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Gold Club Tribute Speech to honor Randy Dodson

Randy Dodson

Gold Club Tribute


(The following is a reprint of the Randy Dodson Gold Club Tribute Speech given by Joe Watts at the UGA Annual Meeting at Oakridge Country Club.)

Randy Dodson has a regular section in Fairways Magazine called ‘Listen up!’

That’s what I would like us to do right now—Listen Up! This is our award of awards, our highest honor. Let’s give this moment it’s just due and give pause and thanks for a specific friend in our lives— Randy Dodson. Almost everyone here knows him, and for those few who don’t know him this occasion should be the beginning of a new friendship.

I want to start our tribute to him by describing the Gold Club Award.

The words were carefully crafted to outline the qualities of an ideal friend of the UGA, a model for all to emulate. George Marks was our model, and he was the first recipient.

The description reads:  The Gold Club Award is presented annually to an individual who through significant achievement or unselfish service has contributed to the history and tradition of the game of golf in Utah, and whose personal integrity, sportsmanship, common courtesy, loyalty, and friendship earn him the love and respect of his fellow golfers.

As Bill Walker said, “The description fits Randy to a tee!”

The second phase of our tribute to him is to remind us of all the past recipients of the award. (This section will not count against my allotted time as it could have been done during the introductions.) There have been 27 recipients of this award I will deliberately mention their names slowly to give each of you a moment to reflect on them. A trip down Memory Lane is good for us now and then.

Two received the award posthumously, Steve Dunford and Pete Randall. Eight others have since passed away, George Marks, Karl Tucker, Jimmy Thompson, Marion Dunn, Larry Disera, Gordon Sperry, Tony Bermingham, and Jeannie Goddard. What wonderful memories we have of them.

The Gold Club has only 17 living members. Those who are here tonight please stand when I call your name and remain standing. Mark Passey, Garey Chadwick, Lynn Summerhays, Scott Whittaker, Ernie Schneiter, Jr., Jeff Beaudry, Jerry Marks, Sonny Braun (Who just retired as the only head pro through all the years of Hobble Creek Golf Course), Doug Vilven, Parley Peterson, Keith Hansen, Sherm Hatfield, Kent McCurdy, Tommy Sorenson, Dave Terry, and Toni Guest and myself.

I may be the only person in the room tonight who personally knew and knows every member of the Gold Club, not just casually, but quite well in every instance, and I admire every one of them. That puts me in a position to pass some judgments, and I want Randy and all of you to know that he stands right there with the best of them and that is a high tribute to him.

Now to the third and final stage of our tribute to Randy and I take the prerogative to be a little more personal.

When we think of Randy Dodson we think of Fairways Magazine and vice versa. They are linked like ham and eggs, salt and pepper, and eagles and birdies. He’s the sole owner, the father and the mother.

Everyone here loves the magazine, but most of us take it for granted. What many of you don’t know is that you are receiving the best regional golf association magazine in the world. There is nothing like it anywhere. Those great big associations like Northern Cal, Southern Cal, Florida, Georgia (the home of the Masters) and the Metropolitan GA in New York  have magazines a mere shadow of Fairways. Go anywhere in the world. There’s just nothing comparable.

Second, and pause to reflect on this— there would be no Fairways Magazine without Randy Dodson.

Third, he took this magazine on at the worst of times when print was on its way out and electronic was on its way in. In our golf vernacular you could say he came out of the clubhouse in the midst of a rain storm, teed it up and faced a head wind on every tee, hit it long and straight, and at this point is well under par and everyone else in the field is well over par or has walked off the course, or been disqualified.

The mightiest golf association in the world, the United States Golf Association, gave up its great magazine on about the 11th hole several years ago.

Fourth, Fairways Magazine has become the strongest link to every aspect of golf in Utah. It ties the Utah golf community into one family. It links together in one unfied chain, the UGA, the Utah Section of the PGA, the Utah Junior Golf Association, high school and collegiate golf, charity golf, and all golf courses in the state. It’s not just the UGA’s magazine. It’s everyone’s magazine.

This last cover featured Darrell Larkin, golfer extra ordinary—–extra ordinary being two words not one. In other words, like most of us he is a very ordinary golfer, but Fairways Magazine took the time and space to feature one of our own ordinary fellow golfers. The magazine is a good read for every one of all skill levels.

Stack all of your Fairways Magazines on top of one another and it represents a who’s who and a what’s what of golf in Utah.

And let me reiterate. I am as certain as I am standing here that there would be no Fairways Magazine without Randy Dodson. I’ve been there. I’ve been in those shoes. I’ve seen the obstacles. He faced a course like the lava holes at Entrada. Somehow he got through them without a lost ball, and he’s gained my everlasting respect for achieving a dream of mine that was given up as unattainable. And credit should also be given for the vision of the various UGA boards that have recognized the value of the magazine to our members and have helped make it financially viable.

There is a reason for the success of the magazine and now I want to specifically focus on that reason—Randy Dodson the person.

You have probably already read a brief list of his achievements in the program, but that is just the superfluous stuff. The real story is in the quality of the person. He is fair. He is honest. He is dependable. He is humble. He is generous. He is joyful company.

When you see him it makes your heart warm. His smile, his walk (or waddle) exude happiness. He’s like a fireplace in winter and shade in summer. He’s the wind at your back and a song in your heart.

This may seem odd but I want to focus on his eyes for a minute. His eyes could almost replace his tongue. They speak to you. His eyes are a window to his soul and when you look into them they hide nothing. It’s a little bit like window peeping. When you look into his soul you will find no guile. It’s my guess that he doesn’t kill flies or step on spiders without feeling guilt and remorse.

He’s constantly concerned about the feelings of others. Some people are quick to take offense, but Randy is quicker with apologies. Randy has never heard a complaint because he apologizes before it can be aired and his eyes melt all criticism.

We can’t give this award to Randy without linking his three loyal sidekicks, Mike Stansfield, Garritt Johnson, and Gary Golightly. They are talented and they are loyal to one another. It is a rarity in today’s world of instant change that a team can stay together for as long as they have. It is loyalty squared. I admire them.

I am glad that we have a Gold Club Award so that we can take time out of our lives and show our respect and love for each other.

Randy is one of the finest persons I have ever met and associated with. I hold him in the highest regard. I love him like a brother and anyone who knows me knows I love my brothers. He is my brother.