Utah's Steve Schneiter defends his 2016 Senior PGA Professional Championship title

By Roger Graves
Published on
Utah's Steve Schneiter defends his 2016 Senior PGA Professional Championship title

Steve Schneiter, a PGA Member for 24 years and a third-generation PGA Professional, wasn’t aware he had written a new chapter in PGA of America history when he won the 2016 Senior PGA Professional Championship at PGA Golf Club in Port St. Lucie, Florida, last November.

Schneiter, who teams with his older brother, PGA Professional Gary, to operate Schneiter’s-Pebblebrook Golf Course in Sandy, Utah, knew he had done something special when he put together four rounds in the 60s and drained a 15-foot parsaving putt on the 72nd hole to edge Rick Schuller of Chester, Virginia, for a one-stroke victory in the2016 Senior PGA Professional Championship.

He just didn’t know how special – and historic –his triumph was. When informed he was the first PGA Professional in history to win both the PGA Professional Championship (which Schneiter won in 1995 at PGA West in La Quinta, California) and the Senior PGA Professional Championship, Schneiter was stunned. He wasn’t immediately aware of his “Club Pro Double.”

“I was surprised that no one had ever won both PGA Professional championships, because there have been a lot of great players in both,” says Schneiter, who checked in at 13-under-par 275 to earn $21,500 for his victory in the 2016 Senior PGA Professional Championship. “I was very honored to be the first.”

RELATED: Check out the 2017 Senior PGA Professional Championship tournament field list

Schneiter, who will defend his title much closer to his Utah home when the 2017 Senior PGA Championship presented by GolfAdvisor and Mercedes-Benz USA unfolds Sept. 28–Oct. 1 at Desert Mountain in Scottsdale, Arizona, was also surprised that he won last year because he hadn’t played a competitive round in a month when he arrived at PGA Golf Club.

“I didn’t have any expectations last year, but I drove it well and putted good the entire week,” recalls Schneiter, now 54. “It helped that I had played PGA Golf Club maybe 100 times coming into last year’s tournament. It was like playing my home course. I was surprised how well I played last year because I hadn’t played at all coming in.”

Schneiter has curtailed his practice and playing to focus on operating the family-owned Schneiter’s Pebblebrook course since his father, George Malan Schneiter – a 50-year PGA Member – passed away in February of 2010.

Schneiter’s grandfather, George Henry Schneiter, also was a PGA Professional (he reached the semifinals of the 1944 PGA Championship) and served as director of the PGA Players Division prior to the establishment of the PGA Tour. Steve believed his father and grandfather were watching over him down the stretch in the 2016 Senior PGA Professional Championship.

“Yes, they were looking down on me, for sure,” says Schneiter, who has competed in 12PGA Championships. Schneiter jokingly says he will follow the same pattern as last year in preparing for the 2017 Senior PGA Professional Championship on the Cochise and Geronimo courses at Desert Mountain, two scenic Jack Nicklaus designs carved out of the Sonoran Desert.

“I’ll prepare to defend by taking the month of September off,” laughs Schneiter, who played Desert Mountain about a dozen years ago in the Arizona Open. “My kids keep telling me I could be pretty good if I ever practiced, but I’m at that age where it’s hard to find time to practice and play.

“Winning (the Senior PGA Professional Championship) last year kind of solidified my career and proved I could still play.”