Robert Blean Selected as the Recipient of the Johnny Bulla Award
Bob Blean was 17 when he first made a splash in the Arizona golf scene, advancing to the Junior World Championship at Torrey Pines after scoring 1-under 71 at Randolph North. It was 1979.
He was a consistent contender from that day forward, beginning with his junior days at Maryvale High School to college play to a fine professional career, including a dramatic victory in the 1999 Southwest PGA Match Play championship final.
Born in Pella, Iowa and raised in Phoenix, Robert Blean III did all that and more across 23 years as a PGA Professional, and thus is the recipient of the Southwest PGA Section’s Johnny Bulla Award. Named after the legendary player who called Phoenix home and dominated state golf for two decades, the Johnny Bulla Award is presented to an individual who has displayed exemplary talent on the golf course during their career.
Blean, who passed away at 55 in December 2017, will be honored at the Southwest PGA Awards Ceremony on February 21 at Paradise Valley Country Club.
“The Southwest PGA is privileged to recognize Bob Blean as the recipient of the Johnny Bulla Award,” said Jamey Lewis, President of the Southwest PGA. “Bob exclaimed not only the award’s namesake Johnny Bulla on the golf course as a player but also distinguished himself as the epitome of a PGA Golf Professional. He touched many lives on and off the golf course and his legacy will live on in the Southwest PGA and the state of Arizona.”
Blean’s first professional posting after a college career at Glendale Community College and Grand Canyon College, where he was a member of an NAIA Championship-qualifying team, was as an assistant at Bellair Golf Course beginning in 1990, but he was hardly stationary. Blean was a frequent tournament competitor locally and nationally, piling up a half-dozen top-seven placings in the Southwest PGA Championship alone across 15 years. His best finish was sharing runner-up honors, a stroke behind Dean Vomacka at Oro Valley in 2008.
Blean qualified for the Nike Tour in 1997, and also played in both the Phoenix and Tucson Opens that year, as well as other appearances in both of the state’s PGA Tour stops later in his career.
It was while representing Bellair that Blean captured the Southwest PGA Match Play Championship, capping his feat with a 3 and 2 victory over Larry Mackin at Troon. The match was all square on the 14th hole when Blean’s drive missed the fairway and was found covered in mud on soft turf. Blean grabbed an iron and smashed his second shot to five feet, then sank the birdie putt to go 1 up, the first of three straight holes won to close out the championship.
“It was my turn to have something good happen,” Blean told the Arizona Republic.
Something else good happened in 2007, when he won the Section’s Assistants Championship. And in 2008, he teamed with fellow Southwest PGA Professional Chris Endres to capture the Stronghold Cup.
Blean was a supporter of junior golf – the BB2 Junior Golf Fund at Sun City Country Club was started in his honor – and, befitting a lifelong assistant, could usually be found on the lesson tee.
He was also tough. In 1995, he spent three weeks giving lessons and playing with what doctors discovered was a ruptured appendix via a CAT scan on Father’s Day weekend. He was back on the leader board by August, and in the fall, once again contributing to the Section’s winning Goldwater Cup team.
About The Southwest Section PGA:
The Southwest Section of the PGA of America is a professional organization serving the men and women golf professionals in Arizona and Southern Nevada who are the recognized experts in growing, teaching and managing the game of golf. The Southwest PGA is responsible for the administration of competitive golf tournaments, junior golf programs and events, educational opportunities, support programs and growth of the game initiatives. With over 1284 members and associate members, the Southwest PGA is the fifth largest of the 41 regional entities or Sections that comprise the PGA of America. For more information about the Southwest PGA, please visit www.southwestpga.com and join us on social media at www.facebook.com/swsectionpga, twitter.com/swsectionpga and www.instagram.com/southwestpga.
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