2013 Utah Open wide open, again

Thursday , March 06, 2014 - 1:16 PM

Jim Burton

FARMINGTON — Goodbye but not farewell.

So long for now.

If the 2013 Utah Open golf tournament had a theme, it might just be that. After six years of success in Davis County, the popular professional tournament is bidding adieu to the Oakridge Country Club, temporarily at least.

Following this year’s event – which will be held Friday, Saturday and Sunday on Oakridge’s 7,000-yard tree-lined track – the Utah Open will head to Provo’s Riverside Country Club for 2014 and ‘15, but it is expected to make a return in the near future.

Until then, Top of Utah golf fans will have to make the most of this weekend’s showing, which features a first-place check of more than $22,000.

“We’ve had a wonderful time with the open,” Oakridge head professional Rick Mears said.

The Utah Open and Oakridge have been good for for each other, that’s for sure.Before setting up in Davis County in 2007 the tournament – which was first established in 2926 – made more recent stops at the Jeremy Country Club, Alpine Country Club and Talons Cove, a public course in Utah County.

Before the Utah Section of the PGA took over the event in 2000 the Utah Open’s popularity had taken a hit. However, after six years at Oakridge the event has enjoyed unprecedented success.

“We send it to Riverside next year, for a couple of years, they’ll do a great job with it,” Mears said. “Between the PGA and Oakridge we’ve increased the quality and branding of (the Utah Open).”

For proof of the tournament’s increased success, look no farther than the popularity of its pro-am events. Beginning Monday and running through today, Oakridge has hosted eight pro-ams, two per day. The upside of that many events is getting Oakridge in the forefront of Utah golf. The downside, however, is all that foot traffic before the actual tournament begins.

But that’s hardly unique to professional golf. In fact, it’s an expected part of the game — pro-am events are simply par for the course.

With scenic views of the nearby mountains, Oakridge provides a spectacular setting for professionals and amateurs alike. However, this summer’s record heatwave brought trouble for the course’s greens, several of which have significant browning.

Those brown patches haven’t enhanced the course’s visual appeal, but Mears and his staff believe the greens are rolling true.

New superintendent Paul Chojnacky came to Oakridge in February after a stint as the top man at Pasatiempo Golf Club in Santa Cruz, Calif. Now six months in, the Wyoming native and his staff have been challenged by the summer’s record heat.

“It’s certainly been a struggle,” Chojnacky said. The focus has been keeping them as smooth as possible. They may not look pretty but they’re playing the way they should.”

Two-time Utah Open champion Clay Ogden said participants in the Utah Open will notice the greens and may have some complaints. He also said it’s all about attitude.

“There’ll be some guys that are pretty upset and irritated but if you let it bother you, it’ll probably affect you,” he said. “If you do let it bug you and it is what it is, then you go out and play and if you make the putt, you make the putt.”

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