SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Wesley Ruff loves golf.
That might be the understatement of the year if you’re at all familiar with the longtime ABC4 Sports Director and Weekday Sports Anchor.
If you read the bio on his page, he lists his favorite hobbies as the following: “golf, biking, golf, water skiing, golf, crossword puzzles, and of course, golf.”
That love of the game has been reflected in many of the accolades he has received over the years. In addition to being named the state’s sportscaster of the year five times, Ruff has also been named the Golf Citizen of the Year by the Utah Section PGA on three occasions. In fact, he has become so synonymous with golf in Utah, the Utah Section PGA has even named that award after him, after it was formerly known as the Bill Howard Award, after another broadcasting legend in the state who worked as the voice of the ABA’s Utah Stars.
Ruff was reluctant to replace one of the most iconic figures in the Utah sports media realm with such a lofty acknowledgment of his love of the links.
“They thought too many people didn’t know who Bill was and wanted to change the name,” Ruff explains to ABC4.com. “I fought it. I didn’t want it, I thought Bill was awesome.”
Despite his apprehension, the Utah chapter of the Professional Golfers Association changed the name of the award, and also made Ruff an honorary member of the section. Ruff stands as the only honorary member of the group, something he calls “awfully darn nice.”
Ruff’s latest award, the 2021 Gold Club Award, which was announced on Tuesday by the Utah Golf Association (UGA), is also awfully darn nice. Ruff, however, has always felt indebted to the UGA for an awfully darn nice gesture the group gave to him when he graduated from Springville High School in 1976.
Upon his high school graduation, Ruff was awarded a half-scholarship from Southern Utah State College (which is now Southern Utah University) but needed an extra boost to become the first member of his family to graduate from college. That extra help arrived in the form of a $600 scholarship from the UGA.
“I couldn’t have gone if I hadn’t had that scholarship from the UGA and I decided that if ever I could ever do anything to give back, I’d do it,” Ruff says of his gratitude to the golfing community.
Ruff never made a name for himself as a collegiate golfer, appearing in just one event as a student at SUSC, but he has tirelessly supported the sport’s presence and growth in the state for decades. His most frequent method of giving back is to serve as the master of ceremonies for nearly every major UGA and PGA event across Utah.
He laughs that they’ve all heard his jokes and spiels “a million times, but I’m flattered they keep asking me back.”
While a lot has changed since receiving his life-changing scholarship out of high school, his love of the game hasn’t swayed. Ruff remembers his family falling in love with the sport after his dad miraculously hit a hole in one after playing with his friends one day. After buying clubs for the rest of the family, the Ruffs were known to play at the old Spanish Fork course after finishing up dinner until it got too dark to play.
“Max Gardner, the pro, would tell us to lock the gate when we left,” Ruff recalls.
Years later, Ruff, a nine-handicap, still plays as frequently as he can with his buddies, ‘The Fairway Pilots,’ a foursome that consists of Randy Dodson, the publisher of Fairways Magazine, Mike Stansfield, who works as the magazine’s marketing director, and longtime local sports columnist Dick Harmon. Like his father, he also got his own hole-in-one. The younger Ruff’s came on Crater Spring’s par-3 second hole, with an eight iron, his favorite club.
“It was uphill and it didn’t see it go in but it was right on line when I hit it so I don’t know if it flew in or rolled in or what,” he fondly recalls. “But it was pretty cool.”
Ruff doesn’t plan on putting the clubs away anytime soon either, he plans on following in his parents’ footsteps as golfing lifers.
“I looked at my mom and dad and how they just played and played and played. And even when my dad retired, they were up at like the crack of dawn and playing every single day and on the weekdays, and it’s just something they could do together. It’s just totally a game that you can enjoy for your entire life.”