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Gwen Adams Retires From Course Rating After 20 Years of Service
The first course rating done by the Women’s Course Rating team in Utah was in 1993 just prior to the opening of the Logan River Golf Course. Members of that rating team included team captain Gwen Adams, and her team members Camille McClurg, Toni Guest, Cricket Nelson, and supervisory tag-a-long Larry Disera who was turning the responsibility of women’s course ratings over to the women.
The most recent course rating for the women’s tees was done this past winter at Kokipelli Golf Course in Hurricane. The rating team consisted of captain Gwen Adams and Linda Minhondo.
In between the rating of those two golf courses the women’s rating team has rated an average of about 13 courses per year and the team captain at each of all those ratings has been Gwen Adams.
Since the women began doing their own course ratings Gwen Adams has been the captain at every rating. Gwen has had many team members, but if she couldn’t go the team didn’t go. She has been on course at every women’s course rating in Utah since the inception of the program. That’s around 250 course ratings over a period of 20 years.
That remarkable era came to an end this past month when Gwen Adams announced her retirement from the UGA course rating team.
“It’s a lot of work and it can’t be done without a team effort that involves a lot of volunteers,” Gwen said. “I have had great volunteers who have given hundreds of hours and it couldn’t happen without them. Whoever the new leader is will need great volunteer support.”
Other team members off and on over those years have included Cricket Nelson, Kathy Bushnell, Toni Guest, Camille McClurg, Joyce Billings, Tammy Weese, Donna Sorensen, Natalie Neff, Christie Brightwell, Patricia Smith, Barbara Farmer, Jane Hughes, and Linda Minhondo, and perhaps some we’ve missed. Many of them have devoted ten years or more to the course rating program.
UGA office administrators of the course rating program during those Adams years included Toni Guest, Ronnie Newren, and Kam Schneider, and in describing Gwen they all agree, “unbelievable dedication.”
“Her retirement is well earned and deserved, but leaves a gaping hole in the UGA Course Rating program,” said UGA Executive Director Bill Walker. “Her captainship of that program made it possible for the UGA to focus on other projects. Her retirement will require us to refocus on that program and try to keep it up to the caliber she did,” he said.
Joe Watts, UGA Executive Director during most of her volunteer years, said, “She was a life saver for me personally. It was one area of administration that I didn’t ever have to worry about. I double checked her work from time-to-time and found it impeccable. At the USGA Course Rating Calibration Seminars the Utah team was always proven to be performing uniformly with the other golf associations across the country. She was so dependable and dedicated that our administrative policy was to stay out of the way.”
Kam Schneider, the current office administrator of course ratings for both men and women, said, “Gwen gave her heart and soul to the women’s rating and protected it like a mother hen. Her dedication to it has been simply unbelievable.”
Toni Guest said, “Gwen and her teams rated courses on hot days, cold and windy days, and wet days. I’ve never seen the likes of such dedication.
“I’ve enjoyed my many years of course rating for the Utah Golf Association. Through it I have grown close to many of my course rating companions, and met many wonderful people at golf courses all across the state,” Gwen said.
“Some people think all we do is go around and play different golf courses and it appears glamorous, but it is anything but glamorous, and sometimes it’s downright miserable,” she said, referring to many times when course ratings get interrupted by wind, rain, snow, and car trouble.
The work at each rating comes in measuring distances of landing areas to all the hazards such as bunkers, water, trees, thick rough, and out of bounds. After compiling all sorts of necessary data the raters go through each hole and give it a difficulty rating in many areas such as water hazards, bunkers, length of rough, speed of greens, etc. After each hole the raters get together and discuss the various aspects of the hole and come to a consensus on the rating numbers in all the categories.
After the rating they are required to play the course for a final evaluation, and of course, that’s the fun part of the job.
So who has played more golf courses in Utah than anyone else? Undoubtedly,Gwen Adams. She has played and rated every course in Utah at least twice and that isn’t counting the ones she plays on her days off from volunteering.
She also attended six or seven USGA Calibration Seminars where rating teams from around the nation spend several days rating a few holes of a golf course and double checking each other’s work to assure that the USGA rating system is being applied uniformly across the country.
“I learned a lot at those seminars, and it gave me a great confidence in the system. The numbers are not arbitrary. It’s a carefully designed program that assures handicap consistency across the country,” she said.
Dennis Wood, a former UGA board member who was the men’s team rating captain during the latter part of Gwen’s years of service, said, “She’s been a dedicated, hard working, motivated, outstanding advocate for the game of golf. The women’s team works quite independently from the men’s team, but our paths cross and she has set a high standard,”
Wood was the men’s captain for 13 years and has played every course in Utah except two. “I will get those this year,” he said.
Gwen was born February 21, 1938 in Orem and graduated from Lincoln High School in 1956. She graduated from BYU in 1959 with a degree in physical education and began teaching at Payson Junior High in 1960. She transferred to Midvale Junior High School in 1961 and retired 35 years later in 1996.
During those years she saw the introduction of Title Nine programs that helped get girls more involved in athletic programs. She coached basketball, volleyball, and gymnastics.
“I’m enjoying my retirement and reading more books than I ever have,” she said, and, of course, she is now playing golf to her heart’s desire.
And from the current UGA President Judy Allem, “Play on, Gwen, and many, many thanks from all members of the UGA. You have left big shoes for us to fill. We hope to live up to her expectations as we move forward.”