Muhleman to Receive 2011 Joe Dey Award

Inez "Nez" Muhleman of Houston, who has dedicated herself to the U.S. Girls' Junior Championship and assisted young female golfers from Texas for more than three decades, has been named the recipient of the 2011 Joe Dey Award from the United States Golf Association.

Muhleman will officially retire from the U.S. Girls' Junior Championship Committee in December after 31 years of service. She will receive the award at the USGA's Annual Meeting on February 5 in Phoenix. The Joe Dey Award, which has been given since 1996, recognizes an individual's meritorious service to the game as a volunteer. The award is named for Joseph C. Dey Jr., who served as the USGA's executive director for 35 years, from 1934 to 1969, and later became the first commissioner of the PGA Tour.

Whether overseeing sectional qualifiers for the U.S. Girls' Junior, serving as a rules official at the national championship or establishing a fund to help defray travel expenses, Muhleman has strived to ensure that every junior golfer from her adopted state of Texas had a positive and memorable experience.

"It means the world to me," said Muhleman of the honor. "You do something like this because of the love of the game and you don't think about receiving an award. If someone says, 'Thanks, Nez,' that's great."

"Beyond the sheer length of Nez's service to the USGA is her true devotion to the game," said John Kim, chairman of the Joe Dey Award Committee and a member of the USGA Executive Committee. "She sets new standards for volunteers. She embodies all of the attributes that distinguish past and future recipients of the Joe Dey Award."

Seven years after joining the Girls' Junior Committee in 1980, Muhleman created the Girls' Junior Travel Fund for Texas-based qualifiers. What began with a modest $250 of her own money quickly evolved into a fund that has provided reimbursement for airfare and caddie fees to every Texas qualifier, more than 340 girls to date.

The genesis of the fund came in 1987 when an alternate from Muhleman's qualifying site had to turn down a last-minute invitation to the Girls' Junior at The Orchards in South Hadley, Mass., due to the high cost of the airfare. Muhleman wasted no time making the rounds at her club, allied golf associations within Texas and local businesses. Today, the fund can support every Texas qualifier, which this year totaled 11 golfers.

"It's inspiring to have a committee member who is willing to donate that much time and energy to the Girls' Junior," said Cece Durbin, a member of the USGA Women's Committee and the chairman of the Girls' Junior Championship Committee.

When Muhleman moved to the Houston area from her native Georgia, she wanted to continue her involvement in the game, which began at Atlanta Country Club. She started at her home club, Riverbend Country Club, where she went on to become president of the women's golf association. She moved on to the Houston Golf Association, and in 1982, she became president of the Women's Texas Golf Association, which in 2007 established a scholarship in Muhleman's name.

In 1980, she was asked to join the U.S. Girls' Junior Championship Committee, and despite two bouts with lung cancer and heart-bypass surgery, she attended every U.S. Girls' Junior from 1980-2010.

Several of the players Muhleman has assisted have gone on to successful professional careers, including 1994 U.S. Girls' Junior champion Kellie Kuehne, Brittany Lang, Stacy Lewis, Angela Stanford and Wendy Ward, all of whom competed in the Curtis Cup Match and now play on the LPGA Tour. Others such as 2010 U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links runner-up Lisa McCloskey of Houston are blossoming into elite amateurs.

"It's just been absolutely the most wonderful career and experience that I could have possibly had," said Muhleman. "I can be down in the dumps from my health issues or my husband's health issues and then I have a call from one of my juniors, and it just perks me up."

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