Braydon Swapp trophy

A Winter Classic

It appears that Braydon Swapp, the 2022 Rolex Assistant Player of the Year, hasn’t missed much practice time since his win of last season’s Assistant Championship and his playing of the Assistant PGA Professional Championship in Florida. 

Wintering at Southern Highlands Golf Club near Las Vegas will do that for you. 

Swapp earned the winner’s trophy in the Championship division of the RMT/EZGO Winter Classic Feb. 7-9 after 36-holes of play at SunRiver and Copper Rock Golf Clubs. His two day total of 82 Stableford points was six points better than runner up Michael Yates and seven points better than Bruce Summerhays, Jayme Backos, Tele Wightman and Tommy Sharp. 

First round leaders Adam Whitt (74), Casey Fowles (73) and Zach Johnson (72) fell off their opening round pace in cold and windy conditions of the final round at Copper Rock while Dustin Volk completed the top 10 leaderboard with 71 points. 

Click here to read more about the Winter Classic in the February issue of PGA Monthly – Championships.


Awards Banquet highlighted by the selection of Devin Dehlin as Professional of the Year

Utah PGA members and guests gathered Feb 7 for the 2022 Awards Banquet and recognition of last season’s champions. The event returned to the Courtyard reception center in St. George.

All 2022 award winners were recognized for their efforts in growing, improving and protecting the Section and Utah golf as a whole. Those in attendance gave acceptance speeches validating the importance of each award and its meaning in the career of those celebrated. 

As is tradition, the highlight of the evening was the honoring of Utah PGA Section Executive Director Devin Dehlin as the 2022 Professional of the Year. A very grateful Dehlin, who has been energized by his selection, spoke to the strength of the Utah PGA family and recognized that the Section officers and members are some of the very best in the country. 

All former Professionals of the Year in attendance posed with Dehlin, (front row, center) for a historic photo to conclude the evening.

Click here to watch the Professional of the Year tribute video.

Nathan Charnes PGA of America Secretary

37th Utah PGA Annual Meeting welcomes keynote speaker and PGA of America Secretary, Nathan Charnes.

After enjoying a few rounds of golf with Section officers and members, newly elected PGA of America Secretary Nathan Charnes gave the keynote speech during the Utah PGA Annual Meeting Feb. 8 in St. George, Utah. 

It was his first trip as a national officer of the PGA and his first address to any Section’s Annual Meeting.

Charnes echoed the “Utah PGA Family” theme quoting from a sign in his home that reads, “Family – A group of people that TRUST, CARE, and LOOK OUT for each other. 

“That’s why I do what I do. That’s what’s important to me. That’s what the PGA needs.” he said. “The people that I’ve met, you have some of the best, here. I can’t compliment it enough … you’re all very well represented on the national level, it is very impressive group of individuals. And you should be very proud of what they’re doing.”

A transcript of Secretary Charnes’ keynote speech is available by contacting Annie Fisher in the Section office.

Click here to learn more about PGA of America Secretary Nathan Charnes.

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.

Kurt Kragthorpe 2018Masters

Utah sports journalist Kurt Kragthorpe selected as Golf Citizen of the Year

Kurt Kragthorpe is simply Utah golf’s correspondent, event chronicler, and a keeper of golf history in the state. His inexhaustible work in profiling the state’s best golfers and tournaments is a highlight of his entire journalistic career. 

Especially impressive is his focus even now after retirement from a storied newspaper sports writer, columnist, and editor career most notably for the Salt Lake Tribune. He has worked tirelessly for the Tribune, Fairways Media publications including Fairways magazine, coupled with a social media presence as @utahgolfers on Twitter, writing of Utah golf. This effort earned him the Wesley Ruff Golf Citizen Award, given annually by the Utah Section PGA. 

A good example of his work includes his 18 stories in the August issue of Fairways 18 digital magazine covering the Siegfried and Jensen sponsored Utah Open and Utah Women’s Open. He is the go-to voice for updated information on golf, a track record he’s known by for most of his professional career. 

The Wesley Ruff Golf Citizen Award recognizes a person who best promotes the game of golf in Utah by sacrificing their own time and efforts for others with the goal of growing the game. The recipient “rendered professional service in a style and demeanor that reflects well on the entire Utah golf community by exemplifying the attributes of kindness, courtesy, unselfish service, consistent performance, professional excellence, and integrity,” according to the inscription on the award. 

Written by Deseret News Sports Columnist and Fairways Media writer, Dick Harmon.

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.