Taking the Reins

Former Sahalee director of golf Bryan Nicholson becomes just the 8th PGA head professional in Cherry Hills CC history

By Gary Baines – 5/24/2024

Cherry Hills Country Club, which has hosted more USGA championships (10) and men’s open-age majors (5) than any other course in Colorado, announced on Friday its hiring of just the eighth PGA head golf professional in the 102-year history of the club.

Bryan Nicholson, previously the PGA director of golf at Sahalee Country Club near Seattle, will oversee all golf operations, including tournaments, events and outings, membership programming, instruction and merchandising at Cherry Hills. Sahalee has a rich pedigree of its own for having been home to big-time golf tournaments, including the 1998 PGA Championship, the 2002 NEC World Golf Championship, the 2010 U.S. Senior Open and the 2016 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.

“I am thrilled for this opportunity to be a small part of the historic lore of Cherry Hills,” Nicholson said in a release. “With its century-long legacy of hosting major championships, its incredible golf course, clubhouse and esteemed, welcoming membership, Cherry Hills is one of the finest clubs in America. I look forward to meeting all the members, working closely with the staff, and continuing the traditions that have made this club uniquely special among the top historic clubs in the country.”

Nicholson follows in the footsteps of the still-small number of previous PGA head pros at Cherry Hills, which is located just south of Denver: James Newman, Harold Long, Ralph “Rip” Arnold, Warren Smith, Clayton Cole, John Ogden and Andrew Shuck. Shuck, who was hired at Cherry Hills in 2021, is now the PGA director of golf at The Fall Line in Mauk, Ga.

Arnold, Smith and Cole are inductees of the Colorado Golf Hall of Fame.

“I couldn’t be more pleased to have Bryan join our management team and lead the storied golf operation here at Cherry Hills,” said Lance Sabella, Cherry Hills CC’s chief operating officer. “With his experience, I’m certain that our professional staff will thrive under his leadership and deliver an elite golf experience for our members and guests.”

Prior to his time at Sahalee, Nicholson served as director of golf at Northwood Club in Dallas and head professional at Orange Lake Country Club in Kissimmee, Fla.

Nicholson has won several golf-related awards during his career, including the 2023 Western Washington Chapter PNWGA Merchandiser of the Year, the 2019 Northern Texas PGA Merchandiser of the Year, 2018-2021 and 2023 AGM Platinum Awards, and the 2014 NTPGA Assistant Golf Professional of the Year. He was captain of the NTPGA Jordan Cup Team in 2014.

Cherry Hills, founded in 1922, has hosted U.S. Opens in 1938, ’60 and ’78; PGA Championships in 1941 and ’85; a U.S. Women’s Open in 2005; the 1950 Women’s Western Open (a women’s major at the time); and a U.S. Senior Open in 1993. Last year, the U.S. Amateur was held at the club for the third time.

About the Writer: Gary Baines has covered golf in Colorado continuously since 1983. He was a sports writer at the Daily Camera newspaper in Boulder, then the sports editor there, and has written regularly for since 2009. The University of Colorado Evans Scholar alum was inducted into the Colorado Golf Hall of Fame in 2022. He owns and operates