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July 23, 2015 by Joselyn

2014 Year in Review

Updegraff Award: Warren Simmons

Established in 1990, the Updegraff Award is the AGA’s highest honor given in recognition of those who, by their actions, exemplify the spirit of the game. The award is named for Dr. Ed Updegraff of Tucson, honoring his lifetime contributions and dedication to amateur golf in Arizona.

Warren Simmons, the 2014 recipient of this award, after a military career that included many years teaching at the Air Force Academy, moved into golf administration as Executive Director of the Colorado Golf Association, where he was intimately involved with the development of the USGA Course Rating System.

As a player who once participated in the United States Open in 1956 at the Oak Hill Country Club, Warren’s expertise led to involvement in many different areas of the game, from Rules of Golf where he has made perfect scores on the PGA/USGA Exam, to presidency of the International Association of Golf Administrators, among many other positions and awards.

Moving to Arizona after retiring some years ago, he continued his service to the game’s many aspects both at his clubs and Arizona’s amateur associations, while continuing his national work load, serving on USGA Committees including Handicap, Course Rating, and the Handicap Research Team.

It is for Warren’s humor in difficult circumstances while delivering answers that has won him so many friends and supporters in both men’s and women’s circles worldwide.  His now sixty-plus-year love affair with all that is golf and his knack for improving the golf experiences for those around him that has gained this Updegraff Award for Warren.

Everyone in golf administration appreciates the golf skills he still possesses, even though they often result in a lost $2 on occasion (he carries a pad of $2 bills just in case he himself might lose).  Golf and every golfer who loves the game has a friend in Warren Simmons, now to be associated with Dr. Ed Updegraff and those judged to be of similar character.

Doc Graves Volunteer of the Year: Michael Shoaff

Each year the AGA staff honors an individual (other than an executive committee member) who most exemplifies volunteerism through his or her commitment of time and effort to the association. In 2010, this award was named after Robert "Doc" Graves, a long-time AGA volunteer who exemplifies the selfless contributions of time and dedication to serving golf in Arizona.

In 2014, we honor Michael Shoaff. Golf has been part of Michael’s life since he was introduced to the game in his late teens by his brother.  His interest slowly grew from there and throughout the next few decades Michael was able to integrate play into his busy schedule, typically a few times each month.  After Michael retired in 2004, golf became more of a daily focus and has been for the past 10 years, barring a couple of down periods to recover from multiple knee replacement and major back surgeries.

In 2007 a discussion with close friend, Russ Peterson, regarding the USGA Course Rating System sparked an interest as an alternative way to stay in touch with the game while also volunteering his time  to a local Golf Association in need of volunteers.  After some-one-on one rating education with Russ, Michael contacted the AGA. In the subsequent eight years Michael’s level of involvement has steadily grown to currently having rated over 225 Arizona courses and one International facility in Mexico.  He has also represented the AGA on three top-ranking USGA National Course Rating Calibration Teams and for the past four years served on the AGA Course Rating Committee.

Among the most rewarding aspects of Michael’s involvement with the AGA is the broad spectrum of people he has met, most of whom share a common love for the game of golf while looking to give back to insure its health moving forward.  The only downside to being a rater is the unfortunate bad weather you sometimes experience when rating in Northern Arizona, even to the extent of encountering snow flurries on one memorable shoulder season trip to Flagstaff.  Fortunately, these rare ocurrances ultimately lead to a good story to share with new team members and have helped build camaraderie and friendships that will last well beyond the golf course.

Player of the Year: RJ Wood

RJ Wood started out the 2014 season strong, with a second place finish at the Inaugural Players Cup Championship, following that up with a win at the 2014 Short Course.  Later in the summer, RJ won again at the Falcon Amateur after a one hole play-off.  Four other top-five finishes allowed him to sit atop the Players Cup Points List for the entire 2014 season, where he accumulated 2635 points.

RJ represented Arizona at the Men’s State Team Championship in French Lick, Indiana.  He also qualified for the US Amateur Championship.

2014 Accomplishments: Leader – Players Cup Points - 2635, Winner –Short CourseWinner –Falcon Amateur, 2nd - Inaugural Players Cup, T2nd - Tempe Amateur, 3rd – San Tan Amateur, Qualifier – US Amateur

Masters Player of the Year: Scotts Smith

Scott Smith is a newer name on the AGA tour, but it didn’t take him long to prove he is one of the best.  His victory at the Senior Stroke Play Championship, followed by his divisional win at the Southern Amateur, helped solidify his Masters Player of the Year title.  He was also 3rd in the Players Cup Performance points in the Masters Division.

2014 Accomplishments: Winner –Senior Stroke Play, Winner –Southern Amateur(Masters), T4th –Player’s Cup Championship(Masters), 3rd - Masters Players Cup Points - 1602

Senior Player of the Year: Rusty Brown

Rusty Brown has once again earned a Player of the Year title after a strong 2014.  The leader in Senior Players Cup Points, Rusty won the 2014 Players Cup Championship, placed 2nd in the Southern Amateur in the Senior division, and qualified for the US Senior Amateur Championship.  Rusty also participated as a member of the victorious Senior Goldwater Cup team.

2014 Accomplishments: Leader - Senior Players Cup Points – 2433, Winner – 2014 Players Cup Championship(Senior), 2nd – Southern Amateur(Senior), T2nd - Inaugural Players Cup Championship, T4th – San Tan Amateur, T9th – Senior Stroke Play Championship, T10th – AZ Stroke Play Championship, Qualifier - US Senior Amateur Championship

Legends Player of the Year: David Rasley

The leader of the Player’s Cup Points Ranking for the Legends division, David Rasley played well in the Divisional Championships, winning the 2014 Players Cup Championship and finishing T-3 in the Senior Stroke Play Championship. Rasley also represented the AGA as a member of the victorious Senior Goldwater Cup Team. 

2014 Accomplishments: Leader - Legends Players Cup Points – 1275, Winner - inaugural Players Cup Championship, Winner – 2014 Players Cup Championship(Legends), T3rd – Senior Stroke Play Championship

Mayfair Award: Alex McMahon - 68.51 Scoring Average

The Mayfair Award is presented to the AGA member with the lowest stroke average from selected events during the season. To qualify, a contestant must: 1) Compete in at least one USGA qualifying round in AZ AND at least two AGA individual major championships, or 2) Compete in at least one USGA qualifying round in AZ AND at least one AGA individual major championship AND the NCAA Finals. Additional individual competitions that count toward this award are the Pacific Coast and Southwestern Amateurs (when contested in AZ), AZ Open, PING AZ Intercollegiate, ASU Thunderbird Invitational and the U.S. Open, Amateur, Mid-Amateur & Junior Amateurs. A contestant must return a minimum of twelve 18-hole scores from all above listed competitions and all rounds will be used to determine the scoring average.

Alex satisfied the eligibility requirements posting 17 rounds from the following tournaments: AZ Amateur Championship(Champion), Pacific Coast Amateur, NCAA Invitationals at ASU and UofA, US Open Local Qualifier, US Public Links Qualifier and Championship