In May of 1897, the year Dick Baxter was born in Melrose, Scotland, Louis P. Bayard Jr. put together a sharp 91 over the rain-soaked links at Ardsley Casino to take the first intercollegiate golf championship. Intercollegiate golf is now 60 years old, and so is Dick Baxter, who has spent 35 years of his life teaching the game to the undergraduates of Williams College. Twenty-two men from four eastern colleges made up the field of that first tournament; last year more than 200 young golfers from 60 colleges all over the country took part in the NCAA-sponsored competition.
An easy-going, almost phlegmatic man, Baxter espouses no teaching gimmicks, just "takes the boys and corrects their faults." Every year some 250 of them take up the game for pleasure or as part of Williams' physical education program. From these squads have come teams that have taken the New England championship three times in six years, as well as such a first-rate player as Dick Chapman, onetime U.S., British and French amateur champion. Fittingly enough, this year's intercollegiate championship will be played over the Williams College course with Baxter on hand to coach and counsel as he has done for over a third of a century. "Golfing is one sport," says Baxter in his still slightly Scots-accented voice, "that you can take with you until you're ready for Digger O'Dell."