Ricki Rarick Junior Golf Legacy Lives On

ricki_rarickIf you are looking to involve your kids or grand children in the game of golf this summer the Ricki Rarick Junior Golf Program, a non-profit organization is dedicated to the overall growth and development of young men and women furthering their knowledge of the game of golf. They will be introduced to tournament competition, learning about respect, honesty, knowledge, character building, self discipline, sportsmanship, and many other attributes by participating. The program is in its 56th year, which is sponsored and administrated by the Southwest Section Southern Chapter PGA and supported by the Tucson Conquistadores. It is open to all junior golfers ages 6 -18 and skills of all levels.

Thousands of youngsters have competed in this junior golf program that has received national acclaim. However, few, if any, know who Ricki Rarick is. Rarick, actually passed away in 1984, at the age of 71 and was known as “Mr. Golf” in Tucson, and for good reason. He coordinated the Tucson Open from 1945 until the Tucson Conquistadores took over in 1965, and was also responsible for starting the junior golf program that now bears his name. “He was incredible,” said Ricki Rarick II, his son. “He treated everyone the same, from caddies to bank presidents.” Ricki affectionately called his father Chief. “He was part Sioux,” Ricki explains. Born in Iowa, Rarick was the youngest golf professional in that state, turning pro at the age of 17. His pro career was interrupted by World War II, during which he suffered a broken back, neck and ankle when he was shot down over the North Sea on a bombing mission in 1941. He spent 11 months as a prisoner of war before he was rescued. “He was in his 60s before he ever mentioned the armed services,” Rarick II shares.

Rarick earned the Silver Star, the Distinguished Flying Medal, Air Force Medal and two Purple Hearts during his service career. After the war Rarick moved to Tucson and spent 16 years as an advertising salesman and later classified advertising manager for Tucson Newspapers Inc. He then went into the real estate and insurance business until his retirement in 1975. In 1978 he was given an honorary membership in the PGA of America for his dedication to the game of golf. Tucson’s “Mr. Golf,” a man whose legacy lives on through the Ricki Rarick Junior Golf Program.

The program continues to produce life time friendships and has created social golfers to golf professionals and even some PGA and LPGA touring professionals. Touring professionals such as Michael Thompson, Sara Brown, Cindy Rarick, Rich Barcelo, Ryan Hietala, Bryan Prouty, Ben Kern, and local golf professionals like Mike Hayes, Dennis Palmer, Tom Tatum, Josh Brown, Brent Lingel, Danny Medina, Wendell Saunders, Rich Mueller, Jeff Kern and more have benefited from the program. The Vice President of Golf Operations at Tubac Golf Resort Dennis Palmer said, “It was my introduction in the game of which I have made my career.” Mike Hayes, Deputy Director of Tucson City Golf said, “It gave me an opportunity that I would never have had to play the game of golf that led me on my path in life into the golf profession.”

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