Whenever Rick Grayson ultimately sinks his final putt, those eager to follow him as one of Springfield’s next great golf gurus probably will feel like the act after Elvis has left the building.
Certainly, his resume wows, given Grayson has been a Professional Golf Association (PGA) teaching professional for 33 years. But that’s just skimming the greens.
Take, for instance, all of his charitable work, including as co-founder (with Dorl Sweet) of the Heart of the Ozarks Junior Golf Foundation. It has raised $2 million toward supplying golf equipment for 10,000 elementary and middle school students, constructed a four-hole course for juniors and disabled kids and provided college scholarships.
And that’s just one of hundreds of endeavors, all of which are why the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame is proud to induct Grayson with the Class of 2018. In fact, he is part of the 2018 Enshrinement presented by Killian Construction, set for Sunday, January 28 in Springfield. (For tickets or sponsorships, call 417-889-3100 & see details below.)
“It’s one of those things where the game has been everything to me,” Grayson said. “I’ve always thought, ‘How can I make this better for the next generation?’”
Grayson joined Springfield’s golf scene in 1976. He has worked at Rivercut Golf Course since 2000, following a combined 12 years at Bill & Payne Stewart Golf Course and eight years at Tri-Way Golf Course in Republic.
In 2011, he was named the National PGA Junior Golf Leader, the first from Springfield to receive a national award since Horton Smith, winner of the first and third Masters.
Grayson also is a Golf Magazine Top 100 instructor the past 20 years as well as the Midwest Section’s PGA Professional of the Year in 2005, its Teacher of the Year five times and Junior Golf Leader four times.
A member of the Midwest Section PGA Hall of Fame, he has written golf articles for Sports Illustrated, USA Today, PGA Magazine, Senior Golf and Golf Magazine, plus co-authored the book “Super Golf” as well as authored “Inspire Junior Golf,” which suggests ways to create innovative junior golf programs.
He was the lead instructor at the PGA Junior Ryder Cup and has taught eight high school state champions as well as a men’s, women’s and senior State Amateur champion. He also was the swing coach for Lucas Black in the movie “Seven Days in Utopia” and co-produced the public TV documentary “Footprints in the Fairway” about Ozarks golf history.
“We teach all kinds of players,” said Grayson, whose two-day Grayson Golf School is at Rivercut’s Connie Morris Golf Learning Center. “I want to help anyone from 90-year-olds who wants to improve their putting to 4-year-olds who just want to play for fun.”
Grayson, whose father Ralph once shot a double eagle and whose mother Barbara beat the Oklahoma Women’s State Amateur champion and competed at the 1989 Senior Golf Olympics, was a three-year letterman at Pryor (Okla.) High School. At Crowder College, he qualified for juco nationals despite a cast on his right leg. He later co-captained Park University’s 1976 team, the program’s first to reach the NAIA nationals.
Inspired by PGA professional Brent Buckman, Grayson soon landed a job at Springfield’s Grandview course (now Bill & Payne), mentoring under Sweet, learning everything about running a golf course and finding his calling to teach the game.
Thus, in 1984, he enrolled in the PGA Golf Management Program and survived its book and on-course series of tests to earn PGA teaching professional status.
Grayson challenged himself to become a better coach by studying books and videos. Early on, he was tutored by Bob Toski, a world-renowned golf instructor.
Even better, Grayson gives back through the Heart of the Ozarks Junior Golf Foundation.
That four-hole course? Through Grayson’s vision, the Foundation installed artificial greens and large cart paths for those in wheelchairs. The Foundation also raised $650,000 toward a redesign of the par-3 Oscar Blom Golf Course, where children up to 14 years old can play for free with a paying adult. The Foundation also provided 500-plus sets of free clubs to juniors, and once hosted a golf day with Tiger Woods’ coach.
Grayson, who has introduced more than 600 girls to the game through the LPGA-USGA Girls Golf Program, recently held his 22nd high school coaches and players clinic.
What a career it’s been for Grayson, who has long had the support of wife Lindy and daughter Natalie Clark, along with her husband, Bill, and their sons Cooper and Collin as well as Grayson’s 93-year-old father, Ralph, who taught him the love of the game.
“George Bailey, he has nothing on me,” Grayson said, referencing the Christmas movie character. “I’ve had a wonderful life.”
Missouri Sports Hall of Fame’s
Enshrinement Ceremonies of 2018
Presented by Killian Construction
When: Sunday, January 28
Morning reception: 11 a.m., presented by Meek’s The Builder’s Choice, at the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame, 3861 E. Stan Musial Drive in Springfield.
Afternoon festivities: 4 p.m. reception, 5 p.m. dinner & ceremony at University Plaza Hotel & Convention Center, Springfield
Class of 2018: Mike Garrett (Kansas City Chiefs), Lee Smith (St. Louis Cardinals), Howard Richards (University of Missouri football), Jim Otis (St. Louis Football Cardinals & Kansas City Chiefs), Martin MacDonald (Conservationist, Outdoorsman, Runner), football coach Gary Barnett (Northwestern University & University of Colorado), softball coach Holly Hesse (Missouri State University), Doug Elgin (Missouri Valley Conference Commissioner), Dr. Brian Mahaffey (Missouri State University, St. Louis Cardinals), shot putter Christian Cantwell (Eldon High School/University of Missouri/Olympics), basketball standout Kerensa Barr Cassis (West Plains High School/Mizzou), Dan Lucy (KOLR 10 TV Sports Director), Rockhurst High School football coach Tony Severino, basketball coach Steve Tappmeyer (Northwest Missouri State University, UMSL), Rick Grayson (PGA teaching professional), Learfield, the Lamar High School Football Program, Springfield-Greene County Park Board, Independent Printing – John Q. Hammons Founders Award, Rick Todd of Herschend Family Entertainment – President’s Award.
Sponsorship opportunities: Tables of 10 are $1,500 and include an autographed poster (a rendering by renowned artist Dayne Dudley), recognition in the printed program and at the table. Individual tickets are $150. Numerous other sponsorships are available, including congratulatory ads, trading cards and 20-month calendars.
Call the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame: 417-889-3100.