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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
A certain degree of destiny must have been in play in Park City, where Jake Hanley grew up in a house formerly owned by Doug Vilven, the Utah Section PGA’s first Professional of the Year award winner in 1986.
Hanley is now the award’s 35th recipient, recognizing his work as Jeremy Ranch Golf & Country Club’s head professional.
He’s been a Jeremy Ranch fixture since 1996, having learned of a job opening that enabled him to follow through on his start in the golf industry. He rode his bicycle to Park Meadows Country Club to pick up range balls and clean carts in his high school days.
At Jeremy Ranch, he eagerly learned from former Pro Tom Costello. “To say that Tom Costello was my mentor would be an understatement,” Hanley said. “Cos gave me the opportunity to grow as a golf professional and as a person.”
Hanley can trace his development in the profession to specific strengths of other key influences. He learned about tournament operations from Carl Sarahs, merchandising from Marty Bauer, work ethic from Scott Flick and business relationships from Phil Deimling, a manufacturer’s representative.
Hanley was named the Section’s Assistant Professional of the Year in 2008 and the Merchandiser of the Year-Private in 2016.
In addition to this year’s recognition from his PGA peers, Hanley received appreciation from the Utah Golf Association in 2020 when Jeremy Ranch hosted the State Amateur.
“I cherish being a PGA Professional,” Hanley said, “and I thank everyone who has been on this ride with me. I look forward to growing professionally and being a part of golf in Utah for many years to come.”
The American Junior Golf Association announced on November 17 its annual list of AJGA Scholastic Junior All-Americans, the 2020 list recognizes the achievements of top junior golfers who also demonstrated excellence in academics.
Making the list from Park City, Utah is Wyatt Petersen a senior at Park City High School with a GPA of 4.780 and ACT score of 34. Petersen played three 2020 AJGA tournaments with two top 20 finishes including a T9 at the Sung Hyun Park Junior Championship.
“For me, being selected to the AJGA Scholastic All-American list is a recognition of lots of hard work. I’ve put in hours and hours of work into my golf game and in the classroom, and it’s extremely rewarding to have that recognized, especially on a national level,” Petersen said. “It’s a select group of guys, and I’m proud to be a part of it. I worked very hard to achieve this, but would not be where I am without a lot of people around me, especially my parents and swing coach Clay Ogden. Golf is an individual sport, but it takes a team of support around you to have success.”
Petersen played in 12 Utah Junior Golf Association events in 2020 with six top 5 finishes including three 3rd place finishes at the Fairways Preview/FCG International Qualifier, the Spring Opener/Utah State Amateur Qualifier and the Utah State Junior Amateur.
Petersen gave credit to Utah’s allied golf associations for the ability to compete at a high level in 2020. “My senior year of golf was a lot of fun. Despite the COVID pandemic, I still was able to play tournament golf from the spring through the fall, thanks to a lot of work from organizations like UJGA, AJGA and the Utah PGA. It was a great learning experience this year, as it was the first time I was really able to perform well in national events. I also had my best season in UJGA, and continued that success into high school, having lots of fun with my Park City teammates, finishing in second both as a team and individually at the 5A State Championship.”
Petersen, who has verbally committed to Colgate University, is the 2020 Region 8 medalist with a 70.1 scoring average. Park City finished first in the Region 8 final team standings. At the State Championship, Petersen shot consecutive rounds of 66-66 – 132 on Soldier Hollow’s Silver Course Oct 5-6, 2020 to claim the second spot on the Utah High School Activities Association record book for individual low 36-hole scores. Skyline High’s Tyson Shelley holds the top spot at 128, also recorded at the 2020 State Championship at Soldier Hollow GC. Park City finished second to Skyline in the State Championship this year.
“I will be playing for Colgate University in New York in 2021 and hope to continue to have success on the course and in the classroom. I am not sure what I will be majoring in yet, but am considering mathematics, economics, or business,” Petersen said.
Former AJGA Scholastic Junior All-Americans from Utah that have gone on to successful amateur and professional golf careers include Boyd Summerhays in 1994. Boyd, was once the top-ranked junior in the country. He played college golf at Oklahoma State, and was a PGA Tour member from 2004-06. Summerhays is the swing coach for PGA Tour star Tony Finau, Scott Harrington and Wyndham Clark.
Looking back at his time playing AJGA events Summerhays said, “My parents always made sure that as I was focusing on my golf and goal of being a professional golfer, that I took learning and school work seriously. More so now as an adult, I look back and take a lot of pride in being a Scholastic All-American.”
In the last event of the year for the Utah Section PGA the membership headed south to St. George to compete in the Utah Section PGA Pro-Assistants Championship at Bloomington Country Club and Sunbrook Golf Course November 16-17.
It was Glenwild PGA Professionals Marty Bauer and Craig Hocknull (-13) that pulled ahead in the final round, thanks to Bauer’s 93-yard eagle on the 6th hole on the Woodbridge nine, to win by one-stroke over Jimmy Blair and Chip Garriss of Bloomington and David Hall and Doug Roberts of Entrada.
When asked what was working well, Bauer immediately pointed to his teammate.
“I was pretty consistent,” Hocknull added, “but Marty brought the fireworks.”
“It was about 93 yards with my 58-degree wedge,” Bauer said. “We had three good shots in there already with our group, I clanked it off the pin and right in the hole. It was fun.”
Bauer and Hocknull trailed by one stroke after the first round, sitting behind Bauer and Glenwild Assistant Pro Carson Willis and three other teams in the two-person Fourball format. With a final-round 64, they secured the win.
In the net division, it was Cedar Ridge Head Pro Jared Barnes and long-time PGA Professional John Evans who won with rounds of (-25) 59-60.
“It was all John,” Barnes said. “He was driver, three-wood, two-putt all day.”
That concludes the 2020 Utah PGA season with the next event being the Utah PGA Winter Classic, traditionally held in Southern Utah near the beginning of each year.
We owe a big thank you to Chris Nugent of TaylorMade and Kelly Jo Wikes of TravisMatthew for sponsoring the event this year and taking good care of our Utah PGA Members. Thank you to Bloomington Country Club and Sunbrook Golf Course for hosting us and providing great courses to play.
Even as the 2020 season winds down, Utah PGA Omega Player of the year Joe Summerhays’ game continues to shine.
With rounds of (-9) 64-69 in the Southern Utah Open played at SunRiver Golf Club November 14-15, Summerhays picked up yet another victory to his 2020 season, making this a total of six wins on the year.
“I definitely won this with the putter,” Summerhays said. “I played pretty solid otherwise, not as good tee-to-green as I wanted, but my putting made up for a lot of those mistakes.”
Summerhays’ first round card was a little more exciting than the final round with an eagle, seven birdies, two bogies and a back-nine 30.
His final round was a little more contained, finishing with three birdies and a bogey to edge Sunset View Head Professional Casey Fowles who finished (-7) 65-70.
Mountain View Head Pro Mark Owen (-5) won the pro senior division with rounds of 70-67. Kim Thompson (-4) won the pro super senior division with rounds of 70-68 and Tom Storey won the pro dinosaur division with a pair of 73s.