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CGA Proudly Announces the 2023 Players of the Year



SOUTHERN PINES, N.C. (February 7, 2023) -- The CGA is pleased to announce the 2023 Richard S. Tufts Players of the Year Awards recipients. These seven golfers have excelled in their field and had a successful year in amateur golf at the local, regional, state, and national levels.

Related: Past Champions

2023 Richard S. Tufts Award Winners


Junior Girls': Madison Messimer - Myrtle Beach, S.C.

Junior Boys': Will Hartman - Marvin, N.C.

Women's: Isabella Rawl - Lexington S.C.

Men's: Sam Jackson - West Columbia, S.C.

Senior Women's: Kathy Hartwiger - Pinehurst, N.C.

Senior Men's: Steve Harwell - Mooresville, N.C.

Super Senior Men's: Steve Fox - Pinehurst, N.C.


Madison Messimer of Myrtle Beach, S.C., showcased consistent play this past season to secure the Carolinas Junior Girls' Player of the Year title. The 2022 Carolinas Women Amateur Champion carried her strong 2022 play into this past season, where she finished in the top 10 in five events.

Highlights of her 2023 included a second place at the SCJGA Sea Pines Junior Heritage and SCJGA Beth Daniel Junior Azalea and another second-place finish at the USGA US Junior Girl's Qualifier from Spring Valley Country Club.

Her season also included a third place at the Dustin Johnson Junior World, a fourth place at the Scott Robertson Memorial, and finished just outside the top 10 at the Dye Junior Invitational. Messimer, a 2025 high school graduate, has verbally committed to playing golf at the University of Tennessee.



Will Hartman of Marvin, N.C., had a hectic and successful season on the junior golf circuit, including victories at the SCJGA - 29th Annual Bobby Chapman and the TYGA North State High School Challenge from the Country Club of Salisbury to claim the 2023 Carolinas Junior Boy's Player of the Year.

On the national scale, a major accomplishment was his third-place finish at the 2023 US Junior Boys' Championship from Daniel Island Club's Ralston Creek Course and fifth place at the 2023 Junior PGA Championship from Hot Springs Country Club.

Added to that were a second-place finish at the Carmel Country Club High School Shootout and a third-place finish at the AJGA Junior PLAYERS Championship by Rolex. Other notable finishes were his fourth place at the AJGA Team Taylormade Invitational and seventh at the Palmetto High School Championship. Hartman, a 2025 high school graduate, has verbally committed to playing golf at Vanderbilt University.



Isabella Rawl of Lexington, S.C., had a strong year in her freshman and sophomore seasons on the Clemson Women's golf team and individually over the summer to take home CGA Women's Player of the Year honors.

Rawl had an impressive summer before heading to Clemson for her sophomore season. Her summer started with a third-place finish at the 97th Carolinas Women's Amateur Championship hosted by North Ridge Country Club, and then she went on to finish as a semifinalist at the 2023 North & South Women's Amateur at Pinehurst Resort. The summer ended with a trip to the U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship at Bel-Air Country Club, where she made the match play cut.

Her insertion into the Clemson lineup coincided with their improvement last spring. Rawl will always be remembered for her winning match that clinched Clemson's first ACC Championship, where she compiled a 2-0 record in match play. At Clemson, she was an Academic All-ACC in 2022-23.



A 2015 Presbyterian College graduate and member of the men's golf team, Sam Jackson of West Columbia, S.C., started the season off strong with his first-ever major individual championship, winning the 43rd Carolinas Mid-Amateur Championship at the Cliffs of Mountain Park on the strength of a second round 63. He also claimed the 72nd Carolinas Four-Ball Championship from Camden Country Club alongside partner Jordan Sease of Lexington, S.C.

Jackson was also recently named the 2023 SCGA Player of the Year for the second consecutive year. He finished second in the 2023 SCGA Mid-Amateur Championship at the Fripp Island Resort, tenth in the South Carolina Amateur at Musgrove Mill, and eleventh at the Palmetto Amateur.

Another significant accomplishment this past season was his run to the semifinals at one of the largest stages in amateur golf, the 2023 U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship at Sleepy Hollow Country Club. He also tied for third in this year's John T. Lupton Memorial at The Honors Course in Tennessee.

Capping off his 2023, Sam married his girlfriend Mollie in December. All these accolades helped Jackson be crowned the Carolinas 2023 Men's Player of the Year.



This year marks the second consecutive year Kathy Hartwiger of Pinehurst, N.C., has claimed the Senior Women's Player of the Year award. Since arriving on the North Carolina golf scene during the 2022 season, she has consistently been at the top of the leaderboard, continuing a strong golf legacy from her former home state of Alabama.

Hartwiger’s accomplishments during the 2023 season include winning the Women's Eastern Senior Amateur hosted by Emerald Golf Club, finishing in second at the North & South Senior Women’s Amateur Championship at Pinehurst Resort, and second at the Women's Southern Senior Amateur Championship hosted by Hot Springs Country Club. She also finished second at this year's Carolinas Senior Women's Amateur Championship from the Patriot at Grand Harbor, a tournament she won in her 2022 debut.

Hartwiger also qualified for and played in three USGA championships in 2023. At the U.S. Senior Women’s Open at Waverley Country Club, Hartwiger made the weekend cut, then finished in the Top 40 and seventh overall amateur. Hartwiger also made the match play cut at the U.S. Women's Mid-Amateur at Stonewall. At the U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur hosted by Troon Country Club, Hartwiger made history with an impressive 8-and-7 victory over Wendy Ohlmeyer in her first match, which tied the record for the largest margin of victory ever in the championship. She subsequently made it through to the Round of 16.



Steve Harwell of Mooresville, N.C., had yet another impressive season, winning both the 37th North Carolina Senior Championship and the 62nd Carolinas Senior Championship, leading to his third Carolinas Senior Men's Player of the Year honor and second in a row.

A feat not often accomplished in any division, his North Carolina Senior Championship victory came on the fifth playoff hole from The Club at 12 Oaks in May. He then defended his Carolinas Senior Amateur title in September at Cutter Creek Golf Club. Harwell also tied for second at the 22nd North Carolina Senior Four-Ball from Pinewild Country Club along with partner Patrick Brady of Reidsville, N.C. In addition, Harwell was a member of the 2023 Captain's Putter matches, a Carolinas squad that retained the title against Virginia.

Harwell also impressed on the international level, making it to the Round of 16 at the U.S. Senior Amateur, and just missed being the medalist at qualifying by one shot. He tied for fourth at the 2023 Society of Seniors Dale Morey, tied for third at the 2023 Jones Cup Invitational, and secured fifth place at the 2023 National Senior Hall of Fame from High Point Country Club. Additionally, he finished 5th at the Crump Cup at Pine Valley. Overall, the seven-time CGA Champion recorded six top-10 finishes to raise him atop the Carolinas Senior Men's Rankings to earn the Carolinas Senior Men's Player of the Year award yet again.



Steve Fox of Pinehurst, N.C., secured 14 top-10 finishes over 17 events to earn his second Carolinas Super Senior Men's Player of the Year honor in as many years. Fox moved to the Carolinas in the fall of 2021 from West Virginia, where he had earned the WVGA Men's Player of the Year award twice and the Senior Men's Player of the Year honors an astounding nine times.

Accomplishments this year included capturing the North Carolina Super Senior Four-Ball Championship with partner Preston Edmondson of Morrisville, N.C. Fox would also tie for third at the 2023 Carolinas Super Senior Four-Ball Championship alongside teammate Edmondson. Fox was also a member of the 2023 Captain's Putter matches, which saw the Carolinas squad retain the title against Virginia.

He also captured the 2023 Society of Seniors Spring Classic and the 2023 CPGA SC Senior Open. Fox would also take fourth place at the 2023 North & South Amateur from Pinehurst, a fourth in the 2023 CPGA NC Senior Open, and sixth at the 2023 Durham Senior Amateur.


About the Richard S. Tufts Awards

The Richard S. Tufts Awards were created in 1997 to honor the Carolinas amateur golfers who had exceptional individual tournament performances over the preceding year. Tufts served on the CGA Executive Committee from 1926 to 1964 and was President from 1931 through 1933. The awards are given to the top golfer based on the CGA amateur rankings at the end of the calendar year in seven categories: Girls', Boys', Women's, Men's, Senior Women's, Senior Men's, and Super Senior Men's. The Senior Men's and Senior Women's categories were implemented in 2001, the Junior categories were established in 2003, and the Super Senior Men's award was created in 2017.

 Nine Carolinas Men's Players of the Year are current or former PGA Tour members, while eight Carolinas Women's Players of the Year have and are competing on the LPGA TOUR. Notable past Tufts award winners include: Jonathan Byrd (1999, PGA Tour), Beth Bauer (1999, LPGA), D.J. Trahan (2000-2002, PGA Tour), Marcy Newton Hart (2000, LPGA), Brandi Jackson (2002, LPGA), Bill Haas (2003, PGA Tour), Webb Simpson (2006, PGA Tour), Dustin Johnson (2007, PGA Tour), Cydney Clanton (2009-10, LPGA), Mark Anderson (2009, PGA Tour), Austin Ernst (2011, LPGA), Katelyn Dambaugh (2016, LPGA), Anna Redding (2018, LPGA), Gina Kim (2019, LPGA).


About the Carolinas Golf Association (CGA)

The CGA is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit educational organization founded in 1909 to promote and protect the game of golf in the Carolinas by providing competitions, education, support, and benefits to golf clubs and golfers. The CGA is the second largest golf association in the country, with over 700 member clubs represented by nearly 150,000 individuals.

The CGA annually conducts 48 championships and five team match competitions for men, women, juniors, and seniors. It also runs over 150 One-Day (net and gross) events and qualifying for USGA national championships. The CGA serves golf in the Carolinas with numerous programs such as: the USGA Handicap System; tournament management software and support; course measuring and course/slope ratings; agronomy consultation; answers about the Rules of Golf, Rules of Amateur Status, and Handicapping; Carolinas Golf Magazine; Interclub series; Tarheel Youth Golf Association; Carolinas Golf Hall of Fame; expense assistance for USGA Junior and Girls' Junior qualifiers from the Carolinas; and the Carolinas Golf Foundation (CGF). The CGF has distributed nearly $2,000,000 since 1977 to benefit Carolinas' golf initiatives, including junior and women's programs.

For more information about the Carolinas Golf Association, follow @cgagolf1909 on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and TikTok, or visit our website




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