Chris Newson

Chris Newson: Utah PGA Merchandiser of the Year – Public

By Kurt Kragthorpe

Tucked inside the spacious clubhouse of Soldier Hollow Golf Course in Midway is a 975-square-foot golf shop. That’s not a lot of space in the social-distancing era, but Head Professional Chris Newson maximized it in 2020.

“Merchandising is something that I really enjoy and is a great distraction from some of the not-as-fun jobs I do,” Newson said, the golf shop’s only full-time employee.

And this year, that required some creativity. With golfers having limited access to the pro shop, Newson had to catch their attention quickly. His strategy was to showcase one vendor at a time, sell those products via clearance incentives and then make way for the next vendor. Newson succeeded in multiple ways.

“The seasonal staff got really excited, bringing out the new products, freshening displays and educating customers about the features of the new items,” he said. “It was a great way to do things and it’s something we will likely continue to do in the future.”

Those seasonal employees clearly played a big role in Newson’s award, and he appreciates them. The Merchandiser of the Year recognition adds to his credentials that include the Section’s 2012 Professional of the Year award. Newson has been Soldier Hollow’s head pro since the facility opened in 2004 and is known for hosting tournaments, most recently the 2020 Utah Women’s State Amateur.

Bob Wallis

Bob Wallis: Utah PGA Merchandiser of the Year – Private

By Kurt Kragthorpe

Bob Wallis’ acceptance speech features an interior design firm and a carpet company. The remodeling of the Ogden Golf and Country Club pro shop in January would become a key component of Wallis’ merchandising efforts in 2020, and he took it from there.

“Our employees and staff in the shop helped move displays, paint walls, cleaned and worked right alongside us,” said Wallis, OGCC’s head professional. “They were all-around fantastic.”

That spirit of collaboration carried the staff through a tumultuous year that included a pandemic, a windstorm that took out 200 trees on the historic course and an earthquake.

And the club members supported Wallis’ efforts. After all, there could be no merchandising award without consumers making purchases.

So it is fair to say that just about everyone involved with OGCC shares in Wallis’ recognition. It started with the membership’s approval of the pro shop project. As Wallis said, “The fresh, crisp, updated look, coupled with a reconfiguration of the space has made the new pro shop better able to service members. The shop is inviting with products easily accessible. We are proud of this renovation.”

That’s why he’s eager to thank the MacKenzie Exhibit experts in retail space design and the Buckway family of AmeriCarpets. Assistant Pro Nyomy Obcemea, Riley Hacking and the cart and maintenance staff also deserve credit for their work on the project, along with Director of Operations Craig Sarlo and Superintendent Greg Gilmore.

In the bigger picture, Wallis recognizes influences such as Sarlo, Chris Marx, Reid Goodliffe and Scott Erling. “Their mentorship has given me valuable experience in the industry, especially in retailing, merchandising, and providing members with outstanding service,” Wallis said. “Their love of the game is infectious too.”

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Terry Outzen: Utah PGA Jon Unger Salesperson of the Year

By Kurt Kragthorpe

Plenty of reasons exist for the naming of this award – 11, to be exact. Jon Unger, a longtime Callaway representative, earned the title by winning the award 11 times in a 21-year period.

Considering he’s in his early 60s, Terry Outzen won’t catch Unger. Yet he has his own distinction that will be tough to beat.

Outzen has received the award in parts of four decades, starting in 1993. What’s more, the Titleist representative has thrived on the manufacturers’ side of the industry while maintaining Utah Section PGA membership. “Being a PGA member for close to 30 years and getting to work with some of my best friends in life is pretty much a blessing,” Outzen said.

Formerly employed by Slazenger and Cobra, Outzen notes that having good products to sell is a big part of his success. More than anything, he just loves being immersed in golf and watching young professionals move through the ranks. Having led Tooele High School to a state championship and played for Utah State in the Jay Don Blake era, Outzen can still play at a high level. In the Wayne Volk Utah Senior Open, he tied for first place among the pros in the Super Senior division. He also made two eagles in the recent Pro-Assistants Championship, while teaming with his wife, Colleen Walsh-Outzen.

And when he retires from sales traveling, Outzen intends to remain involved in the golf profession, possibly as a teacher.

Scott Brandt Oaks Open 2020

Scott Brandt: Utah PGA Omega Senior Player of the Year

By Kurt Kragthorpe

Scott Brandt is one of those senior golfers who seems to be treating his 60s as if he’s in his early 50s.

He’s technically a “super senior” in age, but that’s not stopping him from competing very favorably against a somewhat younger demographic of golf professionals.

The longtime Bloomington Country Club staff member, whose titles have included head professional, director of golf and general manager since his arrival in St. George in 1992, was a convincing winner of the Utah PGA Omega Senior Player of the Year award. He posted 8,568.75 points to 7,237.5 for Ryan Rhees.

The former Brighton High School and University of Utah golfer won the Southern Utah Open and the RMT/EZGO Winter Classic in his part of the state, then shot 69-71 at Toana Vista GC in Wendover to dominate his division of the Utah Section PGA Championship. He won the senior title by seven strokes; his margin was the same in the super senior category.

Brandt finished fourth among senior pros in the Siegfried & Jensen Utah Open. And in November, with the help of a partial home-course advantage, he teamed with Mark Boggs to tie for fourth place in the Pro-Assistants Championship.

Brandt has won multiple awards in the Utah Section PGA, starting with the 1988 Assistant Professional of the Year award. He’s a former Section president and PGA district officer.

Zach Johnson

Zach Johnson: Utah PGA Omega Assistant Player of the Year

By Kurt Kragthorpe

Zach Johnson enjoys winning, so he’s likely to remember 2020 as a year when he didn’t finish first in any golf tournaments.

That shortcoming hardly mattered, though, when it came to the Omega Assistants Player of the Year competition in the Utah Section PGA. The longtime Davis Park Golf Course assistant pro’s consistency was rewarded with 43719.17 points for 3,050.5 for runner-up Pete Stone, formerly Johnson’s Davis Park colleague and now employed at Valley View Golf Course.

In his 11 events that counted toward the award, Johnson only once finished lower than a tie for seventh place. He also made a second appearance in the PGA Championship, based on his national ranking from the 2019 season.

Locally, Johnson’s 2020 season was highlighted by a tie for second place in the Section Championship at Toana Vista GC, where he was the first-round leader with a 68. He also finished third in the RMT/EZGO Championship, tied for third in the Utah Assistant PGA Championship and made the semifinals of the Match Play Championship.

Johnson has a place in the Section history as a PGA member who won the Siegfried & Jensen Utah Open, as he did at Oakridge Country Club in 2013. The former Cottonwood High School and Southern Utah University golfer was the Section’s Assistant Professional of the Year in 2015 and was the 2018 recipient of what’s now called the Jeff Beaudry Golf Ambassador Award.

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Haley Sturgeon: Utah PGA Omega Women’s Player of the Year

By Kurt Kragthorpe

Like a lot of aspiring professionals, Haley Surgeon wakes up every morning with a dual purpose of trying to improve her golf game and rise in the business. She’s thriving in both ways.

The former Haley Dunn, a graduate of Layton High School and Dixie State, is playing and progressing well. She works at The Country Club of Salt Lake City and plays as much as possible, describing competition as “my release from all the madness” of a year framed by COVID-19 complications.

Playing in seven qualifying tournaments, Sturgeon finished the Omega Player of the Year quest with 4,175 points to 2,475 for Carly Dehlin-Hirsch, who competed in five tournaments.

Sturgeon finished no lower than a tie for third place among women’s Section members in her seven events, while tying for sixth place overall in the Siegfried & Jensen Utah Women’s Open. She shot 66-73 top win the RMT/EZGO Winter Classic and posted a 67 to win the Brigham City Open, in addition to titles in the Valley View Open and the Salt Lake City Open.

Reviewing the season, Sturgeon said, “I felt my golf game has been the best it has ever been. I felt so confident going into tournaments that I was not only going to win the women’s division but I was going to beat the men too.”

Sturgeon plans to play the Cactus Tour in Arizona for a few months in the winter and keep advancing in the PGA Professional Management Program, hoping to complete Level 2 in 2021.

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Joe Summerhays: Utah PGA Omega Player of the Year

By Kurt Kragthorpe

At age 49, Joe Summerhays produced one of the most dominant golf seasons in the recent history of the Utah Section PGA.

Highlighted by a victory in the Section Championship, Summerhays’ season was marked by his remarkable consistency. He never finished below a tie for 11th place in 12 counting tournaments, and that only begins to tell the story of his year. Summerhays posted 6,575 points to 4,550 for runner-up Casey Fowles and 4,260 for Chris Moody in the Omega Player of the Year competition.

In addition to the Section Championship, Summerhays won the RMT/EZGO Winter Classic in February, the Millard County Open in June, the Brigham City Open (tied) in July and the Salt Lake City Open in August. He also tied for second among Section pros in the Siegfried & Jensen Utah Open.

Summerhays is a teaching pro at Eagle Lake Golf Course in Roy and Oakridge Country Club in Farmington. Amid his real life of working and being a father of five, he’s playing the best golf of his life.

“I’m working a little harder of it,” Summerhays told Mike Sorensen of Fairways magazine. “As you get older, you know it’s going to end at some point, so I keep in good shape. My body’s holding up pretty good. I’m teaching a whole bunch so I don’t get to play much, but I’ve been able to focus a little more and I’ve just been hitting the ball really well this year.”


Summerhays’ success as he approaches his 50th birthday inevitably leads to the question of whether he would follow the example of his father, Bruce, and attempt to qualify for PGA Tour Champions as a club pro. “You’ve got to try it, right?” he said.

That opportunity will come in the fall of 2021. Meanwhile, he closed this calendar year by winning another title in the Southern Utah Open, after the 2020 points were in the books.

CLICK HERE for the 2020 Omega Player of the Year Points results.

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Doug Brown: Youth Player Development Leader Award

By Kurt Kragthorpe

Doug Brown once was just like the young golfers who come to Mulligans in South Jordan, eager to swing a club and see how much they can improve.

Working at a facility such as Mulligans, with a big driving range as the centerpiece of the property, surrounded by two nine-hole courses and other recreational offerings, gives Brown a unique perspective on the game. “I have had the opportunity to see hundreds of kids hit a golf ball for the very first time,” he said. “I have found teaching these beginners to be especially rewarding. Although golf is a very difficult game to play, it is awesome to see these kids be able to succeed and to enjoy the successes as they learn.”

Brown grew up in “a family of non-golfers,” he said, and he marvels about how his mother was willing to drive to Brigham City’s Mountain Golf Course sometimes twice a day to fulfill his developing love of the game. The way pro Chris Marx encouraged youth to hang around the course and practice and play is the kind of atmosphere Brown wants to promote at Mulligans. Tapping into his own life, he convinces non-golfing parents of the value of the game to their children.

And he loves success stories, such as kids who developed into high school or even college golfers from a starting point at Mulligans, describing it as “such a great facility that has a great layout, conductive to promoting junior golf.”

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Craig Hocknull: Utah PGA Teacher of the Year

By Kurt Kragthorpe

Craig Hocknull is not interested in trying to impress his golf students. He just wants them to get better.

If some teachers use big words and technical jargon, “I try to take the opposite approach,” said Hocknull, Glenwild Golf Club’s director of instruction. “I simmer everything down to its most basic points.”

Not every great golfer is an excellent teacher, but Hocknull combines the two skills. Having qualified for consecutive PGA Championships in 2018 and ‘19 via the PGA Professional Championship, the Australian is one of the Utah Section PGA’s top players. He’s also a Teacher of the Year in the Southwest Section.

Marty Bauer, Glenwild’s director of golf, credits Hocknull with an ability to cater his lessons to his students, determining how they learn most readily.

It obviously helps that Hocknull has been doing this for a long time – since he was 12 years old. He would teach his father’s friends and his high school friends, and he continued that assistance with his Jackson State golf teammates.

His enrollment at the historically black college is part of the background that led PGA.com to suggest that Hocknull “might be the most interesting man in the 2018 PGA Championship field.” Hocknull is such a good storyteller that one of his weekly clinics this past summer offered the opportunity for Glenwild members to ask him questions about his life in golf. He also addressed green reading and recovery shots, not the usual clinic subjects. He has invented a putter (the Saber Cat) and training aids that supplement his teaching.

Click Here if you would like to learn more about “Craig Hocknull Golf.”

Joel Grose

Joel Grose: Utah PGA Assistant Professional of the Year

By Kurt Kragthorpe

Hobble Creek Golf Course’s Craig Norman, the Section’s 2019 Professional of the Year, has the traditional background of a golf pro who grew up in the game and started on that track in his teens. Joel Grose is another story entirely. His career path took a sharp turn into the golf profession in recent years, yet his previous experience plays into his success as Norman’s assistant.

Having worked in various jobs in marketing and advertising, Grose understands consumers. A level of knowledge that comes with an MBA from the University of Utah certainly helps in the competitive golf industry, when it comes to meeting golfers’ needs.

“I enjoy the blended opportunities that my position at Hobble Creek allows me to use and develop skills in business management, marketing, merchandising, customer service, teaching and creativity in developing new programs and supporting the goals and visions of Hobble Creek,” Grose said.

Grose formerly worked for Soldier Hollow Head Pro Chris Newson, the Section’s Merchandiser of the Year -Public. He’s thankful to mentors including Norman, Newson, Jon DeBore, Devin Dehlin, Steve Elliott, Ken Clark and the late Doug Vilven for guiding his transition into golf and to his wife, Julianne, and three children in supporting that move, as he became a Class A PGA member in 2016.