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Former Cal State-San Marcos golfer Dylan Healey captured a playoff win over Oklahoma State’s Hayden Wood last summer at Desert Mountain to win the 100th Southwestern Amateur.


Most notably, the SWGA has stepped


up efforts to recruit top players at college events, including a 10-team tournament hosted by the University of Michigan at Desert Mountain in March. Lehman has provided advice


about that and efforts to secure a spot in a PGA Tour event for the Southwestern winner, which Ranslem said, “Would be a game-changer.” “Tradition is such a big part of golf


and these long-standing events help preserve and maintain those traditions,” Lehman said. “You can look back at some of the people who’ve played in it and realize how far back it reaches and how it connects the generations of golfers. “That kind of tradition and


continuity is really important, and the people who try to maintain that are doing a great service to the game.” After nearly 100 years without


Desert Mountain gets hand from Lehman in effort to restore Southwestern luster


By John Davis M


ANY PROMINENT GOLFERS have held the winner’s trophy in the Southwestern Amateur Championship


over the past century and, after a few lean years, the event is determined to add a few more big names to the list. The Southwestern, which is among


the country’s oldest tournaments, still is the only Arizona event listed among “The Majors of Amateur Golf” by amateurgolf. com. However, the Southwestern has lost the prominence it held when the likes of Jay Haas, Mark O’Meara, Craig Stadler, Corey Pavin, Nick Watney and


24 | AZ GOLF Insider | SPRING 2016


Ryan Palmer were claiming the title. With the support of Desert


Mountain Golf Club and others in the community, including tour pros Tom Lehman and Joe Durant, the event is determined to regain its luster. “Amateur tournaments gain prestige


and interest from the rankings of the players who play in them,” Southwestern Golf Association president John Ranslem noted. “We had lost some of that in recent years, but we have put together a plan to try and get us back to that elite level. I really think we’re going to bring it back to what it was in its heyday.”


any sponsors, the event now has several, who provide $30,000 in cash and $50,000 in in-kind donations. First played in 1915, multiple winners


have included famed Arizona amateurs Bob Goldwater and Dr. Ed Updegraff. This year’s event, June 13-18 on the


Cochise and Geronimo courses, will mark its 101st


edition, making it the


oldest tournament of its kind in the West. This will be its fourth consecutive year at Desert Mountain, which will continue as host through 2019. “Having Desert Mountain as


our venue is the key to our whole strategy,” Ranslem said. “For nearly 100 years, the event moved around the Southwest, and they weren’t always great courses. If you look at the top amateur events in the country, they are played at the same sites every year. “We wanted the best site we could


find and you can’t do any better than Desert Mountain. With their six courses, you can offer players variety from year to year and yet the continuity of the same venue. We’re delighted that they were so willing to work with us.” n


www.azgolf.org


COURTESY DESERT MOUNTAIN


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