Southern Nevada PGA president breaking down barriers

UNLV Professional Golf Management program alumnus Kendall Murphy, 31, became the Southern Nevada Chapter, Southwest Section, PGA of America president much faster than he expected due to happenstance, but was ready for the challenge.

Murphy was elected chapter secretary in May 2017, but when vice president Nolan Halterman and president Lee Smith both left Las Vegas to pursue dream jobs, the responsibility of leading Las Vegas’s more than 200 PGA of America professionals was left to him. The other executive committee members are Tim Samm, honorary president; Greg Brockelman, vice president; and Kyle Helms, secretary.

“It was a pretty quick ascension and it has been pretty cool,” Murphy said. “I’ve learned that to be a good leader you have to be selfless, humble and listen. I’ve also learned how to include others in decisions. I want everyone to know that their opinion matters. We are all serving together for a greater cause to grow the game of golf and help our fellow PGA members.”

Murphy’s experience includes serving on chapter education and junior golf committees plus being the main chapter designee on the Southern Nevada Golf Association board of directors. He also has served on the PGA of America national junior golf committee since 2016.

“I think the game is growing,” Murphy said. “I look at events like Drive, Chip and Putt, where we had 288 regional qualifiers around the country. We impacted tens of thousands of kids with that event. I also look at PGA Jr. League golf. We started with four teams in this valley and now we have more than 20 teams in just four or five years.

“I’m a firm believer that we need to get clubs in kids’ hands and that we should eliminate as many barriers as we can. Those barriers can be financial to perception barriers to course access to equipment and the barriers are being eliminated. That is a big deal to me.”

A point of pride for Murphy is that he is the first African-American to serve as the president of the Southern Nevada chapter and one of only a handful to have earned such an honor nationally.

“I want to believe that I was honored to be selected as president based on my merits and not on my color or my creed or where I work,” Murphy said. “But I also don’t want to turn a blind eye to it because I know many before me have not had the opportunity I have.

“I know some people may view me as different and the expectations may be higher for me, but I don’t pay attention to those things because I know if I do the best job I can and I am firm and fair, and I uphold the constitution of the PGA of America, then people will naturally see beyond the color of my skin.”

Team golf for juniors

Registration is open at for the team-oriented “little league of golf,” which kicks off April 21 at TPC Las Vegas.

Stars on, off course

Phil Helmuth is the host of Tiger Woods’s Poker Night during Tiger Jam, May 18 at MGM Grand. Other poker personalities playing are Vince Van Patten, Tony Dunst, Lynn Gilmartin, Daniel Negreanu and Maria Ho.

The golf notebook appears Wednesdays. Freelance writer Brian Hurlburt is a two-time author who has covered golf in Las Vegas for more than two decades. He can be reached at or @LVGolfInsider.

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