AL BIRMINGHAM NAMED SWSPGA ANSER AWARD WINNER

Longtime Titleist Sales Representative to Receive Prestigious Honor

 

SCOTTSDALE, Arizona (May 24, 2007) – Growing up in Pittsburgh where football is king, Al Birmingham gravitated towards another king, Arnold Palmer and after developing his game of golf, joined Palmer at Wake Forest University on a golf scholarship. Together they teamed up to win the Atlantic Coast Conference Championship in 1955. Palmer went on to earn iconic status in the world of golf while Birmingham set out on a highly successful career in golf sales, 34 years with Titleist.          

Recently, the Southwest Section of the Professional Golfers’ Association of America named Birmingham its annual Anser Award recipient. He will receive the prestigious award at the SWSPGA Annual Meeting on June 6 at the Sheraton @ Wildhorse Pass. “What a great honor to receive the Anser Award. I knew Karsten Solheim very well and despite the fact that we were competitors, we were great friends and having my name associated with his, is a humbling experience and one that I will cherish for the rest of my life,” said Birmingham.

After arriving in the Valley of the Sun, Birmingham joined Titleist in 1968. He was one of Titleist’s top executives, having been named National Salesperson of the Year three times. “My initial territory was Arizona, Las Vegas and Utah. Eventually I oversaw the highest volume in the country pretty much due to the fact that everyone was playing golf out here at the time,” recalled Birmingham.

A member of the Arizona Golf Hall of Fame, Birmingham along with fellow Hall members, John Riggle, Bob Warren and Dr. Ed Updegraff, were the key architects of the Arizona Golf Association’s initial handicap system when the AGA’s membership totaled only 4,000.  “I’m extremely proud of the work we all did with the Arizona Golf Association. We were not an elitist organization, but allowed everyone to become a member and many of the principles and ideals that we put into place back in 1964 are still there today and that gives me great satisfaction in knowing that,” said Birmingham.

Birmingham, the AGA president in 1986 and 1987, was also the first President of the Papago Men’s Club. “Papago was the host course for Arizona State University back then and all the great golfers of that era played out there. Guys like Tom Purtzer, Howard Twitty and Joe Porter to name just a few all came to Papago and really put us on the map.”

After retiring in 2002, Birmingham was asked by Titleist to coordinate a national mentoring program whereby he would help aspiring or certified golf professionals and offer sage advice to those who were looking at various positions either at the public, private or resort golf course levels. “That was perhaps the most satisfying two years of my life,” said Birmingham. “Giving back to the game of golf has always been important to me and by matching up certain individuals with specific jobs and seeing it work out well for them and their families, well, that was extremely gratifying for me.”

Plagued by cataracts later in life, Birmingham recently lost his left eye to the disease, but that hasn’t slowed him down on the links at all. “My wife and I just got back from a glorious two-week vacation in Ireland and aside from a little depth perception problem, I still enjoy playing golf.”

Established in 1990 by the SWSPGA, the Anser Award honors an individual or group whose positive efforts have influenced the history of Arizona golf. The award is given in honor of the late Karsten Solheim, the founder of PING and named after his famous PING Anser putter. Solheim received the inaugural award in 1991. Birmingham joins an impressive roster of Anser Award winners that include Bob Goldwater, Sr., considered by many as the “Father of the FBR Open,” Arch Watkins, Bill Farkas, Sr., Harry Cavanagh, Ed Updegraff, Lyle Anderson, JD Woodward, The Thunderbirds, Linda Vollstedt, Sister Lynn Winsor, John Riggle and Willie Low. Last year’s winner was V.O. “Red” Allen.

For more information on the SWSPGA Anser Award, call the Southwest Section - PGA of America at (480) 443-9002 or visit their web site at www.southwest.pga.com.

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