Sticking with it: At 84, Dick McHargue still working and still volunteering at Charles Schwab Challenge

Action on the picturesque ninth green at Colonial. (Photo by K.P. Wilska)

As a young man, barely old enough to order a beer at Colonial Country Club, Dick McHargue took a deep breath and made a move that would change his life forever.

“I got my nerve up and introduced myself to the gentleman who was in charge of the marshals,” he remembered. “We talked and he agreed to let me be a marshal.”

Little did he know that, at age 21, it was the start of a lifetime of working the famous Colonial golf tournament, known today as the Charles Schwab Challenge. Now, 63 years later, McHargue still shows up every year as a volunteer, having worked in a variety of positions and doing whatever is needed to make the event a success.

And, sure enough, he was among the volunteers as the golf world turned its spotlight on Fort Worth and Colonial’s legendary golf course.

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McHargue, 84, is not one to let go of his things he likes to do. “When I get onto something I stick with it,” he said.

He’s not kidding. He still works for Texas Health Resources, based in Arlington, as director of acquisitions and dispositions. “I buy and sell dirt,” he said.

McHargue’s first job at the tournament was behind the No. 5 green. One of his duties was to spot or retrieve any ball that was hit to the right of the green and, often, to deliver bad news to golfers.

“The green bordered the Trinity River, and in most cases the ball was unplayable or lost when hit to the right side of the green,” he said.

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Since then he has worked on a number of committees, including marshals, pro-am, tickets sales, scoring, the tournament committee, parking chairman (17 years), and starters, where he served this year directing players to the first tee at appropriate times.

In 1993 he was elected into the prestigious Pride of the Plaid, folks who have contributed greatly to the tournament’s success over its history.

“It’s a very prestigious honor. It’s the number one memory I have in all my years, being recognized by your peers,” he said. 

And there have been a lot of years, with the exception of 2020. While there was a tournament, he was not called in to work, though he did sign up. “Because the Tour limited the number of volunteers who could actually be on the course, this is the only year that I have missed working the tournament,” he said. “The volunteers who signed up to work got credit for working even though they did not work. It didn’t feel right not working there, still feels strange when I think about it. I couldn’t wait to get back.”

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As one might expect, McHargue has met many great golfers during his years at Colonial. He had his photo taken with Tiger Woods when Woods made his one and only appearance at the tournament in 1997.

“He has been invited every year, and for whatever reason he never returned,” McHargue said. “He’s missing out on playing one of the best courses in the land.”

And McHargue was casual friends with the great Ben Hogan, who helped the tournament achieve its legendary status. Hogan triumphed at Colonial five times in the course’s early years, including winning the first PGA event there by one stroke in 1946.

“My office and Mr. Hogan’s office were in the same office building. Our offices were on the same floor and down the hall from each other,” McHargue said. “On occasion, when Mr. and Mrs. Hogan came to his office, we would have the opportunity to visit.”

Also, as chairman of the Ryder Cup Committee at Colonial, McHargue worked with Hogan in an unsuccessful attempt to get the elite event to the course.

“We were preparing a presentation to be presented to the PGA of America for the 2003 Ryder Cup Matches. I asked Mr. Hogan to write a letter recommending Colonial as the venue. He wrote the letter on Colonial’s behalf and Mrs. Hogan was very instrumental in getting this done,” McHargue said.

“I still don’t know why Colonial didn’t get that Ryder Cup. It’s a great venue and Fort Worth is a great golf town.”

He’s also seen his share of great shots, such as the time he saw former TCU golfer Charles Coody salvage par after a disastrous tee shot.

“Because of an errant tee shot that ended up in the gully in front of the 18th tee box, Charles had to play the 18th hole down the 10th hole fairway,” McHargue recalled. “He hit his second shot out of the gully to the edge of the pond, which is adjacent to and on the left side of the 18th green. He chipped over the pond, almost holed the shot, and made a par which is the best par save that I have seen on the course.

“He was in town and we had lunch (during this year’s tournament), and we actually talked about that shot,” McHargue said. “I will never forget how he avoided a disaster.”

The best birdie he ever saw was made by Tom Watson, McHargue said.

“He was standing out of the bunker with the ball in the sand and had a downhill lie. He hit an 8-iron 130 yards and got about 12 feet from the hole,” he said. “It was an absolutely incredible shot.”

McHargue still occasionally plays golf himself, and was, in fact, a member at Colonial for more than five decades. In his younger days he had a single digit handicap on the course.

“In my opinion, golf is the best of all sports to play. Tiger Woods started playing golf at the age of 2. This is when his father began teaching him the basics of the game. My father played golf in his nineties,,” he said. “Not many sports you can play in your 90s or 100s, but golf is one sport you can.

“Many of life’s lessons are learned from playing golf – humility and respect, honesty, manners, graciousness, concentration, persistence and perseverance. I have made many friends and have many great memories from my 70-plus years of playing golf.”

As for how much longer he’ll work at the Charles Schwab Challenge and Colonial, he said, “As long as I can contribute to the success of the tournament, I would like to work another two to three years,” adding, “I will always continue to be a spectator after I retire as a volunteer.”