Dick White, one of the three founders of the BC Golf Museum and past president of the British Columbia Golf Association, passed away on December 22. He was 82.
“The three loves of my life,” Dick recalled, “behind only my wife Gill, my three children Chris, Katie, and Andy and four grandchildren, are golf, history, and collecting. I’ve played golf for more than sixty years with great pleasure and some success. I’ve had a lifelong fascination with the history of the game and count numerous trips to St. Andrews and the other great courses of Britain among the most cherished memories of my life. I have also been a lifelong collector of wooden shafted clubs and other golf memorabilia. I also have a good collection of old golf books that includes the history of many of the most famous courses in Great Britain.”
Dick began his love for golf as a junior member of Marine Drive along with brothers Frank and Harry including sister Gerry. His father Percy White, served as President of Marine Drive during the troubled times in the late 1940s. Following in his father’s footsteps Dick continuously gave back to the game in many capacities.
When the Deas Island tunnel opened Dick relocated his young family to Tsawwassen in 1967. “This area made buying a house affordable,” White said. He immediately joined the Beach Grove GC and noticed a drastic difference in the quality of the course compared to Marine Drive. In 1970 he agreed to sit on the Greens Committee and immediately became the spearhead to renovating the course. Starting with the 14th hole he showed the membership a complete renovation could be possible if the members remained patient over a twenty year period. In 1982 President Jack Stevens encouraged Dick to form the Course Improvement Committee. Along with Joe Fast the two slowly transformed the course into the championship layout the members enjoy today. Every hole underwent changes according to a long-range plan developed by golf course architect Bill Robinson.
During the 1980s Dick served on the old Inter-Club Golf Committee (Zone 4 today), as the Director from Beach Grove. In 1986 he advanced to the British Columbia Golf Association (BCGA) as the Director from Zone 4. His BCGA career culminated as the association’s President in 1995 and 1996. Dick’s extensive travels to Scotland instilled a desire to improve the quality of the golf course maintenance in the lower mainland. As a BCGA Director he encouraged the golf clubs in the Vancouver region to invite Larry Gilhuly, the Western Regional Director for the USGA Greens Section, to provide a report on the state of greens keeping for their course. Dick convinced the BCGA to provide assistance to golf clubs to hire Gilhuly. Soon the RCGA began providing this valuable resource.
In 1985 when the provincial government began the process to lease the University Golf Course to a private group Dick, brother Harry and Mike Riste began the process to save the old University GC clubhouse for a golf museum. Through Dick’s connections in the BC Government the process culminated in the Society gaining possession of the building in November 1986. Dick served as the Society’s first president. Because of Dick’s many business connections the Society received materials and funding to renovate the building.
In 2008 Dick and Bill Bayne commenced the task to research the history of their golf club. Dick commented: “Reading the histories of the Victoria GC and the Capilano G&CC made me realize that Beach Grove has reached the age when it deserves a written chronicle of its past, before its forgotten. Our oldest members are passing away, taking great, untold stories and memories with them. When Bill and I began to research the history of the club we expected it to be a relatively straightforward exercise. Well, we soon discovered that that was anything but the case. ”
During the research process Dick telephoned the Museum on many occasion to report what new facts had been uncovered. Dick’s excitement equaled the times when he found an old wooden shafted club or book. He was totally hooked on golf research.
Over the past twenty-five years Dick made several donations to the Museum. The Museum’s most prized possession from Dick is the significant golf ball collection. The case contains original golf balls dating from the 1880s-1920s.
In closing we remember one of Dick’s favorite expressions to a fellow collector or when visiting the Golf Museum: “Have you been given anything significant lately?”
Good collecting, Dick. Hope you find the ultimate collectable – a pristine Gourley feather ball.
(Excerpted from “Beach Grove Golf Club – The First 80 Years 1929-2009″)
Thanks to Mike Riste, who along with Dick’s brother Harry founded the BC Golf Museum.