MGA mourns passing of Richard Spear

Richard Spear (far right) presented longtime friend Don Hendler with the MGA's Distinguished Service Award in 2014.

The MGA is deeply saddened to note the untimely passing of noted golf course superintendent Richard Spear on December 29th. Richard was the longtime superintendent at Piping Rock Club on Long Island before retiring in 2013 and was truly one of the leaders in his profession. Richard was a mentor to numerous assistant superintendents who went on to their own head positions. When the USGA was considering taking the U.S. Open to an untested Black Course at Bethpage State Park, USGA Executive Director David Fay turned to Spear for his input and that exchange helped land Craig Currier the superintendent’s position at Bethpage. That connection through Spear ultimately led to a highly successful U.S. Open won by Tiger Woods and to Bethpage Black becoming one of the top conditioned golf courses in the entire Met Area. 

Spear, a fine player in his own right, played on the golf team at Franklin & Marshall College and became one of the most respected superintendents in the country. He was a frequent speaker and wrote numerous articles on golf course maintenance. Richard was one of the first to caution clubs about ever escalating green speeds and made a major presentation on this topic at an MGA Green Chairmen Educational Series.

When former MGA president Don Hendler was presented with the MGA’s Distinguished Service Award, Spear was asked as assist in the presentation. Of Spear Hendler said, “Rich was dear friend since the college golf team days at Franklin & Marshall. He loved every aspect of the game of golf--from playing to technology. He was a staunch competitor. His knowledge of golf course agronomy and architecture was astounding. He was never one to hold back his opinion when it came to playing conditions, speed of play and green speed and what it was doing to the game. He will be missed by all in the golf community for his quick wit, passion and knowledge. The game lost a good friend”

The MGA expresses its heartfelt sympathies to his family, his fellow superintendents and his many friends in golf.