David Perkins Honored with SIGA Distinguished Service Award


The Metropolitan Amateur Golf Association is honored to name the 13th recipient of the SIGA Distinguished Service Award. The Distinguished Service Award was established in 1994 with G. Phil Heckel and Roy J. Glenn being the first people to receive this honor. Now, in 2024, the Metropolitan is pleased to add David Perkins to that list. 


David Perkins has been a dedicated coach, teacher, golf historian, and friend of golf in Southern Illinois since the 1960s. Perkins has shown over the years that his passion for the history of the game and his dedication to educating younger generations about the game go unmatched in Southern Illinois. His success as a player, coach, teacher, volunteer, historian and general ambassador for the game of golf has shown his exuberant love for the game in this region. Perkins dedicated much of his time and life to furthering the game of golf in Southern Illinois. 


As a young golfer, David was mentored by longtime Benton County Club golf professional Zeke Carello. Later in life, he became close with legendary Southern Illinois golfer Pursie Pipes (he actually spoke at Pursie’s memorial service at the request of the family). These two individuals helped foster his love for golf. Perkins was an accomplished high school player at Benton Consolidated High School from 1965-1968. During that time, his teams compiled a 57-14 record. David was the medalist of the 1967 South Seven Conference Golf Championship. He accepted a golf scholarship to Southern Illinois University where he played from 1968-1972 and earned multiple varsity letters while getting his degree. Perkins played competitive golf in Southern Illinois over the course of seven different decades. He competed in over 200 SIGA sanctioned events, winning events such as the Fall Classic and Lake of Egypt Open. He played in 60 consecutive Gold Cup tournaments at Benton Country Club and 50 consecutive SIGA Championships (finishing 2nd to Pursie Pipes in 1970).  


While David was certainly an accomplished player, it is his dedication to teaching and growing the game that separates him from other Southern Illinois golfers and justifies this recognition. He coached high school golf at Benton Consolidated High School from 1977-1991. During that time, his teams compiled a 196-59 record, won 2 South Seven Conference team Championships, and earned a trip to the state tournament in 1981 finishing 4th. He coached 2 individual conference Champions, 3 individual Regional Champions and 2 individual Sectional Champions. He was the rare high school golf coach during that era that actually taught his players about course management. Coach Perkins had his own notes and yardage books on various courses that he shared with his players to assist with club selection and strategy. This was in the days before any technology existed that contained such information. He did it the old-fashioned way by putting in the work and documenting what he learned. This is much more common these days among high school coaches than it was back then. David did it back when many high school golf coaches did not do anything, but drive the bus to the matches. Coach Perkins also insisted that his teams respect the game and the rules of etiquette that make it so special. He knew the USGA Rules of Golf extremely well, and often served as the lead Rules Official at high school events.  


During the 1970s, 80s and 90s, David hosted golf clinics for junior players during the summer at Benton Country Club. He taught countless junior players the fundamentals of the grip, stance, and swing. Maybe more importantly, he taught these junior players the Rules and etiquette of the game. If you attended his clinics, you learned how to act on a golf course. You learned about repairing ball marks, replacing divots, and raking bunkers. You learned who has the honor on the tee, and how to respect your playing partners by not talking during the swing or stepping in their line of putt. Perkins made sure that the Benton kids knew the right way to play. Because of this, kids became more and more welcome at the club by the adults who played regularly. This helped the kids form relationships with the older members of the club, which greatly benefitted them later in life. Sure, it was an unintended consequence of his lessons and probably something he never thought about, but certainly was a result of his desire to teach kids the right way to act on a golf course. Perkins also started and ran one of the first junior tournaments in the area with the Benton Junior Gold Cup back in the early 1980s. It is still being played today.  


In addition to playing, coaching, and teaching, David has volunteered countless hours of his time to helping other Southern Illinoisians enjoy the game of golf. He has organized and helped run countless tournaments at Benton Country Club and Franklin County Country Club through the years. He ran the prestigious Gold Cup at Benton Country Club for many years. Perkins has also spent hours documenting the history of this tournament, and even compiled a book a few years ago to honor the tournament. This kind of documented history has helped keep this event going by sparking interest in the younger generations, who are carrying on the tradition. David is a big part of the success of the Gold Cup through the years.  


Besides running tournaments, Perkins has offered his expertise and time to amateur golfers in other capacities. Many people in Franklin County have relied on David for club repairs for, probably, the past 50 years or so. If you needed a grip or a shaft replaced, you took your clubs to David. He would even drop everything he was doing to fix a club if you needed it the next day for a tournament. He was also very good at his craft. He never charged anyone for his time, only the materials he needed to fix the club. The only thing he ever wanted in return was for you to come by and talk golf with him while he fixed the club. If you did have the pleasure of stopping by to pick up your repair, you would undoubtedly be invited into his house to see what is best described as a Southern Illinois golf museum. David’s house is a tribute to his coaching days as well as a tribute to the history of the game. The amount of clubs, pictures, and memorabilia he owns is second to none. 


David also volunteered his time and talents to the Southern Illinois Golf Association through the years at the SIGA Championship. He worked as a volunteer for years at the tournament. He built a wooden sign commemorating the 75th Anniversary of the tournament which is being used again this year for the 100th. He also served on the SIGA Board of Directors for 15 years and volunteered his time wherever and whenever it was needed in furtherance of golf in Southern Illinois. 


David Perkins joins 12 other individuals from the region that have previously been bestowed the honor of a SIGA Distinguished Service Award. We will honor Perkins on Friday, June 21 during the SIGA Championship’s 100th Anniversary Celebration.  Those interested in attending this celebration may purchase tickets online at the following link: 


SIGA Distinguished Service Award Recipients:

1994 - G. Phil Heckel
           Roy J. Glenn
1995 - Don Johnson
1996 - Dr. Ralph Chapman
1997 - Clifford Mills
            Robert “Bob” Williams
1998 - James “Jim” Kirk
2000 - Sarah Haas
2003 - Steve Heckel
2004 - Jim Ashby
2006 - Bob McBride
2008 - Judy Ehrhart
2024 - David Perkins

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