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Utah Golf Association Announces New Board Members
Pictured: Richard Church (left), Leanne Wilcox (right)
By Jesse Dodson, Boatwright Intern
There are several ways you may have come to know newly nominated UGA board member Richard Church. You may know him as the 17-year Southern Utah University (SUU) Men’s and Women’s Golf head coach, or from the countless Utah golf tournaments he has competed in, or maybe from his dedication to and support of junior golf in the state.
Church, originally from Murray, Utah, has considered Panguitch home since 1985. He owns and operates the Blue Pine Motel in Panguitch alongside his SUU coaching responsibilities in Cedar City. He graduated from the University of Utah in 1989 with a degree in political science. With his degree, he had opportunities to be a part of local political campaigns and even fulfilled a half-year internship in Washington D.C.
Church has been involved with the game of golf his entire life. He picked it up as a child, following the examples of his older brothers. He played high school golf but really “found his game” and started to compete in his mid-20s under the direction of John Evans, past president of the Utah Section PGA, director of golf at Cedar Ridge Golf Course, and former SUU golf coach.
“John Evans took me under his wing and taught me how to play the game,” said Church. “He took me under his wing as far as collegiate coaching as well.”
When it comes to the game of golf, Church is a man of many hats. Being involved competitively and coaching collegiately has offered many aspects to love about the game. With competing, he loves “the battle of getting your mind in the right place where you can execute the right shots.”
“My favorite part of the game is trying to do what all golfers do, win that battle with the voices in your head that might cause some doubts,” Church explained.
When it comes to coaching, “Being able to see the progress kids make from when we recruit them out of high school to the big jump they make to Division I golf and teaching them how to be competitive at that level and have some success,” is something he truly loves.
Church has been a member of the UGA since the late 70s and has been mainly involved with competing in tournaments.
“I have always valued the organization as a whole and the opportunities they provide,” he said.
Other than tournament play, he has been involved with some financial support and volunteer work with UGA sponsored events in St. George and has always been an active member of the UGA.
Church has a lot of experience with event planning and overseeing the development of fundraising, which will surely benefit the UGA as he starts his term on the UGA Board of Directors. He plans to continue the charitable efforts of the UGA, including working with the Utah Golf Foundation.
With his success in developing budgets and financial plans for golf programs and his love for junior golf, Church will be an excellent addition to the board.
By Megan Terry, UGA Programs Administrator
Leanne Wilcox was born in Brigham City and grew up in Ogden. She graduated from Weber High School in 1981 and then from Weber State University with a major in business and finance in 1989. In addition to attending school, she was raising four boys, working as a dental assistant, and flipping burgers at her family’s independently-owned bowling alley.
Immediately upon graduation, Wilcox established a State Farm Insurance agency and has been building the business ever since. It’s a full-service agency that includes life, home, auto, and business insurance.
“I have two secretaries, and we have been together for 20 years. They are whiz-bang doers,” she said.
Leanne started playing golf 20 years ago. She played casually for her first ten years before joining the Ogden Golf and Country Club Ladies League. The combination of making new friends and developing a love for the game influenced Leanne to start playing competitively. She worked hard to “get decent” and is now OGCC’s ladies traveling league captain of captains.
In addition to her duties at Ogden G&CC, Wilcox regularly volunteers for the UGA as a starter. The starter introduces players to their fellow competitors in the group and gives last-minute reminders about easily forgotten details, like counting the number of clubs in the bag and having an identifying mark on the golf ball. Each player is then given the respect of an official invitation to the tee.
Leanne interacts exceptionally well with the players and makes them feel welcome and relaxed.
“She is easily identifiable,” stated UGA Rules and Competitions Director Jacob Miller. “Leanne is a spark plug and brings positive energy to the course every day. She is a delight to work with and is more than capable of working all volunteer jobs, but she is especially good as a starter,” he said.
Despite being highly involved in Utah golf, skiing is Leanne’s first love. She and her entire family own season passes to Snowbasin Resort in Weber County. Last season, she skied a total of 104 days!
Leanne looks forward to making a difference in the Utah golf community as a UGA board member. She loves the competition, athleticism, and beauty associated with the game, as well as the lifelong friendships it creates.
“I think I will bring a young energy to the table,” said Leanne. “I have a unique perspective as an active volunteer and a woman that I think can assist the board with its governing responsibilities. I am excited about this opportunity and look forward to watching Utah golf continue to grow and develop as a UGA board member.”