Davison receiving links honor with UCD golf hall of fame induction
When you read Richard Davison’s “Golf Notes” column in the Sonoma Index-Tribune’s sports section (every other Friday issue), it’s apparent how much passion and knowledge he has for golf as both a player and life-long devotee to the sport.
Richard’s love for golf began in Northern Ireland, then grew and flourished in the United States, where he became an all-league and All-Empire standout at Sonoma Valley High School, and an All-American and an NCAA Division II district player of the year at the University of California, Davis.
For his collegiate accomplishments, Richard is being inducted into the UC Davis Golf Hall of Fame at a banquet and ceremony that follows a fundraising alumni tournament this Monday, Aug. 29, in Davis. The Sonoman will be the 15th Aggie golfer elected to the hall.
After leading the prep Dragons to a pair of Sonoma County League titles (1991, ’93) as the SCL individual champion (’91) and the Redwood Empire player of the year (’93), Richard – a 1993 SVHS graduate and one of the many outstanding Dragon athletes to ever make up one class at Sonoma – began his honored UC Davis career.
Richard got off to a bright collegiate golf start as the freshman of the year in 1994 and was the UC Davis captain and its most valuable player with the team’s lowest stroke average in ’95, ’96 and ’97.
In 1996 Richard – a two-time Southern Intercollegiate champion at Torrey Pines Golf Course – earned his All-American status after leading UC Davis to the first of two straight appearances in the NCAA Division II championships, where in ’97 he was both the Western District 8’s individual champion and player of the year.
Richard also has a UC Davis golf award named after him – the Richard Davison Award – that goes to the player each year who counts in the most rounds for the team, which consists of five players and the tournaments count four of the scores, with Richard’s score counting in 96.5 percent of UC Davis’ matches.
On the heels of graduating from UC Davis, Richard started playing on a pro-golfing circuit and was a two-time winner on both the Pepsi Tour and California Tour, but came up short of in his attempt to get through PGA Tour qualifying in October of 1998, and Canadian Tour qualifying in the spring of 2000.
Playing again as an amateur, Richard became the 2010 Santa Rosa city golf champion and is still a member of the Sonoma Men’s Golf Association.
Remembering back to when I became the sports editor at the Sonoma Index-Tribune in 1991, it was the start of the junior-year sports season for Richard and his fellow Dragon classmates and I was fortunate to watch, cover (for the I-T) and for two years I got to enjoy all the talented athletes from Sonoma’s impressive 1993 graduating class.
Since I’ve been covering Richard through his days on the Dragons’ golfing scene and his following college, amatuer and pro careers, I never really asked him who his golf influences are, or were.
But Richard ended up answering the “who influenced you” question in one of his recent columns, which is best conveyed by reprinting his descriptive and heart-felt “Golf Notes” words about golf’s loss of one of its pioneers with the death of Seve Ballesteros.
“It was 1988 when Ballesteros took home his final major title, again back at the Open Championship at Royal Lytham. That tournament had a very big effect on a young kid from Northern Ireland, who was settling into his first summer in the United States.
“I remember it like it was yesterday. I would get up at 5 a.m. to watch the tournament live on ESPN, it was raining sideways, Ballesteros was one of the first players to be shown on the broadcast, and he was wearing a sock-cap with a rain hat on top of it, and a visor on top of that – it was quite a fashion statement.
“I remember watching his swing being effortless, his short game sharp and his confident smile when he holed putts. I was getting ready to take my first golf lesson, from former Sonoma Golf Club professional Ron Blum, and couldn’t think of a better way to start the day. I watched that whole first-round and then went to the golf course on my bicycle and had my lesson, trying to swing the best I could like Ballesteros.
“Ballesteros went on to win that tournament on a Monday, playing the final round with Nick Price and Nick Faldo, the crescendo being a near-holed chip shot from off the 18th green. I watched that final round too, then jumped on my bike and rode out to Los Arroyos with my clubs on my back, playing around the nine-hole track two or three times, pretending to be Ballesteros.
“See, like Seve, I hit a lot of shots in the trees and other trouble then, and he was far and away the best scrambler. He was truly magical with a club in his hand, and to a 17-year-old aspiring golf-pro, he was poetry in motion.”
Like I said in the beginning of this column, Richard Davison has, and will always have, an abundance of passion and knowledge for golf as a player, a fan and a life-long devotee to the sport, which makes his induction into the UC Davis Golf Hall of Fame so personally special.