A pair of 33-year-olds had memorable days on different golf courses Saturday.
The Logan Golf & Country Club and Birch Creek Golf Course crowned their respective men’s club champions over the weekend. Brenden Dennis got hot and rolled to a repeat at the Country Club, while Kourt Knowles broke through after some second-place finishes in the past at Birch Creek.
“It was a super fun tournament,” Knowles said. “I’ve taken second three times I think. Each time I’ve played it, someone has absolutely dominated. My buddies Nate Nyman and Dylan Hardy kicked everyone’s butt in years I’ve played it. Then Devin Daniels shot 10-under the first day to tie the course record the last time I played in this tournament. It seems like I’ve played when there has been some really good scores, and you just felt like you didn’t have a chance.”
That changed this year for the Smithfield native who now resides in Logan. Knowles, who tied the course record earlier this summer at the Logan River Golf Course with a 9-under-par 62, carded rounds of 4-under-par 68 and 3-under-par 69 in the two rounds of stroke play in Smithfield. His 137 total was two strokes better than Ryan Seamons (139).
At the Country Club, the champion is decided by match play. Dennis followed up his 2020 victory with the exact same score in 2021. It wasn’t the same opponent, but the former Utah State University golfer won both titles by a score of 8 and 7. The final match is 36 holes.
Dennis beat Brad Thorne last Saturday and Cam Thomas in 2020. In fact, he had to get by Thomas this year in the semifinals and was pushed to the limit, winning in 21 holes.
“That was quite a match with Cam on Friday,” Dennis said. “I thought I was going to lose. I felt lucky to get past him.”
The championship match was all even after 10 holes. Then Dennis heated up. He won seven of the next nine holes. Through 18 holes, Dennis was 6-up.
“I could feel the momentum and just felt pretty confident on every swing,” Dennis said of the stretch when he surged into the lead. “... It just didn’t feel like I was making many mistakes.”
To end the first 18 holes, Thorne birdied the hole. However, Dennis made eagle to win the hole.
After 18 holes, the golfers take a lunch break.
“I like match play more because I can be pretty aggressive,” Dennis said. “If you have one bad hole, you are not out of it like in stroke play. ... We played at a good pace and I didn’t feel the grind of playing so many holes.”
Dennis, who resides in Providence with his wife Kylie and two daughters, is familiar with the Country Club course having competed for the Aggies. He grew up in Roosevelt, came to USU, moved away and has been back in the valley for two years as his work brought him back.
“I thoroughly enjoy playing with these guys, and it is such an honor to play against Brad (Thorne),” Dennis said. “The members watching and (course professional) Dean (Johansen) does a great job building up the excitement for it. I enjoy it so much. It’s a fun atmosphere to be in. ... My wife is a saint for letting me golf as much as she does.”
The former Aggie has had a good summer. He won the Golden Spike tournament in Brigham City, a tournament at Birch Creek and was sixth at the Cache Valley Amateur.
“In college, it was definitely a grind (playing golf) with school and stuff,” Dennis said. “But the experience in college has helped me to appreciate golf. I just love to play. It’s a stress reliever and a time to get out and get away.”
Knowles is similar as he has been limited with time to focus on golf with a young family, work and finishing up college. However, he has had a good summer and is in the semifinals of match play for the men’s association championship at Logan River this year.
“I wasn’t even sure if I was going to play in it this year,” Knowles said. “I kind of decided last minute. I’m still having some hernia issues and going to see a specialist next week. I started feeling a little better Wednesday and randomly decided to play.”
After posting a 68 on Friday, Knowles was tied with Seamons. Chase Thurgood had carded a 2-under 70, and that trio was paired together for the final day.
“This year I’ve just been hitting the ball really good,” Knowles said. “... I shot 4-under on the last nine holes, which was the front nine, and felt I finished really well on Friday.”
On Saturday Knowles started on No. 1. Seamons and Thurgood struggled at the start of the round, as did Knowles a little as he three-putted for par on the first hole, but still emerged with a stroke lead.
It quickly became a two-man battle with Seamons. However, by the turn Knowles had built a four-shot lead.
“I had a couple of nervy putts that second round,” said Knowles, who missed a 2-footer for birdie. “I should have made that and missed, which was kind of embarrassing. ... After getting a four shot lead, I kind of fell apart. Me and Ryan kind of took turns falling apart.”
Knowles missed a tap-in putt to start his troubles on No. 10.
“Ryan joked that he “couldn’t be watching that, it was bad for his confidence,’” Knowles said. “I was like, ‘I’m sorry. I didn’t want anyone to see that.’ Sometimes when the pressure is there you lose focus for a minute.”
Through 11 holes, Knowles’ four-shot lead was trimmed to one. It stayed that way all the way to the par-5 18th. Knowles had a great drive, while Seamons had a tough second shot. Knowles kept the pressure on with a second shot to within 20 feet of the hole for an attempt at eagle. Seamons had to try and get close with his chip shot, but didn’t.
“There was nothing Ryan could do with where he was with how fast those greens were,” Knowles said. “I two-putted for birdie and he pared it.
“... I love Ryan to death; he is awesome. He has one of the best short games I’ve seen.”
Growing up playing on Birch Creek, Knowles ranked this win as one of his best.
“You just never know because there are so many good golfers up there,” Knowles said. “I just love playing with really good golfers. It motivates and pushes you.”