They say that golf is a sport for all ages, and the 2016 CGA amateur players of the year certainly prove as much. The award winners range in age from a brand-new twentysomething to a player in his early 60s.
Kyler Dunkle of the Club at Pradera, who turned 20 just last month, has been named one of the youngest recipients of the CGA Les Fowler Player of the Year Award. Chris Thayer of Bear Creek Golf Club earned the Mid-Amateur POY honor for the second consecutive year. And Robin Bradbury, 60, of Heritage at Westmoor landed the Senior player award.
Also being honored by the CGA is rules official Mike Bureman, who receives the Jim Topliff Award as on-course official of the year for the third time since 2005. Bureman has been a mainstay as a volunteer rules official in Colorado since 1998.
Dunkle (pictured above), a former 5A state high school champion who transferred in the offseason from Colorado State to the University of Utah, took his game to another level in 2016.
"For me, it's really cool to be the player of the year for Colorado," the Denver native said recently. "This summer, I was able to relax and enjoy the game a little, whereas in the past I stressed myself."
The highlight of the year for Dunkle was not only qualifying for the U.S. Amateur for the second consecutive year -- he was medalist by four shots at Fort Collins Country Club -- but advancing to the round of 16 at a national championship which features a starting field of 312. A year after rounds of 86-85 at the event left him in 311th place in the stroke-play portion of the tournament, Dunkle finished 41st in stroke play in August at Oakland Hills in Michigan. Then he won two matches before falling in the round of 16 of arguably the world's top amateur championship. It marks the second straight year a Coloradan has made it to the Sweet 16 in the U.S. Am, after the University of Colorado's David Oraee did likewise in 2015.
In CGA championships this year, Dunkle made it to the quarterfinals of the CGA Match Play and finished 11th in the CGA Amateur. He won the CGA Western Chapter title and placed second with his dad, Jason, in their title defense at the CGA Parent/Child.
In the college ranks, Dunkle has posted three top-10 individual finishes so far this calendar year -- one with CSU and two in Utah's first three tournaments of this season.
Dunkle is the ninth college-age golfer in the last 10 years to be named the CGA's Player of the Year, with the exception being Michael Harrington of Colorado Springs in 2014.
Thayer, meanwhile, becomes the second golfer to be honored in back-to-back years as the CGA's Mid-Amateur Player of the Year, joining Keith Humerickhouse (2012 and '13).
Also for the second straight year, Thayer (left) finished runner-up to Jon Lindstrom in the CGA Mid-Amateur after Thayer prevailed in 2014. And in open-age-division CGA championships, Thayer placed 11th in the CGA Amateur and made it to the round of 32 of the CGA Match Play.
At his first U.S. Mid-Amateur, Thayer finished 45th in the stroke-play portion of the event, earning a spot in match play, where he lost in the round of 64. Thayer also advanced to the second stage of the two-stage U.S. Open qualifying process.
He earned an invitation to represent Colorado in the USGA Men's State Team Championship, but couldn't participate this year.
Bradbury (left) went the first six decades of his life without qualifying for a USGA championship, but broke the ice at the age of 60 when he shared medalist honors as Fox Hollow Golf Course hosted a qualifier for the U.S. Senior Amateur. And Bradbury took it a step beyond that as he finished 48th in the stroke-play portion of the national tournament and landed a spot in match play, where he exited in the round of 64.
Bradbury also secured low senior amateur honors at the Rocky Mountain Open, finished 16th in the CGA Senior Amateur and advanced to the round of 16 at the CGA Senior Match Play. He placed eighth in the CGA Super-Senior Stroke Play.