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Friends and fellow pros gather to remember the late Dick Harmon

on 03 March 2012.

   Dick Harmon’s legacy of giving lives on.

     At the fourth annual Friends of Dick Harmon Dinner and Tournament atDick HarmonDick Harmon River Oaks Country Club in Houston, the former longtime beloved golf instructor was remembered again for all he did for people, not just the sport.

     “If it hadn’t been for Dick Harmon, my life wouldn’t be anywhere near what it has been,” said Bruce Davidson, director of golf at River Oaks who is originally from Scotland. “Dick hired me as a caddie.”

     Harmon, who died at age 58 in February 2006 due to complications from pneumonia, was River Oaks’ director of golf for 24 years (1977-2001) and was director of golf at Redstone Golf Club at the time of his death. One of four sons of 1948 Masters champion Claude Harmon, Dick left an indelible imprint on virtually everyone with whom he came in contact.

     “I know of 200 sets of clubs that he just gave away to junior golfers,” said Harmon’s close pal and the dinner’s emcee, Redstone Golf director Charlie Epps. “He tried to help everybody. He was the most generous person I ever knew.”

     Proceeds from the Feb. 12 event, which drew many golf pros in the Houston area and beyond who had once worked for Harmon, support junior golf programs, as well as college golf programs at Rice, University of Houston, University of Texas and Texas A&M, plus Houston’s St. Thomas High School program, through the Harmon Family Foundation.

     “It was always fun working for Dick Harmon,” said Ken McDonald, head pro at Brae Burn Country Club. “Dick gave so many of us (in the club pro business) a chance and taught us the right way of doing things.”

   The stories flowed, along with the affection, from Paul Marchand, general manager and head golf pro at Shadow Hawk Golf Club, to Houston Country Club head pro Gordon Johnson, to University of Texas Golf Club assistant pro Jean-Paul Hebert, whose father Jay Hebert and uncle Lionel Hebert were golf greats.

   “The first day I came to work for Dick at River Oaks,” recalled Marchand, the swing coach for Fred Couples, “I was wearing this nice golf shirt with red and blue stripes. Dick looks me over and says, ‘That sure is a nice shirt you’re wearing.’ I said, ‘Thanks.’ Dick said, ‘But it has the logo of (the previous club where Marchand worked). Go over there and pick out three shirts on that rack with the River Oaks logo on it. I want to see you wearing one of those shirts tomorrow.”

     Rick Harmon, one of Dick’s sons, praised his father for his love and, occasionally, patience in teaching him about golf and life.

 “When I was in high school (St. Thomas),” Rick said, “I came home one time and had to show him where I made a 59 in Spanish and a 57 in algebra. Dad thought for a second and said, ‘Well, you’re 13-under in Spanish and 15-under in algebra.”

     Dick’s brother Billy Harmon said despite what the Harmons have done for Houston, it should be noted how much Houston has done for the Harmon family.

     “One of the reasons our lives have been special is what Houston has done for us,” Billy said.

     Butch Harmon, who operates the Butch Harmon School of Golf in Las Vegas and has been a teacher to some of golf’s stars, always has been indebted to Dick for rescuing him decades ago after Butch was down and out and saddled with piles of bills.

     “He brought me to Houston to live with him and his family 30 years ago, got me a job, saved my life,” Butch said. “We get so wrapped up in ourselves, our own lives and all that crap, and sometimes we forget to care about others. That’s all Dick cared about—others. He only cared about you. If the world was full of Dick Harmons, it would be a helluva place to live.” – Kenny Hand