The game of golf lost one of its most influential and accomplished volunteers on Nov. 5, when Dr. Richard Stroud died at his home in Eagle, Idaho, at the age of 80. Stroud served on the USGA Executive Committee from 1977 to 1979, but his true legacy is in the area of handicapping and course rating.
An engineer who earned a doctorate from Stanford University, Stroud used his knowledge to serve the game he loved. He was a charter member of the USGA Handicap Research Team, formed in 1979, and quickly got to work with his fellow team members. Stroud was instrumental in the research that helped develop the formulas used for implementing Slope Rating®, which takes into account certain aspects of a course’s layout that will affect a high-handicap player’s score more than that of a low-handicap player. In 1987, after years of testing and analysis, Slope Rating was added to the USGA Course Rating System™, further enhancing the method by which the relative difficulty of golf courses is calculated.
Warren Simmons, a veteran of the USGA Handicap Research Team and past executive director of the Colorado Golf Association, put Dr. Stroud’s influence into further context. “He was a pillar in the handicap research area and of probably everyone on the HRT group, the most important,” he said. “When he spoke, his words were real pearls of wisdom.”
“The HRT has lost one of its original thinkers and doers,” said Lucius Riccio, a Columbia University professor who worked closely with Dr. Stroud and others in handicap and course rating research. “We have not only lost a historical figure, but our best historian.”
Dr. Stroud completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Kansas, and played with Wilt Chamberlain on the Jayhawks’ basketball team. His volunteer tenure with the USGA spanned 50 years, and included time on the Handicap Procedure, Equipment Standards, and Handicap Research committees. Before his recent move to Idaho, he lived in California and served on the board of the Northern California Golf Association.
“The golf world owes a great deal of gratitude to Dick Stroud, who worked tirelessly behind the scenes to strengthen the USGA Handicap and Course Rating systems for all,” said Steve Edmondson, managing director of Handicap and Course Rating for the USGA. “Currently, the USGA Handicap System™ is used by more than 10 million golfers worldwide, which allows golfers of all abilities to compete on an equitable basis.”