Former USGA Executive Committee member and two-time USGA Senior Amateur runner-up Richard F. Runkle died on Jan. 12 at the age of 84 from an apparent heart attack in his Los Angeles home.
Runkle, a lawyer, served on the Executive Committee from 1988-90.
A graduate of the University of California-Los Angeles, where he was a member of the school’s golf team and quarterbacked the freshman football team, Runkle later earned a law degree from the University of Southern California Law School. Runkle was a founding member of the American Board of Trial Advocates.
Runkle also enjoyed a highly successful amateur golf career, highlighted by back-to-back runner-up finishes at the USGA Senior Amateur.
In 1983, his first year of eligibility for the Senior Amateur (age 55 and older), Runkle advanced to the championship match at Crooked Stick Golf Club in Carmel, Ind., where he lost to five-time Walker Cup participant William Hyndman III, of Huntingdon, Pa., 1 down. Hyndman, at 67, became the then-oldest Senior Amateur champion.
The next year at Birmingham (Mich.) Country Club, Runkle again advanced to the championship match, where he was edged in 19 holes by Robert Rawlins, of Dallas.
Runkle was also a three-time California State Amateur finalist, losing to Verne Callison (two-time U.S. Amateur Public Links champion), 6 and 4, in 1959; to Dr. Paul Travis, 3 and 2, in 1963, and to Mike Brannan on the 37th hole in 1973 when Brannan holed out a chip. Brannan, the 1971 U.S. Junior Amateur champion, died four days before Runkle from cancer.
Runkle also was in position to win the 1968 Pacific Coast Amateur at Pebble Beach (Calif.) Golf Links, only to surrender his lead late to Ed Morris.
Runkle won the 1985 Southern California Golf Association Senior Championship and was a 10-time club champion (nine match play and one stroke play) at The Los Angeles Country Club, site of the 2017 Walker Cup Match.
Runkle also qualified for one U.S. Open (1948), one U.S. Senior Open (1994) and four U.S. Amateurs.
When he retired from practicing law, Runkle was made an honorary member at LACC which, according to his friend Dr. Ralph Hutchings, is a rare distinction.
David Shefter is a senior staff writer for the USGA. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.