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Dave Terry: From Good Player To Top Administrator

Numerous Utah golf aficionados have said, “Richfield has produced more good golfers per capita than any other city in Utah,’ and then they can rattle off name after name to justify their claim. Dave Terry doesn’t include his name on that list, and certainly wouldn’t be at the top of the list, but if you were to make a list of those from Richfield who have had the greatest influence on Utah golf, the one name that would unanimously appear at the top is Dave Terry.
 
He played on three of Richfield High School’s record setting seven straight championship golf teams, and was medalist at the state finals his senior year. That describes his playing bonafides, but since then he has spent a lifetime in various aspects of golf management and has had an enormous impact on the growth of Utah golf.
 
Ever since graduating from BYU 22 years ago he has held key positions in golf management in Utah, beginning as the manager of the PGA Ben Hogan Tour, Assistant Executive Director of the Utah Section of the PGA, Director of Golf in St. George City, and currently Director of Golf of Salt Lake City, the state’s largest golf operation with 135 holes.
 
Along the way he has been influential in almost all aspects of golf, but especially so in junior golf programs, as a board member of the Utah Golf Association, and in marketing Utah golf courses to the rest of the nation.
 
Terry wasn’t good enough to play on the star-studded BYU golf team and so he went to Southern Utah for one year and then on an LDS Mission to Florida. After his mission he enrolled at BYU with a focus on business administration and helped finance his education by teaching beginning and intermediate golf classes at BYU and by working in the pro shop at Riverside Country Club under the direction of head professional Robert McArthur. That experience provided the foundation for the rest of his life.
 
The year he graduated from BYU, 1990, was the year the PGA Tour created the Ben Hogan Tour, a second tier tour for aspiring tour players. Riverside Country Club was chosen as one of those sites. Terry played a key role in helping the Utah Section of the PGA manage the tournament and he caught the eye of Jeff Beaudry, the executive director of the Utah Section of the PGA.
 
Beaudry added him to the Utah Section PGA staff and in 1992 he was named Utah manager of the Ben Hogan Tour and Assistant Executive Director of the Utah PGA, positions he held through 1996.
 
Beaudry, in recalling those early years in Dave’s career, said, “There are two traits about Dave that stick out in my mind. One, that when making decisions he had the ability to look into the future and see where those decisions might lead, and two, he had the persistence and follow through to see that things got done. Planning was not the end for him. He performed.”
 
In 1997 he was hired by St. George City to head up its first full time golf director position under the Division of Leisure Services. Four golf courses were under his supervision, Dixie Red Hills, Southgate, St. George Golf Club, and Sunbrook. He played a big role in developing strong golf programs for junior golfers in the city, and in attracting snowbirds from northern Utah. He was instrumental in developing St. George’s Red Rocks Golf Trail that attracted golfers from throughout the country. St. George became a destination golf vacation for thousands of out-of-state players and golf became a major economic development tool for St. George City.
 
After eight years at St. George he was asked to take the biggest, and some would say the toughest golf management job in the state as Director of Golf for Salt Lake City. It is a daunting task. The city owns and manages 36 holes at Mountain Dell, 18 holes at Bonneville, Wingpointe, Glendale, and Rose Park, two nine-hole facilities at Forest Dale and Nibley Park, and Jordan River Par 3. That’s the equivalent of seven 18-hole golf courses plus a par three in a city that has many avid devotees of the sport and a continual stream of city councils and mayors who seem to have it near the bottom on their list of priorities.
 
With little fanfare in his first two years on the job Salt Lake golf revenues increased by ten percent, from $7.5 million to $8.3 million. He developed a Salt Lake City Youth on Course program that included clinics, camps, and tournaments. He is currently working with the Utah Sports Commission and Salt Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau in growing a national golf marketing program called Play Utah Golf.
 
While managing the Ben Hogan and Nike Tour event in Utah the tournament raised $300,000 that went to Utah Special Olympics and junior golf programs. The tournament consistently received superior rating from the PGA Tour for its tournament operations.
 
Working side-by-side with Jeff Beaudry he helped pioneer the organization of golf clinics for Utah Special Olympics that proved to be the catalyst in the development of golf as a Special Olympics sport in 43 states and 12 countries.
 
On the side he also served eight years on the Board of Directors of the Utah Golf Association during which time he advocated for establishment of girl’s golf programs in the high schools. In all of his positions, at the Utah PGA, the UGA, St. George, and Salt Lake City he has been a big promoter of junior golf programs and decried all the talk and instead did the walk. He’s not that much for talk.
 
He was thrilled when the Utah High School Activities Association adopted girl’s golf as a sanctioned sport and it came just in time for his daughter to participate on the West Jordan team.
 
He had lived for many years with a non-functioning kidney and in 2006, shortly after moving to Salt Lake City, his brother Jim donated one of his kidneys to him so that he could undergo a kidney transplant. It is the ultimate bonding of brothers.
 
Recently Dave has been dealing with a carcinoma skin cancer that has affected nerves controlling eye movement and facial muscle function on the right side, but radiation and other treatments seem to have stalled or stopped the cancer, and that’s good, because Salt Lake City needs his full time attention.
 
With these health setbacks it would seem like a good time to rest on his laurels, but that isn’t the case with Dave.
 
Seeing that the recent economic slowdown has contributed to a continual slide in capital improvements and maintenance he has begun to lay the ground work on a $20 million capital improvement program to improve Salt Lake City golf courses.
 
 “We have an antiquated watering system at Bonneville, one of Utah’s grandest golf courses, and we have to find funding to get it done,” he emphasized. “We have numerous goals to achieve, but that is number one at the moment,” he said.
 
Terry has never been a do-it-alone guy. He has always built coalitions. Rick Graham, the Salt Lake City Director of Public Services, is on board with the goal and the two of them are working closely with Mayor Ralph Becker, the city council, and the citizen’s advisory board to develop a funding strategy to make the improvements possible.
 
 “I have great admiration for Rick Graham,” Terry said. “He has been very, very supportive of Salt Lake City golf courses and he deserves plaudits from Utah golfers for his behind the scenes support of golf,” Terry said.
 
“To move these capital improvement projects from the drawing board to reality, we need the golf community to come together, to see the vision of what needs to happen, and to find ways to make it happen,” Terry said.
 
(More on Salt Lake City golf courses, professionals, superintendents, and details on $20 million capital improvement plan in future articles)