Saturday, September 5, 2009

Ed Hoard

Ed Hoard was the probably the guy that we all strived to be like. As a PGA professional, he crafted a resume of accomplishments that will be pretty difficult to duplicate. Ed left his house Monday night to take his dog on its nightly walk.

What Ed didn’t know when he left the house, was that God was going to reach down and take him on well deserved walk of his own. Ed Hoard passed away during that walk, suffering a massive heart attack. His death has left a void in every aspect of golf that this man touched in his 63 years.

Hoard was born in Atlanta, GA. He began playing golf at the Bobby Jones Municipal GC, where he later held the official course record of 63. He played on the University of Florida golf team that won the 1968 SEC and NCAA team championships. He has been active in the Georgia PGA, serving as its president on three occasions.

He was the longtime PGA professional at the Athens CC and was appointed to the PGA of America’s Rules Committee in 1985, serving as chairman from 1995-2001. He served as Rules Chairman for the PGA Championship during his time as chairman. He was the Ryder Cup Match chief referee in 1995, and again in 1999.

Ed Hoard’s additional honors include winning the 1983 Georgia Match Play Championship, Georgia PGA Professional of the Year twice and the Georgia PGA Horton Smith Award five times. He was also the recipient of the PGA National Horton Smith Award in 1996 and was named PGA National Golf Professional of the Year in 1999.

“Ed never tried to create a resume,” said Larry Startzel, PGA Master Professional and longtime friend. “He was Ed and all of the cards just fell in place.”

Hoard has been receiving accolades all week from those that knew him and what he meant to golf. He was a well-rounded golf professional who excelled at whatever he did.

“I don’t know where to start,” said Kerry Haigh, PGA of America Managing Director of Championships. “As the Rules Chairman, he was outstanding. Ed dealt with everybody in a beautiful manner. He was a kind and generous man. He really helped move the Rules Committee forward.”

“Ed had a calm demeanor with the players. They respected him and accepted what he said. He never raised his voice. Ed was a great reader of the greens and I used his expertise to help me identify hole locations. Even when he wasn’t chairman, I asked to have Ed help me look at the greens and support my thoughts,” said Haigh.

Mark Wilson, Co-Chairman of the PGA of America Rules Committee and PGA Master Professional from Watermark CC in Grand Rapids, MI shared the following thoughts about Hoard. “This has been a tough week. The correspondence that I have received from all who knew Ed, demonstrates what a great man he was. He was a real patient teacher of the rules- a deep thinker. He was extremely good with the younger guys and always took the time to explain things really well. He would do anything you asked and clearly led by example.”

Wilson relayed a story involving Hoard at the 2002 PGA Championship at Hazeltine National GC in Chaska, MN.
“On Saturday morning after torrential rains, we brought the Fire Department in to help pump water off the golf course. Play was delayed. Don Essig and David Price took the front nine. Ed and I took the back nine. We stopped at each hole, checking the greens, tees and landing areas for water. On #16, I was out in the middle of the fairway when I heard this noise. The water was overflowing from the hazard on the left of the hole into Lake Hazeltine. There was a little wooden bridge and the water was moving so fast it swept Ed off the bridge.

“When I looked back he was totally underwater. At first. I didn’t see him and I thought this is how people die. Fortunately, he came up and I helped pull him out. He never lost his hat or his cigarettes! But, his Rules radio is somewhere in the Mississippi River. I told him that it would be ‘our secret’ and to go back to the hotel and change. But, he ran into another rules official’s wife in the lobby with his drenched clothes and the secret was out!”

“In all seriousness, Ed touched so many people. Yesterday, I got a call from John Paramor, Chief Referee of the European Tour. He was in Switzerland and had heard the news. John said he ‘was gutted’ when he heard about Ed’s passing,” explained Wilson.

David Price, PGA professional from Bent Tree CC in Dallas, is the Co-Chairman of the PGA Rules Committee and he had similar thoughts on Hoard. “My very first impression of Ed was in 1987 when I worked my first PGA Championship. He was quoting the Rules of Golf off the top of his head. I was so impressed. He always treated everybody the same. Ed was just a big, ole bear who made everybody feel welcome.”

“We kidded Ed a lot at the PGA Championship this year about the bridge on #16. We were going to have a bridge ceremony and didn’t get it done, so we talked about doing it at the 2016 Ryder Cup. Everybody on the Rules Committee got on it. But, he was always a big helper. We used his playing expertise to help with course set-ups. Ed was always very fair and looked at things logically- not how hard can we make it,” said Price.

Certainly, the Georgia PGA was taking the loss of Hoard in a hard way. Ray Cutright, PGA District 13 Director from the Idle Hour GC in Macon said, “He’s been around forever. Ed was just a dry, funny guy who was a hero to a lot of people here. I never carried a rule book, I just called Ed. He moved our Section along in the mid-80’s. He never took credit for anything. As decorated as he was, Ed was just one of the guys. That was the example that he set. He was never too busy to talk to anyone.”

“Ed and Kathy (Hoard’s wife) had no kids, so he had to find some other energy. He did that,” recalled Startzel. “He had no problem being one of the guys after he was the Rules Chairman. That isn’t easy for some, but it was no problem for Ed. He was a true Southern gentleman. He had zero ego and was just a regular guy.”

“We will all miss Ed,” said Haigh. “Kathy is truly a charming lady. She didn’t know anything about the Rules of Golf, but Ed always took the time to look after her when she came to the tournaments.”

“The first call that I had on Tuesday was from Kathy,” said Haigh. “She told me that Ed had passed away and she was calling so I could re-assign his rules responsibilities for the rest of the year.”

That would be the Hoard way of doing things.

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