursuit is personal for Kuketz, who in 1991 was injured in a car accident and was paralyzed from the waist down. A lifelong athlete, including in golf, Kuketz found success in sports like racquetball, where he was a member of Team USA at the 1996 World Championships.

In 2016, the former Thorny Lea Golf Club member wanted to rekindle his passion for the game he played so often in his younger years. A window for his return opened when the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation obtained a set of ParaGolfer carts and a SoloRider – both designed for golfers without the use of their lower body – for use at Leo J. Martin Golf Course in Weston and Ponkapoag Golf Course in Canton.

He was hooked, even while playing with one arm and blindness in his left eye. In his third round since returning, he aced the par-3 5th hole at Leo J. Martin for his first career ace. He made another in 2020 at Bobby Jones Golf Course in Atlanta.

From there, Kuketz played at least twice weekly and could drive the ball as far as his non-disabled playing partners. He wanted others to experience the joy golf ignited all these years later. It started by raising funds for adaptive sports programs for those with similar disabilities, such as amputees. He now offers his time for free to teach other golfers with disabilities, in addition to competing in several regional and national events. This fall, Kuketz earned an invitation to compete on the United States Phoenix Cup Team, a Ryder Cup-format event hosted at Saint Andrews in Scotland.

“Some people are told you’re never going to play golf, but they look me up, and they’re playing golf again,” Kuketz said. “I do this so I can be independent and other people can be independent.”

These days, injuries have slowed down Kuketz’s playing frequency, but he continues to purchase and refurbish adaptive golf carts. Chief among these updates is repowering them with lithium batteries that can easily support more than 18 holes of golf on one charge, unaffected by terrain or weather conditions.

Much like Kuketz, Michael Aw, the clubhouse manager at Framingham Country Club, has also defied the odds in his pathway within the golf industry. At age 13, he immigrated to the U.S. from Myanmar and spoke very little English. Still, Aw stood out as a lifelong learner with an unshakable passion for education. He graduated high school in New York City and received three degrees in Early Childhood Education, with his teaching certification at Framingham State bringing him to Massachusetts.

Known as a high-energy educator who was personally invested in the thousands of students he taught in the Hopedale public schools for 25 years, Aw is now using the funds to become a student once again. After retiring from education, he joined Framingham’s club leadership in August 2021. While he had bartending experience, learning the benchmarking and best practices that go into managing a club has opened a whole new world. This past year, he has used the funds to attend certification programs and seminars organized by the Club Management Association of America’s Business Management Institute (BMI). These categories include Sports & Recreation, Food & Beverage, and Golf Course Management.

“With the Investment in the Game Award, I am going to embrace new challenges and keep taking educational courses,” Aw said. “I’m 56 years old, but I feel like a 20-year-old college student. Compared to teachers’ conferences, the camaraderie and support I received at BMI conferences is second to none. Every general manager is willing to take the shirt off their backs to help you.”

As he advances in his career, Aw always remembers his roots. Growing up in New York, he knew friends who perished during the tragic events of September 11, 2001, and decided his civil service should extend further than education. To honor his friends, he joined the local Volunteer Police & Fire Personnel and took on a few shifts each month. While retired from

Aw’s colleague Holly Galvis also arrived at Framingham following a career change. Previously working at UMass Medical School, she joined the club as a dining room manager and quickly moved up to managing the pool, and now she is the Events Coordinator.

“I always worked in restaurants and clubs, but I had never been on the golf side until I started doing events,” Galvis said. “It’s a whole new world. I love planning golf outings, doing everything from showers to charities and golf events.”

Nine years in, she hadn’t sought out professional development, but the Investment in the Game Award changed that. This year, Galvis will obtain 30 hours of training through the Boston Chapter of the National Association for Catering and Events, expanding her network and learning best practices in the industry that she can bring back to the club and implement for events she organizes.

“People get so comfortable in the place they work, but they don’t know what can happen,” Galvis said. “It helps to have certifications, and there’s help financially.; It’s given me something to look forward to outside of the day-to-day. It makes me feel like I have a purpose, and it’s a great feeling.”

In addition to these standouts mentioned above, the Investment in the Game Award has provided funding for five individuals to enroll in the University of Massachusetts Winter School for Turf Managers.

While many of the candidates now have years of experience in the golf industry, Jordan Tate-DaSilva only began his golf journey a year ago.
Growing up on Martha’s Vineyard, DaSilva was a multi-sport high school athlete who worked summer jobs in landscaping. After four years at UMass Amherst, he earned a part-time job as the maintenance staff member at Farm Neck Golf Club, the semi-private course on the Vineyard that has attained popularity from hosting multiple U.S. presidents over the years. There, he raked bunkers, mowed tees and water greens, and learned the machinery.

With the Investment in the Game Award, Tate worked out a deal that upon receiving his training at UMass, which he just completed this year, he would be hired full-time at Farm Neck. The timing has been perfect as the club is undergoing a renovation project by removing old bunkers, changing tee heights, removing trees, and adjusting green contours. By learning about pathogens and fungicides, plus irrigation work, he is also receiving his pesticide license, allowing him to apply proper spraying.

“The Investment in the Game Award has set me up for my future job position. I would recommend anybody in this industry to apply for this. It definitely helped me out.”


Mass Golf is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that is dedicated to advancing golf in Massachusetts by building an engaged community around the sport.

With a community made up of over 120,000 golf enthusiasts and over 360 member clubs, Mass Golf is one of the largest state golf associations in the country. Members enjoy the benefits of handicapping, engaging golf content, course rating, and scoring services along with the opportunity to compete in an array of events for golfers of all ages and abilities.

At the forefront of junior development, Mass Golf is proud to offer programming to youth in the state through First Tee Massachusetts and subsidized rounds of golf by way of Youth on Course.

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