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December 17 2014

Colby Cowan Selected as the 2014 Utah PGA Professional of the Year

Colby Cowan kept the same job this past summer, but he's occupying a new office. The site is St. George's Southgate Golf Course, that's both symbolic and significant to Cowan, who declared himself "back in the golf world" as a result of that move. He never left, actually. It's just that reporting to work at a golf facility reminds Cowan that he's still in the game. That involvement occasionally became obscured when he worked in the city office building.

Regardless of his headquarters location, though, there's no underestimating Cowan's impact in St. George and beyond. As the city's director of golf, he's a non-traditional winner of the Utah Section PGA's Professional of the Year Award. He shares something of a bond with Henry White, a physical therapist and teacher who received the 2013 award, considering he's not operating a golf facility. Yet in a sense, Cowan is in charge of a 72-hole venue, even if it is spread over four courses, several miles apart. Cowan is simply applying everything he learned in nearly 20 years of working at golf courses in southern Utah and administering St. George's program.

St. George City re-established the director of golf position in April 2012 and hired Cowan, then the head pro at Sand Hollow Resort. His other stops included The Ledges and Coral Canyon as head pro and Bloomington Country Club and his hometown Cedar Ridge GC as an assistant pro. In those roles, he earned the section's Horton Smith Award in 2004 and the Merchandiser of the Year (Public Courses) Award in 2008. In his current position, he earned the Bill Strasbaugh Award for club relations in 2013.

Dave Terry, whose association with Cowan goes back to their time together in St. George, describes him as "a great representative" of the PGA of America, amid everything the organization is trying to accomplish. St. George's Junior Association of Golfers (JAG) program is highly successful, even amid the demanding conditions of the summer in St. George. The climate and competition also require St. George's city courses to develop some clever promotions, all designed to encourage family involvement in the game. Cowan is a family man himself, raising three daughters with his wife, Kristin. He's well-rounded, adept at dealing with people and a problem-solver, Terry said.

Cowan has demonstrated those traits as the section's president and a key member of the newly formed Golf Alliance for Utah, promoting the game as a vital industry in the state. Cowan has enjoyed contributing to the GAU's "One voice" approach to advancing golf in Utah, and he also found the job of section president to be very rewarding. Among the board's biggest tasks this year was staging the Siegfried & Jensen Utah Open at Riverside Country Club in Provo after a successful seven-year run at Oakridge CC, and the event was well received as always.

The recipient of the Professional of the Year Award can trace his golf roots to accompanying his father, Randy, at Cedar Ridge GC in Cedar City, carrying a cut-down 3-wood. So retired pro John Evans is obviously among the pros who greatly influenced him, along with Scott Brandt and Reed McArthur. Jared Barnes, another Cedar City product, has grown up with Cowan in the profession and encouraged him to serve in the section.

Cowan is one of those understated, efficient people who deserve to be recognized. Anyone who plays golf with him or works on a project with him can only come away impressed with his steady demeanor, interest in others and determination to get things done.

 Click here for a full list of the 2014 Utah Section PGA Award Winners

Written by Kurt Kragthorpe,  a sportswriter for the Salt Lake Tribune and frequent contributor to the Utah Section PGA.

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