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HomeNEWSGary Koch Named 2023 Payne Stewart Award Recipient

Gary Koch Named 2023 Payne Stewart Award Recipient

Gary Koch, PGA TOUR golfer, network announcer, and longtime Tampa resident, is the 2023 PGA TOUR’s Payne Stewart Award recipient.

The Payne Stewart Award, sponsored by the Southern Company, recognizes a professional golfer who embodies the values of character, charity, and sportsmanship that Payne Stewart upheld. The 26th recipient of this prestigious award is Koch.

In 2021, Gary was awarded the title of Copperhead of the Year (the group that organizes the Valspar Championship) and remains an integral member of our organization. He has also been inducted into the Florida Sports Hall of Fame and the University of Florida Athletic Hall of Fame.

Tracy West, the Tournament Director of Valspar Championship, states that those affiliated with the Copperheads and golf fans have always acknowledged Gary as an exceptional person with a kind heart and admirable character. He embodies the same spirit as the legendary Payne Stewart and is a deserving recipient of this award.

During his 15-year playing career, Koch achieved six victories on the PGA TOUR. Afterward, he went on to spend 33 years as an announcer with both ESPN and NBC Sports. During that entire time, the graduate of Tampa’s King High School and the University of Florida continued to make Tampa his home. He has tremendously supported Copperhead activities, donating many hours to help the organization grow.

Koch has directed a significant portion of his charitable efforts towards promoting the development of young and amateur golfers, providing them with opportunities to excel in their sport. In 2011, Gary and wife Donna stepped in to support their local First Tee — Tampa Bay chapter when it dire needed financial assistance. Eight years later, First Tee — Tampa Bay was recognized as the largest chapter in the country in certifying participants and annually reaches more than 90,000 youth in the area.

The momentum at First Tee — Tampa Bay has continued, with Koch in 2022 proposing a par 3 course at the local First Tee facility that younger First Tee participants can better utilize. Koch enlisted golf course architect Steve Smyers — his former college teammate — to design the course. Smyers waived his design fee.

Koch also hosts the annual Gary Koch Invitational Pro-Am at Old Memorial Golf Club to support both First Tee — Tampa Bay and ART International Training & Research, with the latter focused on supporting those suffering from PTSD and other psychological traumas.

Koch will be honored on Tuesday, August 22, at the Payne Stewart Award Ceremony in conjunction with the TOUR Championship. The ceremony will be televised live on Golf Channel as part of a “Golf Central” special from 7-8 p.m. ET at the Southern Exchange in downtown Atlanta.

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