Franklin, TN – The Tennessee Section PGA is proud to announce Neil Collins, PGA of Nashville, TN and Hal Loflin, PGA of Smyrna, TN as its 2022 Distinguished Career Award Honorees. The Distinguished Career Award recognizes current or former Tennessee PGA Section members who have had outstanding careers as PGA Professionals based on service to their club, course or employer, service and leadership to the Association, community service, professional playing record, and teaching ability. The Distinguished Career Award acknowledges these Tennessee PGA Professionals as vital and significant contributors to the game of golf.
Neil Collins’ participation with the section began shortly after moving to Tennessee in 1990 from the Philadelphia Section where he grew up and attained his Class A Membership in 1986. Collins’ first exposure to the section came in 1991 when he attended the Annual Teaching and Coaching Summit at the Gaylord Opryland Resort. At the time Collins was serving as the Head Professional of Springhouse Golf Club at Opryland and became determined to be active in the section. Throughout his career Collins has worked various roles in the golf industry, including serving as an instructor for the TN PGA Junior Golf Academy at Golf House Tennessee and other teaching institutions, becoming Tournament Director for the Tennessee Section PGA, to serving the past decade as the Head Golf Professional and Golf Course Manager at Henry Horton Golf Course in Chapel Hill, TN.
One thing that separates Collins apart from others is his involvement with Special Olympics Tennessee. While serving as the Tournament Director for the Tennessee PGA Section, Collins implemented and coordinated the Tennessee Section’s Special Olympics Golf Program. With a Speech Correction Degree from East Stroudsburg University it was a natural fit for Collins to become involved with the organization as a counselor and instructor. Collins has continued to support the Special Olympics of Tennessee by hosting a Championship each year dating back to his time at Gaylord Opryland in 2002 to now hosting it at Henry Horton Golf Course.
“Having served with Neil as officers on the Tennessee Section PGA Board, I can think of no better recipient of the Distinguished Career Award,” said former Tennessee PGA President Scott Hare. “His dedication throughout his time working in the Section office and later as an officer is unparalleled. I was glad to hear Neil would be recognized in this way at the Annual Meeting.”
Through various leadership roles Collins has shown his dedication to serving the Tennessee Section. After leaving the section office in 2002, Collins joined the Tennessee Section Education Committee from 2003 to 2007. In 2006 he was elected President of the Middle Tennessee Chapter and held that position until he became Secretary for the Tennessee Section PGA from 2008 to 2010. He would then serve one year as Vice President of the Section from 2010 to 2011 before becoming the 23rd president of the Tennessee PGA Section from 2011 to 2014. From 2014 to 2016 Collins served his final two years as the Honorary President.
“Neil is compassionate, reliable, trustworthy, talented, proficient, skilled, and so much more,” says Mike Nixon, Director of Golf Operations for the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. “Having Neil associated with the Tennessee Golf Trail at Henry Horton for the past ten years has been an honor and a pleasure for me. I know there are many qualified candidates in Tennessee that could have been selected for this award, but I doubt there is a better one. Congratulations to Neil on being recognized for an outstanding career and thanks to the Tennessee PGA for honoring him with their Distinguished Career Award. My thanks to Neil for his service and his friendship and I hope he finishes his illustrious career at Henry Horton. Richly deserved!”
Throughout his PGA Professional career in Tennessee, Collins’ has been named to numerous awards. Collins’ is a three-time Tennessee PGA Section Merchandiser of the Year (Resort) and Tennessee Section PGA Horton Smith Award recipient. A longtime member of the Middle Tennessee chapter, he is also a four-time winner of the Middle TN Chapter Merchandiser of the Year (Resort), three-time Horton Smith Award winner and was named the 2012 Golf Professional of the Year for the chapter.
“Being a member of the Tennessee Section has been a great privilege,” says Collins. “In receiving the DCA Award, I am grateful to my family, friends and many co-workers over the years who motivated, inspired, and enabled me to follow a career as a PGA Professional and to serve the Tennessee Section”
Fellow PGA Professional Hal Loflin’s nomination came as no surprise when considering his contributions to the game of golf in the city of Smyrna for 29 years. After working one year at Jackson Country Club in Jackson, TN as an Assistant Golf Professional Loflin joined the town of Smyrna as an Assistant PGA Golf Professional at the Smyrna Golf Course in 1991. In 1993 Loflin obtained his PGA membership. In 1995 Loflin went to work for the Tennessee Section PGA as the first Member Services Director for Tennessee and then returned to Smyrna Golf Course in 1998 as the Head Golf Professional and Director of Golf and has been there since.
“Hal Loflin embodies servant leadership as an employee of the Town of Smyrna and through his involvement in the greater Smyrna community. He is passionate about providing access to the game of golf for all individuals, spearheading Smyrna Golf serving as host to both the Tennessee Special Olympics Tournament and First Tee Program for over 20 years,” says Smyrna Mayor Mary Esther Reed. “On behalf of the Town Council, the Town Manager, and the Smyrna community, we congratulate Hal on this remarkable achievement.”
Loflin prides himself on relationships, and those strong relationships have solidified his role at Smyrna Golf Course as a dedicated and caring golf professional. Loflin established The First Tee of Smyrna in 2000 becoming the 87th First Tee facility in the United States. Since then Loflin has acted as the Program Director who designed and oversaw the construction of the nine-hole Executive Course at Smyrna Golf Course that has seen over 2,000 juniors go through the program to date.
“This is a very well earned and deserved career award for Hal,” says Former Tennessee Golf Foundation President and DCA Inductee Dick Horton. “Hal has covered the full spectrum of being a Class A PGA golf professional from being an outstanding head professional, an excellent teacher, and always being highly organized for whatever the task or job required. Those things have always been a trademark of Hal Loflin.”
Loflin served the section and provided his expertise by being a representative on the Tennessee PGA Board of Directors for six years and currently serves as the chair of the Tennessee Golf Association Handicap Committee. In addition, he served the Middle Tennessee Chapter as Chapter Secretary and Chapter Director.
“Hal Loflin is absolutely the finest Golf Professional that I have ever had the privilege of knowing,” says 2017 DCA Inductee Dave Normand. “Hal is an exceptional person who gives of himself tirelessly while demonstrating the highest degree of integrity at all times. He is approachable, engaging, and has served our association during his entire career. I cannot think of a more deserving Golf Professional than Hal Loflin to receive this incredible ‘Lifetime’ award!”
Throughout his PGA Career Loflin has been recognized as one of the best Golf Professional’s in the section through the various awards he’s won. For his mentoring ability, Loflin won four straight Tennessee PGA Section Bill Strausbaugh Awards from 1999 to 2002. In addition, Loflin was a three-time Tennessee PGA Section Horton Smith award winner in 2004, 2008, and 2009. A longtime member of the Middle Tennessee chapter, Loflin was also honored as the 2001 Middle Tennessee Golf Professional of the Year.
“I am humbled by this award and am honored to be part of such a great group of PGA professionals that have been recognized,” says Loflin. “This award is not an individual award but it also includes all of the people that have been a part of my career and have mentored me along the way.”
Congratulations to Neil Collins, PGA and Hal Loflin, PGA on becoming the 42nd and 43rd members to be recognized with the most prestigious honor the Tennessee PGA can bestow upon its members. Both Collins and Loflin will be honored at the Awards luncheon in Franklin, Tennessee on February 28, 2021 in front of their fellow Tennessee PGA Professionals and special guests