Photo: Omar Rawlings

BOYLSTON, Mass. — Before a new decade of golf in the New England PGA approaches the first tee, there’s one last 19th-hole celebration of the old one as the NEPGA recognizes Rich Berberian Jr., PGA (Vesper CC) as its Player of the Decade for 2011-2020.

Berberian was dominant not only within the New England Section, but throughout the entire PGA of America during the decade, winning the most coveted tournaments and recognition that a PGA Professional can strive for. He claimed three NEPGA Skip Wogan Player of the Year awards (2016, ‘17 and ‘19), three NEPGA Section Championships (2014, ‘15, ‘18).

While fellow NEPGA Professional Shawn Warren, PGA (Falmouth CC) had a similar resume to Berberian within the Section over the span of the decade, hoarding three Section titles (2013, ‘19, ‘20), four Wogan Player of the Year honors (2013, ‘14, ‘15, ‘18) and four NEPGA Assistants Championships (2011, ‘16, ‘17, ‘20), it was Berberian’s accomplishments on the national stage that earned him the edge. Berberian collected two PGA Professional National Player of the Year honors in 2016 and 2017, the former thanks to his 2016 PGA Professional National Championship which also afforded him six PGA TOUR starts the following season, of which he made three cuts.  Berberian also played on the victorious USA PGA Cup Team in 2019 and holds the longest active streak of PGA Championship appearances of any PGA Professional in the country at five, qualifying each year since 2016.  Additionally, Berberian qualified for the 2015 US Open, starting a run of six consecutive years playing in at least one of golf’s four major championships.

Fan Vote Fun

The Player of the Decade also had a fan vote component which took place on social media in conjunction with March Madness, giving our followers a chance to chime in and vote for their favorite NEPGA Professional.  The top-16 seeds were determined based on New England PGA criteria (Major Championships, Stroke Play Series, Player of the Year) and pitted against one another in a bracket format while highlighting their various playing accomplishments over the past 10 seasons.  The finals were a showdown between Berberian, Jr. the Director of Instruction at Vesper Country Club, and Boston Golf Club Head Golf Professional Boomer Erick, who had a Cinderella run through the bracket as the 9-seed.  He defeated 8-seed Eric Barlow, PGA (Winchester CC) in the round of 16, 1-seed Shawn Warren (Falmouth CC) in the Elite 8, and 4-seed Kirk Hanefeld (NEPGA Life Member) in the Final 4 before taking out Berberian by a 51-vote margin in the finals.  While Boomer’s on-course accomplishments were strong with four stroke play series victories, solid finishes in Player of the Year races and Section Championships which qualified him for five PGA Professional National Championships (2012-2014, 2017, 2019), it was his rabid social following that propelled him to the Player of the Decade Fan Vote title.

The fan vote social engagement data proved the most successful of any social media campaign since the NEPGA began to have a social presence in 2011.  With a collective reach close to 40,000, more than 25,000 impressions and over 1,000 comments it was evident that golfers are tuned into and supportive of their favorite PGA Professionals!

The next decade of New England PGA competition tees off this month and the competitive slate for Berberian, Boomer, and every NEPGA Professional will be wiped clean for a new ten-year run. Only time will tell if an NEPGA Professional will dominate on the Section and National levels the way Berberian did over the last decade, and we can’t wait to see how it all plays out.  Thanks to everyone who followed along with this fun contest!

Fan Vote Bracket Overview
designates winner

Round 1 – Sweet 16

(1) Warren vs. (16) Venezio

(8) Barlow vs. (9) Erick

(4) Hanefeld vs. (13) Dully

(5) Kirby vs. (12) Zdon

(2) Berberian vs. (15) Philo

(7) Seavey vs. (10) Hickson

(3) Martin vs. (14) Pare

(6) Friedman vs. (11) Bruso


Round 2 – Elite 8

(1) Warren vs. (9) Erick

(4) Hanefeld vs. (5) Kirby

(2) Berberian vs (7) Seavey

(3) Martin vs. (6) Friedman


Round 3 – Final 4

(4) Hanefeld vs. (9) Erick

(2) Berberian vs. (3) Martin



(2) Berberian vs. (9) Erick

About the New England PGA

The mission of the New England Professional Golfers’ Association is to promote the enjoyment and involvement in the game of golf and the golf industry. The NEPGA achieves this mission by enhancing the skills of its Professionals and the opportunities for amateurs, employers, manufacturers, employees and the general public. In so doing, the NEPGA will elevate the standards of the golf Professional’s vocation, enhance the economic well-being of the individual member, stimulate interest in the game of golf, and promote the overall vitality of the game.  More information can be found on our Facebook, Instagram or Twitter accounts.