The Utah Section of the PGA of America and Golf Hall of Fame member Billy Casper honored the class of 2011-2012 High School All-State golfers at a special banquet on Thursday May 24, 2012. Ninety-six “First Team” high school players were acknowledged for their golf achievements at a special “Honors Banquet” held at the Sheraton Downtown Hotel in Salt Lake City.
This is the 20th year that local PGA golf professionals have hosted this special awards program and dinner. Utah resident Billy Casper wanted to recognize golf as positive influence for America’s youth by serving as the “keynote speaker” for the evening. Casper has firsthand experience of Utah’s high school golf program’s positive impact on local youth through his grandchildren that have participated in Utah high school golf. Casper’s great influence on the game of golf has recently been highlighted through his new autobiography “The Big Three and Me”. Casper was awarded the PGA’s Lifetime Distinguished Service Award at the 2010 PGA Championship and will be helping to present the US Open Championship trophy at this year’s US Open at the Olympic Club.
Award winners, parents, and coaches all appreciated Billy Casper’s insights and antidotes for golf, the PGA Tour, and life. Helping to make it a memorable evening was ABC Channel 4’s Award winning sportscaster Wes Ruff. Ruff has been the Master of Ceremonies for this event for almost the entire twenty years and adds a uniquely personal perspective to the program each season. A Utah Golf Association scholarship launched his education in broadcast journalism and in his words “acting as MC is just a small payback for what golf has provided in my life”. PGA Officers with the support of Les Olson Company presented each First-Team Honoree with a PGA All-State Certificate and a special gift, including a signed copy of “The Big Three and Me”.
Forty-six girls from four separate high school classifications and fifty boys from five different classifications combined to make up this year’s All-State Class. Participation in high school golf has steadily increased over the past few years. The initiation of the UHSAA girls’ golf program five years ago added greatly to the increased interest in golf as a high school sport. Over five-hundred boys and nearly four-hundred girls participated in this year’s (2011/2012) nine separate Championship events.
Utah Section PGA President Jared Barnes noted that “our support for high school golf is one of best things we do as a PGA Section”. “It is not the tens of thousands of dollars the Section spends each year to support high school golf that gets me excited”. “It is the time and efforts given by individual PGA Members as they work as golf coaches, host sites, golf rules administrators, and tournament officials throughout the season that impresses me.” President Barnes sentiments for high school golf are typical of hundreds of local PGA Members that want to make a positive impact on our youth.