By Kurt Kragthorpe
Nearly 35 years later, Reid Goodliffe is still somewhat sheepish about telling the story of how a banker became a golf professional.
Whatever resentment existed then is long gone now. Whether the gauge is Utah Section PGA annual awards, the respect of his fellow pros or the admiration of golfers, Goodliffe has more justified the faith of the folks in Brigham City who gave the hometown product a coveted job.
Having thrived at two courses in Brigham City before taking a risk by moving to Toana Vista GC in Wendover, Goodliffe kept being rewarded by career choices that worked out well. In turn, he enhanced the Utah Section PGA and the professional in general, as illustrated by his latest honor with the naming of the 2011 Reid Goodliffe Utah Senior Open.
""It's hard to find someone who's just excellent in every area,"" said former assistant Christian Scott, now the head pro at Oquirrh Hills Golf Course in Tooele.
Goodliffe is about to retire, just short of his 65th birthday in January. ""My biggest reflection is how much fun it's been,"" he said. ""I love going to work every day.""
There's an everyday loyalty, consistency and dependability about Goodliffe. He credits his father for that. Before managing various JC Penney stores in Utah, Charles Goodliffe was a POW in Japan for 43 months. ""Perseverance is part of our family,"" Reid said.
Goodliffe was 12 when his family moved to Brigham City. That's when he discovered golf, playing at the old Brigham Willows course. He later became an outstanding golfer for the University of Utah, joining the likes of Bruce Summerhays and competing favorably with BYU players including Johnny Miller.
Drafted into the Army, Goodliffe spent two years in Vietnam and Germany before returning to civilian life. He played amateur golf (winning the 1976 State Amateur) and used his banking and finance education by working for First Security Bank, which he found satisfying.
But when Tommy Williams retired at Brigham Willows, Goodliffe was lured home, even if he contends to this day that other candidates, including Dan Roskelley and Robert McArthur, were more qualified.
Goodliffe made an impact on his home turf, earning his first of two Utah Section Professional of the Year awards in addition to a Junior Golf Leader award and a Horton Smith award for education, while transitioning to Brigham City's new course, Eagle Mountain GC, in 1989.
Goodliffe was very comfortable at Eagle Mountain, perhaps too much so. Awards aside, he wondered if he was really succeeding in Brigham City, or if everybody just endorsed him as a hometown figure. That's why the much different job description at Toana Vista GC intrigued him.
""Ultimately, it was just the challenge of a newer golf course, trying to get it going, trying to get it established,"" he said.
The course had gone through four head pros in seven years before landing Goodliffe. Another search is necessary now, but only after a a successful, 16-year stay.
Goodliffe found his niche at Toana Vista, operating tournaments and corporate outings that have been stamped with his attention to detail.
""Nothing waits until the last minute. You are completely prepared,"" said Scott, summarizing what he learned from Goodliffe.
While in Wendover, Goodliffe has received another Professional of the Year award and a Bill Strasbaugh award for club relations, adding to his diverse collection. ""He deserved all of them,"" said Doug Vilven, a contemporary pro. ""He's very, very well-rounded.""
Goodliffe has hosted the Utah Section PGA Championship, the Wendover Open and the now the Utah Senior Open in recent years, among many other events. He's also an accomplished player, although friends wonder what he might have done in the game if not for being drafted, or if he had pursued a Champions Tour career.
He's satisfied with his brief experience at that level. In 1997 at Park Meadows Country Club, Goodliffe made the field as a last-minute alternate from Monday qualifying and shot 1 under par for 54 holes.
He tied for 44th place with Miller, his college rival, and played the final round with Tony Jacklin and Lee Trevino.
Interviewed that afternoon, he spoke of looking forward to opening the Toana Vista pro shop at 6 a.m. the next day. ""I love what I do,"" he said.
He loves his wife, Jane, even more, which is prompting his retirement. Goodliffe is excited about traveling and spending time with her, after being so devoted to his career.
""He comes from the generation where you worked all day, every day, if you wanted to make a living being a golf pro,"" Scott said.
Goodliffe is thankful for pros who influenced him, becoming emotional as he lists Williams, Dean Candland, Mark Ballif, Billy Korns, Joey Bonsignore, John Evans and Vilven, among others. In turn, pros such as Kent Easton and Scott will extend his legacy in Utah.
Scott's goal is to make sure every Oquirrh Hills golfer knows the pro, having learned customer relations from Goodliffe. In his seventh year in Tooele, Scott continually finds himself in situations where
he asks himself, ""What would Reid do?""
As Scott said, ""He turned me into a golf pro. I learned 10 times more from him than I did in the entire PGA education program.""
That's more evidence of how the former banker became a mentor. Reid Goodliffe will have a lasting influence in Utah golf, beyond all of those nice awards.
Kurt Kragthorpe is a sportswriter for the Salt Lake Tribune and a frequent contributor to Fairways.
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