Wallace selected for PGA Hall of Fame
POLSON — Thirty years of providing a quality educational, recreational, and fun golf experience has culminated in a local pro being selected as the 53rd inductee into the Pacific Northwest Section PGA Hall of Fame.
Roger Wallace, PGA director of golf at Polson Bay Golf Course, learned of the honor last week.
“Ultimately, it’s recreation,” Wallace said, debunking the ideas some people have about golf being stressful. “I’ve spent my career trying to keep that (fun) atmosphere here.”
Through the years, Wallace and his staff created a junior golf program. Now more than 400 children participate annually.
Wallace played golf with his high school teams in Washington, and continued to play at the college level until he graduated from Eastern Washington University in 1982.
Although he had dreams to compete at a professional level, he was realistic about his intentions.
“When we get out of college we’re young, and we think we can all play,” he said. “I figured out pretty early on I wasn’t good enough or dedicated enough to practice and elevate my game above what it probably was.”
Instead, Wallace chose to go into golf management. In 1987 at age 27, the Whitefish native was about to accept a job in Three Forks when Greg Hertz called on behalf of Polson’s board of directors for the golf course and offered Wallace an interview. Wallace seized the opportunity to lease the space for a retail golf shop and contract with Wallace’s corporation to run the day-to-day operations of Polson Bay Golf Course.
The quality of life in Polson prompted Wallace to stick around for three decades while coaching Polson High School’s golf team on and off for about seven seasons.
Wallace’s daughter, Erin, became an all-state golfer at Polson High in 2002. His stepson, Robby Hayes, plays high school golf and participates in Special Olympics.
“It’s a great place to raise a family and a good place to work,” Wallace said.
Now he’s coaching the grandchildren of golfers who started in the junior program years.
“It’s rewarding seeing the kind of citizens that have come out of our golf programs, whether junior golf or high school programs,” he said. “One of the most rewarding things is watching those kids grow up, start their families, and make their way in this world.”
Wallace has also been active with the PGA organization, serving on the board of directors and as president of Montana and regional chapters.
Through the years, nine of Wallace’s assistants and employees have gained PGA membership and become head professionals, directors of golf and general managers.
His dedication did not go unnoticed. Wallace is a four-time regional selection for the Bill Strausbaugh Award that rewards exceptional mentorship, and he earned the award at the national level in 2014. He was recognized by his peers as Golf Professional of the Year in 1997, 2000 and 2008.
Wallace is quick to credit his work environment for his success, saying he’s been “super fortunate.”
“The City of Polson has always trusted me to do the job they hired me to do,” he said, as long as he lived within the budget and satisfied requirements for annual audits. “That’s been huge.”
Hertz, who made the call three decades ago, and is thankful for Wallace’s dedication. “Roger Wallace has been a great asset to the Polson Golf Course and the greater Polson Community. The growth of Polson’s golf course from nine holes to 27 holes was achieved through the leadership of many, including Roger ...” Hertz said. “Working with Polson youth and mentoring assistant golf professionals he has made a positive influence upon their lives.”
Wallace said he was also lucky to have quality, hard-working people as employees. “If it hadn’t been for their efforts and their character, it would have been a runof- the-mill career in golf for me.”
Wallace will be formally inducted into the Pacific Northwest Section Hall of Fame at a ceremony April 28, 2017.