Hall of Famer

Alum earns top honors from PGA

Don “Chip” Essig IV, a 23-year member of the Professional Golf Association (PGA), has much to boast about. He was one of eight inducted into the PGA Golf Professional Hall of Fame this spring, and in 2011 he was named the Indiana Section PGA Golf Professional of the Year and PGA National Golf Professional of the Year.

Chip Essig

Chip Essig poses for a photo at the Hall of Fame Ceremony held at the PGA Education Center at PGA Village in Port St. Lucie, Florida. (Photo by Montana Pritchard/The PGA of America)

But Essig (BS ACCT ’87) credits the accolades to simply being in the right place at the right time. “I said ‘yes’ when asked to do things or to be involved in certain activities,” he says. “Many other golf professionals could have done them as well or better than me.”

Those “things” include membership on the PGA Rules Committee and the Indiana Golf Foundation Board and officiating at major championships, including every PGA Championship since 2001, the Ryder Cup, two Masters, three U.S. Senior Opens, two PGA Cups, a Senior PGA Championship and four PGA Professional National Championships.

The activity Essig is most fond of is his longtime involvement with Special Olympics. He hosted the Indiana State Special Olympics Tournament in 1996, and in 2003 he was selected as Team USA’s Special Olympics golf coach and traveled to Ireland for the Special Olympics World Games.“I have met some wonderful people, and the athletes are amazing,” he says.

He and his father, Don Essig, III, co-own Essig Golf LLC, a golf management company that oversees three facilities in the Indianapolis area: Hickory Stick Golf Club, Heartland Crossing Golf Links and Pebble Brook Golf Course.

“I love what I do, and golf is fun because of the people. Customers and staff are like family,” he says. “And each day is different. In a given day I may help people of all ages with their golf game, ride in a cart with our superintendent checking the condition of the course and work on golf operations.”

You might say golf is part of Essig’s DNA. He grew up playing the game at a course his father owned and operated in New Palestine, Indiana. By the time he finished high school he had mastered the rules and every job on the course. His father was inducted into the PGA hall of fame in 2009. The two are just the second father and son pair to share the honor.

Although he chose golf as a career over accounting, Essig appreciates his Krannert education, especially when working on finance or operations. “I actually feel I have a leg up on other golf professionals. Having an accounting degree has not only helped me manage my own business, but also with the committee work I do with the PGA and helping other golf pros track their businesses,” he says.

With PGA top honors under his belt in the prime of his career, what could be next for Essig professionally? “Most win these awards as they near the end of their careers, so for me it has been a kind of wake-up call,” he says. “I have had so many mentors, and now I need to seek out younger golf professionals whom I can mentor. I think it’s time to pay it forward, to give back.”