Utah State Amateur

by Jay Drew

Utah State Amateur

Women's Utah State Amateur

by Jay Drew

by Jay Drew

Utah Senior Open

Las Vegas Golf

by Mike Sorensen

by Randy Dodson

Mary Lou Baker

Salt Lake City Am

by Mike Sorensen

by Mike Sorensen

September 2016 Issue

Official Monthly Digital Magazine

of the Utah Golf Association

View the August 2016 Issue Below

Cover Feature • August 2016 • By Jay Drew

When it comes to playing golf, Ogden native Patrick Fishburn’s philosophy is quite simple: go big or go home.

Standing at 6-foot-4 and weighing around 220 pounds, Fishburn dwarfed his fellow competitors at the 118th Utah State Amateur golf tournament in mid-July at Alpine Country Club not only with his frame but also his prodigious drives. Routinely out-driving opponents by 75-100 yards, Fishburn cruised to the 2016 State Am championship and became the second-straight BYU golfer — joining 2015 winner Jordan Rodgers — to claim the most prestigious tournament in Utah amateur golf.

From Monday through Saturday, with the exception of the round he played at Fox Hollow Golf Club on Tuesday, Fishburn not only dominated the competition, but also the layout at Alpine, displaying an assortment of massive drives that led to a barrage of birdies and had many longtime tournament observers saying they had not seen such length off the tee at the State Am since Salt Lake City’s Tony Finau won it 10 years ago — in 2006.

“I’m pretty aggressive on the golf course,” Fishburn acknowledged. “I usually just try to hit it as far as I can and then go find it and go from there.”

The strategy paid off handsomely, as the flat-billed cap-wearing 23-year-old, who will be a junior on BYU’s golf team this fall, downed Colton Tanner, Kurt Owen, Tommy Forsman, Carl Jensen and Ryan Barber before meeting Draper’s 40-year-old Aaron Smith in the 36-hole championship match. None of his five matches before the championship match got past the 17th hole.

“He’s one heckuva golfer,” Smith said. “I’ve never played with anyone who can hit it that far.”


Longtime Dream Realized

Growing up in a community west of Ogden known as Plain City, Fishburn watched other great Northern Utah golfers such as now-PGA Tour regular Zac Blair win the State Am, and initially figured “it was a little out of reach” for someone of his abilities. Blair won the title at Valley View Golf Course in Layton in 2009, when Fishburn was 14 and just starting to make a name for himself on the junior golf circuit.

A former high school basketball star who led Fremont High — which Blair also attended — in scoring with a 15.6 average his senior year, Fishburn was head-and-shoulders above the field in the State Am as well.

With another boyhood friend and Fremont High product, Ryan Sarlo, on his bag throughout match play, Fishburn never trailed against Smith, the dental technician from Draper who was hospitalized during his semifinal match on Friday against Weber State golfer Kyler Dearden and had to return to the course early Saturday morning and finish the 2-up win.

“It feels awesome. It is something I’ve thought about for a long, long time, ever since I was a kid,” Fishburn said. “To actually have it happen feels amazing, especially to be on the trophy with all those guys who have won it before me. That’s pretty good company, to be on it with them.”

It was one of the better-played championship matches in State Am history — surprising in a way since Smith was hospitalized Friday (more on that later) and did not figure to give Fishburn much of a problem.

But he did.

Consider that Fishburn made seven birdies and no bogeys in Saturday afternoon’s 16 holes and still couldn’t shake the gritty Smith.

“I think I was seven-under and I barely beat him,” Fishburn marveled.


Blowout Averted

It appeared that the final match would be a blowout in the early going, as Fishburn made four quick birdies and led by four holes after No. 5. But Smith hung tough, despite having played seven holes earlier that morning to defeat Dearden, 2 up.

“I wasn’t doing anything wrong,” Smith said. “He was just birdieing every hole, it seemed like.”

After cutting  the lead to two at the turn, Smith made birdies on holes 17 and 18 to even the match heading into the lunch break.

Again, Fishburn manhandled the front nine at Alpine with his powerful drives to take another lead. Smith was hanging around, but on the par-3 No. 4 hole, with Smith in with a par, Fishburn drained a chip shot from 15 feet for birdie.

“That was really important, that shot,” Fishburn said. He birdied the next two holes to go 3-up, kept the momentum going and had a 4-up lead through No. 8.

“He has that front nine down pat,” Smith said.

Known in the college ranks as an excellent ball-striker and driver who occasionally struggles with the flat stick, Fishburn didn’t display that so-called weakness at Alpine,  putting brilliantly. When he rolled in an 18-footer at No. 13, the match was “dormie” — meaning the collegian was 5-up with five holes remaining.

Sure enough, the scrappy Smith wasn’t about to give up. He promptly won the next two holes with birdies.

But on No. 16, Fishburn ended it with one brilliant 6-iron from about 216 yards out. He stuck his tee shot to within three feet of the hole — it almost went in for an ace — and Smith conceded the birdie when his own attempt at birdie just missed from off the green.

“It was a lot of relief to know the dogfight was over,” said Fishburn. “He’s definitely a feisty competitor. There was no let-up.”

Fishburn became the fourth BYU golfer to win the State Am since Blair, joining Joe Parkinson (2010), Cole Ogden (2013) and Rodgers (2015), who cruised to the title last year at Soldier Hollow in similar fashion.

“It was just a birdie bonanza out there,” Smith marveled. “How do you beat something like that?”


Big Semifinal Scare

Every State Am seemingly produces some unexpected drama, and the 2016 tournament was no exception, although it was not the kind of drama anybody wanted to see.

Just as Fishburn was wrapping up his semifinal win over Barber, a recent Lone Peak graduate who was a surprise entrant into the Final Four but an accomplished junior golfer who is the reigning junior club champion at Alpine, an extremely scary situation was developing back on the 11th hole.

Smith, 40, had just drained a 10-footer for par to go 1-up on Dearden, a Weber State junior, when he fell to the ground while walking off the 11th green. Smith laid down with back spasms, cramping and other heat exhaustion-like symptoms. He was struggling to breathe and said he did not have feeling in his arms and legs.

An ambulance was summoned and Smith, who is just getting back into competitive golf after 20 years away from it, was treated by emergency medical technicians and taken to a nearby hospital for observation and further treatment.

“I had never experienced that before — it was just a bad situation,” Smith said a day later, after the final match. “I was kind of out of it. But when you’re in the middle of the match, you just press forward. For sure, it was a learning experience.”

Bill Walker, Utah Golf Association executive director, quickly went to the hospital to check on Smith’s condition, while the remaining members of the tournament committee huddled to determine what should be done next. Calls went out to USGA headquarters in Far Hills, N.J., previous decisions on similar situations from the rules of golf were researched, and UGA officials ultimately decided that Dearden would be given the opportunity to win the match by default, or give Smith the chance to return the following morning. Dearden picked the latter.

It was 93 degrees when Smith collapsed. He had just completed his 30th hole of the day, having defeated Reed Nielsen of Layton in 19 holes earlier Friday. His wife, Jennica, walked the course with him and was nearby when he went down. It was a troubling scene, but handled professionally all the way through by Alpine’s staff, the UGA staff and the first responders.

Dearden was also a true sportsman. He spoke to reporters shortly after Smith was whisked away in the ambulance and was clearly shaken by the incident. He said he had already been told by UGA officials that the match would be resumed Saturdaymorning if he was agreeable.

“The UGA is saying if by some miracle he is better tonight, we will finish it in the morning, if he wants to,” Dearden said at the time. “That’s OK with me. It is up to him. … I am just going to prepare myself as if he will get better, and we are going to start here on hole 12.”

Dearden said he talked to Smith between rounds, and Smith seemed fine. But Smith’s condition worsened after he hit some practice shots before the afternoon match began.

“He was letting go of the club [after swings] and stuff, so I knew something was wrong,” Dearden said. “It looked like it was back pain. He was like, ‘yeah, I got back spasms, but I am going to keep playing.”

Since 2013, State Am match play quarterfinalists, semifinalists and finalists have been forced to walk — rather than ride in golf carts — in an attempt to make it more in line with what is required in USGA events.

So the match resumed early Saturday morning, and Dearden won the 12th hole to square the match. However, Smith prevailed by winning the 17th and 18th holes and then got ready to take on Fishburn.


Incredible Recovery

All in all, it was quite a week for Smith, who needed to survive a playoff late Tuesday night just to make match play.

“I was just having a hard time [on Friday],” he said. “My body was kind of shutting down and I was doing my best until my body said, ‘no more.’”

Smith said when he came to in the hospital and first talked to Walker, he figured he had lost the match by default to Dearden. He took a couple of hours to think about it when Walker told him he could resume playing because Dearden had agreed to do so, then decided to give it a try when doctors told him to listen to what his body was telling him.

“Well, it is a gentleman’s game, and I thought that was awesome of him [Dearden] to let the match resume,” Smith said. “That was very kind.”

When he conceded the birdie putt to Fishburn, he had played 41 holes on Saturday.

“I’m tired,” he said after the trophy presentation. “It’s been a long run, but I wouldn’t give any of it away.”


Teenager Wins Medalist Honors

After two days of stroke-play qualifying at Alpine and nearby Fox Hollow, 18-year-old Carson Lundell was left standing as the medalist. The recent Lone Peak High graduate shot a 7-under-par 65 on Monday at Fox Hollow and followed that with a 66 at Alpine on Tuesday. Lundell, who has signed to play for BYU but was scheduled to go on an LDS Church mission to Tucson, Ariz., first, was five shots clear of Fishburn and University of Utah golfer Jose Pelayo, who came in at 136.

Lundell said he has been gunning for the State Am on his home course for more than a year — he missed last year’s event at Soldier Hollow because he forgot to sign up before the deadline — and even noted on his missionary papers (application) that he wouldn’t be available until after State Am week.

“I’ve gone low here a few times before, and I knew I was playing well and putting well coming in, so I’m not too surprised,” he said. “Winning this thing would be the perfect send-off to my mission.”

Lundell made seven birdies, three bogeys and an eagle on the 559-yard second hole by holing a shot from the fairway.

“From 80 yards out, I hit it a few feet past the hole, and it spun back and in,” he said. “That definitely felt cool.”


Field Trimmed to 64

About seven hours after Lundell finished on Tuesday, a playoff was held among 13 players who tied at 5-over 149 for the final five match-play berths (a 14th playoff qualifier, Mathieu Squires, withdrew due to a previous commitment).

Ryder Velasquez, Dalton Stanger and Colton Tanner birdied the first playoff hole, the easy par-4 10th, to advance. Jaece Stokes and Devin Tovey fell out with bogeys on No. 10. Smith, Brett Sampson, Adam Epson and JT Timmons made pars on the 11th hole to move on, while Preston Alder, Nick Smith, Kolton Ostler and Nicklaus Britt fell out with bogeys or worse.

 Timmons bogeyed No. 12 to fall out, and Epson found trouble off the tee on No. 13 and eliminated himself, leaving Sampson and Smith as the final two match-play qualifiers.


Match Play Begins

The field was trimmed from 64 to 32 on Wednesday as the match-play portion of the longest continuously held golf tournament in the world began, and everywhere you looked, “one of us old guys,” as 53-year-old Salt Lake City businessman Dana Nelson put it, or a teenager, was seemingly winning his match. That day belonged to the young and not-so-young, guys who have to work for a living or are barely shaving, if that.

History was made as 13-year-old Preston Summerhays of Scottsdale, Ariz., Boyd’s son and PGA Tour player Daniel Summerhays’ nephew, became the youngest State Am competitor ever to make match play. However, the young Summerhays lost 5 and 4 to Davis Evans, a 16-year-old phenom from Phoenix who has committed to play for Arizona State.

There were a few upsets on Wednesday, most notably semifinalist Barber’s 3 and 2 win over 2015 runnerup Darrin Overson.

One of Barber’s teammates at Lone Peak, rising sophomore Zach Jones, 15, knocked off Provo restaurant owner Jason Hargett, 2 and 1.

“A lot of pressure, a lot of nerves, but it was really fun,” said Jones, who had about a dozen supporters, including his parents and four siblings. “The short putts, you are shaking over them, and you are thinking thoughts you shouldn’t be. But you just try to forget it and do what you’ve been practicing all your life.”


Elite Eight Emerges

Under the new State Am format put in place in 2013, Thursday is the day when the field is whittled from 32 to eight, and it almost always produces plenty of interesting storylines as unknowns emerge from the pack to qualify for the quarterfinals.

Smith fit that description, as the playoff qualifier upset University of Utah golfer Brandon Kida in a Round of 16 match that went to the 19th hole after Smith missed a short putt on No. 18 that would have won the match.

“I guess I just like to keep it exciting for everybody,” Smith said with a shrug, after the improbable win.

It was the second extra-holes match of the day for Kida, who beat 2008 champion Dan Horner in 23 holes in the morning while Smith was taking a nap after stunning State Am regular John Owen 2 and 1. Horner then turned around and caddied for Kida in the afternoon. That’s what good friends do.

Another somewhat surprising quarterfinalist was Lehi’s Carl Jensen, who said he was “shocked, absolutely shocked” to make it that far because he suffered a nasty break in his wrist playing indoor soccer five months ago and wasn’t supposed to be able to play golf for 6-9 months. The 36-year-old CPA defeated BYU golfer Kai Ruiz 3 and 2 to advance at the course where his father has been a member since Jensen was 10 years old.

“It’s a bunch of nerds out here,” Jensen said after being told that another quarterfinalist, Layton’s Reed Nielsen, is also a CPA. Nielsen, who grew up in Morgan, ousted incoming Utah golfer Mitchell Schow Jr. in 19 holes.

Dearden, the semifinalist, eliminated medalist Lundell on Thursday morning.


Fishburn Tested Early, then Dominates

Looking back, champion Fishburn’s toughest match was probably his first. He fell behind Colton Tanner, a rising high school senior who attends a golf academy in South Carolina. Tanner, who now lives in Park City during the summer with his parents, said he has lived in about 10 different places growing up, most recently in Connecticut. Tanner led Fishburn by two holes through No. 7, but Fishburn recovered and won, 3 and 2.

Seasoned amateur Kurt Owen figured to give Fishburn a good test on Thursday morning after walloping Austin Jaramillo 5 and 4 on Wednesday, but lost 3 and 2 to the eventual champ. Fishburn then rolled past Tommy Forsman 2 and 1 and Jensen 3 and 2 before taking on the young Barber in the semifinals.

Oddly, Fishburn said he had a poor track record in match play before the big run in July at Alpine.

“This year I just tried to play my style, like I do normally for stroke play,” he said. “I played aggressively, hit drivers and tried to make a bunch of birdies rather than worrying too much about what my opponent is doing. I think I did that too much in the past, and it caught up to me. I was playing too tentatively and focusing on my opponent, rather than my own game.”

Fishburn’s immediate plans after the State Am were to play in the El Monte 4-Ball, “one of the bigger tournaments in Utah golf,” he said with a wry grin, and then to attempt to qualify for the U.S. Amateur. He will also play in the Pacific Coast Amateur before heading to BYU for his junior season that promises to be one to keep an eye on.


Bombs Away!

Cover Feature • August 2016 • By Jay Drew

Squeezing out a Win,

Dalton Claims State Trophy

Fittingly, the 110th Utah Women’s State Amateur golf tournament, contested the first week of August at beautiful Victory Ranch Golf Club, came down to a pair of BYU golfers, recently graduated stalwart Lea Garner and up-and-coming junior Kendra Dalton.

Even more appropriate is the fact that the Cougar teammates have also been roommates and best friends the past few years.

In an 18-hole championship match that both women described as good-natured and friendly, yet competitive, Dalton won the title 1 up over Garner, who had won medalist honors for the third-straight time in the stroke-play qualifying portion of the tournament.

Dalton, who will be a junior on BYU’s nationally ranked women’s golf team this fall, won by the slimmest of margins, closing Garner out on the 18th hole when Garner’s 20-foot putt to win the hole and extend the match stayed on the lip.

“I’ve always looked up to her the whole time we’ve been at school, so it was kinda crazy that it came down to this,” said Dalton, who went to high school in North Carolina. “We have been teammates for [almost] three years now, and she has always been the older one, the No. 1 player on the team. To be able to squeeze it out there at the end, it is an awesome feeling.”

It was the first Women’s State Am title for a BYU golfer since Daphne Vines Parker won back-to-back titles in 2007 and 2008, and Dalton said she enjoyed every moment, despite wishing Garner could have won at least one championship before losing her amateur status. Garner plans to turn professional this fall.

“You don’t want to have to like, beat your best friend, but it is also a great part of golf, match play is, and we both played great and gave it a good fight. It was a good, good thing,” Dalton said.

Garner described the match as intense and nerve-wracking, but fun.

“We are good enough friends that we can look past [the importance of the match] and just go play,” Garner said. “We are both competitors. We both want to win, so it was actually pretty fun to do that and go joke around like that. Even towards the end we were joking and it was so fun.”

In the end, putting was probably the difference on an afternoon when neither golfer played especially well on one of the most difficult tracks in the state, with gusty winds and a few rain sprinkles. Dalton claimed the 17th hole when Garner missed a tricky 4-footer.

On No. 18, Garner’s putt was on line the whole way, but fell off to the left at the last split-second. Dalton then tapped in to halve the hole and win the match.

“I expected her to make it. That’s just Lea; she’s clutch,” Dalton said, expressing surprise and relief.

 “There were a lot of three-putts, which killed me, and off the tee I struggled today as well,” Garner said.

Dalton advanced to the championship match by downing Dixie State’s Cobair Collinsworth 5 and 4 in the semifinals, while Garner had a more difficult time with another BYU golfer, Brooklyn Hocker, before taking a 1 up victory.

Aside from the domination of the BYU golfers, Collinsworth, who turned 21 the day before the tournament began and celebrated with a trip to Las Vegas, was the story of the tournament until falling to Dalton in the semifinals. The former Brighton High golfer lost a hole, the sixth, to Dalton because she mistakenly hit Dalton’s ball from the fairway.

Collinsworth will always have Thursday, however.

First, she dethroned three-time champion Kelsey Chugg in 20 holes in a morning Round of 16 match, then upset Weber State’s Kiselya Plewe 4 and 3 in the quarterfinals Thursday afternoon.

“I came in with a lot of confidence, just delusionally optimistic,” Collinsworth said. “I was just being super-optimistic about everything.”

She got the unique first name because her mother, Debbie, wanted something more unique than, well, Debbie.

And no, she’s not related to BYU’s famous basketball-playing Collinsworths, Chris and Kyle.

“I get asked that a lot,” she said, calling herself 5-foot-5. “Only in Utah.”

Thursday at the State Am was also good to Dalton, who waxed former Montana golfer Tara Green 6 and 4 in the morning, then rolled past Southern Utah assistant golf coach Sadie Palmer 4 and 3 in the afternoon. Palmer got everybody’s attention on the first day of stroke-play when she fired a 4-under-par 68 to grab the lead by five strokes, but ballooned to a 78 the next day.

“I really like this golf course,” Dalton said. “I play well in the wind, and the course just kind of suits my game.”

Brooklyn Anderson Hocker, who won the Idaho State Women’s Amateur by 14 shots in July, downed Utah Valley golfer Kimberly Nyhus 7 and 6 in the first round of match play and then held off Nyhus’ Wolverine teammate, Carly Dehlin, 2 and 1 in the afternoon.

Hocker was 6-up on Dehlin through 11 holes, then had to hold on as Dehlin won four of the next five holes, including 12 and 13 with birdies.

“I was getting a little nervous,” Hocker said. “I was like, ‘oh my gosh, I just need to finish this.”

Garner, who shot even-par 144 in the stroke-play qualifying, knocked off Miranda Reyes 6 and 5 in the morning and Kerstin Fotu 4 and 3 in the afternoon.

As disappointed as she was about losing in the semifinals, Collinsworth had to be reminded that she almost didn’t make match play.

Three players — Collinsworth, Nicole Jones and 13-year-old Apelila Galeai — tied at 16-over 160 for the final match-play berth. Galeai did not return for the playoff, however, and Collinsworth advanced with a par on the second playoff hole, No. 2 at Victory Ranch — the same hole on which she ousted Chugg.

“That’s kinda my hole,” she said.

Garner shot a 69 in the second round of stroke-play qualifying to overtake the first-day leaders. Hocker, overall runner-up in 2015 at Hidden Valley to Chugg, a Utah Golf Association employee who starred at Weber State, eagled the 525-yard par-5 5th hole and finished second in the race for medalist honors.

Another pre-tournament favorite, Provo High rising senior Naomi Soifua, was disqualified after she signed an incorrect scorecard, a 73, on Tuesday. The Bulldog’s star player returned to the golf course at the start of the second round and alerted tournament officials to the scorecard error, essentially disqualifying her. Soifua won last month’s Women’s Amateur Stroke Play Championship at Bountiful Ridge.

Unfortunately for Palmer, the Tooele native who will become the men’s and women’s assistant golf coach at SUU, she couldn’t rekindle the magic she found in the first round and was defeated in the quarterfinals of match play.

“First of all, it was really fun,” Palmer said after what she called one of the better rounds — but not the best — of her career. “I really enjoyed it. Making four birdies in a row is always nice.”

She birdied the 475-yard par-5 12th hole and then reeled off birdies on holes 14-17 with putts ranging from 3-8 feet before making a bogey on the difficult par-4 18th.

“It really came down to the fact that I was hitting it close all day,” Palmer said, noting that 65 is her career low round. Despite being one of the top female golfers in the state the past 10 years, Palmer has never won this tournament. She was runner-up to Natalie Stone in 2010.


Feature • August 2016 • By Mike Sorensen

A Miraculous Finish

at the Utah Senior Open

As he stood on the tee at the 343-yard par-4 No. 15 hole at Toana Vista Golf Course on that late July afternoon, Steve Schneiter had pretty much given up any hope of winning his third straight Utah Senior Open title.

Up to that point, Dave DeSantis has been in control of the tournament since taking a two-stroke lead after the first round and leading throughout the second round. Schneiter thought he was four strokes behind (he was actually three down) and with four holes left he didn’t like his chances.

But in an instant, his attitude changed when the steady DeSantis suddenly and inexplicably pulled his tee shot left and out of bounds.

“I said ‘I’ve got to do something,’” Schneiter said. “’I’ve got to do something miraculous.’ So I hit driver.”

Miraculous or not, Schneiter did something very good, hitting his drive onto the green, 20 feet from the pin. Then he stepped up and drained the putt for an eagle-2. With a two-shot penalty DeSantis completed the hole with a double-bogey-6.

Just like that, Schneiter was leading the tournament by one and he added a birdie at 17 while DeSantis parred in, giving Schneither an unexpected two-stroke victory.

For the 52-year-old Schneiter, who is a part-owner of Schneiter’s Pebblebrook Golf Course, where he works as a superintendent, it was his third straight Utah Senior Open victory in three tries.

“This is the third time – a threepeat,’’ Schneiter said afterwards. His second round 67 gave him a two-day total of 137, while DeSantis, a teaching pro at Riverbend Golf Course, finished with a 71 and a 139 total.

Schneiter’s only regret that day was that he wasn’t back in New Jersey, playing in the PGA Championship, which he had played in 11 times previously, a record number for a club professional.

But he missed out this year—fellow Utah club professionals Tommy Sharp and Joe Summerhays both made it—and instead he teed it up with his longtime fellow professionals in Utah, which was a good consolation prize.

“I love to compete,’’ said Schneiter, who was very complimentary of Toana Vista superintendent Mel Duke and the condition of the course. “These are the purest greens around.”

Amateur Brett Sampson won amateur honors and finished third overall at 140, while Kim Thompson finished fourth at 141 and amateur Steve Poulson was fifth at 143 and second among the amateurs. Roy Christensen and Scott Brandt tied for fourth at 145, just ahead of Tom Costello and Quentin Sasser at 147.

Following Sampson and Poulson among the amateurs were Patrick Murphy at 145 and Randy Hicken and Kurt Jamison at 146.

For the long-hitting, 53-year-old Sampson, it was his second Utah Senior Open amateur victory to go along with his 2014 win.

Like Schneiter he had to rally on the back nine to win. He had gone 4-over in a three-hole stretch on holes 6, 7 and 8 and then after making birdie on 9, he bogeyed 11. From there, however, he made five birdies on the last seven holes, giving him a 32 on the back side.

“I thought if I could shoot two 70s I would win,” Sampson said.

Edwin Erickson won the amateur Flight 1 with a 167 total, while Ruben Escobedo was the Super Senior (over-60) winner with a 151 total.

Reid Goodliffe won the Super Senior Division with a 149 total, seven ahead of Robert Rudd, while Bruce Summerhays won the Legends Division (over 70) with scores of 73 and 76, seven ahead of Wayne Volk.

Every year, the tournament honors one of its own, a top senior golf professional who been important to golf in Utah. This year, longtime Alpine head professional Joey Bonsignore was honored with his name on the tournament title and a special presentation at the dinner the night after the first round.

The 72-year-old Bonsignore doesn’t play competitively much any more and he wasn’t happy with his first-round 94. However, Bonsignore did enjoy the shot of the tournament when his 6-iron second shot from 170 yards on the par-5 No. 10 hole hopped into the hole for a rare double-eagle.

As for Schneiter, he still has aspirations of playing on the Champions Tour. He almost earned his card last year, before faltering the final day and missing exempt conditional status by one shot. He is still a regular on the Intermountain circuit and had played in the Colorado Open the week before the Senior Open, proudly carrying his own bag for 72 holes.

Schneiter is already exempt to the Senior PGA Professional Championship tournament next spring when he has the chance to qualify for his fourth straight Senior PGA Tournament on the Champions Tour since turning 50. DeSantis, Thompson, Christensen and Brandt also qualified for next year’s Senior PPC.


Highland Falls  Golf Course

Feature • August 2016 • By Randy Dodson

Las Vegas on a Budget

I don’t know if there’s such a thing as good, cheap golf.  I do know that if you’re looking for fun, challenging golf in the land of bright lights and fast action, you don’t always have to empty your wallet to play championship style golf courses.

The Las Vegas, Nevada area is full of fantastic golf options that will leave you plenty of green for other attractions. Just as I assume someone heading to Vegas isn’t going for golf only, you shouldn’t assume that there isn’t affordable golf action in the land of big money.

What follows is a brief look into a threesome of facilities with multiple course options you can consider next time you’re heading to Vegas shows, concerts, bowl games, conference championships and the ever popular nightlife found on Las Vegas Boulevard.

Boulder City Golf Course

Boulder Creek Golf Club

Boulder City, Nevada may best be known as the gateway to Hoover Dam but as impressive as a visit there is, the golfing options are worth a visit.

A few years ago Deseret News sportswriter and frequent contributor to Fairways, Mike Sorensen had this to say about the 45-holes of golf available in Boulder City. “The Boulder Creek Golf Club and nearby Boulder City Golf Course are owned by Boulder City  and are located within a mile of each other on either side of Buchanan Boulevard on the south side of town. Yet the two courses have little in common besides their names.

Boulder Creek is a resort-type course with a lot of water features, sand bunkers and carry shots on the majority of the holes. Boulder City on the other hand is a fairly typical municipal course with wall-to-wall grass, adjoining fairways and easily walkable with tees situated a few yards from the preceding greens.

Boulder Creek has three nine-hole courses, named Desert Hawk, Coyote Run and El Dorado. Each nine has up to six sets of tees, giving each nine a range from as much as 3,800 yards to below 3,000.

You get a desert landscape at Boulder Creek with several arroyos or gaps, either in the fairways or in front of the greens. Boulder Creek has several doglegs and a few split fairways, where you have a choice of taking the easier route or taking a chance to hit over a gorge or lake to a more favorable landing area. Boulder City is pretty straight-forward with three tees on each hole, giving the course a range of 6,600 from the blues to 6,134 from the whites and 5,453 from the yellows.”

Bottom line, Boulder Creek offers a pleasant resort like atmosphere and plenty of challenge while Boulder City is like your favorite local muni with a welcoming feel.

Palm Valley Golf Course

Eagle Crest Golf Course

Golf Summerlin

Just off of I-15 and near the home of the PGA Tour’s Shriners Hospitals for Children Open you’ll find three golf courses designed by Billy Casper/Greg Nash and managed by Golf Summerlin Las Vegas. The Highland Falls, Palm Valley and Eagle Crest courses are well conditioned, challenging and enjoyable.

Director of Golf Donny Long says, “The Golf Summerlin courses are among the finest and best maintained in Southern Nevada.  Palm Valley was built in 1989, Highland Falls 1992 and Eagle Crest (executive course) 1994.  Most believe Golf Summerlin is private as we are a hidden gem in a community of 7,800 homes, but all three courses are public and open to outside play and golf outings.  Highland Falls is a two-time winner of the Review Journal’s Best of Las Vegas award, 2011 and 2015.

Like Boulder Creek you are going to get a resort like atmosphere with Highland Falls and Palm Valley without the sticker shock. Long says, “Highland Falls tends to be the favorite for most out-of-towners due to spectacular conditions, elevation changes and the views of the Las Vegas strip. Palm Valley is a more traditional layout, flatter but longer, with challenging placed bunkers and outstanding conditions.  Eagle Crest has become a favorite for many locals in the Las Vegas area due to quick rounds and playability and draws players looking to finish a round in two and half hours.  Players are often surprised by the unbelievable views of the entire city and the fact that it can play as difficult as any course in town if you choose to play it from the tips.”

The manicured conditions and club-like atmosphere of these courses are at odds with the low pricing especially when considering other higher-end, sexier courses in the area. The advantage goes to the visiting golfer.

“The private feel is a bonus,” says Long, “not only are you guarded in a beautiful community but you will enjoy the mountain scenery as we are located on the base of a mountain range.  Our courses sit at 3,000+ elevation making us about five degrees cooler than most of the Las Vegas area.”

Golf Summerlin is the home course for the Southern Nevada Golf Association and hosts many amateur and junior events throughout the year.

Las Vegas National

While once a hot spot for the Rat Pack and their guests, the Las Vegas National Golf Club, a former host of many PGA Tour and LPGA Tour events, is now on the cutting edge of modern day golf. The clubhouse and course design are historic and classic but the staff and management have done everything right to attract today’s golfer.

The tree-lined fairways are perfect for the newest innovation in enjoyable golf – the Golfboard. Getting around the shaded fairways of Las Vegas National, located a few miles off the Strip, on a Golfboard is an added value to playing this par-71 Bert Stamps design.  Thousands of trees, well positioned bunkers and a few water hazards protect lush fairways and manicured greens.

 The course hosted a number of LPGA & PGA events including the Tournament of Champions, Sahara Invitational and the Las Vegas Invitational. Tiger Woods played Las Vegas National in 1996 on his way to capturing his very first PGA Tour victory and carded a 1-under par 70.

Enjoy breakfast or lunch in the Rat Pack Grill and leave time to wander through the Southern Nevada Golf Hall-of-Fame with years of golfing memorabilia displayed within the clubhouse.

Yes, Las Vegas is built on fast-paced, neon-encrusted fun, including some of its more popular golf courses, but if you’re looking for wallet friendly challenging golf, enjoy these websites:





Feature • August 2016 • By Mike Sorensen

Three Straight

Kelsey Chugg has been one of the dominant golfers in Utah for the past few years, so it wasn’t surprising that she won her third straight Mary Lou Baker Open in mid-June at the Park City Golf Club.

What was a little surprising was that she won the tournament despite never playing the scenic Park City course until the day the tournament started.

Chugg, the 25-year-old former Weber State golfer, showed up that Thursday for her first look at the course and promptly shot a one-under-par 71. With all that experience on the course, she bettered her score with a 70 in the second round, giving her a two-round total of 141 and a two-shot win over teenager Naomi Soifua.

“From tee to green, the course suits my eye really well.” she said after accepting the trophy. “I had never played up here until yesterday, so I tried to keep everything in front me.”

The only thing that slightly rattled the unflappable Chugg were the greens, which she called “really undulating” and “scary looking,” causing her to struggle a bit with her putter.

But that didn’t really matter since she was so dialed in with her irons, particularly her wedge.

She said in her final round that she hit five wedges inside three feet—putts she made—and that gave her plenty of breathing room in the middle of the round before she made some late mistakes that didn’t make a difference in the outcome.

Chugg had begun the day with a two-shot lead, but after five holes of Friday’s final round, she found herself in a tie with Soifua and Katie Perkins after they made some early birdies. But at No. 6, Chugg stuck her wedge close for a birdie and then hit within six inches at No. 9 for another kick-in birdie.

Her two-shot edge at the turn grew larger when she made a couple of more birdies on the back nine while Soifua and Perkins were carding some bogeys. The comfortable margin helped when Chugg got a little careless with bogeys at 13 and 14 and a double bogey at No. 18.

Chugg called it “so fun” to win the annual tournament, considered one of the most prestigious for women golfers. It is named for Mary Lou Baker, who was a six-time champion of the Women’s State Amateur in the 1940s and early 1950s. Baker retired from golf in her prime to raise a family or she might have won a lot more titles.

Chugg gives a lot of credit for her strong play of the past few years, which includes three State Amateur titles, to her swing coach Lynsey Myers, an assistant pro at Willow Creek Country Club.

“I’m working on my mental game and all aspects of my game are getting better,” she said. “I’m just trying to build my confidence and get more consistent.”

Chugg said she might give pro golf a shot, with plans to try the women’s Q-school in the fall, while still remaining an amateur.

Soifua, a senior-to-be at Provo High, who has already verbally committed to BYU, was happy with her runner-up finish, although she would have loved to win.

“Overall I played good—I just made some little mistakes,” said the 17-year-old.

Former State Am champ and Baker winner, Sirene Blair tied for third with another former Baker winner Lea Garner at 147, while Carly Dehlin was fifth at 148 and Perkins was next at 149.

Flight winners were Annette Gaiotti in Second Flight and Bayleigh Woodland in Third Flight.


Feature • August 2016 • By Mike Sorensen

Beating the Best at the City Am

For years, Patrick Fishburn made the trip down from Ogden for the Salt Lake City Amateur without much success. He knew it was perhaps the second biggest amateur in the state and he was finally rewarded this summer when he captured the annual tournament at Bonneville Golf Course.

The 23-year-old, who will be a junior at BYU in the fall, showed off his prodigious driving ability and deft short game in shooting a two-round score of 136 and edging ex-University of Utah golfer Brandon Kida by one shot.

“I’ve been playing in this every year since I was 16 or 17 and it’s one of the bigger tournaments around,” said Fishburn as he clutched the trophy named for longtime Bonneville head pro Dick Kramer. “There’s always a lot of great players and you’ve got to beat the best to win this one.”

One of those great players was Zac Blair, who won the City Am in 2010 when he was also a BYU golfer. Fishburn grew up close to Blair in Ogden and played on the same golf team at Fremont High School and at BYU for one year before he went on an LDS mission.

“I played a lot of golf with Zac—he’s a good buddy of mine,” said Fishburn, who was thrilled to add his name to the list of City Am winners, which includes the likes of Bruce Summerhays, Jimmy Blair, Arlen Peacock, Doug Bybee and Todd Barker.

Fishburn had begun the final round of the City Am three strokes behind first-day leader Devin Tovey, a former Highland High golfer who had shot a lifetime best 66 at a course that he’d never broken 70 in dozens of rounds growing up.

BYU golfer C.J. Lee was a shot back at 67, followed by 58-year-old Steve Poulson, a former City Am champion and four golfers were tied with FIshburn at 69.

Tovey, who played for East Central University in Oklahoma last year, didn’t show any signs of folding, as he eagled the first hole and kept his lead through much of the Sunday round.

However, it all turned at the 230-yard 15th hole where Tovey was still leading by a shot. Fishburn stuck a 7-iron to within 10 feet and sank the birdie putt, while Tovey missed the green and made bogey.

Then perhaps pumped up by grabbing the lead, the 6-foot-4, 220-pound Fishburn unleashed a 410-yard drive at the par-5 16th hole. Fishburn had just 110 yards to the hole and after sticking his wedge on the green, he two-putted for a birdie, while Tovey three-putted for a bogey.

That made the margin two strokes and Fishburn just had to hold off Kida, playing in the group ahead, by making pars on the final two holes. Kida shot a 66, the best score of the final round, but came up just short. Lee finished third at 138.

Tovey’s putter let him down on the final day as he had three three-putts and bogeyed three of the last five holes. Still, he was overall happy with his fourth-place finish at 139.

“I had my chances—I can live with it,” he said. “Patrick played great today.”

For Fishburn, the Salt Lake City Amateur was one of four amateur titles he captured in a month-long stretch as he also won the Valley View and Birch Creek amateurs and was low amateur at the Provo Open.

Flight winners were Austin Green in A Flight at 142 and Ben Peterson in B Flight at 163.



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