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Utah Golf Association names 2023 Service Award Winners

On behalf of the Utah Golf Association Board of Directors, Executive Director Easton Folster has announced the 2023 Service Award winners for significant contributions to the success and growth of the game of golf in Utah.

UGA Gold Club honoree, Devin Dehlin, executive director Utah Section PGA

Utah Golf Association Gold Club Award, Devin Dehlin

Being named the Utah Section PGA’s Professional of the Year in 2022 meant everything to Devin Dehlin, coming from the pros he oversees as Executive Director of the Utah PGA Section. Yet in its own way, being recognized as the 2023 UGA Gold Club Award winner from an outside organization was just as validating.

“Devin is a titan in Utah golf,” said Folster. “His impact and contribution are immeasurable.”

The Gold Club Award’s description supports his approach. The award is presented 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 of his fellow golfers.”

Having worked both as a club professional and municipal administrator before moving to the Section office, Dehlin became the executive director in 2015. He has helped create and manage the Golf Alliance for Utah.

Throughout his career, he has “consistently shown … that he has the greater good of Utah golf in mind,” said Randy Dodson, a former Gold Club Award winner. Dehlin “looks beyond just the Utah PGA.”

2023 UGA Woman Award winner, Kareen Larson, General Manager at TalonsCove Golf Club.

Utah Golf Association Woman Award, Kareen Larson

The award, first presented in 2012 when the UGA merged with the Utah Women’s Golf Association, commends “women’s golf participation, giving back to women’s golf, love and respect for the game, teamwork that makes a difference and being a friend, leader and inspiration to your peers.”

“Kareen has helped establish a golf culture in Utah that is unmatched nationally,” said Folster. “As a golf administrator, an accomplished player and an advocate for women’s golf, her influence is extraordinary.”

When she became TalonsCove Golf Club’s General Manager in 2019 after a career in health care administration, Larson hoped to use her position as a platform to grow women’s golf. The club lacked a women’s league. Within a year, 60 golfers were playing weekly. That number increased to about 72 this year. Larson is known for personally encouraging golfers of all skill levels.

The UGA has selected TalonsCove to host the 2024 Utah Women’s State Amateur after the tournament was staged at country clubs the past three years. Larson also hopes to land a Ladies National Golf Association event in 2025. Hosting the Women’s State Amateur “means everything to me,” she said. “The UGA is confident enough in me that I’ll have my golf course ready for that stage.”

Keith Hansen, already a member of the Utah Golf Hall of Fame, has been chosen as the 2023 UGA Volunteer of the Year award winner.

Utah Golf Association Volunteer of the Year, Keith Hansen

Keith Hansen, in his mid70s, is already a member of the Utah Golf Hall of Fame. His qualifications as the 2023 Volunteer of the Year continue to show why he made the Utah Golf Hall of Fame.

“The Utah Golf Association is what it is today due in large part to the countless hours Keith Hansen has spent developing its identity,” said Folster.

It all stems from a personality trait dictating that the Cache Valley resident never merely dabbles in an activity. “There’s no use doing anything unless you go full-bore on it,” Hansen said. “I’ve learned that I don’t commit to anything unless I’m fully on board.”

Hansen is the UGA’s 10th Volunteer of the Year, recognizing the fabric of the organization: “These extraordinary people give their time and energy back to the game we all love in many different capacities,” and the annual honoree has “demonstrated outstanding commitment and contribution to the UGA,” according to the award’s description.

George Marks and Mark Passey, fellow members of the Utah Golf Hall of Fame, long ago were instrumental in Hansen’s becoming a Rules of Golf expert. “What I enjoy most now is teaching the Rules to new people,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of good people in this state (administering) the Rules, and they take a lot of pride in it. I hope I’ve had a little bit to do with it.”

Hansen received the UGA’s Gold Club Award in 2009. The United States Golf Association honored him with the Joe Dey Award for meritorious service in 2016.

Each award winner will be recognized at the annual UGA awards banquet scheduled for early next year.