Lanny Nielsen

Lanny Nielsen, 86, Passes Away

Thoughts and prayers from the Utah Section PGA to the Nielsen family during the passing of Lanny Nielsen, a PGA member sine 1963.

His obituary and Celebration of Life information is below:

Even at the ripe old age of 86, Lanny Nielsen’s passing on September 17, 2022 came much too soon. He was a charming, funny, sweet and immensely talented man who made friends with everyone he met. No one had more stories to tell, or enjoyed telling them more. And the countless people who loved him all have stories about him that will continue to be told for many years.

Lanny was born in Preston, Idaho and raised in Blackfoot, where he was a star athlete in most every sport. Golf, however, was his passion, first as a player at BYU, then as a professional and PGA Tour player, then as assistant pro at Hidden Valley, head professional at Wasatch Mountain State Park and the first director of golf at Jeremy Ranch. And starting in 1991, he even began contributing to the development of golf video games for Access Software and then Microsoft.

Lanny’s contributions to Jeremy Ranch were a source of great pride. He developed close relationships with Gerald Bagley, the course’s founder, as well as architects Arnold Palmer and Ed Seay, while the course was in the development stages. Through the 1980’s, he was the tournament director of The Shootout, a PGA Tour event hosted at Jeremy.

The other love of Lanny’s life was Claudia Cummings, who he married in 1984 and always said was “out of his league.” Claudia shared Lanny’s passion for both golf and having a good time. They bought a home on Jeremy Ranch and turned it into a beautiful, magical gathering place for friends, and both of them making sure everyone was having fun. As Lee Benson, their long-time friend once said, “Lanny’s real talent is kicking back. His greatest achievement was collecting friends. He had a gift of putting everyone at ease and making them feel important. He lived a life of tranquility.”

Anyone who had the pleasure of knowing Lanny would say he was one-of a-kind and there will never be another like him.

Lanny’s Celebration of Life will be at Jeremy Ranch Country Club Tues., Sept. 27th from 3:00 pm – 7:00 pm. Casual golf attire.

Easton Folster UGA

Easton Folster Named Utah Golf Association Executive Director

The Utah Section PGA congratulates Easton Folster on being named the new Utah Golf Association executive director. We are excited to work with him and continue our solid relationship with the UGA.

Sept. 20, 2022, Salt Lake City, Utah: Utah Golf Association (UGA) President Brian Hulse has announced Utah native Easton Folster as the new executive director effective immediately.  

Folster fills the executive director position left vacant with Jacob Miller’s move earlier this year to the United States Golf Association as a regional director. 

Hulse said, “The Utah Golf Association has a long history of excellence maintained by the commitment and dedication of its board members, volunteers and many talented executive directors. We are pleased to have Easton Folster continue that tradition as our new executive director. Our board and executive committee are excited about the future possibilities that Easton promises to bring to the UGA. His relationships with other stakeholders in Utah golf are an invaluable asset as we strive to meet the challenges faced by our organization and the game of golf in the coming years.”

Folster joined the UGA in February of 2018 as the director of rules and competitions, a position he held until 2022 when he became the assistant executive director under Miller. 

Miller said, “Easton has been a great addition to the UGA team since he started in 2018. He has a passion for the game and the Utah golf community.  It is wonderful to see him get the opportunity and he will be an excellent leader for the UGA for many years to come.“

Born and raised in Mapleton, Utah, Folster is a graduate of Springville High School. Prior to joining the UGA, Folster spent three years as the director of rules and competitions for the Sun Country Amateur Golf Association in Rio Rancho, New Mexico.

Prior to his golf industry career Folster attended Brigham Young University before earning a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Spanish from Campbell University in North Carolina. Less than two years later, Folster earned a Master of Professional Studies Degree in Sports Industry Management from Georgetown University in Washington D.C.. During his time in graduate school, Easton worked in the athletic departments at both Georgetown University and George Washington University. 

Folster discovered his passion for the golf business while working at the Virginia State Golf Association as a USGA Boatwright intern before accepting a full-time position with the Sun Country Amateur Golf Association.

Folster said, “I am honored to be selected as executive director of the Utah Golf Association. When I look at those that have come before me, I am humbled to follow the legacy they have established. The Utah golf community is strong and enjoys a cohesion not seen in many states. I look forward to collaborating with Utah’s allied golf organizations’ leadership to build upon important established traditions, while creating new ones. It will be important to me that the game remains accessible to the greater population of Utah, while looking for ways to introduce the game to new golfers. It is my hope that my time as executive director is remembered for expansion, inclusion, and community outreach.  

ABOUT THE UTAH GOLF ASSOCIATION: The Utah Golf Association is dedicated to growing and protecting amateur golf in Utah. The UGA provides its membership with official United States Golf Association handicapping services and conducts Utah’s amateur golf championships. The UGA is a 501(c)(7) not-for-profit organization whose objective is to promote interest in amateur golf without regard to race, color, or creed and to engage in educational and good will activities that grow the game. The UGA is recognized as a regional golf association of the USGA and as such conducts all local USGA qualifiers.

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Owen Claims Utah PGA Professional Championship

Mountain View Head Professional Mark Owen won the 2022 Utah Section PGA Professional Championship at Toana Vista Golf Course in West Wendover, Nevada, with rounds of (-11) 68-65.

The victory, however, didn’t come without some dramatics on the final hole from the last two groups.

By the turn of the second round, Owen had caught first-round leader and current Rolex Utah Section PGA Player of the Year leader Casey Fowles. Fast forward to Owen’s 36th hole and he had the lead by one.

Hitting the green in regulation, Owen’s second putt slid by the hole, resulting in a bogey – finishing his second round in 7-under, 11-under total.

Fowles, playing in the final group came to his 36th hole needing a birdie to win and a par to tie. However, the Toana Vista 9th green also got to Fowles, forcing another three putt – resulting in a second-place finish for the Sunset View Golf Course head professional.

“I’m fortunate, that’s for sure,” Owen said.

Owen’s final round included an eagle, seven birdies and two bogies. He attributes the win to his putter after receiving a putting tip from his son a few weeks earlier. “As usual my putter (was working), I made putts. I didn’t hit it bad and I did keep it in play.”

Despite an unfortunate event of his bag falling off his cart, snapping his driver in two on the first tee box of round one, Owen kept the ball out of the Wendover desert off the tee and made a lot of putts to win his third Section Championship – his first coming in 2009 and his second coming 10 years prior in 2012.

“It’s fun to win, and win as a regular player and not as a senior. Although there are some many good senior players, I love winning as a senior, too.”

Owen also claimed the senior division and currently leads the Senior Rolex Player of the Year race with the victory.

Alongside the win, Owen qualifies for the 2023 PGA Professional Championship played in the spring at Twin Warriors & Santa Ana Pueblo Golf Clubs in New Mexico – the same location he’ll be competing in the Senior PGA Professional Championship later this fall.

Also qualifying for the PPC is Fowles, Matt Baird, Jordan Gibbs, Tommy Sharp and Zach Johnson. Steve Schneiter is also exempt to play as a past champion.

Scott Brandt won the super senior division with rounds of (-3) 69-72 and Ron Branca won the legend division with a (+4) 76-72.

As one of our favorite weeks of the year concludes, we owe a big thank you to the West Wendover Casino Group, which includes the Rainbow, Peppermill and Montego Bay hotels and casinos and the Peppermill Concert Hall for their accommodations and support of the Utah Section. Thank you to the staff of Toana Vista Golf Course as well for hosting every year.

Results

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Schneiter Wins Utah Senior PGA Professional Championship

Winning never gets old for Utah Golf Hall of Fame member and Schneiter’s Pebblebrook Professional Steve Schneiter.

Schneiter shot rounds of (-4) 68-68 at the Talisker Club at Tuhaye August 29-30 to win the Utah Senior PGA Professional Championship.

“I mean I played solid all day,” He said. “I had one little hiccup on three but made a good bogey.

“It’s fun, I haven’t won for a while,” he continued. “I played in the Team TaylorMade Championship at Pebble Beach last week and me and my partner won the team part of it, but it’s been a while.”

This marks Schneiter’s third Senior Section Championship victory over his senior career. After leading the first round, he held off a charging Jeff Brehaut, who shot a final round (-4) 66 to get within two strokes of the lead.

The championship acts as a qualifier for the National Senior PGA Professional Championship, which will be played this year on October 13-16 at Twin Warriors & Santa Ana Golf Clubs in Santa Ana Pueblo, New Mexico.

“It’s our big one, it’s the biggest event we play in all year as a club pro, the working pros,” Schneiter said. “That and the regular club pro are the big events for us.”

From there, our qualifiers will have the chance to play for a spot in the Senior PGA Championship.

“That’s the first goal (to get in to the Senior PGA and PGA Championships), and of course to get into a position to win.”

Four qualifying spots were available for the Senior PGA Professional Championship, and as Schneiter was previously exempt as a past champion, the qualifiers included Brehaut, Mark Owen, Tracy Zobell and Ryan Rhees.

Full Results

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Swapp Wins National Car Rental Utah Assistant PGA Professional Championship

The Barn Assistant Pro Braydon Swapp gets his second professional win and first Utah Section championship under his belt by winning the National Car Rental Utah Assistant PGA Professional Championship at the Talisker Club at Tuhaye August 29-30.

“It feels awesome, it’s been a good year,” Swapp said. “It’s bee a little bit of a slow month of August, not playing quite how I want to, so today was a great reset. It Proves I still have it, even though I haven’t been playing great this month.

“First big win for me. It’s an awesome golf course, super fun. Today was great battling with Clint (Godfrey), we just battled the whole back nine. It was good.”

After round one, Swapp and Mick Riley Assistant Pro Clint Godfrey were tied at even-par 70. Going back and forth all day, paired together in the final group – extra holes were needed.

Playing the uphill par-four 7th hole, Swapp won with a par, making no mistakes.

“Fairway, green and a two putt,” Swapp said. “Clint hit a bad second shot, which you don’t want to see. But It’s like my mom always says, pars are good. If you can make a lot of pars and throw in a couple birdies, pars are good.”

With the win, Swapp qualified to play in the National Car Rental Assistant PGA Professional Championship in Port St. Lucie, Florida on the PGA Golf Club Wanamaker Course November 17-20.

“Just getting the opportunity to go represent Utah, playing out of state is good,” Swapp said. “It’s my dream to travel and play, so it’s a good step in that direction.”

Also qualifying for the championship is Stonebridge Assistant Pro Paul Phillips and Remuda Golf Course Assistant Pro Jadyn Wayment.

Full Results

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Blake Tomlinson Trophy H

‘It was an awesome moment’: You won’t believe how former University of Utah golfer Blake Tomlinson won the Utah Open Sunday

By Jay Drew, Deseret News

Usually, the only roars heard at Riverside Country Club in Provo come during football games at nearby LaVell Edwards Stadium, home of the BYU Cougars.

But one came Sunday afternoon that probably could have been heard over on campus — and it came after a shot by a former Utah Ute, no less.

Blake Tomlinson will certainly never forget it.

The newly minted pro, who completed his eligibility at the U. last May in the NCAA Championships, holed a 48-yard approach shot for an eagle 2 on the 16th hole. That heroic shot, along with two other eagles and a slew of birdies, carried him to the 2022 Siegfried and & Jensen Utah Open title. 

“I knew I put it in a good spot. That’s why I ran over to the left.” Tomlinson said. “I had the bunker a little bit in the way,” he said. “I saw it rolling and I didn’t know if it was going to get there. Everyone was telling it to go in before it went in, and I was like, ‘oh, gosh, hope it goes in,’ and when it did dropped, it was an awesome moment.”

Tomlinson and caddie Kyler Dunkle after Blake’s first of three eagles, including two hole-outs.
Photo: Jesse Dodson/Utah PGA

Near the clubhouse, where a group of fans had gathered around the 18th green, folks looked at each other and asked, who (produced) that? Some thought Tomlinson or perhaps Zac Blair had made an ace on the par-3 17th. But it came from the 16th, and the Tomlinson clan, in particular — several of them dressed in Ute red.

“Yeah, I think everyone heard her,” Tomlinson said of roar, nodding in the direction of his mother, Annette. “But yeah, it was awesome. I have a loud family, that’s for sure. But you gotta earn it, and I think I did.”

Tomlinson, who prepped at Skyline High, became the first former Ute golfer to win the Utah Open since Bruce Summerhays won in 2008 at Oakridge in a playoff over his nephew, Boyd Summerhays. But that came some 40 years after Bruce Summerhays played for the U., and by then he was known more for his accomplishments on the PGA Tour and PGA Champions Tour.

Read the whole Jay Drew Deseret News Story HERE.

Click here for Final Round photos.

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Blair Sinks 50-Foot Birdie to win Women’s Open

By Kurt Kragthorpe,

Her achievement, five seasons in the making, forever will be known as the Tess Slam in Utah women’s golf. Bingham High School graduate Tess Blair is convinced someone else will match her collection of victories, and that may be true.

This dramatically, though? Unlikely.

Blair’s 50-foot, downhill, wide-breaking birdie putt on the 18th hole gave her a stunning win Tuesday in the Siegfried & Jensen Utah Women’s Open presented by Fairways Media at Thanksgiving Point Golf Club. When the ball struck the flagstick (as the updated Rules of Golf allow) and settled into the hole, Blair covered her mouth in the classic expression of disbelief, then took two steps and hugged her father/caddie, Robert.

And that was before Blair even knew she had won the tournament. The Sacramento State golfer never likes to know where she stands, so the news that she had rescued a win that almost got away from her in disastrous fashion made the ending even more satisfying.

Blair’s one-stroke victory over Colorado pro Bryce Ray came after she lost a six-stroke lead on the back nine, with Ray playing two groups ahead of her. With a pair of 69s for a 6-under-par total, Blair became the first golfer to win three Utah Golf Association events (the Women’s State Am, Mary Lou Baker Open and Women’s Stroke Play Championship) and the Utah Women’s Open, launched by the Utah Section PGA in 2017.

After winning the Stroke Play title by one stroke over Fotu in July, Blair became aware of her historic opportunity. “I thought it would be good to check it off my list,” she said. “I didn’t know it would come so soon.”

Blair’s accomplishment almost became known as the Sirene Slam. Her sister, Sirene, who’s six years older, lost the inaugural Utah Women’s Open in Provo when Lea Garner made a 30-foot birdie putt on No. 18.

Ray earned $1,500 as the low professional, finishing two shots ahead of defending champion Kerstin Fotu of BYU and Haley Sturgeon, an assistant pro at The Country Club of Salt Lake City in the field of 38 amateurs and 10 pros. Ray would have welcomed a playoff for the trophy, just to test herself.

Colorado Pro Bryce Ray

As she played the back nine. Ray was concerned mostly about staying ahead of Sturgeon, while putting pressure on herself to finish well for the sake of preparing for the upcoming LPGA Tour Qualifying Tournament. The former Wichita State golfer birdied three of the last five holes to post a 67, while lipping out a birdie try on the par-3 No. 17.

That’s where Blair three-putted from the fringe for a bogey, after an errant drive had led to a double bogey on the par-5 No. 14. She remained positive at that point, saying, “I knew there were still some birdies out there.”

One, anyway.

Blair’s drive sailed slightly right on the par-4 No. 18, leaving her on an upslope, 110 yards from the hole. Her wedge shot sailed to the upper tier of the green, making even a two-putt par challenging. She judged the speed and the line perfectly, though, as the ball trickled over the ridge and into the hole.

Blair earned an exemption into next week’s Siegfried & Jensen Utah Open at Riverside Country Club in Provo, where Fotu last summer became the first woman to make the 36-hole cut.

Click here for full results

Click here for event photos.

Story posted with permission of Kurt Kragthorpe. Originally appeared here: https://www.sltrib.com/sports/2022/08/09/50-foot-birdie-win-utah-womens/

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Promontory Jr. Major Concludes 2022 Season

Another 2022 Utah PGA Junior Series Major season has come and gone with the conclusion of the Promontory Major Championship, played on the Dye course August 1st in Park City.

Before Promontory there were five 36-hole Majors that lead to the season-ending championship and on the line, were exemptions into the 2022 Siegfried & Jensen Utah Open and Utah Women’s Open.

Exemptions were available to the Players of the Year and the winners of the Promontory Championship.

For the Boys 15-18 division, Trever Plewe and Cooper Canyon tied at the top of the leaderboard at 3-under. Due to lightning in the area, no playoff was played, exempting both into the Utah Open at Riverside Country Club in Provo, Utah.

“This is awesome,” Cannon said of his spot in the Utah Open. “I watched my bosses (Davis Park Professionals Dustin Volk & Zach Johnson) play last year and thought it would be really cool to play, so that got me really excited.”

Cooper Cannon

Cannon had two additional wins during the regular season and a runner-up finish at the Davis County Major.

Plewe birdied three of his last four holes to get to 3-under on the day. He had one other win this season and three other top-ten finishes in the Majors.

“It’s something I never thought I’d do, especially just going into my junior year,” Plewe said about his exemption. “It’s a dream I never could have imagined happening.”

Trevor Plewe

As for the Boys Major Player of the Year, that takes consistency throughout the entire summer, and that’s exactly how Jackson Rhees played this season to earn his spot into the Utah Open.

“I’ve grown up watching my dad (The Oaks Head Pro Ryan Rhees) play in it, or caddying for him, so I’m excited to go play in it,” Rhees said. “Making the cut and playing on Sunday would be the goal for me.”

Ryan & Jackson Rhees

In the three Majors leading to the Promontory Championship, Rhees finished 3rd, T2 and 1st. He finished T2 at Promontory, but earned enough points to finish on top for the season.

In the Boys 13-14 division, Jack Summerhays successfully defending his title with a (-3) 69. Harrison Corcell (-2) finished 2nd and Mo LeCheminant (E) finished 3rd.

Harrison Corcell, Jack Summerhays, Mo LeCheminant

In the Girls 15-18 division there was another tie at the top between Reimi Bleyl and Isabell Salas at 3-over. Both earned spots to compete in the 2022 Siegfried & Jensen Utah Women’s Open at Thanksgiving Point in Lehi, Utah.

“I’m pretty excited to be able to play in a tournament with such a competitive, talented field,” Bleyl said. ‘I look forward to playing and learning a thing or two from the players.”

Reimi Bleyl

Bleyl, who lives in Phoenix, played in all but one Major this season, never finishing lower than 4th. She also won the regular season Tournament of Champions at TalonsCove.

Salas, of Green River, Wyoming, finished runner-up in the two Majors leading up to Promontory and finished the season on a high-note in Park City.

Isabell Salas

“I’m very honored for the opportunity to play in the Utah Women’s Open,” Salas said. “If you want to be the best you have to play with the best and I feel like the best female golfers I know are in the field at the Open.”

Ashley Lam, who finished 3rd at Promontory, won the Girl’s Majors Player of the Year with four victories and a runner-up in all five majors. She also earned a spot in the Utah Women’s Open, but will be unavailable to play.

Ashley Lam

Rounding out the girl’s divisions are Ellie DeMond, who won the 17-18 division at 5-over. Molli Mulhall won the 13-14 division at even par. In the six events she entered, she won all but one, where she finished runner-up.

Thank you to the staff at Promontory Club for hosting another Major Championship. And thank you to all who support the Utah PGA Jr. Series year-in and year-out. We look forward to seeing you in 2023!

Results

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Brehaut Wins Kelly Woodland Utah Senior Open

PGA Life member and former PGA Tour member Jeff Brehaut goes wire-to-wire with rounds of (-8) 67-69 to win the 2022 Kelly Woodland Utah Senior Open at Toana Vista Golf Course in West Wendover, Nevada July 27-28.

“I kind of persevered today,” Brehaut told Paul Pugmire on the Utah Golf Radio Podcast. “I couldn’t get my driver going where I wanted it, but I chipped in twice today. That doesn’t happen all that often. I just hung in there and kept grinding.”

Brehaut credits his putter and short irons in breaking away from the field for a three-stroke victory. Dave DeSantis (-5) finished runner-up and winner of the Super Senior Division, while Paul Phillips (-4) finished third.

Brehaut spent seven years on the PGA Tour, competed in the 2022 US Senior Open and recently won the Arctic Circle Senior Open at Mountain View prior to his win in Wendover.

He currently travels back and forth between California and Utah to see family and continue his teaching career.

“I get asked all the time if I miss California and I (jokingly) say, ‘no.’ My wife and I love it here.”

Low amateurs for the event include David Booth and Jon Rhodes who both finished (-1) 143 for the event.

Though great golf was played and a tournament was completed, the event was centered around long-time PGA Professional and The Barn Head Professional Kelly Woodland, the Utah Senior Open honoree.

Thank you to the Woodland family for allowing us to celebrate and remember Kelly’s life, one that impacted everyone at the event and more in Utah golf.

Thank you to the Toana Vista staff and Wendover Hotels & Casinos group for always being gracious hosts.

FULL RESULTS

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Summerhays Wins Senior Match Play Championship

Joe Summerhays didn’t waste much time after turning 50 late last season to win his first Section senior event. From 32 to one, Summerhays outlasted them all in the Utah PGA Senior Match Play Championship, winning the semifinal and final matches at Alpine Country Club July 14th.

Summerhays defeated Todd Meyer 3&2 in the semifinal and Matt Johnson 6&5 in the final. The common denominator between both matches? A lot of birdies to start each match.

He birdied the first three holes in the semifinal match against Meyer to build a quick lead and birdied three of the first five holes against Johnson, which was part of the game plan going into Thursday’s matches.

“It’s important for me in match play to get out ahead,” Summerhays said of his hot starts. “That’s how I play best, I struggle when I’m behind. When I do that I feel more comfortable.”

As a relatively new senior in the Section, this is Summerhays’ first attempt at the Senior Match Play Championship.

“It’s fun to win a match play tournament because it’s tough to win, each match is crazy different. It’s a good accomplishment.”

On his way to the title, Summerhays defeated Kevin Connole, Scott Brandt, Eric Nielsen, Meyer and then Johnson.

Johnson, a PGA Life Member, made it to the championship match after defeated defending champion Mark Owen in 20 holes.

Johnson birdied holes 17 and 18 to force the playoff and then the second playoff hole to earn a spot in the final.

Summerhays will compete in the remaining Section events, including the Utah Open and Section Championship, and then he’ll set off to various state opens and PGA Champions Tour Q School to try and earn some status on the senior tour.

Thank you to Stonebridge, Willow Creek and Alpine for hosting the 2022 Senior Match Play Championship!

Full Bracket