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Pioneer with a putter

Greenspring’s Clyde Luther inducted into the Virginia Golf Hall of Fame

Created date

July 19th, 2016
Greenspring resident Clyde Luther (left), pictured here with Arnold Palmer, has enjoyed sharing the green with many golf legends.

Greenspring resident Clyde Luther (left), pictured here with Arnold Palmer, has enjoyed sharing the green with many golf legends.

long-time volunteer rules official for more than 120 United States Golf Association (USGA) championships, 3 Presidents Cups, the Masters, and the PGA, Clyde Luther recently joined five legendary golfers in the first class of the Virginia Golf Hall of Fame, presented by the Virginia State Golf Association (VSGA). 

The induction ceremony was held this past May at The Omni Homestead Resort in Hot Springs, the host to more than 200 state golf championships.

Golf pros Sam Snead, Vinny Giles, Curtis Strange, Lanny Wadkins, and Chandler Harper were also chosen for the honor. 

“I am not a golfer. I’m a rules guy,” says Clyde, who lives at Greenspring, an Erickson Living community in Springfield, Va. “When I heard that I was being honored along with such accomplished golfers, I was totally floored.”  

Uncovering a passion

Clyde picked up his first golf club while training at the Air Force Cadet Flying School #53A at Enid Air Force Base at the age of 23.  

“A few of my pilot friends played in college,” he says. “I enjoy playing, and I appreciate that it’s a game that’s on the up and up. It’s not about stealing bases or beating an opponent across the line of scrimmage. It’s all about what you can do, about besting yourself.”

After completing his tour of duty with the Air Force, Clyde became a commercial pilot and a member of the pilot’s union negotiating team. In this capacity, he discovered his love for rules. He began directing this passion to golf while serving as the green chairman at the Springfield Golf and Country Club in 1966 and later as chairman of the club’s junior golf committee.

“That’s when I really began learning and teaching the rules of golf,” he says. 

For more than 30 years, Clyde volunteered his time as the VSGA’s rules chairman and as the organization’s president from 1985 to 1986. He has served as president for the Springfield Golf and Country Club, the Middle Atlantic Golf Association, and the Virginia Club Association.

Preparing the next generation

Throughout his long volunteer career, Clyde found great joy working with young golfers. From 2000 to 2011, he volunteered his time as the chief rules official of the NCAA Division I golf championship officiating 21 NCAA Division I, II, and III championships. 

Clyde has also worked as head rules official for the Atlantic Coast Conference Championship and as a rules official at the Palmer Cup, an annual team golf competition between American college golfers and European college golfers.

“It’s always a thrill to help those starting out in the game,” he says.

Clyde is perhaps best known for providing a crash course on match-play rules, referred to by the USGA as the “putting clock,” to junior amateur players. Many of these golfers return years later to thank Clyde for his efforts, noting the impact these important lessons had on their golf game. 

Over the years, Clyde has served as a rules official at the Bobby Bowers Memorial Junior Championship Tournament, created to honor Springfield Golf and Country Club’s first head golf professional, Bobby Bowers, known for his dedication to junior golfers and the Virginia High School Championships.

“The game of golf can have a strong impact on a young person,” he says. “It can make someone a better person, especially if it is made an early part of that person’s upbringing.”

Long list of honors

Through the years, many organizations have bestowed honors on Clyde for his dedication to the rules of golf. In 1999, he was presented with the Virginia State Golf Association’s highest honor, the President’s Award, for more than 25 years of service to golf in Virginia. 

Three years later, Clyde was named the David Wortman Citizen of the Year by the Middle Atlantic Section of the PGA of America for his contributions to golf in the Mid-Atlantic region. In 2002, he became the first Virginian to receive the USGA’s Joe Day Award in recognition of meritorious service to the game as a volunteer; and in 2003, he was inducted into the Middle Atlantic Golf Association Hall of Fame.

In 2007, Clyde was recognized with a GOLF Magazine Innovator Award, and at the 2008 U.S. Junior Amateur Championship, he was named an Ike B. Grainger Award recipient for his more than 25 years of service to the USGA as a volunteer.

“It’s never been about the recognition,” says Clyde. “I enjoy the challenge of learning about golf in depth and in a way few people do. But most of all, I find it’s very exciting to help people play a game I love.”