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Steve Brinton // Gold Club Award
By Kurt Kragthorpe
Finding a thread among winners of the Utah Golf Association’s Gold Club Award is fairly easy. That’s especially true in 2020. Steve Brinton’s history of service to the game is directly connected to George Marks, who received the first such award 32 years ago.
Marks got Brinton involved in the United States Golf Association soon after that, and Brinton has remained dedicated to golf on multiple levels. While operating a three-generation office of the New York Life insurance company in Salt Lake City, Brinton also has maintained a high-level golf game and served both the UGA and the USGA. “For me, it’s been a big part of my life,” he said, thanking his wife, Joan, for authorizing his devotion to golf. “It is a great game.”
The Gold Club Award annually recognizes an “individual who through significant achievement or unselfish service has contributed traditions and history of the game of golf in Utah and whose personal integrity, sportsmanship, common courtesy, loyalty and friendship earn the love and respect of fellow golfers.”
In 2014, Brinton received the USGA’s Ike Grainger Award for 25 years of service. He’s likely the best golfer ever to receive the Gold Club Award. He has qualified for match play in the State Amateur in five different decades, including reaching final match of the 100th State Am in 1999 at age 47. He played for Highland High School’s legendary golf teams of the 1960s, contributing to four state championships, then played one year at Utah State before entering military service and then transferring to the University of Utah, where he chose to focus on academics.
His golf swing remained intact, explaining how he won club championships at both Willow Creek Country Club and The Country Club of Salt Lake City, where he grew up playing. He served as tournament chairman of the State Am in 2012, when the event returned to the historic Country Club.
When he became the UGA president in 2016, Brinton promised to emphasize the Youth on Course program that provided inexpensive access to golf. The success of that initiative is a big part of his legacy locally. Nationally, Brinton has created a lot of memories for himself as a USGA committee member and rules official, working at many major events. In that role, he said, “You’re very conspicuous, when you’re needed.”
It’s all about being prepared to make the call in those moments. As he tells those stories, Brinton sounds both proud and relived to have provided the right answers. Brinton has always been there when the UGA or the USGA needed him, and Marks would be proud of the way his protege has served the game.