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Sinclair a valuable contributor for 30 years

The Rutledge Award was presented to Jim Sinclair Thursday evening. Celebrating the award were Jim's wife Sharon, Jim Sinclair, Gerri Rutledge and Rutledge Award Committee chairman Greg Potvin.

For three decades, Jim Sinclair has been a mainstay at the Pine to Palm Golf Tournament.

During that time, Sinclair has experienced almost every aspect of the long-standing tournament, from playing to answering telephones to making important decisions on the rules committee.

Sinclair's influence and contributions to the Pine to Palm Golf Tournament didn't go unnoticed, since he was named the 27th Rutledge Award recipient Thursday, during the Dr. John B. Rutledge Memorial Award banquet.

"It was a thrill to receive the Rutledge Award, I got tears in my eyes when it was announced," Sinclair said of his honor.

Sinclair retired at the end of last year's tournament, ending a great 30-year run in the Pine to Palm.

"Jim is a library of knowledge of rules and just knowledge of the entire tournament," said Pine to Palm Committee chairman Bob Gorden.

Sinclair's introduction to the tournament came as a player in 1976.

"I took two weeks off before the tournament to prepare for it and I developed a shank," Sinclair said.

His run ended at the qualifying cut, but his good friend, Ron Smet, offered a Ranger job to him.

That's when Sinclair's real contribution started in the tournament.

For 15 years, Sinclair and his wife, Sharon, answered telephones during the week of the Pine to Palm.

"The phone was more critical back then for information because there were no computers," Sinclair said.

His time as a Ranger was from 1976-79, while being elevated to Chief Ranger from 1980-1997.

"I really enjoyed being the Chief Ranger, because I was able to see more of the golfers and their shots," Sinclair added.

Sinclair, who earned his law degree from William Mitchell Law College in Minneapolis, joined the Rules Committee.

He also selected all the trophies players won, from 1980-2009.

Sinclair took his job on the Rules Committee seriously, quickly becoming an encyclopedia of golf ruling knowledge.

"I did a lot of studying and took MGA Rules classes with Greg Potvin," Sinclair added.

His most unique decision came in 2001, when defending champion Chad Skarperud's shot was imbedded in the tee-marker, which happened to be a flowerpot on the sixth tee box.

The ruling given by Sinclair was a drop. The next day, the flowerpots were gone.

"We never, as a Rules Committee, made an decision without much thought and planning," Sinclair said.

Potvin, who is the head of the Rutledge Award Committee, and Sinclair have been best of friends throughout their time as Pine to Palm Committee members, and it was an easy decision of the committee to pick Sinclair as the Rutledge Award winner.

"Jim was a very valuable member to the committee," Potvin said. "He knows all the aspects of the game and was very dedicated to the tournament."