PROVO, Utah - On Monday, Sept. 13, 1999, Johnny Miller, Mike Reid, and a host of former BYU golfers will return to their roots to take part in the 13th Cougar Golf Day. What was intended as a one-time golf extravaganza to let local fans watch PGA Tour stars Billy Casper and Johnny Miller has evolved into one of the top events on the Utah golf scene.
Where it all Began
The year was 1974. Casper had won the 1966 U.S. Open and Miller had followed suit in 1973. So a tournament was planned for the fall of 1974. Little did BYU Coach Karl Tucker know Miller would go on to win eight titles in 1974. Only four other golfers - Byron Nelson, Ben Hogan, Sam Snead and Paul Runyan - have won more in the same year.
A crowd of more than 6,000 gathered to watch Casper, Miller and Mike Reasor. The 1974-75 BYU team included six players who would come within an eyelash of winning the NCAA Golf Championship two years later. All six - Reid, Pat McGowan, John Fought, Mike Brannan, Jim Nelford and Bill Sander - would go on to play on the PGA Tour.
Things went so well in 1974, that Miller and Casper returned in 1976 and again in 1978 - Cougar Day had become a tradition. Held in even numbered years through 1980, the event switched to odd years in 1983. The 1999 Cougar Day is the 12th event.
Although many of the names and faces have changed, the tradition of Cougar Golf Day remains the same.
"First and foremost, Cougar Day is a way for us to keep in touch with those players who built the great golf tradition at BYU," said current BYU head golf coach Bruce Brockbank. "Although it's a fund raiser for our golf program, it's really a time for past players and coaches to come together and renew friendships."
Cougar Day now features 144 players, 108 of which are amateurs (mainly corporate sponsors) and 36 pros (mostly former BYU stars) serving as team captains. The players are paired in five-man teams and play a scramble format.
"The thing that impresses me the most is the commitment of the former players to our program," said Brockbank. "I know they are all very busy with their careers, yet you call guys like Miller and Reid and all they say is 'Bruce I'll be there.' I want my current players to rub shoulders with that kind of commitment."
Return to Riverside
From 1974 through 1995, Riverside Country Club played host to Cougar Golf Day. In 1997, event moved to the newly-opened Thanksgiving Point. This year, Cougar Day returns to its original home at Riverside CC. Built in 1961, Riverside plays to a par 72 and measures 7,002 yards from the back tees. Riverside has been the home of the Cougar golf team since 1962.
"We are pleased to be hosting this year's event at Riverside Country Club," said Robert McAthur, PGA Professional at Riverside CC. "Our members have a lot of fond memories of the former BYU players. They really look forward to having them return and renew old friendships. It's like a family reunion, gathering old teammates, coaches and friends together for a fun event."
Schedule of Events
9:00 a.m. - Clinic by PGA Tour Pros
10:00 a.m. - Driving Contest: Collegiate golfers vs. the Pros
11:30 a.m. - Cougar Day Pro-Am
Free to the public - come see many of the former BYU greats and the current top-10 ranked BYU Cougar Golf Team
John Miller Jr.