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2023 Desert Mountain Putting Challenge

The Desert Mountain Foundation (DMF) and Scottsdale-based Pinnacle Aviation, in partnership with the Desert Mountain Golf Professionals and the Cactus Classic Golf Tournament, presented the 9th Annual Pinnacle Aviation Putting Challenge fundraising event with all proceeds donated to the DMF Scholarship Fund and Golf Staff Education Fund. After being postponed twice due to weather, the Cactus Classic and Putting Challenge was finally held on Monday, February 20, 2023 on the Outlaw Course.

The Pinnacle Aviation Putting Challenge qualifier was set up on the practice green next to the starter’s shed before Hole #1.   All 72 players and 18 club pros competing in the Cactus Classic took part in the Putting Challenge qualifier and raffle.  As each group advanced from the 18th green to the No. 1 tee box, they stopped at the practice green to take their putts to qualify for the head-to-head putting competition. Each participant was allowed 10 putt attempts and received raffle tickets for each made putt.  The winner of the $500 gift certificate to Dominick’s Steak House went to Mr. Michael Shirk!

Mr. Mike Cima taking the final putt for an opportunity to win a Pinnacle Aviation private jet charter.

The top 8 scores from the day qualified for the Putting Championship – and the top 4 scores from the Professionals playing with each group qualified for the Pro Putting Championship.  There were an additional 8 qualifiers who made their putt attempts at several prequalifying sites during the three weeks prior.

After the last group finished their round, the putting competition began on the practice green outside the Outlaw Clubhouse.  The format was a head-to-head single putt elimination tournament for both the players and the Club Professionals.  The competitor whose putt came to rest closest to the hole advanced to the next round. 

The players competition began with a first-round putt of ~20-feet; the second-round putt was ~25-feet and the quarter-final putt set up just outside of 30-feet.  Mr. Mike Cima and Mrs. Karen Simmonds advanced their way through their brackets to the final putt for the Championship set at ~35-feet.

Both players made excellent putts, with Mr. Cima’s putt coming to rest just a few inches closer than Mrs. Simmonds’s putt, to win the title of 2023 Pinnacle Aviation Putting Challenge Champion!

The four club professionals then began their competition, and in the championship round for the pros, Riley Hayfield edged out John-Michael Pilot for the win and title of 2023 Pinnacle Aviation Putting Challenge Champion of the Pro Division. Riley and John-Michael received a $500 gift card and $250 gift card, respectively, for dinner at Dominick’s or Ocean’s 44 in Scottsdale. Mr. Cima’s win included a $500 book credit in the Desert Mountain Golf Shop, along with a beautifully inscribed silver-platted Champion’s trophy.

He also won an attempt at the 50-foot putt to win a 4-day all-expense paid, luxury private jet trip for Eight (8) to Bandon Dunes – including all 5 rounds of golf, 8 private rooms in the Lodge and all food & beverage – valued at over $50,000!

Mr. Cima took his time and assessed the green between his ball and the hole.  Just as he was about to putt, a jet flew overhead, and he stepped back to ask, “is that my jet?”.  The crowd laughed.  He set up to putt again and the crowd grew quiet.  Mr. Cima put a smooth stroke on the 50-footer.  The putt tracked directly on line toward the hole, the crowd began to cheer as the ball approached the cup and let out a loud, ‘OOOHHH!” as it slowed to a stop less than 2 inches from the front lip.  It was an outstanding attempt at the grand prize! Our enthusiastic congratulations to the 2023 Pinnacle Aviation Putting Champion – Mr. Mike Cima!

The Cactus Classic & Pinnacle Aviation Putting Challenge has now donated over $40,000 to the DMF scholarship fund.

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