By Kurt Kragthorpe
The 30th person ever to receive the Utah Golf Association's Gold Club Award believes she was already rewarded by the game, long before now.
Linda Olsen is being recognized for her contributions to the golf, most notably helping to build the Bountiful Ridge Ladies Association's remarkable membership. Those efforts may have been designed with some degree of self-interest initially, but her impact has gone far beyond creating an after-work playing opportunity for herself.
The Gold Club Award has a special place in the UGA honors, because of its definition: The 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 the love and respect of fellow golfers.”
That describes Olsen's influence quite well. Golf has given her a lot, and she has given a considerable amount back to the game.
“It's done a lot to bring our family closer together,” she said.
Golf and family were refuges for her after the passing of her husband Richard, 25 years ago, after they were married for 35 years. It is a good story, how she went to work for First Security Bank and missed her regular playing opportunities in the Bountiful Ridge Ladies Association. She mentioned the idea of an evening league to Assistant Pro Scott Whittaker, who basically said, “Start one.”
So she did. The Monday outings soon grew from a couple of foursomes participating into the biggest nine-hole league in Utah.
She always has encouraged women to play, overcoming inhibitions about competing. “Just come and enjoy it,” she would say. “Do it for the fun of it. You don't have to be good, just keep up and enjoy it.”
Olsen has competed well in her flight of various tournaments for decades and still loves to play with family members and friends.
On a statewide basis, she was involved in the 2013 merger of the UGA with the State Women's Golf Association, joining Karen Gardiner, Julie McMullin, Mary Herman, Rose Roberts and Jodi White on the Women's Advisory Committee that aided the transition.
“More than golf, it's about the people,” she said, summarizing her life in the game. “So many amazing people.”