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Modifications Made to Qualifying for USGA Amateur Events

In an effort to continuously enhance and evolve the competitor experience, the USGA is announcing significant modifications to its amateur championship qualifying model for the first time in more than 20 years. These changes, which will take effect for the organization’s four premier amateur championships beginning in 2024, will allow the events to retain their openness while ensuring that high-caliber players are provided ample opportunity to earn a spot in the field and that qualifying can be conducted at the highest level among growing entries and field sizes.

The most significant revisions for 2024 are to the U.S. Amateur, which will move from a one-stage, 36-hole qualifying format to a two-stage qualifying format with 45 18-hole local qualifying sites and 19 18-hole final qualifying sites.

Changes to the U.S. Amateur and other USGA championships’ qualifying structures are outlined on the USGA website, Click Here.


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A Cold Winterchamps featured some hot play by Utah’s junior golfers

The Utah Golf Association crowned champions in all age groups March 18-19th at the annual Winterchamps event, the first UGA championship of the 2023 season.

It wasn’t the warm and sunny weekend everyone was hoping for in the St. George, Utah area as over 200 men and women of all age groups teed it up in the UGA’s annual Winterchamps competition.

Green Spring Golf Course and The Ledges Golf Club provided the venues while Mother Nature provided the cold temperatures and windy conditions. Unsurprisingly, it was Utah’s junior golfers that provided the hot play in both the Men’s and Women’s overall championship divisions.

Click here to read recaps from all overall championship divisions by Fairways Media Photo Journal.


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Gary Esplin, former St. George City Manager, named Charles Nibley Excellence in Golf Promotion honoree

The Utah Golf Association is pleased to announce the special recognition honor of “Charles Nibley Excellence in Golf Promotion” to be presented to former St. George, Utah City Manager, Gary Esplin.

This special recognition honors individuals or organizations that have significantly added to Utah’s efforts to grow and protect the game of golf especially at a local level.

For over 40-years Esplin served the St. George community as its City Manager, included in his efforts to enhance the city was his impact on the growth of the game of golf within St. George and the surrounding area. Under his leadership, St. George City became known worldwide as one of the most popular golf destinations in the United States leading to national-best residential growth and economic expansion. As a major draw for global tourism, St. George City became recognized as the golfing Mecca of Utah during his tenure.

During Esplin’s time as City Manager, the golf industry in Washington County grew from just two golf courses to 12 golf courses, with Dixie Red Hills (9-holes), St. George, Sunbrook (27-holes) and Southgate golf courses owned and operated by St. George City. Esplin retired in 2017. It was Esplin who positioned St. George City at the forefront of publicly-owned golf course management in Utah.

Former St. George City Manager, Gary Esplin, will be presented with a special UGA recognition honor during the March 16th City Council meeting.

Gary Esplin, perhaps more than any other person, played the most prominent role in St. George City’s development into a nationally recognized year-round golf destination community and played a major consulting role in the area’s other courses, including the private country club and resort facilities in Washington County.

The UGA will present Esplin with the “Charles Nibley Excellence in Golf Promotion” recognition honor at the upcoming St. George City Council meeting in March.

In September of 2022, the UGA presented its inaugural “Excellence in Golf Promotion” honor posthumously to Charles Nibley. This honor was in recognition of Nibley’s property donation to Salt Lake City resulting in the creation of Utah’s first public golf course, over one hundred years ago, in 1922. Nibley Park Golf Course paved the way for Utah to become a national leader in the availability of quality, affordable publicly owned golf courses. It was announced that the special recognition honor’s official title for future honorees will be known as the “Charles Nibley Excellence in Golf Promotion”. Esplin is just the second person to be recognized with this honor.

All Charles Nibley Excellence in Golf Promotion honorees are recognized on a permanent display with in the Nibley Park Golf Course clubhouse.


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The Path to The Los Angeles Country Club Begins

The United States Golf Association (USGA) today announced that online entry applications will be available beginning on Wednesday, Feb. 22, at 9 a.m. EST, for the 123rd U.S. Open Championship, to be played from June 15-18 on The Los Angeles (Calif.) Country Club’s North Course.

Thousands of golfers will attempt to qualify for the championship through a two-stage process, with a field of 156 players advancing to The Los Angeles Country Club, where one will be crowned U.S. Open champion. Non-exempt players will compete in one of 109 local qualifiers hosted throughout the United States (with one in Canada) between April 17 and May 22.

May 15, 2023 at Oakridge Country Club
Number of qualifying spots: TBD
For info, CLICK HERE
Entry applications along with a list of qualifying sites can be accessed at, and entries will be accepted through Wednesday, April 12, at 5 p.m. EDT. To be eligible for 2023 U.S. Open qualifying, a player must have a Handicap Index not exceeding 1.4, or be a professional.



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UGA Welcomes Max Butcher

On behalf of the Utah Golf Association Board of Directors, Executive Director Easton Folster announced the hiring of Max Butcher as the UGA’s Manager of Operations, effective Feb. 21, 2023.

Folster said, “The Utah Golf Association is excited to have Max Butcher as the new Manager of Operations. His passion for golf was evident through the interview process. That passion combined with his professional experience made him the perfect candidate for this role. He understands the mission and purpose of the UGA at a high level. We are excited to add him to our championship department.”

The manager of operations position became available after the promotion of Colin Clawson to the Director of Championships and Golf Operations earlier this year.

The Manager of Operations oversees many in-house efforts of UGA programs including inter-club league events, Player Performance Rankings updates, as well as onsite tournament operations for UGA championships and United States Golf Association local qualifier events. Butcher will also assist with annual course ratings tasks and efforts.

As an avid amateur golfer, Butcher maintains a single-digit handicap index but also enjoys skiing, water-skiing, and is an avid video gamer and enjoys listening to podcasts. Butcher holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Texas Christian University and is currently enrolled in the Northwestern University Sports Marketing program.

“I have a deep love for the game of golf,” Butcher said. “I am excited to grow within the UGA and assist in making the game more enjoyable for everyone. I am looking forward to joining a team that is diverse and driven … everyone has been very welcoming and I am excited to contribute.”


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Sunbin Seo is leaving her mark

Freshman Sunbin Seo knows she’s not as long off the tee as her BYU Cougar teammates. She also knows her mental game can make up for being a bit shorter in the fairway. The inaugural Coral Canyon Women’s Amateur was just the event she needed to confirm she’s on the right path.

“I have been working on the mental side of golf a lot,” Seo said, after posting a (-16) 65-63 -128 to win the Coral Canyon Women’s Amateur, the first all-female field of the year.  “Things like how to handle pressure and increase my confidence on the course. Just little things to help me get out of my own way.”

The course set up at Coral Canyon was ideal for Seo. “I would say it played to my strengths. I definitely was more confident … I knew how to score and where I could score, so that definitely helped.”

Click here to read the Fairways Photo Journal recap of the Coral Canyon Women’s Amateur.


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BYU’s Turner, Idaho’s Kuhn collect UGA PPR wins at Sand Hollow Resort

The Championship Course at Sand Hollow Resort was stop No. 4 on the Southern Swing of Utah’s amateur championships. BYU Senior golfer Elijah Turner and defending Utah Senior Amateur champ Darren Kuhn collected first place UGA Player Performance Points with wins in the Sand Hollow Amateur and Sand Hollow Senior Amateur. Each facing drastically different weather conditions in Hurricane, Utah.

Click here to read the Sand Hollow Amateur Fairways Photo Journal.


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The Country Club in Salt Lake City to Make USGA Championship Debut

The United States Golf Association (USGA) announced that The Country Club, in Salt Lake City, Utah, will host the 2034 U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship. It will be the first USGA championship held at the club and only the second conducted in the state of Utah.

“As one of the oldest clubs in the western United States, The Country Club is steeped in golf history and is sure to provide a spectacular setting for the 134th U.S. Women’s Amateur,” said Mark Hill, USGA managing director, Championships. “We are eager to bring USGA championship golf back to Utah and are thrilled to add The Country Club to the list of national championship host venues.”

Founded in 1899, The Country Club sits on the southeast side of Salt Lake City, a 10-minute drive from downtown. Originally located in what is now the Gilmer Park neighborhood, the club relocated once in the early 1900s before settling into its present location in the foothills of the Wasatch Mountain range in 1920. William Watson and Harold Lamb designed the 18-hole golf course on 175 acres near the mouth of Parley’s Canyon.

“It is an honor for The Country Club to have been selected to host the 134th U.S. Women’s Amateur, and to bring this distinguished championship to Utah for the first time,” said Chris Gose, club president. “This is an exciting opportunity for our membership and the entire Salt Lake City community, and we look forward to hosting the world’s top female amateur golfers in 2034.”

Country Club, UGA & USGA dignitaries announced the selection of the Country Club as the host course for the 2034 US Women’s Amateur Championship (L-R) Ryan Mitchell, Chris Gose (The Country Club, Mark Hill (USGA) Mike Bailey (UGA President) and John Bodenhamer (USGA)

The Country Club restored the original 1924 clubhouse in 2002 and completed a golf course renovation in 2007 led by John Harbottle, which included new bunkers, teeing areas and greens. The club will host the Utah State Amateur for the 42nd time in 2023 and has hosted the Utah Women’s State Amateur 26 times, most recently in 2006. It also hosted the 1947 Western Open and the 2016 Pac-12 Men’s Golf Championships.

The Beehive State previously held the 2012 U.S. Amateur Public Links at Soldier Hollow Golf Club in Midway, which was won by T.J. Vogel. Vogel’s 12-and-10 victory over Kevin Aylwin in the final was the second-largest margin of victory in U.S. Amateur Public Links history.

Click here for more information from the USGA.


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Cameron Gray manages Sky Mountain the best at the Hurricane City Amateur

Mother Nature threw a hard winter blast at the Hurricane City Amateur, Jan. 20-21st, canceling the opening round with snow on the ground.
Scotland native and Weber State junior Cameron Gray took it all in stride carding a final round 4-under 68 at Sky Mountain GC.
Gray said, “I’ve always played quite well in the wind because I hit the ball straight. But (dealing with) the cold was a mixture of growing up in Scotland and living in Ogden, it’s just as cold up there, as a whole.”
Read more in Fairways Media Photo Journal’s recap of the Hurricane City Amateur, Click Here


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Playoff Win for Boston Bracken at the Southern Swing’s St. George Amateur

Crimson Cliffs High’s Boston Bracken and BYU’s Zac Jones finish T1 (-17) in Utah’s second Southern Swing event at the 36-hole St. George Amateur, Jan.13-14th. Playing St.George Club’s par 73 course, Bracken and Jones finished one-shot better than Utah Tech golf’s Davis Heslington and were two-shots better than Lone Peak High’s Cooper Jones.

Following regulation play Bracken and Zac Jones tied the 10th hole, the first hole of a sudden death playoff. Then on the par 5 18th hole, Bracken made a five foot birdie to win the playoff.

Bracken shot 67-62 to match Jones’ rounds of 65-64 -129 total. He started three shots back to begin the final round with Cooper Jones and Heslington as the first round leaders at 9-under 64.

For the complete St. George Amateur championship recap from Fairways Photo Journal CLICK HERE.