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Utah PGA Monthly January Issue

In efforts to better recognize, celebrate and get to know the growing membership of the Utah Section PGA, Utah PGA Monthly digital magazine was created!

We are looking forward to highlighting individuals, recognizing accomplishments and going behind the scenes with our PGA Professionals and all they do to provide this game we love.

In partnership with Fairways Media, Each issue will be delivered to Utah PGA members directly in their email at the beginning of each month and will recap scheduling events and highlight 3-4 PGA Professionals.

Click here to read the first issue.

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Rhees Defends Senior Player of the Year Title

The Oaks Golf Course Head Professional Ryan Rhees proved that winning the 2018 Utah Section Omega Senior Player of the Year was no mistake by winning the title again in 2019.

“It feels good,” Rhees said about winning the season-long race in consecutive years. “We have a lot of good senior players in the Section and to be able to play good enough to come out first is great. It’s fun, everybody gets along great in our Section. It’s just fun playing with the guys.

“It’s not life or death out there but we go out and play hard and try to do the best we can and have fun with it.”

Highlighting the list of his 2019 accomplishments was his victory in the Senior Section Championship played at Alpine Country Club with rounds of 66-72 – 138. The win also qualified him to compete in the 2019 Senior PGA Professional Championship in Texas early October.

“For sure the Senior Section Championship, that was a big one,” Rhees said about which of his four wins meant the most.

Rhees teeing off on Alpine Country Club’s 9th hole in the Senior Section Championship.

Anyone working in the golf industry knows the difficulty of finding time to play and practice, for Rhees, it’s a work in progress.

“It’s hard, you have to get used to playing your best when you know you haven’t put in as much time as you should have. You’ve got to try and talk yourself in to the fact that you can go out and play good.

“I’m a competitive person and I like to go out and win and play the best I can. That keeps me motivated to practice as much as I can and stay in shape as much as I can to stay competitive.”

Rhees tallied four wins on the season, including the Senior Divisions of the Rose Park Open, Sanpete County Open, Tony Basso Group Black Diamond Open and the Senior Section Championship.

Not only did he secure four wins in his 17-events played, but he finished runner-up four times and only finished outside of the top five on two occasions.

“It’s fun playing with the guys in the section. It’s one thing I look forward to. It keeps me motivated at work, knowing I’ve got a tournament to go play in on the weekend that I can go hangout and play golf with the guys I like to be with and play against. It’s a fun Section to be in because everyone gets along so well and there are a lot of great players so it’s good to get out and test your game.”

Ryan Rhees Fast Facts:

What book are you currently reading?

Shoe Dog, the Phil Night biography. That one was really good, just finished that one and another book called Can’t Hurt Me, it’s a Navy SEAL book, I really enjoy those.

I like to read, that’s one of my hobbies, something I like to do when I’m not working.

What’s the last movie you watched?

I don’t see many movies anymore, really… Last movie we watched was Downtown Abbey.

Who are you currently listening to?

I listen to Dave Ramsey’s podcast a lot.

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Sturgeon Storms to Women’s Player of the Year

If you’ve watched The Country Club’s Assistant Professional Haley Dunn-Sturgeon play golf, the last word you would use to describe her game is ‘rookie.’ However, in her rookie season as a PGA associate member of the Utah Section PGA, there was no stopping her in claiming the Omega Women’s Player of the Year.

“Words cannot describe how amazing it feels,” she said. “I love competitive golf and to win Player of the Year, it truly is an honor. I have been working hard on my game and recovering from injuries so it is nice to get back on top.”

She took the Section by storm by playing in four events that provide points in the season-long race, and won two of them. She won the Women’s Low Pro in the Valley View Open and cruised to the top of the Utah Section PGA Women’s Match Play Championship at Riverside Country Club.

Sturgeon finished runner-up in the Brigham City Open Women’s Division and finished 10th at the Siegfried & Jensen Utah Women’s Open, her lowest finish of the season.

Sturgeon also competed for Team Utah PGA in the 2019 Jeannie Goddard Cup.

Finishing runner-up in the points race was TopGolf’s Carly Dehlin-Hirsch, followed by Promontory Club’s Sadie Palmer in third and Glenmoor’s Sam Crawford in fourth. This top-four have all recently started the PGA Professional Golf Management Program (PGM) and are new associate members of the Section.

After the points were totaled for the year, Sturgeon added one more win on her season, just for good measure, at the Utah PGA Pro-Assistant Championship in November when she teamed up with The Country Club’s Wayne Fisher.

In fact, it was at the Pro-Assistant Championship that added the extra icing on top for Sturgeon’s year when she shot a personal-low 63 on her own ball in the first round at Bloomington Country Club.

“The highlight of the season is probably when I shot 63 on my own ball,” she explained. “I made sure I putted out every shot so it was a true score. It was also my first bogey-free round. I felt unstoppable that day.”

Though her Utah Section play brought a season’s-worth of results, she also fit in a Q School prep event for The Cactus Tour, where  her best and worst shots of the year came on the same hole.

“I believe it was on hole 16 on the Dinah Shore Course at Mission Hills. It’s a dogleg right with a wide fairway and a palm tree on the right side. Before teeing off I was talking with my dad to create our game plan. Basically, it was to hit one down the middle and stay away from the palm tree that blocks the second shot. What did I do… sprayed my drive right and put it perfectly behind the palm tree.”

Luckily her best shot followed from 158 yards to the pin.

“I visualized a low hook that would bounce in front of the green and roll up by the pin. I asked my dad for the five iron and hit the shot exactly how I envisioned. It was icing on the cake when it stopped 15ft from the hole. I then rolled in the putt for my most amazing birdie.”

Sturgeon started the PGA PGM program this year and is currently teaching at The Country Club. She will be traveling back to Arizona for the Cactus Tour during the off season.

Sturgeon looks forward to the opportunity to continue to play and compete in Section events in 2020 as the amount of women members continues to grow each year.

Haley Sturgeon Fast Facts:

Do you have any superstitions when it comes to golf or playing in tournaments?

I wish the answer was no, but I do. I try to only play with a number four golf ball. When I’m on the practice green making three-foot putts, if one ball misses multiple times, I feel that is the “bogey” ball and I put it back in my bag… I’m slowly getting over this one.

What’s the last movie you watched?

The last movie I watched was Linsey Vonn: The Final Chapter.

What book is currently on your nightstand?

I’m not a huge book reader, but I love audio books. This is usually what is playing while I’m practicing. Right now, I’m listening to Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.

If you had to pick one PGA Tour member, one LPGA Tour member and one actor to complete your group, who would you pick?

I would choose Tiger Woods, Paula Creamer and Justin Timberlake. 

2019 Utah PGA Omega Women’s Player of the Year Points.

Zach Johnson

Johnson Goes Back-to-Back for Omega Player of the Year

Golf is a game of no guarantees, and the unexpected typically runs the show. However, when Davis Park Assistant Professional Zach Johnson tees it up, it’s expected that he’ll be in contention.

After being in the mix to capture the Utah PGA Omega Player of the Year award for years, Johnson finally came out on top in 2018 and has done it again in 2019.

“To win Player of the Year for the second year in-a-row is very special,” Johnson said. “Each year it’s a goal at the top of my list that I set out to achieve. We have so many great players in our Section, you have to stay on top of your game and be competitive throughout the whole year in order to keep yourself in contention for this award.”

Johnson’s season included wins at The Oaks Open, the Utah Section Match Play Championship, tied for first at the Millard County Open, won the Salt Lake City Open and then capped off the season with a win at the Utah Section Championship.

Johnson with the Utah Section PGA Match Play Championship trophies.

“Of victories this year I would definitely say the Match Play Championship was the sweetest,” he said. “I have had a few opportunities to win that event and never was able to get it done. To win this year by chipping in for eagle on the first extra hole of the final match was pretty awesome.”

Though the Section Match Play Championship brought a lot of excitement and a career-first, it wasn’t on the top of his personal highlight list this season.

“Looking back on the year, the highlight for me was getting back in contention to qualify for the PGA Championship again. In the final round at the PGA Professional Championship I shot two-under to get into a playoff. Although I fell short and was disappointed I didn’t advance through the playoff, I proved a lot to myself in that round and event. I was able to create some belief and momentum with my game which really kick-started my year.”

Johnson has had several opportunities to play on a national level, including the 2018 PGA Championship and several PGA Professional Championships and PGA Assistant Professional Championships.

“As a working pro with a family sometimes it gets hard to juggle family, work and playing. Usually the first thing to be compromised is playing so to be able to qualify and represent the Utah Section at national events is always a privilege and something to look forward to each year.”

No matter how many national events Johnson has competed in, the nerves are still there.

“I have to admit, I’m nervous during all competitive rounds to some extent,” he explained. I like that feeling. To me, it shows that I still care and want to compete. To overcome tournament nerves, and don’t get me wrong, sometimes it’s easier than others, you have to believe in yourself and draw from previous experience.”

Johnson reading a putt on the 8th green in the final round of the 2019 Siegfried & Jensen Utah Open

Though golf is never a game of guarantees, it’s fair to say that when the Davis Park assistant pro is in the field, it’s a safe bet to find him in the mix or at the top of the leaderboard.

Zach Johnson Fast Facts:

If you had to pick one PGA Tour member, one LPGA Tour member and one actor to complete your foursome, who would you pick?

My foursome would be Tiger, Annika Sorenstam and Michael Jordan.  I’m not much of a movie guy so I went with another greatest of all time athlete in Jordan. 

When you find time, do you prefer to play or practice?

To be completely honest, I don’t spend a lot of time working on my game. When I do have time to play or practice I prefer getting out and playing and competing over spending time on the range or practice greens. That’s what works best for me when it comes to preparing for events.  This winter though I have set a goal for myself to work on getting in better physical shape and gaining some club head speed!

2019 Omega Player of the Year Points list.

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Sharp Low Pro at Southern Utah Open

As the year winds down, local tournament playing opportunities become far and in-between, which is why the 2019 Southern Utah Open, hosted by SunRiver Golf Club and Head Professional Larry Ricketts, saw a large amount of Utah Section professionals taking advantage of the opportunity to play and make it a long weekend before the Pro-Assistant Championship began the following day.

Golf Lab Teaching Professional Tommy Sharp won the Professional Division and the first-place check with a (-4) 70-68, outlasting Joe Summerhays and defending champion Justin Keiley by one stroke.  Sharp birdied his last-three holes to make it happen.

Sharp shot a (-1) 70 in the first round and was trailing Summerhays and Keiley by one stroke. A one-stroke lead isn’t much going into the final round, but a slow start in the final round wasn’t helping.

“Overall, I really hit the ball well and actually was getting very frustrated in the middle of my round that I couldn’t make any putts,” Sharp explained.

“With eight holes to play, I set a goal of playing my final-eight holes in four-under to have any chance of winning and luckily I did it… I birdied my final-three holes and got some help from them (Summerhays and Keiley).

“It felt great to win the pro side of the Southern Utah Open as it was my first victory in the calendar year, even though the points go for next season,” Sharp continued.  “On a funny note, my six-year-old son had been giving me a hard time recently by saying ‘Dad, you haven’t won a tournament in so long’ with extra emphasis on ‘so long.’ After the round, I called him first to tell him and he was quite excited.”

This may be Sharp’s first win in the 2019 season, but with consistent, steady play in his 14-events played, including a second-place finish in the Section Sidebar of the 2019 Siegfried & Jensen Utah Open, Sharp will finish fourth in the Omega Player of the Year race.

Bloomington Country Club’s Scott Brandt held a one-stroke lead in the Pro Senior Division over The Oaks Head Pro Ryan Rhees after the first round with a (-2) 69. Brandt would go on to a five-stroke win with a second-round 69, with birdies on his final-two holes for good measure.

Quintin Sasser claimed the Super Senior Division after trailing first-round leader Henry White by one stroke. Sasser’s 72 in the final round was steady enough to finish one-over and win by two strokes.

A first-round 64 propelled St. George’s Hayden Christensen (a) to a two-stroke lead over close friend Caden Hamill (a) in the first round. but it was an eagle on the par-five 17th hole in the final round that proved just enough to win the whole thing. Christensen shot rounds of (-8) 64-70 to claim the 2019 title.

Full Results.

Fisher and Sturgeon

Fisher and Sturgeon Win the 2019 Utah Section PGA Pro-Assistant Championship

There is a first time for everything, and for The Country Club’s Wayne Fisher and Haley Dunn-Sturgeon it was the theme for their 2019 Utah Section PGA Pro-Assistant Championship victory on November 18-19 at Bloomington Country Club and Sunbrook Golf Club.

“I am ecstatic,” Fisher said about the win. “I’ve heard so much about how she (Sturgeon) plays. This is actually our first time playing together. We came down not knowing how each of us played. I got to watch her and play Bloomington for the very-first time ever, so it’s been a couple days of firsts.”

Fisher and Sturgeon got off to a quick start at Bloomington in the first round with a (-12) 60. At one point, starting on the 13th hole in the shotgun start, The Country Club duo birdied seven holes in-a-row.

Sturgeon shot a career-low (-9) 63 on her own ball in the Fourball format, maintaining her good play from the Utah Section Women’s Match Play Championship.

“Putting, I made putts from everywhere,” Sturgeon said. “I was striking the ball well, putting well and to shoot 63, it was incredible. Career low, first bogey-free round, a lot of firsts down here.”

“I think the country club is going to be ecstatic,” Fisher continued. “This is above and beyond, we’ve talked about coming down. I used to come down with Mr. Branca, but it’s been quite a few years so it’s nice to represent TaylorMade because TaylorMade has been fantastic to me over the years so I’m thrilled that I get to represent this.”

Fisher and Sturgeon shot a second-round (-4) 68 for a 128-tournament total, which barely outlasted the charging Bloomington team of Scott Brandt and Jed Wright, who shot a final round (-10) 62 to finish one-stroke back at 129.

St. George Golf Club’s James Hood and Cameron Hamill, a new associate in the Utah Section, won the Net Division with a (-20) 62-62 – 124 to win by one-stroke over three other teams tied at 125.

“We just ham-and-egged it,” said Hamill. “James made a couple of good putts on our last few holes and got it done.”

“We didn’t make too many mistakes at the same time,” Hood added “We saved ourselves on a couple of holes and took advantage of some good shots.”

We owe Phil Deimling of TaylorMade and Jeff Smith of Adidas a huge thank you for supporting the Section in being sponsors of this year’s Pro-Assistant Championship. They treat our membership well and we’re lucky to have them.

Another thank you goes to Bloomington Country Club and Sunbrook Golf Club for allowing us to use their facilities and play their courses. It was a fitting end to a great year of tournaments.

Full Results

Photos

PORT ST. LUCIE, FL - OCTOBER 3: Zach Johnson hits out of a bunker on the fourth hole during the first round for the 43rd National Car Rental Assistant PGA Professional Championship held at the PGA Golf Club on November 14, 2019 in Port St. Lucie, Florida. (Photo by Hailey Garrett/PGA of America)

Zach Johnson Leads at the National Car Rental Assistant PGA Professional Championship

By Pat Kravitz, PGA of America

Farmington, Utah’s Zach Johnson carded a bogey-free, 5-under 67 to gain a one-stroke lead after 18 holes of the National Car Rental Assistant PGA Professional Championship.

University of Minnesota Assistant Golf Coach Matt Rachey is alone in second place after posting a 4-under 68. PGA Golf Club is playing host to the 43rd edition of the national championship, which concludes Sunday.

Johnson, who began his round on the back nine of the Wanamaker Course, kicked off his day with a 30-foot birdie from the fringe on No. 10. He rattled off three more birdies on 12, 15 and 16 to reach 4-under through his first seven holes.

“The putt on 10 was a nice way to start the tournament,” said Johnson, a 36-year-old PGA Assistant Professional at Davis Park Golf Course in Fruit Heights, Utah. “With the weather and the wind, it wasn’t easy out there. Pars were a good score. Luckily, I drove it really well today.

“I haven’t been playing much. Yesterday, I played a practice round with some friends from Utah and really played like a dog. I spent some time working on things in the mirror last night. I came out and hit it pretty well, so it was encouraging to find something that works.”

Johnson added a fifth birdie on No. 8 and maintained a clean card by knocking in a 10-foot par putt on No. 9 (his 18th).

This week’s champion, if eligible, will earn a berth in the 2020 PGA Professional Championship, which is slated for April 26-29 at the Omni Barton Creek Resort & Spa in Austin, Texas. The winner will also receive $12,000 of the $150,000 purse. The top-four finishers, if eligible, will earn a berth in next year’s National Car Rental Assistant PGA Professional Championship, to be held November 12-15 at PGA Golf Club.

Leaderboard: https://tinyurl.com/yjs3wwle

Photo by Hailey Garrett/PGA of America

Jon DeBoer

2019 Utah PGA Award Winner Highlight: Jon DeBoer

The Utah Section PGA Assistant of the Year Award was given to Talisker Club at Tuhaye Assistant Golf Professional Jon DeBoer, and for good reasons.

DeBoer focuses on people first, business second. He realizes the game we all love is filled with people that love the game. If those people are taken care of, then his job is done correctly.

When asked what he focused on professionally this year he said, “This season was a transition. Our club went through several significant changes… I focused on continuing the traditions of service while helping to communicate to our membership the new story of our development group. I helped more on the business side of the transition and I think that added value to what golf professionals do for their clubs. Also, I tried to step out from behind the counter to greet people. When I was focused last year on the business I spent way too much time looking at the computer instead of the people who are in front of me. Pro tip of the day: Always make sure your documents are on “auto-save” so you can step away at a moment’s notice.”

It is this mindset of a people-first focus that makes DeBoer the PGA professional he is today and just one of many reasons it is no surprise that he won the Assistant of the Year award for all he’s done in 2019.

“The award reflects an acknowledgment of all assistant professionals within our section,” DeBoer said. “I’ve worked for some amazing head golf professionals throughout my years and hope they know this is a product of their influences.

“Going forward this is just a benchmark in my progression and I hope to improve on the quality and consistency of my efforts,” he continued. “I know the level of professionalism in the other award recipients and other candidates; I feel I need to earn the award more now than ever going forward for them.”

DeBoer has been in the business since 1994, elected to PGA Membership in January of 2018 and at Tuhaye for the past-five seasons.

“I might still be an associate if I hadn’t recently married in 2015 and found a wife who told me to ‘get it done!’” he said.

“Many remember the travel to PGA schools. My first school occurred in Portland, Oregon. One hundred apprentices in the Downtown Hilton were greeted by the administrator. He set the rules for the week, the expectations and the consequences. He then straightened his bowtie and said, ‘Anyone who wants to make it through this week should probably stay away from Jon… Jon, would you stand up?’ Thanks Doug Vilven, I got 93 business cards before the end of the day.”

DeBoer, like many, worked for Vilven and was influenced by his happy demeanor, work ethic and professionalism that a PGA professional should have.

“I enjoy the sense of community that exists within the membership.  If I needed support in anything—professional or personal—the group of PGA professionals that were there for me is humbling.  I am proud of how PGA members look to enrich the game, the business and the people who are part of golf.  I am part of other professional groups but the Utah PGA Section has grown to becoming a family over my career.”

Jake Wyatt

2019 Utah PGA Award Winner Highlight: Jake Wyatt

Gladstan Golf Course Assistant Golf Professional Jake Wyatt, who’s been a member of The PGA of America since October 2017, has been selected to receive the 2019 Utah Section PGA Youth Player Development Award.

“It’s a tremendous honor,” Wyatt said. “I am extremely humbled and grateful to win this award. Junior golf development has always been a passion of mine since entering the PGA.”

Every golfer can agree that growing the game is important to keep one of the world’s oldest sports alive and thriving, but it requires honorable characteristics to focus their career on helping youth learn the game and reap from the benefits of the life lessons the game teaches.

“Introducing the game to the next generation is a big motivation,” Wyatt continued. “I want our game to be accessible to anyone and everyone. Focusing on junior golf and making a less-intimidating, more-fun oriented program has always been a goal of mine. The more friendly and fun we make it up here, the more students we have seen come back and enjoy our practice facilities and the golf course. I want to make Gladstan a place where all the kids in Payson and the surrounding areas love to come, enjoy and spend their time learning the game that we already know and love.”

Gladstan Golf Course offers a yearly junior golf program with several classes, lessons and fun competitions. In addition to their own program Wyatt has lead the creation of and coaches the Gladstan PGA Jr. League team.

“Starting the PGA Jr. League in Utah County has been tremendous,” Wyatt said. “Seeing how the kids react in the team environment and the friends they make has been amazing. I look forward to seeing how we can keep growing and improving the league in the coming years.”

In addition to his responsibilities at Gladstan, Wyatt volunteers his time with the local high school golf team and loves to play golf with his family.

The game offers many things to those who dedicate their time and effort to sharing it with others. For Wyatt, it’s what his career is centered on and he’s influencing the game in Utah because of it.

“It has been the most fulfilling part of my PGA membership experience. Seeing the joy and excitement when a student hits a great shot or comes into the shop to tell me how they played or how much fun junior camp is. It’s been very rewarding.”

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2019 Utah PGA Award Winner Highlight: Bryant Boshard

Golf often has a stereotype of being a private game, or a game that’s hard to begin because of price, location and intimidation. For The Ridge Golf Club Head Professional Bryant Boshard, winner of the 2019 Utah PGA Player Development Award, it’s exactly opposite.

“Everyone needs a chance to excel in something they enjoy doing,” Boshard said. “Each person that walks through our doors is another opportunity for us to share the great game with. Our program selection makes it easy to cater to every type of golfer, from young to old and beginner to advanced. We want you at The Ridge and we are here to help develop your game and enhance your experience on and off the course.”

Boshard has been in the golf business for 20 years, received his PGA Membership in 2014, has been at The Ridge for seven years and the head golf professional for two.

Inclusion is a main focus for Boshard and his staff. Developing programs for juniors, seniors and veterans has shaped the day-to-day life at The Ridge in West Valley City.

“I became a PGA professional because of my love and passion for the game,” Boshard explained. “Over the past few years working with juniors, seniors and veterans has shown me the value and joy it brings to not only their lives, but my own as well. My new reason for being a PGA professional is to continue to spread the game to as many people as possible and share the joy and love it brings to my life.”

Because of this inclusion-centered belief, The Ridge has won several awards including the Utah Parks & Rec Outstanding Adaptive Program in 2018 because of their focus on veterans and the Utah Best of State Golf Programs in 2019.

The Ridge offers leagues for men, women, juniors and veterans. In the first year of The Ridge Veterans League it ran for three months, the next year doubled and ran for six months and they are expecting it to continue to grow for next year.

“I’m grateful and humbled that I have been selected for this prestigious award and I will take pride in receiving it,” Boshard said. “This award would not have been possible without our amazing assistant golf professionals and the entire staff at The Ridge. Since we re-opened our doors in 2013 our goal has always been the same: Make The Ridge Golf Club a place where people of all ages and skill levels can call home. A place they feel comfortable and a place where they know that our staff is always here to help.”