Not many people know how much time and effort it takes to plan a national golf tournament, even fewer people know how much these events rely on the support of volunteers.
Nearly four months ago, the passionate golf community of Phoenix, lost an important member, Richard “Dick” Booher, at the age of 83.
For over 20 years, Dick lead volunteers at various golf tournaments across the Phoenix area for the PGA, LPGA, NCAA and AJGA. Just before his passing Dick received his 20-year badge from the Waste Management Phoenix Open for his work as both volunteer coordinator and marshal captain on hole No. 11.
Dick was a selfless man with a huge heart, according to current volunteer Fred Cochrane who has known Dick for years. Dick was known for his volunteer services but possibly his best work was pioneering his own charity called “Hats for Kids.” In the early days of the charity, he would ask for hat donations from the various organizations involved where he would volunteer. The hats were taken to children’s hospitals to give to children with cancer. His charity quickly grew into an industry wide movement.
The prestigious Thunderbirds, who play an intricate role in the Waste Management Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale, fell in love with Dick’s idea so they started a donation table on the practice grounds. PGA players such as Phil Mickelson, Vijay Singh, Rickie Fowler, Stewart Cink, to name a few, would donate and sign hats every year for Dick to give to the kids.
At first impression, he came off as cantankerous, but those that came to know Dick quickly noticed his large heart and selfless acts.
“He was an interesting man, he was raw,” Charlie Young, current volunteer for multiple Phoenix golf tournaments, said.
“He truly had the volunteer’s interest at heart, I know that for fact,” Cochrane said.
Another tradition Dick started was bringing doughnuts to the tournaments he volunteered at. Dick would buy large trays of doughnuts, then drive around the course passing them out to other volunteers, spectators, and participants.
“This is the only tournament I’ve volunteered at that the volunteers get doughnuts,” said Ken Askelson, a long-time Phoenix golf volunteer.
Dick always made sure the volunteers were taken care of, even before considering his own health. For the last 5 years his life Dick volunteered hurt. One year he fell while volunteering and had a stroke. Dick took time off to recover but quickly returned to volunteer. According to Dick’s friends, volunteering kept him motivated, and although he needed the assistance of a cane, he still ran the show.
This years’ PING Phoenix Junior at ASU Karsten is the first year without Dick’s involvement since the tournament’s inception 26 years ago. Dick’s impact was so great, this year the volunteer committee is replacing his former position with not one, but two coordinators, Charlie Young and Ken Askelson.
This tournament and the city of Phoenix will always remember Dick for his hard work, his unique character, and of course, his doughnuts. Thank you Dick for all you have done. You will be missed.