The Utah Section PGA is excited to announce Cassie Campos as the Utah PGA Junior Golf Manager and our newest team member.
Campos has been a summer intern on our junior golf staff for four seasons. As her knowledge for the game and the Utah PGA Junior Series increases, we see the benefits she will bring to the Utah Section and Utah junior golf as a full-time staff member.
“Being a part of the Utah PGA family has been the greatest opportunity,” she said. “I am so excited to be able to continue to help grow the game of golf for junior golfers in Utah and share my passion for the game of golf with them.”
As registration for the 2022 Utah PGA Junior Series season begins today, and the start of the season just around the corner – here are some fun facts about Cassie Campos:
Graduated from Bountiful High School and was a member of the golf team.
Played golf and attended Westminster College in Salt Lake City from 2016-2021, where she graduated with a degree in accounting.
Member of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee, where she met with other student athletes to come up with ways to improve the student athlete experience.
2X Second Team All-RMAC and 4X All-Academic RMAC Team.
Member of the 2021 Conference Championship Team at Westminster. Go Griffs
Had the amazing opportunity to work as a Merchandising Intern for the PGA of America at the 2020 Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits Golf Course in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. Where she took part in creating and working in the 60,000-square foot merchandising tent for a month.
The RMT/EZGO Winter Classic in honor of Mike Stanger and supported by Under Armour was the perfect way to kick off the 2022 Utah Section season with three rounds of golf, the annual Awards Banquet and the Annual Meeting – bringing Section members together to start the year.
After a warm-up scramble round at The Ledges to shake off the rust, two Stableford championship rounds were played at Southgate Golf Course and Bloomington Country Club, where familiar names would top the leaderboards.
In the regular division, Davis Park Head Professional Zach Johnson took command of the tournament in the final round with a (-6) 66 that included two eagles, four birdies and two bogies.
“I had a good stretch on our first few holes,” Johnson said. “I birdied 15, eagled 16 and birdied 17. I hit it out of bounds on 18, which was disappointing, and made bogey. Then I got up on hole one and eagled, so our first 8-9 holes I had three birdies and two eagles.”
That strong stretched propelled him from being three-points behind first-round leader Matt Baird, who finished third with 83 total points. Johnson finished with 95 points and reigning champion Casey Fowles finished runner-up with 86 points.
In the women’s division, Salt Lake Country Club Assistant Professional Haley Sturgeon completed the “hat trick” winning her third consecutive Winter Classic with 82 total points. This placed her T4 in the regular division as well.
“The beginning of the year for me has been a struggle mentally and physically with two injuries, but now I’m recovering from those and my game is starting to come back,” Sturgeon said. “No bogies today, two birdies, missed an eagle putt, but was putting solid. I drove the ball well, irons were decent, but my putting made it easy.”
Sturgeon plans on competing in a couple Cactus Tour events at the end of the month and received word from Copper Rock Head Professional John Horton that she has been given an exemption to play in the Epson Tour’s Copper Rock Championship for the second consecutive year.
Stonebridge Professional Paul Phillips picked up where he left off last year with his strong play in Section events, winning the senior division by two points over reigning champion Doug Roberts.
Phillips holed out for eagle on his second hole of the day from about 100 yards on the par-four 10th hole at Bloomington. He would finish one-under for the day and 85 points for the championship.
In the super senior division, it was Bloomington Director of Golf Scott Brandt and Utah Sports Hall of Fame member Jay Don Blake finishing tied at the top with 82-total points.
And to round out the championship, Chip Garriss won the legend division with 79 points, four better than runner-up Larry Stubblefield.
Thank you to Chad Kartchner of RMT/EZGO and Jordan Bloxham of Under Armour for sponsoring the event and supporting the Utah Section. It was a week to remember and honor our dear friend Mike Stanger, who had been a big supporter of the Winter Classic for years.
The highlight of the week was gathering as a Utah PGA family to celebrate our 2021 award winners in the Awards Banquet and set off on the right foot for a new year after the Annual Meeting.
Over the past few years, we have seen a significant increase in junior golf. The Utah PGA is committed to creating a great experience for junior golfers to learn the game of golf as well as offer competitive events for golfers ages 4-18. Due to the demand, we will be expanding our program in order to create more opportunities for juniors wanting to participate in our events. The full Utah PGA Junior Series schedule including JET, Linkster and Itty Bitty events will be posted by February 15, 2022. Registration for these events will open March 1 at 9:00AM.
We are excited to expand the number of Majors we offer to 5 events. The Majors are for experienced players. There will now be a handicap requirement for these events in order to create a better experience for all golfers interested in the more competitive events. For boys ages 13-18 participating in Majors, the requirement will be that you must have a handicap under 15. Girls ages 13-18 must have a handicap under 24 to participate in Majors.
All members and non-members will be able to sign up for these events March 1, 2022 with the knowledge that they will have to have an established handicap meeting the requirement the day of the entry deadline. (Those deadlines are typically the week before the actual event) If you do not meet the requirement on that date, you will be issued a full refund and a player from the waiting list will be considered to take this spot.
How will you start to establish a handicap? This year your Utah PGA Junior Series membership fee will include a UGA membership card. You will be able to start establishing your handicap immediately once you start posting rounds this spring. Handicaps are updated frequently, so this will be fun for you to set goals and watch your handicap improve over the summer.
Membership fees for the 2022 season will be $65 for ages 13-18 and $40 for ages 4-12. The UGA membership card is only included for the 13-18 age group. Membership for all ages allows members to sign up for events and a membership gift. Having a membership also gives you access to member pricing for the Majors.
Having an established handicap will only be required for those participating in the Major series. We will still hold our one day 18-hole events for those who are not quite ready to play in the Majors, as well as those wanting to play in more events. Another new addition this year is that our 9-hole “B-Flight” in the 13-18 division will be for those who do not feel they can play 18 holes. Once your junior feels they are ready for 18 holes simply request to be moved to the “A-flight”.
One of the Utah Section PGA’s annual awards couldn’t wait until the traditional presentation in February. The Section Championship in September was the appropriate occasion to recognize Gary Lewis as the Presidential Service Award recipient.
As the vice president of Wendover Hotels & Casinos, Lewis has provided nearly $500,000 in sponsorships and accommodations to Section members. The Section Championship has been conducted at Toana Vista Golf Course in West Wendover, Nevada, since 2004; the Utah Senior Open has been staged there almost as long.
Lewis is known as a lover of golf and an advocate of PGA Professionals and a friend to many Utah pros. His involvement started with former Toana Vista Head Professional Reid Goodliffe.
“Luckily for us, he loves our group,” said Devin Dehlin, the Utah Section PGA’s executive director. “It’s been a great partnership.”
Lewis has helped make the Section Championship a destination event. “The camaraderie and time that our professionals spend together at that event is just priceless,” Dehlin said.
Longtime friend Terry Outzen, a Titleist representative and Section member, describes Lewis as “just a good dude … very loyal; great for the Utah Section, obviously.”
Outzen added, “He loves his family and he loves to golf. Those are the most important things to him.”
Lewis said he was surprised to receive the “totally unexpected” award, and the honor means everything to him, coming from the Utah Section PGA.
Mike Stanger’s passing at age 57 in August, as his two sons were playing in the first round of the Siegfried & Jensen Utah Open, undoubtedly was untimely.
As some consolation, though, the Utah Section PGA was able to honor Stanger that weekend at Riverside Country Club in Provo. That will happen again in February, when the Section’s professionals will play in the “EZ-GO Utah Winter Classic in Memory of Mike Stanger” in St. George.
As a Section member and longtime manufacturer’s representative, Stanger was a three-time winner of the Section’s Jon Unger Salesperson of the Year. He’s the second recipient of the Doug Vilven Distinguished Service Award.
“I don’t think Mike realized how many people that he touched and how many lives he affected in the golf world and in the world in general,” said Devin Dehlin, the Utah Section PGA’s executive director.
During the last two rounds of the Utah Open, Section pros wore ribbons on their caps in honor of Stanger and Dehlin recognized him during the presentations on the 18th green that Sunday.
Dehlin, a longtime friend of Stanger, was consoled “because we were able to do something for him immediately,” he said. “It made it special in a lot of ways.”
Among other contributions to Utah golf, Stanger had been instrumental in the Utah Open’s growth by arranging for pro-am gifts through the on-site Nike tent, during his affiliation with that company.
As the Utah Section PGA’s executive director for the past six years, Devin Dehlin does his job well. Where he really succeeds, though, is in looking beyond the boundaries of his job description.
As much as Dehlin loves golf, he loves golfers even more. That’s true of his Section professionals and everybody else he comes across in the game.
The interest he shows in other people is a trait he shares with Jeff Beaudry, the Section’s first executive director and a member of the Utah Golf Hall of Fame. So it is fitting that Dehlin is the 2021 winner of the Section’s Jeff Beaudry Golf Ambassador Award.
“It makes me feel good that I would be recognized as somebody that is an ambassador of the game, that is a friend to the allied associations and parents and golfers,” Dehlin said. “To be recognized as someone that touches people in all different areas of the game is very humbling.”
One of the distinctions of the Utah golf community is the way the amateur and professional governing bodies get along, which is not the case everywhere else. That’s partly an institutional working relationship, but more of a case of personal touch as reflected in Dehlin and Jacob Miller, executive director of the Utah Golf Association.
Dehlin cites a personality trait that is “my strength and my weakness,” of wanting everybody to feel satisfied with his work in various golf programs. “If there’s 99 happy parents and one that’s not,” he said, “I worry about the one that’s not.”
Dehlin also was honored in 2020, when the Utah Section PGA staff received the Golf Industry Service Award.
Colby Cowan now has two Bill Strasbaugh Awards to frame his tenure of nearly a decade as St. George City’s director of golf.
In connecting the dots of his career, it would be fair to say that the first award for club relations stemmed from his involvement in golf statewide and the latest honor recognizes his work within the city.
Cowan was the Utah Section PGA’s president in the era when the Golf Alliance For Utah was being formed, putting him in a position of working governmental agencies to promote the game. As his job in St. George has evolved, he’s part of the bureaucracy himself, yet also the advocate for golf. No wonder he labels it “kind of an interesting role.”
He’s eager to serve a voice in the city government for the head professionals of St. George’s four golf venues: Reed McArthur, Allen Orchard, Eron Deming and James Hood, as well as the golf course superintendents. Clubhouse renovations at Southgate GC and St. George GC are major improvements at a time when public golf again is booming in St. George.
“We’re way ahead of last year,” Cowan said. “We didn’t think that was possible.”
Cowan was the head pro at four St. George-area courses before moving into current job in 2012, when St, George City reestablished the administrative position.
While serving in that role, Cowan also was named the Section’s Professional of the Year in 2014.
The 2012 U.S. Amateur Public Links has a place in history as the first United States Golf Association event staged in Utah. The match-play bracket included future PGA Tour winners Bryson DeChambeau, Xander Schauffele and Talor Gooch.
And there’s much more lasting significance. The Publinks at Soldier Hollow Golf Course served as Eric “Doc” Iverson’s introduction to volunteer opportunities in golf. Now immersed in the game as a rules official, Iverson is the 2021 winner of the Utah Section PGA’s Wesley Ruff Golf Citizen of the Year award.
It all started when Iverson noticed a call for Publinks volunteers in Fairways magazine. After retiring as a high school principal in his native California, he had moved to Orem, where his mother and sister lived.
His primary role during the tournament was as a shuttle driver, taking golfers from the hotel to the course. “It was good fun,” he said. “That’s what got me hooked on the golf thing.”
“Hooked” means Iverson spends 50-plus days on the golf course as a rules official from March through September in a role he relishes. He’s “amazed how appreciative the players are of you being out there … from high school all the way up to the professional level.”
Iverson added, “Golf is a fraternity of people, men and women. It’s not that way in a lot of sports. You meet lifelong friends in the game.”
Now, about that nickname. It turns out that the former principal and current rules official skirted a requirement as a high school cross country runner, signing a doctor’s name on the form for a physical exam. His coach played along, calling him “Doc” in what became a permanent moniker.
The recent renovation of Alpine Country Club gave Superintendent Jake Ebner and his staff renewed direction in their care of the golf course, but that’s really nothing new. Ebner’s crew outlines an area of emphasis every year.
“We always come up with something new,” Ebner said.
The strategy is working. Ebner is the Utah Section PGA’s Superintendent of the Year for private facilities in 2021, a year after receiving the same award from the Utah Chapter of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America.
Alpine was showcased this year as the host of the 123rd Utah State Amateur, giving contestants a glimpse of Ebner’s standards. He strives to create “tournament conditions every day,” so that an event such as the State Am doesn’t require extraordinary preparation.
Alpine is known for an avid golf membership that expects high-level conditioning. Ebner is no different. “I’m a fairly decent golfer,” he said, “and even when I go out to play, I want it to be the best possible conditions.”
Advances in technology and equipment have aided Ebner during his 15 years as Alpine’s director of agronomy. The challenge stems from wind that blows down American Fork Canyon and disrupts overnight watering patterns. “It takes a lot of hand watering to keep everything consistent,” he said.
The staff’s biggest innovation in 2021 was regulating the growth of the greens during the day, because afternoon players want the same, fresh-cut speed of the morning. One wrinkle for 2022 will be the use of wetting agents on the fairways.
Steve Carter walked away from his interview for the superintendent’s job at Cedar Ridge Golf Course fearing that Cedar City administrators were seeking someone with much more experience.
Now, 18 years later after landing the job, Carter probably has enough material to fill a book about his experiences at Cedar Ridge.
The main characters in that story? Prairie dogs and sprinkler pipes. The path that has taken Carter to the Utah Section PGA’s Superintendent of the Year award for public courses has been riddled with holes of various shapes and sizes. Everything looks much smoother now on a layout that Carter describes as “one of the hidden gems of the state of Utah.”
Carter initially worked at Logan River Golf Course while attending Utah State and spent four years as an assistant to Randy Oldham at the Logan Country Club. Oldham won this award in 2020.
If he were a PGA professional, Carter would be a great candidate for the Bill Strasbaugh Award for club relations, based on his work with city and state agencies in addressing Cedar Ridge’s issues with irrigation and prairie dog infestation. The shorter version of those stories is that Carter’s cooperation with government entities, including the Utah Dept. of Natural Resources, has steadily increased Cedar Ridge’s playability level.
Carter cites “just a great opportunity to work with all those organizations.”
He’s also thankful to veteran pros John Evans and Jared Barnes for being so supportive of the superintendent’s role at Cedar Ridge.