Dick Smith, the PGA of America president from 1991-92, passed away on March 8 after complications from a stroke, the PGA said. He was 80.
“The PGA of America is heartbroken by the passing of our 27th PGA President Dick Smith. A PGA Member since 1964 and a member of the PGA Hall of Fame, he had a great influence on our sport both as an administrator and a competitor,” said PGA President John Lindert. “One of the finest playing presidents in our Association’s history, Dick competed in 13 major championships during his career, highlighted by a 44th place finish at the 1970 U.S. Open and a 17th place showing at the 1992 Senior British Open.”
Smith was born in Ohio in 1942 and grew up in Baltimore, Maryland. At age 10, he began playing golf with his father at the Mount Pleasant Golf Course, a public course in Baltimore where he also caddied.
In 1959 he won the Maryland State Jaycee Junior Championship. Smith attended Loyola College in Baltimore and turned pro in 1962. That year he came to the Philadelphia Section of the PGA as an assistant at the Green Valley Country Club, and would go on to win three section championships in succession and five overall. Smith worked at a variety of clubs during his career, most notably Woodcrest Country Club, Galloway National Golf Club and purchased the Williamstown Golf Center, which he operated for seven years. Smith and the Philadelphia Section created the Dick Smith Cup, an annual match between the assistants from the Central Counties Chapter and the assistants from the rest of the Philadelphia Section.
Smith played in five PGA Championships and a U.S. Open. That included the 1982 PGA Championship, where he opened with 76 in the first round, 13 strokes behind Raymond Floyd, who coasted to the title.
“I was an OK golfer back then, but that was the day when I realized how good the touring pros were compared to me,” Smith told Golfweek during an interview last year.
It is with great sadness that we inform you of the passing of Dick Smith Sr., the 27th PGA of America president and 22nd Philadelphia PGA Section president; he was 80.
— PhiladelphiaPGA (@PhiladelphiaPGA) March 8, 2023
But among his peers, he more than held his own. He qualified for the PGA Club Professional Championships 15 times and the PGA Senior Club Professional Championship three times. In addition to being a five-time Section champion, he won more than 25 Philadelphia PGA championships during his career. He also captured the Section’s Player of the Year Award six times.
Smith came from humble beginnings and rose to the top of his profession. He served as Philadelphia PGA President from 1978-1980. He was in office for the PGA in the role of vice president during the Shoal Creek controversy surrounding the 1990 PGA Championship.
“Neither of our families had two nickels to rub together,” Smith told Golfweek for a story on Shoal Creek in reference to himself and his predecessor as PGA president, Pat Rielly. “One of our favorites sayings was ‘Never forget where you come from.’”
Smith was inducted into the PGA Golf Professional Hall of Fame in 2005.
“His service as President of the PGA from 1991-92 was extremely impactful on our membership, the game and the golf industry,” Lindert said. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Smith family, including his wife Adrienne, daughter Stephanie and son and quarter-century PGA Member Dick Jr., along with his grandchildren, Alexandria, Zakary and Marissa.”