Rick Fehr was introduced to the game when he was 10 years old. “I started caddying for my dad,” he says. “Being outside, being with my dad, I got used to being on a golf course. It became a second home for me.”
At the time, his father, Jerry, was (and still is) a very good player in his own right, having won several state championships, and would go on to have a major role in organizing junior golf competition in Washington, serving on the board of directors of the Washington Junior Golf Association from 1982-1993, then as executive director from 1993-2013. He continues to serve as that Association’s president.
“My dad was fairly hands off about my game,” Rick says. “He never pressured me. Rather, he provided me with the opportunities. He gave me the keys to the car and said, ‘Go ahead, try it for a spin.’ And for me, that was the perfect approach.”
The Fehrs were members at Sand Point Country Club in Seattle, and Rick got a little instruction from the club’s PGA head professional, Ron Hagen (who would later be inducted into the Pacific Northwest Section PGA Hall of Fame), but he was a self-described self-starter.
“Growing up I spent a lot of time on the course by myself, working on my game, and just playing,” he says. “I enjoyed it. It seemed to work for me. It was all about self-discovery for me, figuring it out on my own through trial and error.”
Rick started playing rounds with other young players at Sand Point, and quickly began to rise to the top. At age 12, he won his age bracket in the Seattle Junior Amateur. He would play other sports, but golf would soon dominate his days.
He attended nearby Nathan Hale High School, playing on the boys’ golf team. “I was lucky in that I got to play with some really good young players,” Rick says. One of his teammates at Nathan Hale was Marcus King, who later in life would serve as general manager at Sand Point. He also played a lot of junior golf with Mike Gove, who would soon make the U.S. Walker Cup team before starting a long career as PGA head professional at Inglewood Golf Club.
Rick began building an impressive playing resume. He won the Washington Junior Golf Association state title in 1979, and later that summer he grabbed national attention by winning the PGA Junior National Championship.
Because of this national title coming while still in high school, Rick was highly recruited by college teams, and it was his friend Mike Gove who encouraged him to take a look at Brigham Young University in Utah. “They had a powerhouse golf program at the time,” Rick says. “And I wanted to play with the best.”
Among his teammates at BYU was John Bodenhamer, who would serve for 20 years as executive director at the Washington State and Pacific Northwest golf associations, before becoming the director of championships, including the U.S. Open, for the USGA.
It was at BYU that Rick’s game became transcendent. “I pretty much hit the ground running,” he recalls. He won the first two freshman qualifiers conducted by the team, and made the traveling squad right away. He helped lead the team to an NCAA Division I national title in 1981, then went home that summer and won the PNGA Men’s Amateur, held that year at Glendale Country Club in Bellevue.
While in college, he won the Western Amateur, was twice named First-Team All-American, was a semifinalist in the 1982 U.S. Amateur, was selected for two Morse Cup teams in the Pacific Coast Amateur, and was named to the 1983 U.S. Walker Cup team. In 1983, he was runner-up for the College Player of the Year award.
In 1984, during his senior year at BYU, Rick was the low amateur at both the Masters and the U.S. Open.
Later that summer, Rick played in his first tournament as a professional. “I essentially just declared myself to be professional,” he recalls, “and drove up to Everett Golf & Country Club to play in a mini-tour event on what was a precursor of what is now the Web.com Tour. My goal had always been to turn pro after college, so I just went and did it.”
He qualified for the PGA Tour in 1985, and during his 18 years as a tour pro Rick won twice and had 41 top-10 finishes. He also won the 1994 Northwest Open.
“I enjoyed life on tour,” he says. “Yes, it had its ups and downs, and there was some down time because of injuries, but it was a good life, and I was doing what I had prepared myself to be doing.”
Rick and his wife Terri started a family, and it became more difficult for him to leave home. “Yes, with our three boys at home, I lost some of the passion for being on the road,” he says, and he began to make plans for the time when his tour days would end.
He began to serve as an agent for other tour professionals, and then when he finished his last full year as a player on tour, he began to put his attention full-time into teaching. A Class A member of the PGA of America, he opened his own golf academy in the Seattle area, and also served as an instructor at TPC Scottsdale in Arizona.
Although he does occasionally still play in a Senior Tour event, he knows that is not where his interest is. “I love teaching,” he says. “Rather than play the game myself, nowadays I’d much rather attend a tournament to watch one of my young students. I get a lot of satisfaction seeing someone succeed; not necessarily win, but reach their own potential, at whatever level that is. I’m lucky in that I feel the game has come full circle for me.”