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Local celebrities team up with Special Olympic athletes for short game challenge

PROVO, Utah (ABC4 Sports) – Special athletes and golfers band together for a special purpose.

Golf has been part of Special Olympics for around 25 years. But it wasn’t always like that.

The PGA of the Utah section held a training course for the Special Olympians at the then Nike Tour at the Riverside Country Club in Provo in the early 1990s. From that humble beginning, golf became a part of the sports program at Special Olympics.

“As early as 1991 or 1992, starting with this clinic in Riverside CC, the Utah section was involved in the Special Olympics. We’ve been around for 30 years and love it, ”said Devin Dehlin, PGA Executive Director of the Utah Section. “We got to keep it going and see what it’s been doing across the country, it’s really special to the Utah section.”

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They couldn’t hold the even last year because of the pandemic, but everyone was happy to see it again this year.

“It’s definitely a highlight and we missed the athletes, we missed everyone being skirmish on the putting green,” said Dehlin. “So to have everyone back to normal, the faces of the athletes and to watch how you miss a shot here or there and there and here and there, yes exactly.”

“You used to come here for golf, breakfast and lunch, but now you come here because of these guys,” said former sports presenter Rod Zündel. “They’re like family, haven’t seen them in a year, so it’s like a family reunion.”

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“It’s absolutely the funniest day of the year, the partners we play with, the special Olympic athletes, they’re so supportive and forgiving,” said Kurt Kragthorpe, golf writer for Fairways Magazine. “Luckily they have in my case and they just have a great attitude, it just makes you realize why we all love golf.”

“Making a game, missing a putt, that’s all good, they are such great people, such a great mind about what they do and feel, and they are so passionate about the smallest of things,” Deseret told News- Sports journalist Dick Harmon.

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