He has been called The Man Who Was Pinehurst. He served as President of the United States Golf Association, Walker Cup captain and was such a staunch believer in amateurism that he wrote a creed on the subject. This was Richard Tufts, a man who was known in this country quite simply as “Mr. Golf.”
While Pinehurst will remain his legacy, it was amateur golf that drove Tufts to be so passionate about the game. “In my mind an amateur is one who competes in a sport for the joy of playing, for the companionship it affords, for health-giving exercise and for relaxation from more serious matters,” were the words Tufts wanted left behind. “As part of his light-hearted approach to the game, he accepts cheerfully all adverse breaks, is considerate of his opponent, plays the game fairly and squarely in accordance with the rules, maintains self-control and strives to do his best, not in order to win, but rather as a test of his own skill and ability. These are his only interests, and, in them, material considerations have no part. The returns which amateur sport will bring to those who play it in this spirit are greater than those any money can possibly buy.”
"In my mind an amateur is one who competes in a sport for the joy of playing, for the companionship it affords, for health-giving exercise and for relaxation from more serious matters.''
Tufts was the grandson of James Walker Tufts, the founder of Pinehurst. He grew up in Massachusetts and was described as a man with a strong Yankee conscience and high personal standards. In 1917, after graduating from Harvard, Tufts went off to serve in World War I. After his tour of duty, he returned to Pinehurst, where his father, Leonard, had been running the resort. Eventually, Richard took over and brought Pinehurst to new heights. He was the leader of an effort that brought the PGA Championship (1936) and Ryder Cup (1951) to Pinehurst, and he ruled over the resort until relatives sold their stock to Diamondhead Corp. and the Tufts family lost controlling interest.
Tufts was many things. He served diligently on every USGA committee imaginable and was part of the delegation, led by Joe Dey, that met in St. Andrews to arrive on a universal code of rules. As time went on, he ascended through the USGA’s chain of command, serving as secretary from 1950-1951, vice-president from 1952-1955 and president for two years beginning in 1956.
Richard Tufts wrote “The Principles Behind The Rules of Golf” and “The Scottish Invasion”.
As a protégé of Donald Ross’, he built 40 new holes at Pinehurst and revised many more. Ross was the head professional at Pinehurst in 1900, moving South after coming to America from Scotland, where he was given a job at Oakley Country Club in Massachusetts. “There was never anything vulgar about his work,” Tufts said of Ross.
Tufts also liked to write and authored The Scottish Invasion, An Eightsome of Golfing Badgers and perhaps his best book, The Principles Behind the Rules of Golf. “If there is one principle more basic than any of the rest, it must be that you play the course as you find it.”
Later, he added: “The second great principle of golf is that you put your own ball in play at the start of the hole and play only your own ball and do not touch it before you lift it from the hole.”
To Richard Tufts, this was golf the way golf was meant to be played.