The Illinois Professional Golf Association (IPGA) has selected Maryville Golf Academy Manager Juan Espejo as the 2020 Illinois PGA Distinguished Service Award winner, an award he also received in 2015. The IPGA made the announcement Tuesday, February 16.
The award honors Espejo’s leadership and humanitarian qualities, including his integrity, sportsmanship and enthusiasm for the game of golf. He has worked at the Maryville Golf Academy for 26 years and shares his love for the game with youth, ages 12 to 18, and provides golf lessons and instructions in caddying, club repair, golf ball recycling, golf facility operations and tournament management.
“It humbles me to receive this award. I view it as simply a reflection of Maryville Academy where we are working together to care for children and strengthen families,” Espejo said. “While working to be present, I am very lucky to be in the position to help a person who might just need a little smile in their lives and witness it. It’s a great feeling.”
The Maryville Golf Academy (MVA) was established in 1994 to offer the Maryville children residing at the Des Plaines campus the opportunity to work, play and practice golf at neighboring PGA-led facilities. Its players are exposed to the values and lessons inherent in the game such as respect, etiquette, honesty, perseverance, responsibility, discipline and sportsmanship.
Espejo has been involved with PGA HOPE and executes the annual IPGA/Maryville Gleason Cup Invitational. He is involved with the Western Golf Association’s Evans Scholars program and raises funds for the Evanston Par Club initiative. He is also a mentor for the WGA Caddie Program.
The 2020 Distinguished Service Award is Espejo’s fourth Illinois PGA Special Award. He is a two-time Illinois PGA Youth Player Development Award winner (1998, 1999) and is now a two-time Illinois PGA Distinguished Service Award Winner (2015, 2020). Espejo was the inaugural recipient of this award in 2015.
Mark Labiak (Ruth Lake Country Club) has been selected as the 2020 Illinois PGA Professional of the Year and the following are the 2020 Special Award winners:
- Mark Labiak, PGA (Ruth Lake Country Club) – Professional of the Year
- Chris Green, PGA (Glen View Club) – Teacher of the Year
- Mark Hirn, PGA (Bloomington Country Club) – Assistant Professional of the Year
- Dan Shelden, PGA (Ruth Lake Country Club) – Youth Player Development Award
- Vince Juarez, PGA (KemperSports) – Bill Strausbaugh Award
- Nick Papadakes, PGA (Onwentsia Club) – PGA Professional Development Award
- Connie DeMattia, PGA (Cantigny Golf) – Player Development Award
- Don Habjan, PGA (Makray Memorial Golf Club) – Bill Heald Career Achievement Award
- Ian Brown, PGA (Butterfield Country Club) – Merchandiser of the Year – Private
- Juan Espejo, PGA (Maryville Golf Academy) – Distinguished Service Award
- Jamie Nieto, PGA (The Preserve at Oak Meadows) – Deacon Palmer Award
- Mike Hainline, PGA (Odyssey Golf Foundation Golf Course) – Patriot Award
- Mike Williams, PGA (Landscapes Unlimited) – PGA Executive of the Year
“We are fortunate to have such an outstanding group of PGA Professionals that make up the Illinois PGA Section. Selecting a handful of members for these prestigious awards is never easy, but these professionals have shown extraordinary dedication to growing and improving the game of golf for everyone within the boundaries of the Section,” said Carrie Williams, executive director of the Illinois Section, in a press release. “This year’s Special Award winners exemplify all that PGA Professionals have to offer as experts in the business and game of golf.”