For David Terry (BS ’90), life is a game of golf. “The first time I remember playing golf was with Jim [my older brother] when I was about eight years old . . . I remember chipping in on the par-three fifth hole at Richfield’s Cove View Golf Course,” Terry says. “That chip in when I was a youngster was all I needed to begin calling myself a golfer.” Though a recent fight with cancer has left Terry largely unable to golf, he still reflects fondly on the sport that defined his life for many decades and taught him a number of life lessons.
By the time Terry reached high school, he was regularly competing in golf competitions. In many ways, a terrible round at golf taught Terry more than an amazing one did. After failing to place first in the state competition his junior year, Terry decided it was time to hone his skills. “Halfway through that final state tournament [my senior year], I was not leading. But, the work I had done—learning how to better stay in the present instead of thinking about the trophy presentation—paid off. I finished with two birdies on the final five holes to win the individual title.”
Terry’s love for golf set the course for the rest of his life. Although he decided to give up the opportunity to play college golf in order to attend BYU, Terry still moved forward with golf as a big part of his career. While at BYU, Terry did all the things a typical college student does. He went to concerts with friends, waited eagerly for his favorite songs to be played on MTV, and even dressed up like 80s artists John Bon Jovi, Bret Michaels, and Axl Rose. But despite his youthful enthusiasm, Terry admits that “the relationships [he] developed during [his] time at BYU as a result of class group projects, teaching college golf classes, getting involved in myriad campus activities, [and] the great professors [he] had,” were truly what laid the foundation for his future career and family. Whether working as golf program manager in St. George, golf program director for Salt Lake City, or assistant executive director for the Utah PGA, David has never strayed far from the golf course. Terry’s daughter has inherited her father’s love for the sport, creating a great family legacy. But to Terry, golf isn’t just a career aspect or a hobby; it has also helped him overcome difficult times.
The focus, perseverance, and quiet determination Terry learned on the golf course became especially important when Terry faced his difficult battle with metastatic skin cancer. The trial started in 2006 as a kidney transplant. “Due to an issue I had at birth…I knew there would come a time when I would need a kidney transplant,” Terry explained. What he wasn’t expecting, however, was for the anti-rejection medication from the transplant to lead to cancer. Before long, Terry was battling skin cancer in his early forties and learning what that meant for his family and career. After years of treatments and several dead ends, Terry was told multiple times he wouldn’t survive. Although Terry thankfully began a successful treatment in 2015, he’s still dealing with the physical and mental strains that resulted from his years battling cancer.
“I would be less than honest if I did not state that there have been times when I have gotten down a bit,” Terry says. Still, just as he once approached a golf tournament one hole at a time, Terry has been taking each day as it comes. Terry’s wife and two daughters have been an invaluable source of strength in his life. “The strength my wife [Pam] has shown during the past decade is absolutely amazing,” Terry says. “[My daughters] have been equally as strong and supportive.” The faith and courage of these women, as well as Terry’s parents and siblings, have helped carry Terry through the hardest period of his life.
Terry’s life experience and battle with cancer has taught him to appreciate his time on Earth. He was often told he wouldn’t survive, so Terry is grateful even when days are hard. “Having been told by two prominent oncologists that I had less than two years to live makes it relatively easy to remember to be grateful for each day, and to make the most of the ‘bonus’ time I have been given.”