Richardson in his 11th season at Soldiers Field
Editor's note: This is the third in a series profiling Rochester's four public golf head professionals.
David Richardson still has game.
A couple of weeks ago, he entered the USGA Senior Open qualifying tournament at Spring Hill Golf Club in Wayzata, and came up just short.
He missed by one stroke of getting into a playoff for the final spot of qualifying.
Not that Richardson, the head pro at Soldiers Field Golf Course, is going to switch gears and give the senior tour a whirl because he isn't.
But for one day, the magic was back.
"I played pretty good,'' he said. "Realistically, I don't know how much better I can play. For one day, it was a good experience. Playing against those guys (the field included former touring pros Bobby Clampett and Chip Beck) is a whole new ball game.''
For now, Richardson is happy doing all the leg work at Soldiers Field. He is in his 11th year as head professional, having started in 2002.
He was raised and went to high school in Moorhead, graduating in 1977 and then earned a B.S. in Business Administration at Moorhead State University.
He played both high school and college golf, earning all-conference honors at both levels.
After college, the 54-year-old Richardson started working as an assistant pro at Hazeltine National Golf Course, and he learned from the best — Mike Schultz, a legendary figure in Minnesota golf. For one, he has helped to develop more than 40 PGA pros.
"He taught me a lot,'' Richardson said. "It was a privilege to have worked alongside him.''
Richardson then moved to Owatonna and was head professional at the Owatonna Country Club from 1986-99.
Then it was off to Rochester where he served as the head professional at the Rochester Golf and Country Club for 14 years.
In 2002, he replaced Mark Olson as the head pro at Soldiers Field.
"In a country club setting, you are expected to show all your members a lot of respect,'' Richardson said, "and hopefully I've carried that same trait over here at Soldiers.
"Ours is a people's job. We want everyone to play well, of course, but we also want to make them feel right at home and that they want to be here.''
Two years ago Richardson underwent surgery to correct a detached bicep. It took him a year to come back but now he's playing at full strength.
Or playing whenever he can.
"I try to get out as much as I can,'' he said, "and some weeks I have more time than other weeks. On the way home I still try to stop at Hadley Creek and hit balls.''
Richardson still gives lessons, usually on Tuesdays at Hadley Creek. He refined his teaching skills by working with Les Bolstad, the legendary former University of Minnesota coach.
"There are always ways to improve your game,'' he said.
Not that he envisions playing anywhere on a grand stage.
"No,'' he laughed, "I'm not thinking about big-time golf but I may enter a few tournaments down the line and I want to be ready.''
Soldiers was hit hard by our nasty spring weather, but not as hard as the other Rochester courses.
"That traffic funneled into us when we were finally able to play,'' Richardson said, "but we are still behind last year, for example. On a nice day, we're extremely busy.''
Soldiers is the shortest of all the Rochester public courses and has no hills, but plenty of trees. It's an ideal setup for senior golfers.
"We have at least 200 seniors who are regulars,'' Richardson said.