Volume 22 • Issue 4 • November 2013

Kelsey Chugg - Twice As Nice, Utah State Amateur

by Joe Watts

Randall, Terry Join

the Gold Club Ranks

UGA • PGA • UJGA

PLAYERS OF THE YEAR

Utah Arizona Shoutout Blindsided

by Mike Sorensen

by Kurt Kragthorpe

by Mike Sorensen

Utah Sports

Hall of Fame Inductee

Billy Casper

Destination Golf

Scottsdale Golf

by Mike Sorensen

Jimmerosity

by Dick Harmon

by Mike Sorensen

Fairways • December 2013

Kelsey Chugg Twice

As Nice Utah State Amateur

by Joe Watts

Winning the Utah Women's Amateur Championship the first time has become an open door invitation to win it again, and Kelsey Chugg, last year's winner, walked through that door and won her second straight State Am championship, defeating Sirene Blair, 4 and 3, at Wasatch Mountain State Park.

 

With her victory, four of the last five champions have won back-to-back titles. In other words, championships are not flukes and they are often repeated, especially at the Utah Women's Amateur where for the last 13 years the champion has repeated more often than not.

 

Chugg, a collegiate veteran from Weber State, jumped all over the Bingham prep star at the beginning of the 18-hole match by winning every other hole on the front nine, three of them with birdies, and made the turn at five-up. On the front side Chugg was error free while Blair gifted away several holes with atypical chipping errors.

 

A lightning threat forced a break at the turn, and provided a timely interlude for Blair who needed to gather herself for the back nine. The break, along with a huge five-hole lead, broke the rhythm of the match for Chugg, and she didn't win a hole on the back, but she didn't need to win a hole. All she needed was to not lose five holes. Blair won the 11th hole, her only hole of the day, and time ran out on her on the 15th hole.

 

The semifinal match between Utah's two most heralded prepsters, Sirene Blair and Lea Garner, was an error free display of beautiful golf. Blair gained a 1-up victory on the last hole when Garner's ten foot slightly breaking birdie putt slid over the left edge of the cup. Neither player missed a fairway all day and it was rare when they weren't on the green in regulation. All seven holes won were with birdies and although medal scores are not official in match play Blair was five under par and Garner was four under.

 

In the other semifinal Chugg survived a rally by Tara Green who came from two down with four to play and squared the match on the 17th hole. Green's marvelous comeback went for naught when her left breaking two and a half foot putt on the 18th hole lipped out and advanced Chugg to the finals.

 

Chugg and Blair nearly lost their tournament dreams in their nightmarish quarterfinal matches. They both trailed most of the way. Chugg never led Haley Dunn until the final hole and she had to birdie the 17th and 18th hole to win, and Blair had to go extra holes to squeak past Brooke Whittaker.

 

The format, which was a straight-up no handicap event, included an 18-hole qualifying with 16 advancing to match play and the field is getting so competitive that there were no breathers for anyone.

 

Since the Utah High School Activities Association added girls golf to its competition list the quality of girls golf has improved dramatically and it is beginning to have a huge impact on the strength of field at the Utah Women's Amateur Championship, and Blair and Garner are both likely to wear the crown at some point.

 

Bruce Summerhays was the guest speaker at the Tournament of Champions that preceded the match play portion of the tournament. Summerhays was the head pro at Wasatch in its early years and he reminded the players to take time to appreciate the beauty and peacefulness of the place where they were playing.

 

He gave a moving speech about 'not quitting' and elevated that trait to championship ranking.

 

Joe Watts is a frequent contributor to Fairways.

Fairways • December 2013

Randall, Terry Join the Gold Club

by Mike Sorensen

Cannon Randall has just one regret about his father receiving the Utah Golf Association Gold Club Award – that he wasn't there to receive it.

 

Clarence D. (Pete) Randall, along with Dave Terry, was awarded with the prestigious Gold Club Award at the annual UGA meeting in late October. The Gold Club Award is given annually to individuals who "through significant achievement or unselfish service (have) contributed to the history and tradition of the game of golf in Utah and whose personal integrity, sportsmanship, common courtesy, loyalty and friendship earn the love and respect of fellow golfers.''

 

Known as Pete to all who knew him, Randall was a dentist in Logan, who served in many golf capacities over the years and was an outstanding golfer. He passed away earlier this year at the age of 89.

 

While he's sad his father wasn't around to be honored at the banquet at Alpine Country Club, Cannon knows what his dad's likely reaction would have been about receiving such recognition.

 

"My dad would be quite astounded to have been selected for the Gold Club Award. He knew many of the past recipients and would have felt his contributions to Utah golf paled compared to theirs.''

 

However, Pete Randall is more than worthy to receive the Gold Club honor, which has been given to many legends of Utah golf over the years, including George Marks, Karl Tucker, Jimmy Thompson, Jeannie Goddard and Ernie Schneiter Jr.

 

A top amateur golfer, Randall won club championships at Logan Country Club 15 times, including at least one victory in six different decades until 1989 at the age of 66. He served on the UGA board of directors for nine years from 1971-1980, including two years as the president and was involved in all things golf in Logan from his service at the club to helping to develop the plan for the Logan River Golf Course.

 

In a Fairways magazine article in 2003, Randall talked about his remarkable feat record of winning club championships in six decades.

 

"You need an element of luck win a club championship,'' the always modest Randall said.  "Of course you must have the ability to play well under pressure and I was always fortunate to have a pretty good putter working for me.''

 

Besides his leadership positions with the UGA and Logan Country Club, Randall was known as a mentor to many who have gone on to noteworthy leadership positions in golf including Logan golf professional Dan Roskelley, Mark Passey, a former UGA executive director and is current Director of Regional Affairs for the United States Golf Association and Keith Hansen, a longtime USGA official and past UGA president.

 

Former UGA executive director Joe Watts, who grew up in Logan and interacted with him at the club, said of Randall, "He was friendly with everyone in a dignified manner, never pompous. He didn't walk around like he owned the place but everyone treated him like he did.''

 

Randall had three children who were excellent golfers and as his son Carter said, "he gave and taught the enjoyment of the game to each of his eight grandchildren.''

 

Just as deserving as Randall of the Gold Club Award is David Terry, who has been involved in golf since he was a standout high school golfer in Richfield.

 

Like Randall, Terry is a humble man, who has a hard time understanding why he would receive such an award.

 

"I'm just shocked,'' he said of being selected for the Gold Club, adding that it reminded him of the famous line from the movie Wayne's World when Garth and Wayne said, "We're not worthy.''

 

While Terry may not feel worthy, current UGA President Jim Harland has an explanation for Terry's selection.

 

"He has made a significant contribution to Utah golf and has been influential in almost all aspects of Utah golf, but especially so in the expansion of junior golf programs and promotion of Utah's public golf facilities on both a local and national scale. He fits the description of the award perfectly and we are pleased to present it to him.''

 

Terry credits his older brother, Jim, 10 years his senior, for getting him hooked on golf in Richfield where he grew up. He also recalls the moment he started his love affair with the sport when he was about eight years old.

 

"It was on the fifth hole at Cove View and I chipped in,'' he recalls. "I don't know if it was for a 2 or a 10. But all it takes is one good shot.''

 

Terry was part of three state prep championship teams at Richfield High and was also the state medalist in 1984. His involvement in golf as a profession is the result of what he calls a series of fortunate events that have come his way.

 

He got started in golf management soon after graduating from BYU in 1990. He had gotten to know Robert McArthur, the head pro at Riverside Country Club, years before when McArthur played against his brother in high school and then he worked for McArthur at Riverside while in college.

 

McArthur was the president of the Utah Section PGA and he put in a good word to section executive director Jeff Beaudry, who was in charge of the Ben Hogan Tour tournament at Riverside. Within a couple of years, Terry was made the tournament director even though he was in his mid-20s.

 

"I was like a deer in the headlights,'' Terry recalls. But he performed his job so well, he served in the position for five years and also worked as the assistant executive director of the Utah Section PGA.

 

When the Nike Tour left Utah, Terry's job was about to dissolve and he landed a job in St. George, as the Sports Facilities Manager over golf, tennis and swimming – his three favorite sports – for the city. The job soon evolved into the Golf Manager position over all of the city's golf courses, a job he held for eight years along with being the city's marketing director for a year and a half.

 

Terry said the most fulfilling part of his job in St. George was starting the junior golf program – Junior Association of Golfers (JAG), which is still going today.

 

"It created a lot of state championships and a lot of college scholarships, which is what I hoped it would do,'' he said. "I think junior golf is one of the most important things we do in the golf business.''

 

While he was still in St. George, Terry began his nine-year term on the UGA Board of Directors. Again, his involvement with junior golf is what he cherishes most about his stint with the UGA.

 

In 2005, he became the Golf Manager for Salt Lake City and is now called the Golf Program Director. It's been his most challenging position, but he has overseen many changes and has been pushing for some changes that haven't yet come to fruition.

 

"Most of what I've done is job-related and isn't anything to get too excited about,'' he says. "But the years when I'll do most of my volunteering are still in the future.''

 

Terry and his wife, Pam, are the parents of two daughters, Megan, who was an excellent high school golfer and Sarah, who prefers dancing.

 

Mike Sorensen is a sportswriter for the Deseret News and a frequent contributor to Fairways.

 

Mike Sorensen is a sportswriter for the Deseret News and a frequent contributor to Fairways.

Clarence D. (Pete) Randall

Dave Terry

Fairways • November 2013

Blindsided

by Mike Sorensen

Utah Arizona Shootout Team

(Click to view each team member)

Just a year before in Arizona, the two sides had battled to a tie for the first time in a series that had been nearly dead even over the previous 22 years. So nobody saw the biggest rout in the history of the Utah-Arizona Shootout coming this year when the two teams met up at Sand Hollow Resort in early October for their annual duel.

 

The Utah team, captained by Kurt Bernhisel, jumped out to a solid lead in the first-day foursomes, absolutely blitzed the Arizonans in the afternoon fourball, then coasted home in the final round singles matches.

 

When the dust settled, Utah's 12-golfer team had a convincing 49.5-22.5 victory, besting a 48-24 drubbing the Arizonans had laid on Utah in 1998.

 

Bill Probst, one of Utah's two senior players who has been involved in the Utah-Arizona matches for 13 years either as the captain when he was on the UGA board, or as a player, couldn't believe what he saw this year.

 

"I've never seen anything like this,'' he said. "It was crazy.''

 

The 61-year-old Bernhisel, a top amateur in his own right who is a member of the Utah Golf Association Board of Directors, took little credit for the huge victory.

 

"It was not, 'Win one for the Gipper,''' he said. "These guys are great players. You don't want to get too hokey with them. You just try to stay out of their way.''

 

So how did it happen? It wasn't like Arizona sent the "B" team up to Utah this year. They had just as many former Shootout players—six—as the Utah side did.

 

"We brought the best players we have,'' said Arizona non-playing captain Alex Tsakiris. "It was just a struggle for us. On Monday we got behind early and it was a very bighole to get out of. Utah just played really well.''

 

The Utah players had a hard time explaining the stampede. They said it was a combination of home course advantage and team camaraderie. And good golfing, of course.

 

The teams for the Utah-Arizona matches consist of 12 players, including two women and two senior golfers. Utah's team featured players from age 22 to 60 with two players in their 50s, three in their 40s, one his 30s and the rest in their early or mid-20s.

 

Despite their diverse backgrounds, the Utah players all got along well and seemed to enjoy themselves on the golf course. They had dinner together the night before and went out together after the first day of golf. They played practice rounds with music blaring and had some friendly "money games" going in their practice rounds.

 

"We are all friends and weren't stressed about letting somebody down that you don't know,'' said Carey Shinkle, one of the six rookies on the team. "If you lose, friends are still going to pat you on the back.''

 

"We had some good teams,'' added Bernhisel. "We paired the young guys together, we played the experienced guys together . . . everybody was comfortable with each other, which helps.''

 

The familiarity with the golf course also helped. The Sand Hollow course, ranked No. 1 in Utah by Golf Digest and other publications, had opened just five years earlier and nearly every player on the Utah side had played it more than once, while the Arizonans had never seen the course before Sunday's practice round.

 

The veteran of the Utah team was 57-year-old Steve Poulson who was making a record 11th appearance in the Shootout. He teamed with Probst, the 58-year-old building contractor from Midway and the pair tied their foursomes match with Cyrus Whitney and Murphy Mitchell before winning the four-ball match 3-0.

 

The women's team of 60-year-old Annette Gaiotti of Hidden Valley CC and 22-year-old recent Weber State graduate Kelsey Chugg might have seemed like the odd couple, but they garnered a lot of points for Utah as the pair combined for five points in team play and Gaoitti easily won her individual match to pick up three more.

 

Two newcomers that not a lot of folks on the local scene knew much about, played well for Utah. Dave Jennings, a 28-year-old air traffic controller from Layton and Shinkle, a 35-year-old from Riverdale were solid in their play and didn't seem fazed by the competition.

 

Jennings, who won the Birch Creek Amateur and finished second several times this year, teamed with Jeff Evans to win five of six points and then won his singles match 2.5-0.5.

 

Shinkle is a former top junior golfer from Moab, who actually sold his clubs and gave up golf for six years while working on oil rigs from Alaska to the Gulf Coast. Then one day about a year ago, he got a hankering to play golf, rented some clubs and started playing again. He played in numerous tournaments and earned enough UGA points to gain a spot on the Utah Shootout team.

 

He teamed with Jeff Jolley, a 42-year-old from Draper making his seventh Shootout appearance and the pair won 5.5 points together.

 

Evans, the 2011 State Amateur champion from Cedar City, who just completed his collegiate career at Southern Utah University, was one of three 23-year-olds representing Utah.

 

The other two were Zac Blair, who completed his collegiate career at BYU in the spring and Tommy Forsman, the son of Champions Tour pro Dan Forsman.

 

Blair and Forsman lost their foursomes match, but came back to win their fourball match 2.5-0.5. Then in singles, Blair won all three points in his match, as did Evans.

 

"It was cool to be down here with the guys,'' said Blair, who made his first appearance in the Shootout after not being eligible as a collegian. "It was nice to be able to play in one of these.''

 

The final team was Jon Wright and Brandon Hargett, a couple of 40-somethings who had each played in the Shootout before and are both former professionals. They won both of their matches 2-1 and Wright picked up 2.5 points in singles.

 

The tally in the Monday morning foursomes (alternate shot) was 11.5-6.5, but in the afternoon four-ball, the Utahns really shined, taking 16 of a possible 18 points. That left them with an almost insurmountable 27.5-8.5 lead going into the final day for the singles matches.

 

"We were just out there having fun we were so far ahead,'' Wright said of the Tuesday singles round.

 

The players started teeing off at 7:30 a.m. and by 10:30, the Utahns had already wrapped up the championship. Several golfers won a point in their singles match and when Gaiotti got a big enough lead to clinch her three points, Utah clinched the Shootout. The Utah side won 22 of the 36 singles points to put an exclamation point on their victory.

 

Utah now leads the annual Shootout 12-10-1 with next year's competition scheduled for Arizona, where the home team will certainly be out to avenge this year's record-setting defeat.

 

Mike Sorensen is a sportswriter for the Deseret News and a frequent contributor to Fairways.

Fairways • November 2013

Utah Sports Hall of Fame Inductee Billy Casper

by Kurt Kragthorpe

Billy Casper could be forgiven for wondering why his golf accomplishments only now are becoming more appreciated.

 

Instead, he's just enjoying the ride.

 

The recognition of Casper's body of work, long after his prime golfing years, continued in October with his induction into the Utah Sports Hall of Fame. For much of the past 40 years, Casper has lived in Mapleton or Springville, Utah.

 

At age 82, he remains humble and gracious about his golf career, even during this round of seemingly sudden recognition. The induction ceremony at EnergySolutions Arena followed last year's honors during the U.S. Open at The Olympic Club in San Francisco, where his 1966 triumph was relived.

 

"As you get older, you cherish it more than when you were younger," Casper said. "If I'd been receiving the recognition at the time I was performing, I would have never accepted it the way I'm accepting it now. It's a very special thing in my life to be recognized. Wherever I go in the world, it's just overwhelming."

 

Utah's golf community is well represented in the Utah Sports Hall of Fame, even if Casper's recognition may seem overdue.

 

George Von Elm, Helen Hoffman Bertganole, George Schneiter Sr., Karl Tucker, George Marks and Bill Korns have all been inducted for their achievements in golf and contributions to the game. In addition, sportswriter Hack Miller (who plays a prominent role in Casper's story) distinguished himself nationally in golf writing and Pres Summerhays, the patriarch of the Summerhays golf family, was recognized for coaching multiple sports.

 

The Utah Sports Hall of Fame selection process once was more provincial, focusing on Utah natives, which also may explain why Casper was overlooked until now.

 

Casper's connection to Utah began in 1959. Before winning the U.S. Open at Winged Foot, he had committed to UGA administrator Steve Dunford to play in the Utah Open at Oakridge Country Club. That remains a memorable Utah Open, because Bob Rosburg won the tournament with Casper finishing third, about a month after Casper had edged Rosburg at Winged Foot.

 

The '59 U.S. Open was the subject of the only golf story Casper told in his induction speech, citing how he used a strategy of laying up with a 5-iron or 6-iron on the long par-3 No. 3 in all four rounds. He parred it every day, ultimately winning the tournament by one stroke.

 

Casper is a professional golf legend because he was so great for so long, and because he was even greater in one glorious stretch of his career. In the seven PGA Tour seasons from 1964-70, Casper won two major championships (the '66 U.S. Open and the '70 Masters) and 27 titles in all. That number represented two more victories than Jack Nicklaus and six more than Arnold Palmer and Gary Player combined. No wonder golf historians recognize that he should have been included with those other stars, often labeled the "Big Three."

 

When Casper recently began to produce an autobiography, co-written by Jim Parkinson and Lee Benson, "The Big Three and Me" originally was intended to be a chapter. It turned out to be the book's title, framing his accomplishments in the context of the others' careers.

 

In all, Billy claimed 51 titles over 20 seasons, from the 1956 Labatt Open to the 1975 New Orleans Open. For 16 consecutive years, he won at least two tournaments.

 

Further proof of his elite-level performance is found in his status as a five-time winner of the Vardon Trophy for the PGA Tour's lowest stroke average. Casper was an eight-time member of the U.S. team in the Ryder Cup, compiling the most points by an American in the competition's history. He captained the U.S. team in 1979. Casper also was a two-time PGA Tour Player of the Year and twice was the season's leading money-winner. All of those accomplishments resulted in his induction into the World Golf Hall of Game in 1978.

 

He's a charter member of the Utah Golf Hall of Fame and a contributor to the state's golf community, as illustrated by his involvement in the 2012 U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship at Soldier Hollow in Midway, Utah's first United States Golf Association event.

 

Throughout his career, Casper embodied the gentlemanly nature of golf, while also being a tough competitor. All those tournament trophies are evidence of that. After moving to the Champions Tour as one of senior golf's big attractions, Billy added nine more titles, including two majors.

 

Casper will forever be known as one of the greatest putters in golf history, and his all-around game places him in a class with few others. His seemingly ideal mix of confidence and humility also has made him one of the game's most admired performers.

 

Kurt Kragthorpe is a Salt Lake Tribune sportswriter and frequent contributor to Fairways.

Fairways • November 2013

Player's of the Year

by Kurt Kragthorpe

Cole Ogden is eight years younger than his brother, Clay. They do look somewhat alike, but not as much as they act alike and play alike. Their mannerisms are uncannily similar, and they're hugely supportive of each other's golf careers.

 

Clay is a former USGA champion and a two-time winner of the Utah Open, but Cole accomplished something his brother missed on his way to the professional ranks: a Utah State Amateur title.

 

Distinguishing himself in that regard was part of Cole Ogden's motivation in July, and the victory at Soldier Hollow Golf Course helped him earn another award. The BYU junior is a UGA Co-Player of the Year, with former Cougar teammate Zac Blair.

 

Blair may have done more on a national level, but Ogden's local performance certainly made him worthy of sharing the title. The State Am was the obvious highlight, in the middle of a summer when Ogden got on a roll and kept firing low scores and pulling off remarkable shots.

 

Ogden experienced "the feeling that you want in golf," the confidence of knowing he would play well nearly every time he teed it up. That was true at Soldier Hollow, where he was the stroke-play medalist with a 71-67 effort and then became the first State Am champion who had to earn the trophy by winning six matches in the expanded format. Ogden's first-round match with Craig Wilson proved to to be as tough as any of them.

 

The career-defining shots just kept coming, starting with the 250-yard hybrid from a fairway bunker on the par-5 No. 16, leading to an eagle that Ogden needed just to win the hole and eventually outlast Wilson in 19 holes. He topped that two days later with a 300-yard drive with a 3-wood that resulted in a conceded eagle, clinching his semifinal match with Jacob Holt.

 

It might be the most memorable shot in State Am history, considering the unique circumstances. The tees were moved up on the Gold Course's 18th hole just for the sake of such drama in match play. Ogden was 1 up on his opponent and his caddie, Utah Valley University golfer J.T Timmons, persuaded him to go for the green, rather than layup in front of the creek with an iron. The ball landed on the green and curled around the hole, ending up about 18 inches away.

 

And then Ogden putted phenomenally in taking a 6-and-4 win over former champion Jeff Evans in the final.

 

"I wanted to do something Clay hadn't done," Cole said, "because he's done so much."

 

Clay Ogden was occupied with the Web.com Tour's Utah Championship that week, but the brothers had shared a great experience in June at Newport Beach, Calif. That's where Cole nearly qualified for the U.S. Open, failing to advance from the sectional stage by one stroke after a remarkable run in the middle of the 36-hole day with Clay as his caddie. Ogden had advanced through the local qualifying event in a playoff at Hidden Valley Country Club.

 

The Ogden Brothers of Davis County are good storytellers, and Cole can detail other memorable moments of 2013. There was the Glen Eagle Amateur at Cole's home course in Syracuse, where he teed off in the afternoon and was 2 under after the front nine, knowing that three 65s already were on the board. So he proceeded to shoot 6 under on the back nine with a hole-out eagle at No. 14 and posted a 64, beating an extremely strong field that included most of BYU's team.

 

Ogden also won the Dixie Red Hills Amateur by seven strokes, shooting 66-61. He also posted a 66 to win low amateur honors in the Brigham City Open and tied for third overall as the low amateur in the Provo Open, shooting 66-69-70 at East Bay Golf Course. Ogden also was among the nine amateurs who made the 36-hole cut in the Siegfried & Jensen Utah Open.

 

"I've never really had a summer like that," he concluded.

 

It came after a spring when Ogden redshirted in the BYU golf program and rediscovered his game. This fall, he's still trying to establish himself as a regular in the Cougars' lineup, much as Clay once did before winning the 2005 U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship and taking his game to a higher level.

 

Cole Ogden's career trajectory is also promising, and joining Blair as a Co-Player of the Year is a case of keeping good company.

 

Kurt Kragthorpe is a Salt Lake Tribune sportswriter and frequent contributor to Fairways.

Senior Women's Player of the Year

Annette Gaiotti

Elite-level senior golfers live in two worlds. They compete with players of their own age and also tee it up with much younger golfers, who often play a much different game.

 

Salt Lake City's Annette Gaiotti thrived in both worlds in 2013, while earning the UGA's Senior Women's Player of the Year award.

 

Gaiotti distinguished herself by playing well on a national level, barely missing the cut to match play in two USGA events. She also finished third in the UGA Women's Senior Amateur.

 

Those accomplishments were significant enough for Gaiotti at age 60, but consider how she performed against younger generations of players. She repeated as the winner of the women's division of the UGA Winterchamps, tied for sixth place in the Mary Lou Baker Open and made the 16-player field for match play in the Utah State Women's Amateur, then won a first-round match.

 

"I'm just happy at this age, being able to compete at that level," she said.

 

So it was a highly memorable season for Gaiotti, who appreciates how smoothly the merger of the UGA and the state women's golf association worked in its first year.

 

Having moved from Boston in 1996, Gaiotti is now a fixture in the Utah golf community. She once was known for making two holes-in-one at Hidden Valley Country Club during a Sunday afternoon round in late November with snowy, cold conditions approaching, and now she's recognized as a highly consistent senior star. Let's just call her a very young 60.

 

In the Arizona-Utah Shootout at Sand Hollow Resort, Gaiotti helped the host team post a record point total by winning eight of nine possible points in the women's division, teaming with Kelsey Chugg.

 

And she's raising her standards for 2014, intending to launch herself into workouts that will make her stronger and able to drive the ball farther. "I've got to get 30 more yards somewhere," she said.

 

That discovery comes from competing both against the college golfers (or younger) in Utah and the women her age (or younger) in national events. Actually, Gaiotti was pleased with her ball-striking during both of her USGA tournament appearances, only to have a putting slump arrive at just the wrong time.

 

She shot 86-81 in the U.S. Senior Women's Amateur at Cordevalle in northern California in September, missing the cut by two strokes. Gaiotti then posted 84-84 in the U.S. Women's Mid-Amateur at Biltmore Forest Country Club in North Carolina in early October, failing to advance by one stroke.

 

If those scores sound high, keep in mind they placed her in the top half of the field with course set-ups she described as "incredibly difficult."

 

In Utah events, Gaiotti played consistently well with much lower scores. She shot 77-75 in the Women's Senior Am at Park City Golf Course, where 50-year-old Terry Hansen was the winner. Gaiotti shot 76-76 at Eaglewood in the Mary Lou Baker Open and posted 73-74 at Wasatch Mountain State Park in the stroke-play portion of the State Am, tying for sixth place. After beating former champion Julie McMullin in the first round of match play, she lost to No. 2 seed Lea Garner of BYU in the quarterfinals.

 

"It's always fun," Gaiotti said. "When I play with the younger girls, I actually end up hitting the ball farther, because they motivate me."

 

It's very likely that the motivation goes both ways, when the younger players see how much Gaiotti loves the game and keeps improving. That gives them a standard to live up to, decades into the future. They also recognize that they have to play well to beat her, right here and now.

 

Kurt Kragthorpe is a Salt Lake Tribune sportswriter and frequent contributor to Fairways.

Utah Section PGA

2013 Player of the Year:

Chris Moody, Riverside Country Club

Chris Moody, Assistant Golf Professional at Riverside Country Club in Provo, Utah, had a repeat performance as the Utah Section PGA Player of the Year. Moody bookended this year's honors with his first ever Match Play Championship win in May and his first ever Section Championship in September!

 

Moody has been one of the premier section players for a number of years, but Valley View golf professional Dustin Volk had the pressure on clear through the second round of the Section Championship. Volk had a number of top five finishes throughout the season as well as first place finishes at the Spanish Oaks Open and the Davis Park Open. Volk finished second to Moody in the Section Championship shooting a tournament low 66 on the final day under some real tough playing conditions.

 

Obviously Chris Moody's game consistency over the past five years and adding his name to other great section players on our "Championship Trophy Row" not only qualifies him as the 2013 Utah Section Player of the Year, but elevates our status as one of the premier playing memberships in the country.

Zac Blair

Ever since he won the State Amateur in 2009, Zac Blair has looked beyond Utah to test himself and further develop his game. He's spent his summers competing nationally, bringing distinction to himself and the state as one of the top amateur golfers Utah has ever produced.

 

Yet in what he hopes will serve as the last stage of his amateur era before becoming a touring professional, Blair has returned to his roots and finished with a flourish. So it is fitting that he's recognized as a UGA Co-Player of the Year in 2013 (his fifth consecutive honor), along with former BYU teammate Cole Ogden.

 

Blair led the Player Performance Rating points system this year, accounting for a combination of Utah tournaments and USGA events. There's no question that Blair is worthy of one more UGA honor as he approaches the likely conclusion of his amateur career. He'll always be remembered for winning six Utah tournaments in a row in 2012, among other accomplishments.

 

The Ogden product is right in the middle of trying to qualify simultaneously for the Web.com Tour and the European Tour. He managed to mix in his only chance to ever play in the Arizona-Utah Shootout at Sand Hollow Resort, helping Utah's team to a record point total in the annual event.

 

"I'm glad I got an opportunity to do that at least once," he said.

 

Collegiate golfers are ineligible for any outside team events during the academic year, and most elite players turn pro soon after their final season ends. Blair chose to remain an amateur through the summer and into the qualifying process, keeping his options open.

 

And he certainly finished strong around here. Blair won the UGA Tournament of Champions by five strokes in September, shooting 65-68 at Wasatch Mountain State Park. And then he won the Hurricane Amateur with a 67 and tied for first in the Old Mill Amateur with a 66.

 

"I wanted to end the year kind of how I started it," he said.

 

Those last few events actually came after the Player of the Year voting, but Blair already had won the St. George Amateur, the Northern Utah Amateur and the Coral Canyon Amateur, in addition to tying for first in the UGA Winterchamps. He represented Utah in the Pacific Coast Amateur, tying for ninth place, and tied for second among the amateurs in the Siegfried & Jensen Utah Open.

 

Blair hoped to make enough of an impact nationally to earn a spot on the Walker Cup team. He fell short of that goal, but qualified for match play in the U.S. Amateur Public Links in Virginia and the U.S. Amateur at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass.

 

Blair lost a back-nine lead in his second-round match of the U.S. Amateur, but playing well for four days at such a historic venue made that tournament his obvious highlight of the year.

 

Nurtured in golf by his father, longtime pro Jimmy Blair, Zac produced a remarkable career at BYU. He never was quite able to carry the team to the NCAA Championships, falling short in regional competition, but his consistently good play elevated the program. Blair welcomed the guidance of coach Bruce Brockbank and assistant coach Todd Miller in advancing his game.

 

During his senior year of 2012-13, Blair won two tournaments for the Cougars, while posting seven top-five finishes and 11 top-20 finishes.

 

From the days together in the Utah Junior Golf Association, UGA events and college, Ogden has witnessed Blair's development. "He's impressive," Ogden said. "He's a straight hitter, and he does everything well, especially chipping and putting. He'll be successful, just because of that. He has some serious talent."

 

Blair is trying to apply those skills to professional golf, while tackling a rare set of challenges this fall. In the first stage of European Tour qualifying in Scotland in September, he shot 71-72-72-73 to advance easily. The second of three stages is scheduled in early November in Spain.

 

In the first stage of Web.com Tour Qualifying, Blair made a nice comeback at Dayton, Nev. He followed his opening-round 78 with scores of 71-70-71, making the cut on the required number. His final round included an eagle at No. 11 and five straight pars at the end in a clutch performance that sent him to the second of three stages in mid-November.

 

That's just what everyone has come to expect from Blair. And while he pursues golfing excellence worldwide, he'll always be a former State Amateur champion and a native Utahn who appreciates what UGA administrators and volunteers have done for him.

 

"They've been great," he said. "Everyone who's associated with the UGA is really first-class."

 

Kurt Kragthorpe is a Salt Lake Tribune sportswriter and frequent contributor to Fairways.

Senior Player of the Year

Kirk Siddens

Kirk Siddens was not sure what to expect when he entered the realm of senior golf in 2013. The mysteries included the state of his own game, during a season when he played and practiced less than usual and competed in far fewer tournaments.

 

The results? Pretty much the same as ever, or even better in the context of senior golf. Siddens describes the over-50 competition as "definitely a new phase," but he certainly seemed comfortable in it. On the strength of two victories and three runner-up finishes in big events, Siddens was named the UGA Senior Player of the Year.

 

The demands of moving into a new home and operating his successful carpet cleaning business reduced his level of commitment to golf in 2013, but Siddens made the most of his opportunities and consistently delivered his best stuff on the course. He was great from January through October, beginning the season with a victory in the St. George Amateur's senior division and topping it with a strong performance in the UGA 4-Man Team event at Bloomington Country Club.

 

Joining the Fore Lakes senior team of Todd Barker, Scott Fairbanks and Bill Probst, Siddens shot 70-70 to help win both the senior championship and the overall title, because the seniors played from the same tees as the at-large competitors. That was another good endorsement for senior golf in Utah.

 

The depth is not quite the same, but the quality of play remains high. "There are 10, 15 guys who are really good and want to beat your brains out," Siddens said. "It's kind of cool to have that feeling again. I think that why's all of us do it. There's camaraderie, but it's really the competition that keeps the flow going."

 

Siddens found plenty of challenges in the UGA Senior Match Play Championship in May. He beat Mark Madsen 3 and 1 in the final match at Hill Air Force Base's Hubbard Golf Course, which only begins to tell the story of the week.

 

As the final match unfolded, Siddens was entitled to have an emotional letdown after the previous day's adventures. Yet he said the letdown actually came after the round of 16, when he edged 2011 champion Steve Poulson. In the quarterfinals, Ben Maddox was 4 up after nine holes, but Siddens rallied to win six of the next eight holes for a 2-and-1 victory.

 

In the afternoon, Siddens was ready to close out his semifinal match, but Dana Nelson birdied No. 18 to force extra holes. That's when things got interesting. Siddens had to make a curling 15-footer for par just to get past No. 2, and he nearly drove his ball out of bounds on the par-5 No. 5. But he recovered with a great second shot and made a two-putt birdie, while Nelson lipped out a birdie chip.

 

So winning that title took everything Siddens could give, while facing the pressure of being expected to come out and dominate the senior circuit. Just the same, "It is nice being the young guy again," he said.

 

Without being greedy, Siddens knows he could have had an absolutely phenomenal rookie season. He lost to Poulson by one point in the UGA Winterchamps and finished one stroke behind Russ Hook in the Salt Lake City Senior Am. And in the UGA's other major event, the Senior Amateur at Fox Hollow, Siddens shot 68-71-67 to finish three strokes behind Fairbanks.

 

Overall, his success was "something I totally didn't expect," he said. It's all a tribute to his competitiveness, consistent swing and focused practice on his short game.

 

"I really can't explain it," he said. "I stayed pretty sharp. You get out there in that competitive mode, and I guess I grind it out pretty well."

 

The results certainly would say so. If it took awhile for everybody, including himself, to really think of Siddens as a senior golfer, the Player of the Year award means there's no turning back now.

 

Kurt Kragthorpe is a Salt Lake Tribune sportswriter and frequent contributor to Fairways.

Women's Player of the Year

Kelsey Chugg

The names of golfers on the Women's State Amateur trophy keep coming in pairs. Yet as she held the hardware again, the latest two-time champion was having trouble picturing another "Kelsey Chugg" being engraved below the first such entry.

 

"I'm in shock that I did it again, really," Chugg said on that day in August, having posted a 4-and-3 defeat of Sirene Blair in the 18-hole final match of the 107th tournament at Wasatch Mountain's Lake Course.

 

Chugg joined Daphne Vines (2007-08) and Natalie Stone (2009-10) as a repeat winner in recent history. A couple of months later, she reflected, "It was an emotional day. I didn't think I could do it."

 

But she did, and the repeat victory is a big reason Chugg was voted the UGA Women's Player of the Year.

 

Chugg, who recently completed her Weber State golf career, now lives in Salt Lake City and works at both Wingpointe Golf Course and Willow Creek Country Club. She's intending to turn pro in the spring and play the Cactus Tour in Arizona, where she attended high school while spending most of her childhood summers with her grandparents in the Ogden area and playing at Schneiter's Riverside Golf Course.

 

She didn't realize how much she would miss college golf, now that she's away from Weber State coach Jeff Smith and her teammates, but is diligently working on her game with swing coach Lynsey Myers and Golf Lab instructor Corey Badger in an effort to someday make the LPGA Tour. She competed in the first stage of the LPGA Qualifying Tournament in September, shooting 81-82-72-76 at Rancho Mirage, Calif.

 

The event was"something I needed to experience," she said. "I learned to go through the process and not worry about everything else. It's a different world."

 

The third-round performance was encouraging, considering how Chugg was 4 under par through nine holes. The tournament taught her that she has the shotmaking ability required to play at that level, but scoring is critical. "Just getting the ball in the hole and not being afraid to shoot low numbers," she said.

 

In a match-play context, that's basically what Chugg did in the State Am final match.

 

Blair, a former Bingham High School star who's now a San Diego State freshman, struggled with distance control on the front nine. She would have found her opponent tough to beat, regardless. Chugg birdied three of the first seven holes with pinpoint approach shots on the way to her 5-up lead, even if she never really got comfortable.

 

"I kept hitting good shots and getting more and more nervous," she said.

 

The final match seemingly was less demanding than what Chugg went through to reach that stage. She had to win the last two holes to beat Haley Dunn in the quarterfinals and also went to the 18th hole against Tara Green in the morning's semifinals.

 

"That tournament is just so much fun," Chugg said, looking back. "It was stressful, but it was a lot of fun."

 

Chugg also performed well with partner Annette Gaiotti in the Arizona-Utah Shootout at Sand Hollow Resort, earning 6.5 of a possible nine points.

 

So ended what Chugg labeled "an up-and-down year," beginning with a solid spring season for Weber State, then something of a lull, followed by a tie for second place behind Blair in the Mary Lou Baker Open at Eaglewood Golf Course and her performance in the State Am. "Overall, a great year," she concluded.

 

Kurt Kragthorpe is a Salt Lake Tribune sportswriter and frequent contributor to Fairways.

Utah Section PGA 2013 Assistant

Player of the Year: Zach Johnson, Davis Park Golf Course

The runaway winner of the 2013 Assistant Player of the Year honors is Zach Johnson, Assistant Golf Professional at Davis Park Golf Course. Johnson has certainly set himself up as the best "new player" in the Utah Section. His POY point totals have been "off the charts" for the past two years and would have given him both the POY title as well as the Assistants POY title.

 

Johnson has 11 top five finishes in Utah Section PGA Events. Most of these finishes are either first or second place finishes. He managed three outright first place titles and a tied for one title. Johnson won the two-day Utah Section National Car Rental Assistants Championship. Without a doubt the finest win of his career came at the 2013 Siegfried & Jensen Utah Open where he was the first Section Member/Apprentice to win since 2006.

 

Johnson who plans to achieve his "Class A" Membership in the PGA next year will be shooting for overall POY status. He will be eligible to play in the Utah Section PGA Section Championship and PNC which will open many additional opportunities for POY points. His record as top section "point getter" for the past two golf seasons puts the rest of the Section players on notice.

 

Zach attributes the great improvement in his play over the past two seasons to a great "golf atmosphere" that has been created at his home club, Davis Park. Head professional Brad Stone and former employees Dustin Volk and Pete Stone are great players in their own right. The great competitive aura that these players have set has motivated Johnson to be his best. Johnson also credits his bride Katie as a great support allowing him the time to hone his game.

Utah Section PGA

2013 Senior Player of the Year: James Blair III, Life Member Active

Technically the Utah Section PGA Senior Player of the Year competition still has one event left on its schedule. That last event is the PGA Senior PNC scheduled for this month in Creighton Farms, Virginia. Jimmy Blair is a very familiar name for Player of the Year honors and he also has a commanding lead of points going into this final event. In that Blair is our lead representative at the event the chances of anyone overtaking him is next to nil.

 

Blair started the golf season hot-out-of-the-gates. He won the overall title at the Nike Classic our first Championship on the schedule. He didn't slow down after that point either. He had four Senior Division event titles and placed high in overall POY standing in an additional five events.

 

He also won his third Utah Senior Open title this year at Toana Vista GC in Wendover, Nevada. Certainly Jimmy Blair is a force to be reckoned with in either the senior or the regular field of any of our events. Congratulations go to Jimmy Blair as our Senior Player of the Year for 2013.

Fairways • November 2013

Jimmerosity

by Dick Harmon

Jimmer Fredette’s days in Sacramento may soon come to an end but the NBA guard’s charity will stay with him where ever he goes as a free agent at the end of the season.

 

Utahns got a glimpse of the golf portion of the Fredette Family Foundation this fall when he hosted a fundraiser at Riverside Country Club that featured Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, among others, on the first tee.  He called the tournament and the effort “Jimmerosity.”

 

Fredette’s charity benefits school children, those who can’t afford supplies, fees, lunches or other necessities in his home town of Glen Falls, New York and his adopted college town of Provo, Utah.

 

Fredette said he’s taken to the game of golf and loves it.  “It gives me a quality break from all the things I’m involved with during the season,” he said. He now fits the game of golf into his offseason regime.

 

“I had done one other golf thing at Pebble Beach and I’ve really come to like golf and it’s an awesome experience to have the governor come out today and hopefully we can keep it going. Families helping families is our motto. We’ve done things for anti-bullying, Special Olympics, Cash for Kids, helping school districts with school lunches for kids who can’t afford it,” said the former first-round draft pick and college player of the year.

 

“We’ve seen some great stories and things are happening with children,” said Fredette’s father Al, who was on hand with his other two children Lindsay and TJ as well as Jimmer’s wife Whitney.

 

Fredette not only hosted the affair at Riverside but played in a scramble group with some friends.  The affair featured top-notch tee prizes and gifts for all participants and raised a significant amount of money for the charity.

 

“It’s the best experience,” said Jimmer. “I know I wouldn’t be in this position to help today if it wasn’t for basketball, but it is more about what happens off the court; it is what life is all about just not basketball skills but helping others, being kind and gracious and helping others. Hopefully it will continue and it will be successful.”

 

The Sacramento Kings recently announced that they have decided not to pick up the fourth-year option on Fredette’s contract and he will become a free agent at the end of this season.

 

Dick Harmon is a sportswriter for the Deseret News and a frequent contributor to Fairways.

Fairways • November 2013

Scottsdale Golf - All for One and One for All

by Mike Stansfield

Quintero Golf Club

Summer’s gone, long nights, cold days and just five months before the flowers start growing, the grass turns green and we can hit the links.  Or so says traditional thinking.  But in our day and age that doesn’t necessarily have to be the case.  We are just hours away from sunny climes and perfect golf weather.

 

Consider Scottsdale, Arizona.  Easily accessible, bright sunny skies, an incredible variety of golf courses, ideal weather ( the average temperature in November is around 83 degrees) and all of this available with just a few phone calls.  Grab some golf buddies or maybe two or three other couples and head down to the Valley of the Sun.  It’s time to plan that winter golf get-away.

 

Scottsdale boasts over 20 of some of the best golf course in the United States. But I’m going to make it easy to plan your four day trip.  Here’s my suggestion for a golf trip you won’t soon forget.

 

Day One

Catch an early flight from Salt Lake City to Phoenix.  Check into your hotel and make your way to Grayhawk Golf Club.

 

Grayhawk has been on most golfers’ radars since it opened in 1994.  The course has two 18-hole layouts, Raptor and Talon, which offer two very different golfing experiences but one constant – immaculate conditioning with plenty of risk and reward opportunities for both seasoned as well as new golfers.

 

Common to both courses is the stunning scenery of Pinnacle Peak, the McDowell Mountains, the desert saguaros, ironwood, mesquite trees as well as the incredible wildlife and birds which makeup the abundant mosaic of desert dwellers.

 

The Tom Fazio-designed Raptor course has hosted most of the big events, including the PGA Tour’s Frys.com Open (2007-2009) and is considered the more difficult of the two courses that will challenge even the most accomplished golfer.  Fairway bunkers are liberally placed on each hole as well as strategically placed around the greens.

 

The Talon course is the more scenic and features large, elevated and undulating greens that create a distinct challenge. Water hazards come into play on two of the holes. Designed by David Graham/Gary Panks the Talon course offers some memorable holes, particularly the par-3 11th, where golfers traverse a swinging bridge to reach the back tee, and the island-green, par-3 17th that’s surrounded by a palette of colorful flowers.

 

Catch dinner at Dominick’s Steak House or choose one of the other restaurants in the Scottsdale Quarter.

 

Day Two

Get up early and head out to Quintero Golf Club.  Designed by Rees Jones, Quintero plays at over 7,200 yards from the Championship tees and 5,043 from the forward tees.  Although private, Quintero is open to the public and provides a great test of golf in the high desert.  Accessible yet secluded, Quintero  is located about an hour northwest of Phoenix Sky Harbor airport, near Lake Pleasant and the Hieroglyphic Mountains.

 

First and foremost, Quintero Golf Club is just great golf. The course includes a nice practice facility and clubhouse. Quintero has been named one of America’s Top 100 modern golf courses by Golfweek Magazine since 2002. Located at an elevation between 1,986 and 2,670 feet, the entire property is surrounded by Federal lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management, adding to the feeling of privacy.

 

The course takes full advantage of the sweeping desert landscape with significant elevation changes and native Saguaro, Ocotillo, Ironwood, Palo Verde, and Acacia trees. Great care has been taken to maintain the natural setting, making the course look like it has been a part of the landscape for many years.

 

Gently rolling greens, bowl-shaped fairways and tough bunkers all play a significant part in this visually stunning course. One of the most challenging is the par 4 4th at 460 yards from the tips with a slight dogleg left, protected by water along the left side. A desert ravine runs the width of the fairway about 120 yards out, forcing you to make a decision between using the driver or laying up off of the tee. The green is guarded by bunkers on the right and desert on the left.

 

Another tough hole is the 8th, a 586-yard par 5 with an uphill dogleg right heavily guarded by cross bunkers. A couple of favorites on the back nine include the par-5 14th hole that plays 552 yards to an uphill green guarded by bunkers on both sides and the 16th, a stunning par 3 at 201 yards with a 60-foot elevation drop and bunkers lining the right side.

 

Take the afternoon off, you’ve earned it and see the Arizona desert from a whole different prospective on an ATV tour.

 

Day Three

Now it’s time to play one of Scottsdale’s most well-known courses, Troon North. Composed of two 18-hole layouts—the Monument course and the Pinnacle course stretch through the natural ravines and foothills of the high desert in the shadow of Pinnacle Peak.  Take your pick, you can’t go wrong with which ever course you choose to play.

 

The Monument course was designed by Tom Weiskopf and Jay Morrish and opened in 1990 with the Pinnacle course following in 1996. Both courses went through a major renovation in 2007, creating an entirely new playing experience.

 

The Pinnacle course, with the 2007 renovation, has a more links-style feel.  The course features sharp elevation changes that follow the shape of the land as well as spectacular views of the surrounding cities and mountains.

 

The Monument course is widely considered Troon North’s signature course, a 7,028-yard test that winds through a desert setting composed of arroyos, natural washes, huge Saguaros, Mesquite and Ironweed. The fairways are lush and well-maintained, and the greens are large and tricky. Many tees sit perched above the fairways.

 

Day Four

Catch a late flight and play Raven Golf Club before leaving the Valley of the Sun and returning to the colder days and nights back home.  Located minutes away from the Phoenix airport, Raven Golf Club provides a unique golf experience in the desert that is more reminiscent of some of our courses here at home. From the Georgia pine tree-lined fairways to the multi-tiered greens, this Gary Panks and David Graham golf course design is a course you don’t want to miss in the Phoenix, area.

 

Through the years the facility has earned numerous well-recognized awards including a 4.5 Star rating from Golf Digest.

 

The Raven is not your typical desert course. Pine trees line the fairways and virtually all the desert areas have been filled in with red landscape rock. Though The Raven may seem less challenging at first glance, don’t let your guard down because you’ll still find a tough test of golf.

 

There are a number of short par 4’s that require accurate tee shots. You don’t want to find yourself in one of the deep bunkers, stretching all the way to the greens, strategically placed 80-100 yards out. The Raven features a great mix of short and long par 4’s along with several extremely long par 5’s.

 

If you’ve planned things right you’ll have time to enjoy that last bit of sun along with a leisurely lunch before heading back to the land of snow and ice.  But four or five days in the Valley of the Sun will break up the winter doldrums and before you know it spring will be just around the corner.

 

Where to Stay

Zona Hotel and Suites offers traditional guestrooms along with one, two and four-bedroom suites that provide a number of different options to business travelers, groups, golfers and families. All suites feature fully equipped kitchens, dining and living areas. The hotel is spread over 14 acres of landscaped gardens and features four pools. For additional information or reservations go to www.zonascottsdale.com.

 

Mike Stansfield is the Marketing Director for Fairways Media and a frequent contributor to Fairways.

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