Catching up on the local golf scene after a long, cold, lonely winter . . .
It took about 15 minutes on one hole for Alpine assistant Kim Thompson to win more money than he'd ever won in his life a few weeks ago.It happened at the KUTV Skins Game at Bloomington Country Club March 6 when Thompson won $13,000 with an eagle-3 on the 19th hole of a match with Bob Betley, Mike Malaska and Jay Don Blake.
Thompson was faced with a 4-foot putt that seemed like "forever," he said. "I don't even like to think about it. I was a little tight, obviously."
The reason so much money was riding on one hole was no one had won a hole for 10 holes. And in a "skins" game, you have to win the hole outright to pocket the money. The first six holes were worth $500, the next six worth $1,000 and the next six worth $1,500.
You'd figure that Blake, with his experience on the PGA Tour, playing in his hometown, would have cleaned up in the Skins Game. But he was shut out, not winning a single dime. Betley ended up with $2,000 and Malaska won $1,500 out of the $18,000 purse.
Thompson has already used the money to "pay a few bills" and "buy a new car."
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LONG ODDS: The odds of making a hole-in-one on a par three are high enough, but what about the odds of making a hole-in-one on a par-4? Scott Gardner, the director of recreation for Salt Lake City, did just that the other day.
It happened at a scramble at Dixie Red Hills in St. George. At the 355-yard No. 5 hole, with his partner safe, Gardner pulled out his driver and decided to cut the corner on the dogleg. The ball cleared the trees and was presumably headed for the green. But when they got to the green there was no sign of the ball. Someone suggested looking in the hole and sure enough his Titleist was resting comfortably in the cup just a few feet away from a nice "crater" made by the ball.
For the record, there were 41,000 holes-in-one in 1987 in the United States on par-3s, but just 54 on par-4s.
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TUCKER RECOVERING: Longtime BYU golf Coach Karl Tucker is recovering nicely from the stroke he suffered last month in Houston. For only the second time in 27 years, Tucker had to miss a golf meet. But when he got back to Provo, Tucker surprised everyone by going straight back to work.
Except for slightly slurred speech, Tucker is back to normal and getting ready to host the 27th annual Cougar Classic April 28-29. In Tucker's absence, Bruce Brockbank helped lead the team to an eighth-place finish at the Western Intercollegiate. BYU's Rafael Ponce won that meet; Y. freshman Ramon Brobio tied for second.
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UTES STRUGGLING: Since shocking everyone by winning the WAC golf championship last spring, it's been a rough go for the University of Utah golf team. First, the Utes ended up 29th in the 32-team NCAA field. Then, in the fall, WAC medalist Matt Johnson broke his wrist and missed several tournaments. The Utes finished 13th, sixth, 19th, 12th and 10th in five fall tournaments.
In February, the Utes played one round of the Burns Invitational but were disqualified when they missed their tee times because of a mixup. In other meets this spring, the Utes have struggled to finishes of 11th and 13th places. Doug Roberts of Richfield has been the Utes most consistent performer with a 75.0 stroke average.
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PRO MOVES: There have been plenty of changes among Utah golf professionals this year. Don Branca and Mike Kahler in separate moves ended up trading places, with Branca now the head pro at Willow Creek Country Club and Kahler taking over at Park Meadows. Brad Stone and Pierre Hualde have switched places at Davis Park, with Stone now the head pro. Lynn Landgren has replaced retiring Don Dorton at Forest Dale, Lanny Nielsen is back at Jeremy Ranch, Rex Underwood is the head pro at Moab, Bob Betley has moved to Bear Lake Golf Club and Jerry Braun is the head man at the new Millsite Golf Course in Ferron. Also, Jimmy Blair's par-3 course in Ogden, called Mulligans, is opening this spring.
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MOAB TOURNEY: The expanded Moab Golf Course will be host to statewide professional and amateur golfers April 21-23 at the grand opening Red Rock Tournament. The event will celebrate the addition of nine holes at the golf course, which are supposed to be in the most spectacular setting anywhere in the state.
Entry in both men's and women's categories will be limited, and tournament entries must be paid in advance. Daily prizes for the best three scores range from $200-$500 in the men's pro games, with a $10,000 added purse. Deadline is April 15. For registration and information, call the Moab Golf Course at 259-6488.