Utah Section PGA Office: Governor’s Golf Industry Service Award

By Kurt Kragthorpe

The board of directors and staff members of the Utah Section PGA prefer to give awards, rather than receive them. Yet from his vantage point as the Section president, Valley View Golf Course Head Professional Dustin Volk recognized that one of 2020’s awards needed to stay in-house.

Volk nominated the Section staff, led by Executive Director Devin Dehlin, for Governor’s Golf Industry Service Award. He didn’t have to do much convincing of the other voters.

“I think we have the best Section staff in the country, for all that they do,” said Section Vice President Kent McComb. “As Section officers, they just make our job so easy. It’s pretty impressive.”

The Section staff’s defining trait of 2020 is how so many PGA programs and events were staged in normal fashion, or as close to it as possible amid a pandemic. Two undertakings, in particular, reflected both the staff’s determination to stay on schedule and willingness to make adjustments.

In the absence of sanctioned high school girls golf tournaments, the Section conducted an individual competition (two separate events, actually) for players in each classification. And with the innovation of off-site pro-am events at Thanksgiving Point Golf Club, the Siegfried & Jensen Utah Open stayed on track at Riverside Country Club.

Dehlin’s staff includes Annie Fisher, assistant executive director; Aaron Goodman, tournament director; Cecily Bloxham, office manager; Jesse Dodson, media and communications; and Cassie Campos, junior golf.

Robert McArthur

Robert McArthur: Utah PGA Doug Vilven Distinguished Service Award

By Kurt Kragthorpe

The late Doug Vilven may or may not have approved of the new Utah Section PGA annual award that carries his name, but he undoubtedly would have endorsed the first recipient.

Robert McArthur, now retired after serving as Riverside Country Club’s longtime head professional, shared Vilven’s commitment to educating PGA pros. They worked together for 25 years or more as faculty members in the PGA training program in what McArthur describes as an effort to “help people along the way; that’s what this business is all about.”

Of course, McArthur’s response to receiving an award for his service is to insist that his instructor’s role was partly self-serving.

“You kind of get reenergized, going out and teaching young golf professionals that are coming along,” he said. “It helps you to refocus on what you’re doing at your club.”

McArthur did his job well, for a long time. He was named the Section’s Professional of the Year in 1989, and his influence will be noticeable for years to come. Just look at recent Utah Section PGA awards. Craig Norman, a former Riverside assistant pro, was the 2019 Professional of the Year. Kent McComb, who succeeded Norman, is the 2020 Jeff Beaudry Golf Ambassador Award recipient. And to extend the McArthur tree, Joel Grose – Norman’s assistant at Hobble Creek Golf Course — is the 2020 Assistant Professional of the Year.

McArthur, directly or indirectly, had a lot to do with the way those pros approach their jobs. “Just knowing him has made me a better person,” McComb said.

Kent McComb

Kent McComb: Jeff Beaudry Golf Ambassador Award

By Kurt Kragthorpe

The subject is slightly awkward. Imagine asking someone how they became a nice person.

The question is not all that silly, though. The way anyone treats other people is a modeled behavior, and that’s the case with Bountiful Ridge Golf Course Head Pro Kent McComb, who’s a product of some great examples in the golf profession.

True to his nature, McComb mentions a lot of them as a starting point, and then he keeps adding to the list. Robert McArthur, a mentor for 10 years as the former head professional at Riverside Country Club, is high on the list – not that he’ll take any credit for McComb’s personality.

“He’s probably the most loyal friend a guy can have,” McArthur said. “He genuinely cares about people. He treats everybody as if you’re his best friend; he’s that kind of guy.”

McComb adds Utah Golf Hall of Fame class of 2020 inductee Scott Whittaker and Bountiful Ridge’s Assistant PGA Professional Scott Olsen as two with major influence.

“Robert and Whitt are truly two of the greatest golf professionals I know,” he says. “More important they are even better people and friends. Their examples of professionalism is something I will always cherish. Scott has also been a great mentor and an example in my life.”

McComb says the best example is right in his own home: his wife, Jenilee. Before her, it was his parents, followed by a long list of other key influences, such as former Bountiful City Manager Tom Hardy and former Riverside General Manager Parley Peterson. Within the Utah Section PGA, he credits Robert and Reed McArthur, Jeff Jerman, Steve Wathen and the late Jeff Smith – and he’ll probably spend the rest of the year worrying about people he failed to mention.

That’s what makes McComb who he is, and that’s why he’s deserving of an award that honors Jeff Beaudry, whose kindness is among the traits that made him a member of the Utah Golf Hall of Fame.

1 Brett Watson and Kean Ridd

Brett Watson: Utah PGA Bill Strausbaugh Award

By Kurt Kragthorpe

From an outsider’s perspective, the Bill Strausbaugh Award may be the most difficult to define of any of the Utah Section PGA’s annual honors. Club relations? What does that mean?

In that sense, the Section’s 2020 winner provides a lasting example. There hardly could be a better illustration of the Strausbaugh Award’s intentions than what Brett Watson, the head professional of the renamed Timpanogos Golf Club in Provo, did in bringing all kinds of people and groups together to complete a remarkable redesign project.

It took a collaborative, community effort to maximize the property, and Watson played a major role in coordinating it. He can reflect proudly on “a five-year project for our team that has certainly had its ups and downs and is one I am honored to be associated with.”

Watson added, “We truly came together to create a golf facility unlike any other in Utah and, honestly, the world. … All of these organizations, groups and individuals are the definition of what the Bill Strausbaugh Award represents: a community working together to grow and bring the great game of golf to everyone.”

Timpanogos Golf Club (formerly East Bay) now features an 18-hole championship course, The Pasture Par 3 Course and the Legacy Trail Short Course.

In helping to make it all happen, Watson is thankful to Architect Kevin Atkinson, Superintendent Craig O’Farrell, former Director of Golf Kean Ridd and Provo City officials including Parks Director Scott Henderson. Entities such as the Wadsworth Golf Foundation, Fairways Media, Provo School District and Provo Power also played key roles, Watson said.

Ned Siegfried

Ned Siegfried: Utah PGA Wesley Ruff Golf Citizen Award

By Kurt Kragthorpe

Devin Dehlin had a lot of people to thank on that Monday morning in August, as he addressed a Media Day breakfast to launch the 2020 Siegfried & Jensen Utah Open at Riverside Country Club in Provo.

The tournament’s title is a good clue about where Dehlin, the Utah Section PGA’s executive director, was going with his story. If the reasons the Utah Open stayed on the 2020 calendar could be boiled down to one factor, Dehlin said, it would have to be Ned Siegfried’s insistence.

That’s how Siegfried became the 2020 winner of the Wesley Ruff Golf Citizen Award, renamed this year to honor Ruff, the ABC4 sportscaster, honorary Utah PGA member and a multiple winner of the award.

As a partner of the title sponsor law firm, Siegfried believes in the Utah Section PGA and in the mission of the Utah Open – to provide a high-level playing opportunity for Section members and to make a community impact. So in the spring, when organizers started talking about the 2020 Utah Open amid COVID-19 concerns, Riverside administrators and other sponsors were understandably skittish.

During one meeting, Siegfried said, he had “a sinking feeling, a pit in my stomach, that the Utah Open would go by the wayside.”

No, that would not happen. It took some adjustments, such as a cutback from the usual eight pro-am events and the extensive use of an alternate site, Thanksgiving Point Golf Club. The purse also was reduced, due to sponsorship issues on levels below Siegfried & Jensen’s commitment.

It all came together, though, in the Utah Open’s usual first-class presentation. The tournament became a showcase for rookie pro Peter Kuest, the former BYU All-American, and for Section members such as Craig Hocknull and Riverside Teaching Pro Matt Baird, who chased Kuest.

It all stems from Siegfried’s devotion to the game in Utah. “Golf’s always been a big part of my life,” he said. “I love the people. You just develop a bond with the PGA pros.”

Randy Oldham

Randy Oldham: Utah PGA Superintendent of the Year – Public

By Kurt Kragthorpe

Randy Oldham’s biggest move covered five miles. After a lifetime of being associated with Logan Country Club, Oldham took the superintendent’s position at Logan River Golf Course in 2013.

Going from a private club to a municipal facility, even in the same town, is quite an adjustment. The city’s layers of management, Oldham says, mean that he’s more like “a spoke in the wheel” at Logan River.

What’s the same? Oldham’s standards of maintenance. The average public golfer may not be as invested in the course as a country club member, but that only makes Oldham more determined to keep Logan River as pristine as possible.

By all accounts, he’s succeeding. He’s part of the third of four generations of the Oldham family in the golf industry, having followed his grandfather, Russell Sr., and father, Bus, as Logan CC superintendents. He held that position for 32 years before moving to Logan River, having been lured by former Logan Mayor Randy Watts to upgrade the course’s condition. Maybe he was destined to do so eventually, having grown up a couple of houses away from Logan River Professional Jeff John. In 2019, the LRGC advisory board credited Oldham for the course being “in the best shape it has been throughout its entire history.”

In 2014, Oldham was honored as Superintendent of the Year by the peer group then called the Intermountain Golf Course Superintendents Association.

Alan Davis

Alan Davis: Utah PGA Superintended of the Year – Private

By Kurt Kragthorpe

Working around the reality of COVID-19 is a theme of all of the Utah Section PGA’s 2020 awards. On the golf courses and in the golf shops, everyone involved has made adjustments during a unique year in the industry.

And that’s why Alan Davis of Willow Creek Country Club, the president of the Utah Golf Course Superintendents Association, is proud of the work that has been done at his facility in Sandy and throughout the state.

“Rolling with the punches would be a good way to sum it up,” Davis said. “Constantly modifying our operation throughout the year – dealing with labor issues, compliance issues and the high volume of play we received.”

Davis continued, “Our team did not back down. I owe every bit of this award to the staff; not only the grounds department, but the entirety of the staff of WCCC. We all were dealing with this unique situation and, through hard work and constant communication, I feel we rose to the occasion.”

Davis’ first job in the industry was as Willow Creek’s assistant superintendent in 2008-12. He then went home to his native North Carolina for two years, before working at Castle Pines in Colorado and Glenwild Golf Club in Park City, where he was the superintendent. He returned to Willow Creek in his current role in 2016.

Marty Bauer 2

Marty Bauer: Utah PGA Professional Development Award

By Kurt Kragthorpe

Marty Bauer was not merely giving himself more chances to win when he entered six teams in the Pro-Assistants Championship. It’s true that he won the event with Craig Hocknull, and tied for fourth place with Carson Willis, and that Bauer’s holed-out approach from 93 yards for an eagle in the final round was a memorable shot.

Even so, the real significance of Glenwild Golf Club’s major presence in the field is how it reflects Bauer’s emphasis on developing his staff members. He rewarded them with the trip in St. George and is always conscious of helping them advance in the profession.

Bauer’s receiving the PGA Professional Development award stems from the way he was treated at various stops in his own career. As Glenwild’s director of golf, he couldn’t ask for a better situation. He wants his staff members to reach the point where they can say the same thing.

Bauer hopes they’ll acquire enough skills and expertise and “start looking for a better job,” he said.

The culture at Glenwild models what Bauer experienced at stops including Crooked Stick Golf Club in Indiana and Baltimore Country Club. He has returned to Park City after formerly working at Park Meadows Country Club.

Bauer “does a great job of listening to what his professionals have to say,” said Craig Hocknull, Glenwild’s director of instruction. “That’s a tremendous quality he has.”

And then Bauer helps those staff members try out those innovations, giving them more experience. “I’ve worked for some fantastic golf pros who helped me,” Bauer said, “and that’s what I want for all my team, to let them work within the system that we’ve created.”


Michael Garrison: Utah PGA Player Development Award

By Kurt Kragthorpe

Michael Garrison spent a big chunk of his golf career working at private clubs, helping members improve their games and encouraging them to play more golf for the sake of their enjoyment.

As the head professional at Glen Eagle Golf Course in Syracuse, Garrison’s job description is much the same, yet different. Like any public course, Glen Eagle needs to generate play, by attracting new golfers or getting the regulars to play more frequently (or both).

And that’s where Garrison’s background at clubs such as Hidden Valley CC, Promontory and Logan CC has an impact.

“From the start of my career as a PGA Professional, my overall focus has been on player development,” Garrison said. “Whether trying to institute new programs to increase participation at private clubs or developing creative ideas at Glen Eagle to engage all levels of players, I have always had a focus on providing development programs that welcome everyone to participate.”

Garrison has succeeded in creating loyalty, in multiple ways. Play in Glen Eagle’s Men’s, Senior, Ladies and Team Associations has grown by more than 400% since 2015, stemming from his personal involvement. And in one day in 2020, via social media campaigns and soliciting association members, he raised $9,000 to support Youth on Course – yet another way of developing golfers.

Chris Newson

Chris Newson: Utah PGA Merchandiser of the Year – Public

By Kurt Kragthorpe

Tucked inside the spacious clubhouse of Soldier Hollow Golf Course in Midway is a 975-square-foot golf shop. That’s not a lot of space in the social-distancing era, but Head Professional Chris Newson maximized it in 2020.

“Merchandising is something that I really enjoy and is a great distraction from some of the not-as-fun jobs I do,” Newson said, the golf shop’s only full-time employee.

And this year, that required some creativity. With golfers having limited access to the pro shop, Newson had to catch their attention quickly. His strategy was to showcase one vendor at a time, sell those products via clearance incentives and then make way for the next vendor. Newson succeeded in multiple ways.

“The seasonal staff got really excited, bringing out the new products, freshening displays and educating customers about the features of the new items,” he said. “It was a great way to do things and it’s something we will likely continue to do in the future.”

Those seasonal employees clearly played a big role in Newson’s award, and he appreciates them. The Merchandiser of the Year recognition adds to his credentials that include the Section’s 2012 Professional of the Year award. Newson has been Soldier Hollow’s head pro since the facility opened in 2004 and is known for hosting tournaments, most recently the 2020 Utah Women’s State Amateur.