John Lindert 2023 President PGA of America H

Gather Together

PGA of America President John Lindert addressed the PGA Show attendees at the opening ceremonies earlier this week saying how important it is for the industry to “gather together”. He later spoke with media members and touched on his introduction to the game, the entrepreneurial aspects of being a club professional and his vision of his new position. 

Get to know PGA of America President John Lindert with these interviews with Global Golf Post and Golf Today.

Photo by: Utah Section PGA/Aaron Goodman

Casey Fowles

Casey Fowles selected to 2023 national All-Pro Second Team

Sunset View Golf Course Head PGA Professional Casey Fowles has been selected to the 2023 All-Pro Second Team by Global Golf Post, a popular weekly digital golf publication. The national honor was announced this week ahead of the annual PGA Show in Orlando, Florida. 

Global Golf Post Publisher Jim Nugent said, “For all they accomplish in their respective operations – which is substantial in and of itself – many of these individuals also play the game at a remarkable high level both nationally and locally. To recognize their competitive achievements, Global Golf Post is proud to salute the best on-course performance among PGA golf professionals by naming our 8th annual PGA of America All-Pro Team.” 

That criteria certainly fits Fowles, the 2022 Utah Section PGA Player of the Year. To read more about the national All-Pro Team selections, click here.

Strong Like Bennett

Utah PGA Family: Strong Like Bennett

As the great Bobby Jones said, “Golf is the closest game to the game we call life. You get bad breaks from good shots; you get good breaks from bad shots – but you have to play the ball as it lies.”

When meeting Michael Simons, PGA, his wife Anna and their son Bennett – you’d have no idea how many “bad breaks from good shots” they’ve gone through based on their positive outlook on life and the way they treat others. 

Simons, born in San Jose, California, but raised in Utah, didn’t learn how to play golf until later in life. But when his father introduced him to the game in 2011, he never looked back. 

Soon after being bitten by the golf bug he made the ever-wise decision to call Red Ledges Director of Instruction Jon Paupore, PGA, for lessons.

Typically future PGA Professionals have played the game for years before considering turning it into a career, for Simons, he learned the game and started his PGA Journey about the same time.

“At that point, I was hooked,” said Simons. “In the first lesson, we chatted about my golf goals and I told him I was potentially interested in the PGM Program. He offered me a job after our first lesson together.”

In addition to Paupore, working at Red Ledges led to creating influential relationships with Utah Section Members JR Cummings, John Johnson and Derek Butts which sparked Simon’s desire to pursue his PGA Membership.

This pursuit led the Simons family to Atlanta, Georgia, where Simons landed a spot at the historic East Lake Golf Club. More importantly in the course of their life, it’s where they began having to “play the ball as it lies” with the premature birth and passing of their first child Calvin, in 2017.

Then, four weeks before Tiger Woods completed one of his many historic come-backs with a win at East Lake in the 2018 Tour Championship, Bennett Simons was born in Atlanta.

“Bennett was born at only 24 weeks gestation, so he has overcome a lot in his short life,” said Simons.

Many complications came with Bennett arriving early, which led to many nights in the NICU, causing daily visits from Michael and Anna to the hospital, but it also led them to a moment that inspired strength that would change their outlook on life going forward.

“When Bennett was about a week old he was very sick,” said Simons. “It was bad enough that the doctors didn’t think he would make it. 

“One day when we went to the hospital, Bennett gave us a little muscle flex. We needed this at that time. That was the day we started using the phrase “Strong Like Bennett.” This kid has so much fight in him and has already overcome so much in life. 

“He is an example of strength. Every single day is a new journey that presents different challenges but we will always go about it with optimism and ultimately just try to be Strong Like Bennett.”

Four years later, the Simons are back in Utah, where Michael works at Park Meadows as the communication manager and Bennett goes to pre-school and has grown to be the most “outgoing, people-loving, caring and happy little guy I know.”

The Section, under the direction of Past President Kent McComb, has had an extra focus on being a family, looking after one another. That mission was put to action over the 2022 holidays when Bennett required neurosurgery.

“Surprisingly enough,” said Simons, “neurosurgery was his first major surgery outside of general MRIs, numerous hearing tests and plenty of doctor visits.”

Facing enormous medical expenses from major surgical procedures, the Utah Section Family embraced the opportunity to support one of their own through the creation of a GoFundMe campaign for the Simons.

“The PGA member is the main focus of the Utah Section Officers, Board and Staff” said Utah PGA Assistant Executive Director Annie Fisher. “Sometimes our support of the member comes by way of career support, facility support or education support. And sometimes it comes through the avenue of a bond that is so tight with the entire Utah PGA family looking out for each other in times of need. We raised over $10,000 to help with medical expenses in just a few short days.”

The surgery was a success and Bennett is on the road to recovery, already exceeding his doctor’s expectations with his brain miraculously starting to fill in the space in his skull, which typically doesn’t happen this quickly.

“We’re optimistic that he will continue to make day-to-day improvements and this surgery will allow him to do things he hasn’t been able to do yet,” said Simons. “Especially with his hearing loss, speech delays and other cognitive and physical functions.

“We cannot thank the Utah Section enough for the kindness and generosity shown to us. The texts, phone calls, words of encouragement and money have eased this burden, especially during the holiday season.

“The Utah Section has been an extended family for me. Even when we lived in Georgia, some of my Utah Section friends were the most supportive when my wife and I lost our first child. This Section will always hold a special place in our hearts.”

The Simons family is a shining example of “playing the ball as it lies.” They are the perfect example of the good that can come from the game of golf, when PGA Members and family come together to support something bigger than the game.

“A lot of our life circumstances and experiences are out of our control,” Simons said. “So if we can accept that there will be bad “shots” in our lives, the good “shots” will feel that much sweeter.”

Jesse Dodson is the PGA of America public relations lead, membership & inclusion and a frequent contributor to Utah PGA Monthly. Originally appeared in the January issue of Utah PGA Monthly digital magazine, Click Here

Jeremy Ranch Back 9

Superintendent of the Year (Private)

The Utah Section PGA awards committee looks beyond a course’s level of conditioning in naming Superintendents of the Year. These awards recognize superintendents who are “supportive of the total golf operation at their facility,” and that phrase captures Ben Timmons’ work at Jeremy Ranch Golf & Country Club.

Timmons’ approach to his job is “all about relationships and trust,” he said, citing his collaboration with PGA Professional Jake Hanley. Mentioning a “special culture” of Jeremy Ranch staff members, Timmons also said he appreciates “a supportive membership that trusts us to make decisions that are best for the club for the short and long term.”

Jeremy Ranch will host the 117th Utah State Women’s Amateur Championship in August.

Hobble Creek

Superintendent of the Year (Public)

Jay Geise can hardly wait to see how Hobble Creek Golf Course will look, now that a new irrigation system is in place. He’s also proud to look back on a year of challenges created by the combination of an antiquated system and the ongoing installation.

The Utah Section PGA’s award for Superintendent of the Year among public facilities “means a lot, not just to me, but to our team that kept the course operating at a high level this season,” Geise said. “We found our motivation by preparing the course for everyday play and catching glimpses of what Hobble Creek will look like and play like in future years.”

Geise’s Section award follows his 2020 recognition from the Utah Golf Course Superintendents Association. He has worked for five years at Hobble Creek, after moving from Riverside Country Club.

Kent McComb 2022

Merchandiser of the Year (Public)

Kent McComb’s collection of seven career Utah Section PGA awards is well rounded, although one theme emerges regularly. For the third time in his tenure as Bountiful Ridge Golf Course’s Head Professional, McComb is the Merchandiser of the Year for public facilities.

McComb is tied with retired pro Lynn Landgren of Salt Lake City’s golf program for the most public Merchandiser of the Year awards in Section history (Robert McArthur and Eric Nielsen each has three private awards). The further distinction is that Bountiful Ridge claims five awards, with Scott Whittaker having earned the first two in 1987 and ‘88.

Merchandising “has always been both a great tradition and a team effort at Bountiful Ridge,” McComb said. “We try to keep our entire staff involved as much as possible. We believe that when our staff is having fun with it and feels invested, we are able to provide a higher level of customer service.”

Written by Fairways Media senior writer, Kurt Kragthorpe.

Matt Seare

2022 Jon Unger Salesperson of the Year

Darci Olsen, Glenmoor Golf Course’s Head Professional, knew she could count on Matt Seare to help with her facility’s Special Olympics Unified Golf program, because of the way he approaches his job.

Seare’s nature of being attentive to a golf shop staff’s inventory needs made him the 2022 Jon Unger Salesperson of the Year in the Utah Section PGA.

Seare, a University of Utah graduate, has spent 19 years with Bridgestone Golf. The award “means everything to me, because it comes from my customers,” he said. “I’m so lucky to have a career that I love and get to do business with some wonderful people.”

Brock Padilla 2022

Merchandiser of the Year (Private) – Alpine CC’s, Brock Padilla

The description of the Utah Section PGA’s Merchandiser of the Year awards includes the phrase “promotion of the game.” There are a lot of ways to accomplish that goal, as Brock Padilla and his staff showed in 2022 while earning the recognition among private facilities.

Padilla, Alpine Country Club’s Head Professional, developed Alpine-theme items such as scented candles, soap, bar ware, basketball hoops, cornhole sets and tie-dyed caddie towels. The golf shop took on something of “a boutique feel,” Padilla said, as the staff maximized the club’s rebranding process as “an opportunity to bring in new items that our members haven’t seen before.”

Padilla has over 20 years of experience in the golf industry and has been with Alpine for over eight years.

Chris Marx

Chris Marx selected for Jeff Beaudry Golf Ambassador Award

The Jeff Beaudry Golf Ambassador Award is unique among the Utah Section PGA’s annual honors, recognizing longtime performance. Approaching his 25-year anniversary as the Head Professional of Brigham City’s Eagle Mountain Golf Course, Chris Marx certainly qualifies. Even so, Marx said, “I keep trying to view myself as a young guy. … It’s kind of a weird feeling to think I’ve been here that long. I’m still going 100 miles an hour.”

That pace is partly due to Marx’s ability to govern himself, as an independent contractor at a municipal facility. That’s unusual in the industry these days, and he appreciates Brigham City’s model. He’s also appreciative of having role models and mentors in the Section, including veteran pros whom he actually addresses as “Hero.”

Marx is a former Professional of the Year, a Player Development Award winner and a two-time Youth Player Development Award recipient. As for his latest award, he said, “The thing that means the most to me is having my name next to some of the people that are on that list. It makes you feel awesome.”

Written by Fairways Media senior writer, Kurt Kragthorpe.

Sue Billek Nyhus plays her tee shot at the third hole during the first round of match play at the 2018 U.S. Women's Mid-Amateur at Norwood Hills Country Club in St. Louis, Mo. on Monday, Sept. 24, 2018.  (Copyright USGA/Matt Sullivan)

Utah Golf Hall of Fame’s Sue Nyhus named Utah PGA Professional Development Award honoree

Coaching comes naturally to Sue Nyhus, formerly the longtime women’s golf coach of Brigham Young University and Utah Valley University. Having recently become a PGA Professional, Nyhus considers herself “uniquely qualified” to mentor aspiring PGA members. She has the life experience of a veteran teacher, yet also can relate to someone who’s going through the process.

That vantage point, plus a willingness to give back, have resulted in Nyhus’ 2022 Professional Development Award in the Utah Section PGA. “I love helping, and will do it as long as I can be effective,” said Nyhus, a Utah Golf Hall of Fame member who works as the program director for The First Tee of Utah.

She contacted every associate member of the Section, offering any assistance and encouraging them to “finish one more assignment and to keep moving” in the PGA program.

Written by Fairways Media senior writer, Kurt Kragthorpe. Photo Credit: USGA/Matt Sullivan 2018 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship.