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Las Vegas golfer credits success to legendary Butch Harmon

Todd Roberts, the 2018 Southern Nevada Golf Association senior player of the year, has known Butch Harmon for about two decades and remains his friend and golf student despite Harmon’s critiques and playful jabs.

Roberts accepted the player of the year honor at the SNGA awards dinner Tuesday at Reflection Bay following the Tournament of Champions.

“Butch told me, ‘Stop getting so mad, because you were never any good,’” Roberts said as Harmon nodded approvingly.

Harmon has been voted Golf Digest’s top teacher in a poll of his fellow teaching professionals for more than a decade. He works with the likes of Dustin Johnson, Rickie Fowler and Danielle Kang, but Roberts’ award has a special place in Harmon’s heart.

“Well, I guess he finally did something worthwhile and now he can admit that I’m his teacher,” Harmon said with a smile. “Seriously, Todd is a student of the game and has worked hard and done a very good job.”

Roberts won five times during the 2018 season.

“Last year was great, and I had a lot of fun,” Roberts said. “I played a lot of tournaments and won the Nevada State Senior Amateur for the second year in a row, which was a highlight. I couldn’t have done any of this without Butch. He has guided me for the last 20 years, and more than being a great coach, he’s an unbelievable friend.”

Away from golf, Roberts is well known in horse racing circles. In 2018, he was honored with the 28th annual John W. Galbreath Award that recognizes outstanding entrepreneurship in the equine industry. Roberts and his father, racing industry legend Tommy Roberts, helped bring the simulcasting of horse racing to Nevada and the nation.

Other SNGA players of the year were: Ed Fryatt (championship, fourth consecutive year); Frank Abbott (Silver, fifth consecutive year); Jeffrey Gilliame (net); Don Blanton (senior net); and Al Keuker (silver net).

Winners of the Tournament of Champions, an event featuring 70 SNGA, women’s SNGA and area club champions, were: Rusty Beckel (women’s net); Debbie Love (women’s championship); Loren Little (silver net); Frank Abbott (silver); Chris Boyer (senior net); John Turk (senior); Don Blanton (net); Lorenzo Gillenwater (championship).

Weekly deal and website launch

The SNGA will launch on Thursday the new SNGA.org featuring updated technology, tournament information and links to allied community golf associations. Join the SNGA through the website and enjoy discounted rounds and golf retail purchases. Some memberships include free golf.

Hawthorne returns to Wynn

Longtime Las Vegas PGA of America professional Brian Hawthorne is back at Wynn Golf and Country Club. Before the course closure in 2017, Hawthorne was in charge and returns as the executive director of golf operations.

He has been working closely with architect Tom Fazio on the reopening plans, as certain holes were demolished as part of the Paradise Park Lagoon project, which has been scratched. No official reopen date has been announced.

Stars on, off course

Harmon attended the SNGA awards dinner with his wife, Christy.

Freelance writer Brian Hurlburt is a two-time author who has covered golf in Las Vegas for more than two decades. He can be reached at bhurlburt5@gmail.com or @LVGolfInsider.

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