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Photo: Remembering Grant Spaeth, a Great Golf Soul, on All-Souls Day

Lto R: Arnold Palmer, Bob Hope, Grant Spaeth

Remembering Grant Spaeth, a Great Golf Soul, on All-Souls Day

Oct 29, 2020by - San Francisco Public Golf Alliance

November 2 - All Souls Day – is a fitting time to remember one of Golf’s Great Souls:  Grant Spaeth, a San Francisco Public Golf Alliance charter member and former USGA President, who died July 28, 2020 at his home in Los Altos.  He was 88 years old.

Grant was golf royalty, with a common touch.  The son of a Stanford law professor, Grant was a 1953 national championship golfer at Stanford, a Harvard-educated lawyer, founding partner of a major Silicon Valley law firm, Palo Alto Mayor, U.S. Under Secretary of Education in the 1970’s, General Counsel and President of the US Golf Association in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, and member of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club at St. Andrews and San Francisco Golf Club.  He was also a member at Palo Alto Muni and a mover in the 2018 rebuild of that course, now called Baylands.  In 2000, he was a key player in saving the Stanford Golf Course from a university housing development.  And he was member from the early days of the San Francisco Public Golf Alliance and strong supporter of its battles to save Alister MacKenzie’s Sharp Park.  

During his years in the national leadership councils of the U.S. Golf Association, Grant  championed the formation of the U.S. Men’s and Women’s Mid-Amateur Championships – extending the reach of national championship golf beyond the proto-professionals of collegiate golf.  He was an expert on the Rules of Golf, and many stories are told of Grant encouraging men and women to become rules officials.  “I want more people exposed to the game of golf,” he said.  “Those who do it will be lucky and should be thankful.”

Grant had the great politician’s interest in individual lives, and an easy, natural manner of making personal connections.  The stories are legion of Grant taking an interest, giving advice, and encouraging people at all stages and levels of life. 

Grant Spaeth shares a story about Tiger Woods at the 1995 World Cup

His was a life well and fully lived.   He made the world a better place and golf a better game.


Golf Digest, July 29, 2020 - "Grant Spaeth, former USGA president and visionary, dies":

"Spaeth, who played for Stanford’s national championship team in 1953, served the USGA in several capacities before his elevation to its presidency in 1990-’91. He had a role in creating the U.S. Mid-Amateur and U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur, recognizing that those 25 and older represented the heart of amateur golf. Spaeth’s biography was blue blood through and through, yet he often was said to have had a common touch and “humanized the USGA,” his friend and long-time starter at the U.S. Open, Ron Read, noted in a Tweet."

USGA, July 29, 2020 - "Remembering C. Grant Spaeth: USGA President in 1990-91":

"During his USGA presidency, Spaeth confronted the issue of segregation at golf clubs stemming from Shoal Creek hosting the 1990 PGA Championship. This led to a significant policy change barring USGA championships from clubs with exclusionary practices. Just prior to Spaeth’s election as president, the USGA settled a lawsuit with Ping over the size and shape of golf-club grooves."

SF Chronicle, July 29, 2020 -  "Grant Spaeth, former USGA president and NCAA champ at Stanford, dies at 88":

“We lost a titan of the game,” Stanford coach Conrad Ray posted on Twitter. Spaeth sought to expand the game during his time with the USGA, which culminated in two years (1990-91) as the organization’s president. He helped create the U.S. Mid-Amateur and U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur, annual national championships for amateur players age 25 and older."

Golf Club Atlas interview with Brian Murphy -  May 2008: 

GC ATLAS: Do you think the USGA should be more involved in renovation of municipal or public golf courses?

SPAETH: "Certainly its [USGA] focus on public courses for many of its Championships gives it the occasion to work with owners and superintendents to improve playing conditions. I am told that after the USGA leave the the quality of play is ineviaby improved. Although it is not in the remodel business, through its green section consultations, it can be enormously helpful."

Grant Spaeth at Lincoln Park, 2005, with San Francisco Boys Junior Golf Champion Spencer Fletcher (R) and runner-up Travis Peterson.