VOLUME 27 • ISSUE 2 • JUNE 2018

by Mike Sorensen

Utah Women's State

Amateur Preview

Bonneville Golf Course

Naomi Soifua

Kelsey Chugg

Kiselya Plewe

Carli Dehlin

One of Utah’s iconic public golf courses will play host to the Utah Women’s State Amateur golf tournament in early August when the state’s top female golfers will converge on Bonneville Golf Course on the east side of Salt Lake City.

The Women’s Am will be played at Bonneville for the first time since 1992 when Lisa (Ikegami) Imamura won her second title. It will mark the fifth time the Women’s Amateur will be played at Bonneville.

“It’s a nice honor to have the State Amateur here,” said Bonneville head pro Lynn Landgren. “It’s been a long time since we’ve hosted it.”

 Bonneville plays host to two other major men’s events, the Richard C. Kramer Salt Lake City Amateur in early June and the Salt Lake City Open in August.

“We’re preparing the course and it should be in perfect shape when they get here,” Landgren said of the tournament, which will be played from July 31 through Aug. 3.

Most of Utah’s top women golfers should be on hand, led by defending champion and four-time winner Kelsey Chugg. Even though she won the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur last year and has been given many opportunities to play in major women’s golf events, Chugg will be back to defend her Utah Women’s Amateur title as she goes for No. 5.

“I’m real excited,” she said about playing at Bonneville. “I get to go up there quite often and it’s nice to have it there because it’s close to home. I really enjoy playing up there.”

Often Women’s Ams are played at country clubs, but Chugg enjoys playing at public courses like Bonneville and Davis Park last year.

“I think it’s awesome,” she said. “Eighty percent of the golf courses in the state are public courses. Bonneville is a good, classic course – it’s going to be fun.”

Imamura, who works as the controller for the Utah Golf Association, will not be playing this year as she is still a professional golfer. However she is excited that the State Amateur is returning to the course she won 26 years ago.

“Bonneville is a great place and a great course to play the Amateur,” she said. “It can play tough, but also can be forgiving.”

She believes the three key holes will be the par-5 No 5 hole, the downhill par-3 No. 9 and the par-4 No. 18. The 5th hole, which was playing as the 14th hole when she won in 1992, was the key hole in her victory as she made a birdie, while leader Lachell Simmons made a quadruple-bogey 9 that swung the match in Imamura’s favor.

Last year Chugg won her fourth title at Davis Park, defeating BYU golfer Anna Kennedy 2 up, becoming the first golfer in more than 40 years to win four women’s State Am titles.

She had come into match play as only the No. 7 seed, after a couple of so-so rounds when her putting was off. She escaped a first-round upset against Kiseyla Plewe, winning on the third playoff hole.

Chugg had to go overtime in her next match against defending champion Kendra Dalton winning on the 19th hole when she sank a 15-foot birdie putt. In the semifinals she beat BYU golfer Naomi Soifua with a 12-foot birdie putt on the final hole before defeating Kennedy in the finals. Chugg competed in the U.S. Women’s Open in Alabama in late May and is scheduled to play in the U.S. Women’s Amateur the week after the Utah State Amateur.

Although the field wasn’t set at the time of the deadline for this story, many of the top women in the state should be in this year’s field including the likes of former champions Sue Nyhus and Julie McMullin, Carly Dehlin, Naomi Soifua, Jobi Einerson, Tara Green, Xena Motes, Hayley Chugg, Gracie Richins, Annie Yang, Sadie Palmer, Isabella Lesa, Laura Gerner, Cristiana Cisasca, Plewe and Kennedy.

Other winners at Bonneville over the years included Sue Thompson in 1965, Marge Fillis in 1958 and Mary Lou Baker in 1946.

 

Peaceful

Easy

Feeling

by Randy Dodson

Lisa Imamura

While two-time Utah Women’s State Amateur champion Lisa (Ikegami) Imamura will swear allegiance to Rose Park Golf Course, there remains a soft spot in her heart for Salt Lake City’s Bonneville Golf Course.

Imamura claimed her first Utah State Women’s Amateur title in 1987 at Wolf Creek Country Club in Eden, Utah. Then a 54-hole stroke play format, Imamura finished with a comfortable 10-stroke lead to grab her first State Amateur trophy.

Her second State Amateur win came at Bonneville Golf Course, the site of this year’s championship where her steady play (while others faltered around her) and an encouraging; “You got this,” from her father Hiroshi Ikegami proved the difference. She soon turned professional and went out on the road with the Player’s West Tour.

“I hated the grind,” Imamura said, “I gave it a shot but the grind really got to me and I really hated that.”

Getting her amateur status back she then started practicing again and felt at ease competing in Utah’s amateur circuit, leading to her entry in the 1992 Women’s State Amateur.

“From what I remember, I didn’t really have any expectations,” Imamura said reminiscing about her 1992 win at Bonneville. “I was newly married and thought, ‘what the heck’, why not play.”

She had been playing a lot with her husband Kirk and played well prior to the championship week particularly at the Coor’s Best-Ball at Bountiful Ridge golf course where she, “played very well,” falling into a competitive groove.

Believing that the 1992 championship was “anyone’s game,” Imamura relied on her father’s quiet confidence, her brother Rick’s encouragement (her caddie) and a comfortable feeling of playing a course she had played throughout her days in the Salt Lake Junior Golf program.

“I really love Bonneville, it’s a great course. We played there a lot; my father played there a lot. I was comfortable there.”

That peaceful, easy feeling led to Imamura’s steady final round play in the 1992 championship. Imamura finished with a four-over total of 228 and a five-stroke win.

Imamura hasn’t fallen out of love of the game of golf, evidenced by her current job of working for the Utah Golf Association but her desire to play competitive golf has been retired. Her clubs are gathering a bit of dust but she’s thrilled with the championship’s return to Bonneville and the direction women’s golf in Utah has turned.

“I think we have come a long ways since I was last playing competitively. The door has been opened much wider now for females in golf. They are more accepted not only as players but also as teaching professionals, Class A professionals and as athletes. There are more scholarships available to them compared to 26 years ago. I love the level that the women and junior girls are playing at as well as the men and junior boys. The best thing for me is that I am still involved in this industry.”

Golf is and remains a constant in Imamura’s life. She has worked for Utah Section PGA Professionals Ron Branca, Steve Elliott and Derek Schmehl and the Salt Lake City Golf Division (which required her to return to pro status), got her college degree (please don’t remind her that she turned down a golf scholarship from BYU) and worked a few years in the “real world” before accepting her current position with the UGA.

Imamura feels blessed to have had the opportunity to spend the largest portion of her career in Utah’s golf industry. “It has afforded me many opportunities,” she said while her eyes pooled with tears.

Like most multiple-time winners of any major championship, Imamura is satisfied with the feeling of knowing her second championship win places a defining stamp on her golf career as a player.

“There isn’t anything I can compare it to (winning the State Amateur twice). It fills me with pride and joy and happiness.”

Having worked in the golf industry since she was 17 and at Rose Park Golf Course for nearly 20-years of her life, she may call the west-side Salt Lake City course home but Bonneville still lights up her face.

 

July 2018 Issue

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