Frederick Morgan “Buzz” Taylor Jr., 79, USGA president in 1998 and 1999, died Oct. 29 at his home in Hobe Sound, Fla.
Taylor’s life focused on his family, sports and business. His love for the game of golf was expressed most clearly through his commitment to the USGA as a volunteer for 14 years.
"The USGA extends its deepest sympathy to the Taylor family, who were always ardent supporters of the game and the Association,” said USGA President Jim Hyler. “Buzz guided the USGA through a sensitive time and his impact was significant. As an athlete, he knew the value of high-level competition and he carried that into the USGA's national championships. All who knew Buzz were brought to a smile with the mention of his name. He will be truly missed."
Taylor, the son of a school teacher and a social case worker, grew up in Illinois. His father, F. Morgan Taylor, was one of a handful of USA track and field athletes to have won a medal in three Olympics, including the gold in the 400-meter hurdles at the 1924 Games.
At the age of 9, Taylor became a caddie at Evanston (Ill.) C.C. and later worked as a member of the greenkeeping crew. After starring in three sports for Western Military Academy in Alton, Ill., Taylor attended Princeton on a scholarship.
He excelled in football and track and field and was an All-American defensive back for Princeton when the Tigers football team sported a three-season 26-1 record. His ability in track took him within a whisker of the 1952 Olympics. At the trials, he was third in the broad jump with one round remaining and took the lead on his final attempt, at 24’ 11 ½”. Three men passed him on their final jumps, the third jumper qualifying by 2 inches over Taylor.
Taylor graduated from Princeton in 1953. He was chairman of Aqua-Vac Systems, a manufacturer of commercial and residential robotic pool-cleaning equipment in West Palm Beach, but was retired at the time of his death.
Taylor joined the USGA Executive Committee in 1986 and served as secretary, treasurer and vice-president before being named president in 1998. A former member of the Implements and Ball Committee during the square-groove controversy, Taylor had a solid background in technology issues. As USGA president, he focused on equipment standards and stood firm on equipment issues. As chairman of the USGA’s Green Section Committee, Taylor helped update the USGA’s agronomic research methods.
Judy Bell, the USGA president in 1996 and 1997, immediately before Taylor, said: “Buzz believed in the joy of the game and loved the competitive side. We’ve lost a great supporter.”
A jovial man, Taylor was a popular companion on the golf course. “Whoever he played with usually won the tournament,” said Barbara Taylor, his wife, on Saturday. “He was so well-liked that he received more than 20 letters (during his illness) from caddies.”
“Buzz always had a smile on his face and, even better, so did all the people around him,” said Walter W. Driver Jr., USGA president in 2006 and 2007. ”He was wonderful company and added a special touch to every group.”
To Taylor’s delight, his son James won the 1989 U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship, a feat witnessed by both parents.
Taylor was a member of the Rules Committee at The Masters Tournament and the Captain’s Club of The Memorial Tournament. He was also a trustee of the Spencer T. and Ann W. Olin Foundation.
He is survived by his wife, Barbara Olin Taylor, and four sons, Frederick Morgan Taylor III, John F. Taylor, Spencer O. Taylor and James W. Taylor. Memorial arrangements have not been announced.
Story written by Rhonda Glenn, who is a Manager ofUSGA Communications. E-mail her with questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.