Southwest PGA Pro Bill Johnston earns Johnny Bulla Award

Longtime Southwest PGA Professional Bill Johnston is the recipient of the 2017 Johnny Bulla Award and was honored Tuesday, Nov. 21 at the Arizona Gold Hall of Fame ceremony.

The award, named after the legendary local and national player, is presented to an individual who has displayed exemplary talent on the golf course during their career, according to a press release

“The Southwest PGA is honored to recognize Bill Johnston as the recipient of the Johnny Bulla Award,” Jamey Lewis, president of the Southwest PGA, said in a prepared statement.

“Bill’s tremendous career as a PGA Golf Professional, PGA Tour player and golf course architect is very impressive. His playing accomplishments in the Southwest PGA, and on a national level, exemplify the award’s namesake Johnny Bulla.”

Born in Donora, Pa., Johnston, 92, relocated to Odgen, Utah when he was 4 years old. His interest in golf began at the age of 10 when he started caddying at the local golf club.

Using borrowed clubs, Mr, Johnston played on and off as a teenager before joining the Navy following high school. He served in World War I on a submarine until he decommissioned his last submarine in May of 1946 and decided he was going to become a golf professional.

Mr. Johnston attended the University of Utah and was the captain of the golf team for three years. After winning the Utah Amateur Championship, he was invited to play in his first PGA Tour event in 1946 as an amateur at Salt Lake Community College in Salt Lake City.

Following his amateur career, Mr. Johnston turned professional in 1950.

He went on to play in all four majors – finishing tied for 28th in the 1957 Masters, tied for 32nd in the 1963 U.S. Open, tied for 26th in the 1960 Open Championship and tied for third in the 1956 PGA Championship. He also competed in 24 Phoenix Open Championships.

His two victories on the PGA Tour came in the 1958 Texas Open Invitational (now the Valero Texas Open) and the 1960 Utah Open Invitational. Mr. Johnston and Mr. Bulla both played in the 1964 Open Championship at St. Andrews in Scotland.

Mr. Johnston won numerous events in the Southwest PGA including the Arizona Open Championship three times (1961, 1967 and 1972) and back-to-back Southwest PGA Championships in 1961-62.

In total, he won 11 state open championships, including the Colorado Open in 1973, the Colorado PGA Championship in 1972 and two Utah PGA Championships.

Earning his membership in the PGA of America in 1955, Mr. Johnston served as the PGA Head Golf Professional at Arizona Community College from 1961-1967 and as a PGA Teaching Professional at Paradise Valley Community College from 1971-1975.

During that time, Mr. Johnston began to design golf courses as an architect in Arizona and Texas, including the Links Course at the Arizona Biltmore Golf Club, Lookout Mountain Golf Club in Phoenix and Rancho Manana Golf Club in Cave Creek.

Mr. Johnston was honored as the 1963 Southwest PGA Golf Professional of the Year, the highest honor bestowed upon a professional. He was inducted into the Utah Golf Hall of Fame in 1994

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