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a silent salute: The audience "claps" at Joke Night during Deaf Awareness week. Click Arts&Life for a link to story. / Photo by Leah Lopshire

Today's word on journalism

December 15, 2008

As part of my own personal "war on Christmas" (which a Utah state senator has offered legislation to outlaw), the WORD celebrates the season by going on hiatus until January. May all out days be merry and bright, and here’s to a safe, healthy and saner New Year. HoHoHo!

Empty Minds: "Of all the people expressing their mental vacuity, none has a better excuse for an empty head than the newspaperman: If he pauses to restock his brain, he invites onrushing deadlines to trample him flat. Broadcasting the contents of empty minds is what most of us do most of the time, and nobody more relentlessly than I."

--Russell Baker, Pulitzer-winning columnist

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Birch Creek Golf Course a money-maker for Smithfield

By Tim Olsen

November 11, 2008 | SMITHFIELD -- Ranked the No. 4 municipal golf course in the United States by Golf Magazine in 2002, Birch Creek Golf Course has grown a lot from its humble beginnings in 1963.

Dale Schvaneveldt, a golf professional and city resident, lobbied for a golf course in the early 1960s. On July 22, 1963, a group of prominent citizens organized a corporation to finance the endeavor. The original nine-hole course, named Summit Park Golf Course, was established on the city's east bench.

After a decade of use, it was decided that the private golf course was not economically successful. Partially due to the fact that assuming ownership of the course would make the city eligible for U.S. Bureau of Outdoor Recreation (BOR) funds, Smithfield city bought the course in 1975. Upon purchasing the course, an ad hoc committee of residents and city officials recommended that the course be expanded to 18 holes. Land was purchased, and the expansion was completed in 1978. Ten years later the name was changed to Birch Creek Golf Course.

Currently the course operates with a board of directors as its head and has been very successful. The golf course bond was paid off in 1995, and unlike most municipal golf courses, it pays for itself.

"Most municipal golf courses are not structured this way," said longtime club pro Eric Kleven. "Birch Creek is an enterprise fund, which means we rely on our own revenue to operate."

Nestled against Cache Valley's Bear River Mountain Range, the course is well known for its natural beauty and pristine playing conditions. Kleven talked about many things that make the course unique.

"The course is just really well maintained,' Kleven said. "The attention to detail and the course characteristics as well as the turf quality and consistency is what really sets it apart."

In 2004, a new clubhouse was built to match the beauty of the course. That, along with the quality of the course, is a big draw for the city.

"It's well known and draws a lot of people to the city," deputy recorder Char Izatt said of the course. "The new clubhouse has been a big draw for weddings and other events."

After four decades offering recreation to local residents and travelers alike, Birch Creek is becoming more widely known.

"Birch Creek is very well known for its greens and maintenance," Kleven said. "A lot of out of valley people come up on the weekends to play the course without a doubt it brings revenue to the city."

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