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A Celebration of Life

A Celebration of Life honoring former Utah Golf Association President, Executive Director, Gold Club & Wesley Ruff Award winner and Utah Golf Hall of Fame member Joe Watts will be held on April 6, 2024 at TalonsCove Golf Club in Saratoga Springs, UT. at 1: 00 p.m. All are invited.

A Good Joe has Left the Course – A Life Sketch of Joe Watts by Connie Watts (based on the personal writings of Joe Watts)

Joe Watts, longtime Utah Golf Association executive director, friend to many, father, brother, grandfather and husband, has finished the course and signed his score card.

On March 11, 2024, Joe left the 18th hole with his putter held high and that enduring smile on his face – not necessarily a smile of a champion but more significant, the grin of satisfaction – having played the game well, enjoyed it and made so many friends along the way.

Life is a lot like a round of golf. You start out at the first tee box. Clubs gleaming. Fresh polo shirt. Sunny skies, friends smiling and hopes high. In front of you is a beautiful course you must navigate with a little ball and some sticks. Keeping the ball on the fairway and out of the rough – especially the deep rough – is the trick. No one knew their way around a golf course – or life – quite like Joe Watts. Let’s walk the course with him. Click Here to read the complete Joe Watts’ obituary.

Joe Watts rides off copy

Honoring Joe Watts

The Utah Section PGA Family would like to send our sincere condolences to the Watts family at this difficult time.

We couldn’t be more grateful for the relationship we had with Joe during his numerous years as the leader of the Utah Golf Association. His leadership allowed the UGA and the Utah PGA to collaborate on countless initiatives that made a difference in the Utah golf community.

A good leader is often defined as someone who leaves the world better than how you found it and Joe definitely did that in the Utah golf world.

The family has announced that there will be a “Celebration of Life” held in Joe’s honor later this spring.

On behalf of the 425 Utah PGA Members and Associates, THANK YOU!! May you rest in peace, Joe!

Devin Dehlin, PGA

Executive Director, Utah Section PGA

DeSantis family

Team DeSantis takes PGA Family Championship

Nearly 150 people from 24 states bridged the generation gap at the inaugural PGA Family Golf Championship Dec. 9-10 at the La Quinta Resort & Golf Club.

The field consisted of 60-plus families. Teams comprised of some combination of mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, uncles, aunts, and grandparents enjoyed the ideal weather and picturesque views of the Pete Dye Mountain and Dunes courses.

Utah PGA Member Dave DeSantis (Golf Galaxy), his wife Holly and grandson Gordie Gatrell (middle three in top photo) won the PGA Professional Division at even par on the Pete Dye Mountain and Dunes courses.

Each team consisted of at least one adult and one junior. A modified alternate shot format required an adult and junior each to hit a tee shot. The pair selected the best of the two and from there played alternate shots until the ball was holed.

For participating, each player received adidas pullovers and hats, and each team received a photo in a PGA Family Golf Championship frame. They also were treated to a pizza and pasta party after the first day of competition with a taco truck and ice cream provided at the conclusion of the competition.

Also competing in the championship were Utah PGA’s Darci Olsen (Glenmoor GC), husband Joey and daughter Randli.

PGA Family Golf launched nationally in 2022. It was inspired by the innovative and welcoming team-based format of the PGA of America’s successful PGA Jr. League program. PGA Family Golf brings family members of all ages and skill levels together on multi-generational teams, each comprising 2-4 players, with a minimum of one adult and one junior. Local programs are hosted exclusively by PGA and LPGA Professionals.

For more information on the 2024 PGA Family Golf Championship, click here.

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2023 Utah PGA Rolex Players of the Year

Congratulations to the 2023 Utah PGA Rolex Players of the Year. It has been another fantastic season of championship golf and we applaud your efforts and excellent accomplishments throughout the year.

CASEY FOWLES-UTAH PGA ROLEX PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Casey Fowles, Sunset View Golf Course

Casey Fowles occasionally checked the standings, although he never put any pressure on himself to win a third straight Rolex Player of the Year award in the Utah Section PGA.

He just kept playing good golf, and the results again went his way in what evolved into a healthy, three-way competition in 2023. Fowles finished with 5,752.5 points to 5,327.5 for Zach Johnson and 5,189.67 for Tommy Sharp.

The latest title “means a lot,” Fowles said, “because those guys have been good for a long time.”

They would say the same about Fowles, the Head PGA Professional at Sunset View Golf Course in his hometown of Delta. At age 39, the former UNLV golfer (who started his college career at the University of Utah) was proud to finish 2023 strong, amid the usual ups and downs of a golf season.

After winning The Oaks Open in May, Fowles tied for first (with Johnson) in the Mountainland Valley View Open in August. He then finished second among Section pros in the Siegfried & Jensen Utah Open (70-68-69) and tied for first in the Willow Creek Open, posting a 70.

“Valley View’s treated me really well over the years,” Fowles said. “Willow Creek was a big one too. Willow Creek was set up really good and tough. That was one of my best rounds all year.”

As a head pro trying to maintain an elite-level golf game, “It’s tough to balance everything,” Fowles said. A supportive family helps make it possible; so does his ability to focus on what he’s doing at the moment.

MARK OWEN-UTAH PGA ROLEX SENIOR PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Mark Owen, Mountain View Golf Course

Mark Owen is not being greedy when he mentions the biggest tournament title that got away from him in 2023. At this point, as a three-time winner of the Rolex Senior Player of the Year award in the Utah Section PGA, he’s allowed to have high standards of performance.

So he’ll keep thinking about the final round of the Mel Duke Utah Senior Open at Toana Vista GC, where Joe Summerhays stormed ahead of him with a closing 66 to top Owen’s 72 after they were tied for the lead.

Otherwise, Owen was the one dusting the competition throughout the season. He finished with 7,741.83 points to 5,450 for runner-up Steve Schneiter, during a year when his game “all kind of came together,” Owen said.

Owen, the Head PGA Professional of Mountain View GC, tied for first place in The Oaks Open. He won the Senior Match Play Championship in a great duel with Scott Brandt at Willow Creek Country Club, took the Senior Section Championship by posting 69-70 at Hobble Creek GC and was the low senior in the Siegfried & Jensen Utah Open at Riverside CC (71-71-73). 

”It’s always fun to win the big ones,” Owen said. “That’s kind of what I shoot for, mostly.”

And that’s why Owen appreciates the Section staff and host pros who stage such high-level events, keeping him motivated to maintain a sharp game. He also has figured out how to do that, while being devoted to his job in Salt Lake County Golf, while being thankful for his two assistant pros, including Dustin Pimm, the Section’s Assistant Professional of the Year.

HALEY STURGEON-UTAH PGA ROLEX WOMEN’S PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Haley Sturgeon, The Country Club

For once, Haley Sturgeon had some competition in the race for the Rolex Women’s Player of the Year award in the Utah Section PGA. She also had some accompaniment.

In the Sturgeon family, 2023 will be remembered as the year when Haley played some great golf as a twosome. Her expected delivery of a child in December created an interesting dynamic, while she won a fifth straight season title.

Emily Jones, her colleague at The Country Club in Salt Lake City, made a strong challenge to Sturgeon’s reign. Do the math: The duel came down to the final match of the Women’s Match Play at Alpine Country Club in mid-October. If not for Sturgeon’s 6-and-5 victory, Jones would have become the Player of the Year. Sturgeon finished with 4,375 points to 4,162.5 for Jones.

Playing so well during her pregnancy was “very special,” Sturgeon said. “It was a constant reminder that no matter what happens in your golf game, just let it go because bigger things are ahead.”

Sturgeon was happy to stay healthy enough to play regularly in tournaments and she was at her best in the Women’s Match Play, dominating all three opponents. 

”Playing good golf while being almost eight months pregnant was incredible,” she said, “and I will keep that feeling with me when I play while I’m not pregnant.”

Sturgeon also finished first in the Brigham City Open, the Mountainland Valley View Open, the Willow Creek Open and the Intro-Lend Davis Park Open.

BRAYDON SWAPP-UTAH PGA ROLEX ASSISTANT PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Braydon Swapp, The Barn Golf Course

Braydon Swapp may wish he could have saved his best round of the year for Sunday in the Siegfried & Jensen Utah Open in August, instead of using it to finish the EMT/EZGO Winter Classic in February.

Even so, both experiences created some good memories of a season when Swapp repeated as the Rolex Assistant Player of the Year in the Utah Section PGA.

He’s proud of that closing 67 amid tough conditions at Copper Rock Golf Course in the Winter Classic and he loved having Keaton Woodland as his caddie while contending in the Utah Open. Swapp earned 1,200 points for finishing as low Section member at Riverside Country Club, shooting 67-69-69. He finished with 4,396.5 points to 3,156.67 for runner-up Aaron Purviance.

In addition to the Winter Classic, Swapp finished first in the Southern Utah Open in November 2022, launching his Player of the Year run. He tied for second in The Oaks Open and tied for third in the Utah Section PGA Assistant Championship at Hobble Creek GC.

In the Utah Open, “I couldn’t get the putter hot enough the last day,” Swapp said, “but it’s always exciting to be in contention in one of the biggest tournaments we play all year as Section pros.”

As he pursues a playing career while working as an assistant pro at The Barn GC, Swapp appreciates the support of his family and friends. And the opportunity to play in tournaments amid his work schedule is “something I don’t take for granted,” he said. “I’m grateful to be able to play the game I love and compete against other high-level players in the Section.”

2023 Utah PGA Rolex Player of the Year profiles written by Fairways Media senior writer Kurt Kragthorpe. Photos by Fairways Media.

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A Statement from the PGA of America on the Golf Ball Rollback

The PGA of America released the statement below today regarding the USGA and R&A’s decision to revise golf ball testing conditions:

We appreciate that the USGA and R&A ran a collaborative and patient process over the past several years. We are particularly gratified that they heard our concerns regarding the significant operational challenges bifurcation would have presented and are no longer considering a local rule regarding the ball for elite players. We are also pleased that the proposed change to the ball has been delayed until 2028 for elite players and 2030 for recreational golfers. Given the important role our nearly 30,000 PGA of America Golf Professionals play in the recreational game, having more time to adjust to the new rule is helpful.

We remain opposed to any change that may potentially lessen the enjoyment of the game for recreational golfers or diminish the unprecedented momentum the game is enjoying.  It appears recreational golfers will see a greater reduction in distance than we would advise. While this decrease has been lessened, we continue to recommend being more moderate on the swing speed change for the golf ball conformance test.

At this time, we continue to have concerns and look forward to continuing this important conversation and finding resolution with all of our golf industry partners.

We value our relationship with the USGA and R&A and respect their role as administrators of the Rules of Golf and the equipment standards of the game. We will continue to share our feedback on this, and any topic that affects our PGA of America Golf Professionals and the countless number of golfers they coach and welcome into the game each year.

Click here for the USGA/R&A press release on Revised Golf Ball Testing Conditions to Take Effect in 2028.

Jeffery John headshot

Professional of the Year Jeff John leads a stellar list of 2023 Utah PGA Award Winners

Every year the Utah Section PGA is proud to recognize individuals who go above and beyond in our golf community. We are fortunate to have so many people who dedicate their time and talents to the growth of the game. We congratulate all of them on a job well done.

On behalf of the Utah Section PGA officers and awards committee, we present the 2023 Utah Section PGA Award winners:

2023 Professional of the Year, Jeff John

Professional of the Year – Jeff John, Logan River

Teacher of the Year – Jake Blair, Victory Golf Works

2023 Youth Player Development Leader – Tele Wightman

Youth Player Development Leader – Tele Wightman, Thanksgiving Point

Assistant Golf Professional of the Year – Dustin Pimm, Mountain View 

2023 Assistant Professional of the Year, Dustin Pimm

PGA Professional Development Award – Jared Barnes, Cedar Ridge

Merchandiser of the Year-Private Facility – Chris Moody, Riverside Country Club

Palisade Golf Course PGA Professional, Jordan Van Orman

Merchandiser of the Year-Public Facility – Jordan Van Orman, Palisade

Player Development Award – Bruce Summerhays, Glenmoor

2023 Jeff Beaudry Golf Ambassador Award winner, Aaron Goodman

Jeff Beaudry Golf Ambassador Award – Aaron Goodman, Utah Section Office

Bill Strausbaugh Award – Chris Johnson, Sun Hills

Wesley Ruff Golf Citizen Award – Garrit Johnson, Fairways Media

Jon Unger Sales Person of the Year – Phil Deimling, FootJoy

Doug Vilven Distinguished Service Award – Dan Roskelley, Retired

Superintendent of the Year- Private Facility – Eric Gifford, The Country Club

Superintendent of the Year- Public Facility – Jason Moon, Hubbard

Governor’s Golf Industry Service Award – Jackie Price, Wendover Casinos

Save_Glenmoor_2017

From Community Advocates to PGA Jr. League All-Stars, Glenmoor 17u tees off today

They saved their golf course, and now they’re headed to the inaugural 17u National Car Rental PGA Jr. League Championship. For a group of 14-to-16-year-olds, they’ve already accomplished a lot, and the future is bright. Today’s opening day live scoring link, Click Here.

Led by PGA of America Golf Professional Darci Olsen, the 17u All-Star team out of Glenmoor Golf Club in South Jordan, Utah, has been many years in the making.

SANTA ANA PUEBLO, NM – NOVEMBER 16: Jared McCleary of Team Utah hits his second shot on the 12th hole during a practice round before the 17u National Car Rental PGA Jr. League Championship at Twin Warriors Golf Club on Thursday, November 16, 2023 in Santa Ana Pueblo, New Mexico. (Photo by Sam Wasson/PGA of America)

“We have worked for a long time on this,” said Olsen, the PGA of America Head Golf Professional at Glenmoor. “I have been on board with PGA Jr. League since the beginning. I love that these kids have been with me since 2017, and now we’re headed to a National Championship.”

In fact, 2017 was a landmark year for Glenmoor Golf Club. Olsen had only accepted her role a year prior amidst a dispute between the owners, and devastating news of an impending sale and conversion to a residential development began to spread.

Her PGA Jr. League players weren’t going to stand by and let that happen.

Olsen invited the Mayor and City Council members to attend a PGA Jr. League game, where she says, “their eyes were opened on how important and impactful our golf facility was and is to our youth, families and community.”

Thanks to the city’s youngest influencers and the overwhelming public support they helped garner, the course was saved––and it continues to thrive under Olsen’s leadership. Her in-house PGA Jr. League program has grown to over 200 players, from true beginners to seasoned competitors, and it averages roughly 20 teams per season. 

“We have some great coaches, players and parents that are a part of our Glenmoor family,” she said. “With the demand, we have added a nine-month PGA Jr. League travel team that starts in January. This year was the first, and it was a success!”

“PGA Jr. League played a much larger role in keeping Glenmoor a golf course than anyone truly realizes,” Olsen continued. “I attribute saving the course to our PGA Jr. League program. It is such a big part of my life and our community. It’s so awesome to now fast forward to 2023 and be taking these same kids to a National Championship. They deserve it!”

Team Utah consists of six competitive veterans: 

SANTA ANA PUEBLO, NM – NOVEMBER 16: Parker Goodman of Team Utah at Twin Warriors Golf Club on Thursday, November 16, 2023 in Santa Ana Pueblo, New Mexico. (Photo by Sam Wasson/PGA of America)
  • Parker Goodman, 16, a member of his high school’s varsity team who can be found competing in the Glenmoor Men’s League with his dad, PGA of America Golf Professional Aaron Goodman.
  • Ian Miyasaki, 15, the 2023 Glenmoor Men’s Club Champion and Junior Club Champion.
  • Jaxon Erickson, 16, who won the 2022 Utah Junior PGA Championship and represented Utah in the 2023 Eddie Hogan Cup.
  • Elliot Bond, 16, ranked 450th nationally on the Junior Golf Scoreboard and 100th in the 2025 class, who has made the 6A All-State and All-Region Teams all three years of high school.
  • Jared McCleary, 16, who notched a career low of 62, finished fifth in 5A State, second in the Region and made the 5A All-State First Team.
  • Krew Saunders, 14, who made the varsity golf team as a freshman, won several U.S. Kids Golf events this season and won the B Flight in the Glenmoor Amatuer.
SANTA ANA PUEBLO, NM – NOVEMBER 16: Jaxon Erickson of Team Utah at Twin Warriors Golf Club on Thursday, November 16, 2023 in Santa Ana Pueblo, New Mexico. (Photo by Sam Wasson/PGA of America)

The bond Olsen has formed with her team and their families is a testament to the community she’s worked so hard to build through PGA Jr. League. It can be summed up perfectly by an anecdote at the National Car Rental PGA Jr. League Regional Championship in September, where the team’s win clinched their spot in the 17u Championship.

SANTA ANA PUEBLO, NM – NOVEMBER 16: Elliot Bond of Team Utah at Twin Warriors Golf Club on Thursday, November 16, 2023 in Santa Ana Pueblo, New Mexico. (Photo by Sam Wasson/PGA of America)

“One of the parents came up to me and said that his son, Elliot Bond, and teammate, Jaxon Erickson, wanted to win so badly for me, their coach,” Olsen said. “They know how much I love this program and have wanted this. It means so much to me for these kids to want to work hard for me. One of the greatest highlights of my career.”

Written by By Hayley Wilson, Published on PGA.comWednesday, November 15, 2023

Evan Wartgow

Utah PGA Assistant Professionals tee off in National Car Rental Assistant PGA Professional Championship

 A spot in the 2024 PGA Professional Championship at PGA Frisco is on the line as the 47th National Car Rental Assistant PGA Professional Championship tees off tomorrow at PGA Golf Club Wanamaker Courtse in Port St. Lucie, Florida. 

The 132-player field includes Utah PGA Members Tyler Dalton (Southgate GC), Aaron Purviance (Red Ledges GC) and Evan Wartgow (Park Meadows CC). They qualified for the national championship with their finish in this year’s Utah Assistant PGA Assistant Championship at Hobble Creek Golf Course. 

The four-day 72-hole stroke play championship will be cut to the low 70 players and ties after 36-holes. The top four finishers and ties will earn exemptions into the 2024 National Car Rental Assistant PGA Professional Championship. Read more here: https://tinyurl.com/ye298w8n

Jayme Taylor PGA Ambassador Utah

A Look Back at a Powerful PGA Hope National Golf & Wellness Week

As the month of November kicks off, and Veterans Day looms large on Nov. 11, it seems fitting to recognize what’s become one of the most special weeks of the year on the PGA of America calendar: PGA HOPE National Golf & Wellness Week.

This year’s edition took place Oct. 12-16 in the nation’s capital of Washington, D.C., at Congressional Country Club in nearby Bethesda. Twenty military Veterans around the country, graduates of their local PGA HOPE programs, participated in an immersive five-day event including advanced golf coaching from PGA of America Golf Professionals and wellness training that culminated in a golf outing at the legendary venue.

Utah PGA HOPE Ambassador, Jayme Turner, Southgate Golf Course

Jayme Turner’s U.S. Army experience on the front lines taught him the value of preparation. Those pre-combat checks and inspections can apply to getting ready for a round of golf.

Yet in his role as a Utah’s PGA HOPE Ambassador, representing the Utah Section PGA, Turner believes that what happens afterward is now his biggest job.

After veterans complete the eight-session golf experience, Turner said, “It’s my responsibility to work the network and keep the guys together. We’ve got to maintain some kind of connection.”

Turner participated in the PGA HOPE National Golf & Wellness Week, his biggest takeaway was playing a course “like nothing I’ve ever seen before,” he said. “The fairways were like greens.”

Commissioned as a PGA HOPE Ambassador, he promised to fulfill the duties of “a champion for PGA HOPE” in Utah. Turner is a graduate of Utah PGA Member Rob Kreiger’s PGA Hope sessions at Southgate Golf Club in St. George. 

“He is all in on golf and PGA HOPE and is completely hooked on the game,” Krieger said. “We could not have nominated anyone any better that is so excited to be in and around golf. … PGA HOPE has been transformational for Jayme and I could not be happier for his active participation and how he will be helping us grow our programs.” 

This Veterans Day, GIVE WITH PURPOSE! Join us in celebrating our nation’s heroes who protect our freedom, while raising awareness and support for Utah PGA HOPE programs. Raising funds for PGA HOPE will allow us to create additional PGA HOPE sessions for veterans, like Jayme Turner, across the state. 

Thank you for joining our effort, CLICK HERE

Story written by Ryan Adams, PGA of America and Kurt Kragthorpe, Fairways Media senior writer. Photos by PGA of America and Fairways Media.

PORT ST. LUCIE, FL - OCTOBER 29: Jeff Brehaut hits his tee shot on the eighth hole of the Wanamaker Course during the final round of the Senior PGA Professional Championship at PGA Golf Club on Sunday, October 29, 2023 in Port St. Lucie, Florida. (Photo by Raj Mehta/PGA of America)

Utah’s Brehaut, Schneiter earn a place on the Corebridge PGA Team for the 2024 KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship

Utah PGA Members Jeff Brehaut and Steve Schneiter have qualified for the 2024 KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship after earning top 10 finishes over the weekend at the Senior PGA Professional Championship at the PGA Golf Club in Port St. Lucie, Florida. 

Brehaut and Schneiter are two of the 35 PGA of America Golf Professionals who have punched their ticket to senior golf’s oldest major. The 35 Professionals make up the 2024 Corebridge Financial PGA Team that will compete at Harbor Shores in Benton Harbor, Michigan next May.

PORT ST. LUCIE, FL – OCTOBER 29: Jeff Brehaut hits his tee shot on the first hole of the Wanamaker Course during the final round of the Senior PGA Professional Championship at PGA Golf Club on Sunday, October 29, 2023 in Port St. Lucie, Florida. (Photo by Raj Mehta/PGA of America)

Park City resident Brehaut, a Utah PGA Life Member, finished tied for fourth place with a 5-under 282 total on rounds of 73-71-68-70. 

Schneiter Pebblebrook’s Steve Schneiter, a former Senior PGA Professional Championship winner and last year’s runner-up, shot (-1) 67-73-75-71 – 286 to finish tied for 9th place Sunday.

PORT ST. LUCIE, FL – OCTOBER 26: Steve Schneiter watches his tee shot on the fourth hole of the Ryder Course during the first round of the Senior PGA Professional Championship at PGA Golf Club on Thursday, October 26, 2023 in Port St. Lucie, Florida. (Photo by Raj Mehta/PGA of America)

Missing the 54-hole cut by 1-stroke was Davis County Director of Golf Dustin Volk. Other Utah PGA Senior Professionals to compete this year were Senior Match Play and Section Champion Mark Owen (Mountain View), Scott Brandt (Bloomington), Todd Tanner (InMotion Junior Golf), Joe Summerhays (Oakridge) and Dave DeSantis (Golf Galaxy).

PGA Director of Instruction at Kinsale Golf and Fitness Club (Powell, Ohio) Bob Sowards won the championship with a six-stroke lead with a final round 6-under 66 on the Wanamaker Course Oct. 29th to finish at 15-under, 272. The win is the second Senior PGA Professional Championship title for Sowards who previously claimed the Leo Fraser Trophy in 2018. He is just the seventh player to win the title twice. 

For the final leaderboard, Click Here.

Photos courtesy of the PGA of America.