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Birdies and Brokers | Russ Lyon’s Agents with a Pro-Golfing Past

WM Phoenix open Golf story hero

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Arizona’s luxury leader Russ Lyon Sotheby’s International Realty celebrates the return of The Waste Management Phoenix Open with its own superstar golf agents. 

As the excitement continues with the WM Phoenix Open, the spotlight shines not only on the world-class golfers who will grace the green but, for Russ Lyon Sotheby’s International Realty, also on the remarkable journeys of former golf-pros like Karine Icher, Alan Surges, Barry Conser, Thomas Purtzer, Jay Pennypacker, Alan MacDonald and Lonnie Lopez. Their stories remind us that success knows no bounds and that the pursuit of excellence is a journey that transcends the boundaries of sport and industry.

These real estate superstars have not only excelled in their professions as agents, they have also made extraordinary accomplishments in the golf world. 

Karine Icher

Golfer Karine Icher

Courtesy of Russ Lyon

Karine Icher was previously a member of the LPGA Tour and Ladies European Tour for 15 years. After going pro at the age of 21, Icher traveled the world playing in tournaments. Icher’s accomplishments include six international title wins, earning the 45 top 10 finishes on the LPGA tour and was once in the top 25 of players in the world. She played in four Solheim Cups between Europe and the USA and represented France in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games. 

“What I’ve learned on and off the golf course since the age of 10 helps me every day to be a better human,” Icher says. “It is a source of resources adaptable and transferable to the real estate world. Sports are one of the best schools on earth!”


Alan Surges

Courtesy of Russ Lyon

Alan Surges has been a PGA Golf Professional since 1986, but focused his career on creating a memorable golf experience for others. Surges worked with the Lyle Anderson Company from 1987-1999 at the Desert Mountain Golf Club. After his experience at Desert Mountain, Surges opened the Las Campanas course in Santa Fe, NM. Surges has taught alongside Jim Flick as one of the lead instructors for Nickalaus/ Flick Golf School. 

After his time teaching, Surges was named Director of Golf at the Stock Farm Club in Hamilton, MT and Director of Golf at the Estancia Club– becoming top ranked courses in their states following Surges contributions. 

Barry Conser

Barry Cosner golfing

Courtesy of Russ Lyon

Barry Conser’s career in golf spanned across the globe, competing in more than 50 countries and playing in both the European and Nike Tours. Conser’s career started at Arizona State University as an All-American golfer. Conser has had three Gateway Tour wins and earned two Wyoming Open titles, competed in three Senior Open Championships and was a European Senior Tour member from 2014-2018. Conser recognizes the overlap in skills between the disciplines of golf and real estate. 

As a professional golfer, it is essential to sharpen your self-discipline and ability to handle pressure. Yet it is the spirit of competition and collaboration amongst fellow players that is truly special…Real estate is much the same way. An agent must take initiative and deal with pressure situations to be successful. There is definite competition between agents and brokerages, yet we work with one another and cooperate to ultimately serve our clients best interest with the highest quality of service.”

Tom Purtzer

Pro golfer Tom Purtzer

Courtesy of Russ Lyon

Tom Purtzer is a talented golfer with an impressive history, Purtzer spent 27 years on the PGA Tour, where he racked up numerous trophies including five solo championships and three team championships. Purtzer has competed for the PGA in the United States, Australia and Japan. Purtzer’s Arizona roots also run deep, he attended Sunnyslope High School and Arizona State University on a golf scholarship. 

Jay Pennypacker

Jay Pennypacker, golfer

Courtesy of Russ Lyon

Jay Pennypacker’s golf career combined both playing the sport and the business of the game. Pennpacker played in various professional golf tours and eventually landed in the golf business where he excelled in various positions including the tournament coordinator at The Desert Mountain Club, the general manager at the golf club at Eagle Mountain and president of a golf course management company. Pennypacker is currently a member at The Estancia Club and serves on the executive committee for the Arizona Golf Association. 

“Professional golf and upscale real estate sales both require an exceptional attention to detail to be successful,” Pennypacker says. “Just as important, the code of conduct in the game of golf translates well into garnering the trust buyers and sellers demand when making a real estate transaction.”


Allan MacDonald

Courtesy of Russ Lyon

Allan MacDonald grew up in Scotland– the birthplace of golf. His youth career was incredibly successful with several championships in the British Isles before making his way to play at the collegiate level in Alabama, where he ranked #1 in the country in the NJCAA in 1994-1995. MacDonald then went on to play professionally in more than 50 countries. He played in the PGA Tour Americas from 1997-2003 and represented Europe in the 1997 Arnold Palmer Cup. 

MacDonald saw Scottsdale, a golf-centric city, as the perfect destination to settle down and focus on his real estate career. 

Lonnie Lopez

Lonnie Lopez, former pro golfer

Courtesy of Russ Lyon

Lonnie Lopez commenced his professional golf career in 1991 after traveling the nation and contributing his expertise to esteemed golf establishments including the Glacier Club in Durango, CO., Innisbrook Resort in Tarpon Springs, FL., and Las Campanas in Santa Fe, NM. When Lopez relocated to Scottsdale, in 1994, he dedicated 25 years to Desert Mountain as  PGA golf instructor. 

My career in golf taught me specific rules about the game and life,” Lopez says. “It’s the greatest game ever invented because it requires the toughest test of mental acumen due to the elements on the course and all of its challenges. In this sport, one holds oneself accountable, calling penalties with the utmost integrity and an unparalleled testament to sportsmanship.”

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