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Utah Golf Association announces “Excellence in Golf Promotion” special recognition honor

Early photo of Nibley Park Golf Course, year unknown.

In an effort to recognize people throughout Utah who have made a significant contribution to the development, growth, improvement, or promotion of golf facilities, programs, events, or organizations, the Utah Golf Association (UGA) is pleased to announce the addition of a special recognition honor to be known as “Excellence in Golf Promotion”.

Former UGA board member and Gold Club award winner David Terry said, “This special recognition honor will recognize individuals or organizations that have significantly added to Utah’s efforts to grow and protect the game of golf especially at the local club level.”

The accomplishments to be recognized may be associated with facilities, programs, events, or organizations that are either publicly or privately owned and operated. This honor will be presented in the category of “Recent Accomplishment” for living nominees, or “Historically Significant Achievement” to posthumously recognize people for contributions to the game dating back to the earliest days of golf in Utah.

The individual or group submitting a nomination must provide all information requested on the UGA’s “Excellence in Golf Promotion” nomination form which will be made available on UGA’s website, under the awards menu button.

While honorees will be recognized at the UGA’s annual awards banquet, the official presentation of the “Excellence in Golf Promotion” honor will take place in the recipient’s home community. Whenever possible, the presentation will be conducted by a member of the UGA’s executive committee and will take place at a public meeting of local elected officials.

In explaining the purpose of this special recognition honor, UGA president, Brian Hulse, said, “When this “Excellence in Golf Promotion” program was presented to our board of directors in 2019 by David Terry, we were unanimous in our support given the many passionate local golf promoters throughout the state, whose tireless efforts to grow the game we love otherwise have largely gone unrecognized.”

Charles W. Nibley

The UGA will present its inaugural “Excellence in Golf Promotion” honor posthumously to Charles Nibley. This honor is in recognition of Nibley’s property donation to Salt Lake City resulting in the creation of Utah’s first public golf course, one hundred years ago, in 1922. Nibley Park Golf Course paved the way for Utah to become a national leader in the availability of quality, affordable publicly owned golf courses.

Nibley was a prominent businessman and Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints general authority. He was born in Hunterfield, Scotland, to James and Jean Wilson Nibley on 5 February 1849, the sixth of eight children. In 1855 the family emigrated to America, and after a five-year stay in the East came to Utah and settled in Wellsville.

Nibley was a well-known philanthropist. Much of his philanthropy was accomplished quietly; however, one of his public contributions was the donation of Wandamere Park, now Nibley Park Golf Course, to Salt Lake City as a Christmas present in 1921. The Park was officially designated as the Nibley Park Golf Course in May of 1922.

In a formal ceremony in May 1922, Nibley said: “When I think that this generation and the generations of men and women yet to come shall find healthful enjoyment and rare pleasure here in playing that splendid outdoor Scotch game known as golf, that thought gives me the highest satisfaction and most genuine pleasure.”

He refused to allow a memorial to be erected in his honor, saying that the money could be better spent to “improve one of the greens.” The City Commission, however, had already passed a resolution recognizing the gift, guaranteeing to maintain the park, and naming it in honor of the donor. Nibley Park thus became the first public golf course in the state.

Charles Nibley died in Salt Lake City on 11 December 1931 at the age of eighty-two.

The centennial celebration of Nibley Park Golf Course will be held Sept. 23-24th at Nibley Park.

Photos provided by Utah Section PGA professional, Jeff Waters.