He was always easy to spot, riding around the golf course on his crimson-colored scooter – the “Sooner Scooter” that is – complete with a stuffed brown pony in the front basket. He always carried his binoculars and often wore an OU hat, whether it was the light brown straw one or a baseball cap.
Richard G. “Dick” Askew, whose nickname was “A-Game,” had been a staple at OU golf tournaments around the country and one of the program’s most ardent supporters for nearly the past three decades.
However, as the Oklahoma men’s golf team opened its spring season yesterday, it was without the familiar face of Askew, who passed away on Saturday, Nov. 29, at the age of 89.
Askew supported not only the golf program but also the University of Oklahoma College of Engineering, from which he holds two degrees, and the OU athletics department as a whole. He served on a variety of boards and was involved in several organizations, including the OU Alumni Association. A native Oklahoman who was born in Enid and raised in Oklahoma City, he was truly a Sooner through and through.
But his involvement with OU golf was something extra special, and Askew’s influence is seen throughout the program. This effect is hard to put into words, says OU head coach Ryan Hybl.
“I was only a part of (his more than 30 years of involvement) for five-and-a-half years, but thank the Lord I was part of it because he was so impactful for me personally,” Hybl shares. “He kind of almost turned into my grandfather figure out here in Oklahoma.”
For the OU golfers, Askew served as a rock and a stable presence since he was always at their tournaments. He became a solid foundation for the program with his constant support and consistency.
“When you see him on the first tee box, it just makes you feel good about what we’re doing, our mission and what Oklahoma golf stood for,” Hybl explains. “I would say that’s the most impactful part is just seeing him there, knowing that he was the foundation of so many Oklahoma golfers and that his pride for us became what we all tried to measure our standards by as well.”
A Part of the Fabric of College Golf
Askew had a true love of the game of golf, and once he started playing frequently when he was out of college, it became a lifelong desire and hobby, says his son, Marc. This love fueled his support of OU.
His connection to OU golf began after Askew served as tournament director at an NCAA Regional at Hillcrest Country Club in Bartlesville, Okla. Askew knew Jerry Cozby, the head pro at the course, whose three sons Cary, Craig and Chance all played at Oklahoma. That, along with the fact he was a graduate of the university, gave Askew an instant tie to Sooner golf.
He stayed involved in tournaments, doing such tasks as helping keep the scoreboard updated. Since his retirement in 1985, he participated in amateur events hosted by the Senior Golfers Association of America, an involvement of which Marc says he was extremely proud, and was inducted into the organization’s Hall of Fame in 2004.
For many years, Dick Askew served as the first president of the Chip In Club, the OU golf program’s donor organization. His support was also financial as he gave generously to the golf program, endowing a scholarship and donating to other aspects, but it went far beyond that. His greatest impact really was in the fact that he was present at almost every single tournament to which he could drive.
He was just a part of the fabric of college golf in a window of time, and he just loved being around the kids. They loved being around him. He was always positive. I’ve never seen him upset about anything, anytime, that any Sooner ever shot. Not one time.
“The kids could be playing on the West Coast in a tournament and then the next week be playing on the East Coast, and he would get in his car and he would drive all the way across the country,” says Charlie Snider, who succeeded Askew as the donor organization’s president and served for about 13 years. “You miss his personal involvement and just his dedication is what you miss the most. That’s the biggest void. It’s not the money, it’s just the participation and the loyalty to the program.”
Not only was Askew at OU’s tournaments but he also always knew the scores – not just for the Sooners but for everyone on the course. Coaches and players would walk up to him and ask how everything stood, especially before live scoring was available on smartphones, former OU head coach Gregg Grost shares.
“He was just a part of the fabric of college golf in a window of time, and he just loved being around the kids,” Grost explains. “They loved being around him. He was always positive. I’ve never seen him upset about anything, anytime, that any Sooner ever shot. Not one time.”
Askew followed former Sooners on the PGA Tour as well, including OU great Hunter Haas, who an All-American in 1998 and 1999. Haas estimates that Askew probably watched him hit 50,000-60,000 shots in live competition over the years. Askew always kept Haas’ scores and stats every round, usually tracking those of his competitors as well.
“I don’t think there’s anybody else out there who can say they’ve had someone who witnessed that for them,” Haas states. “I’m pretty fortunate to have had him in my life… There are a lot of guys that grew fond of him as well. He got to know quite a few tour players and friends of mine. They heard when he passed, and he touched a lot of people’s lives.”
Michael Schoolcraft, who graduated from OU in 2014, says Askew gave the team energy because it knew he would be there cheering no matter what.
“He knew every one of us every year. He knew our games. It was just fulfilling and refreshing to know he was out there,” Schoolcraft shares. “It’s special. Him being there every tournament, it’s special feeling, and we knew that. It gave that team kind of the extra edge.”
One of Askew’s traditions was honking the horn on his scooter if a Sooner made an eagle or a birdie. Schoolcraft recalls hearing that sound many times while on the fairway.
“You always wanted to make that birdie or that eagle for him because he wanted to push that button,” Schoolcraft says.
Dick Askew (center) poses with former OU golfers and head coach Ryan Hybl at the 2014 Sooner Open.
A True Gentleman
Being a gentleman was of upmost important to Askew. He believed in living with integrity, which his son says was a driving principle in his support for the university, and in treating people right.
When asked why he was so supportive of college golf, Askew would often respond with, “Every golfer I have ever met has been a real gentleman.” He embodied this, teaching those around him how to be respectful, Hybl says.
The importance of integrity was a concept Askew shared with his sons Marc and Ben, and Marc says this has stuck with him. Askew had a reputation of treating people well and dealing with them honestly and openly, and Marc says he has tried to mold his life in a similar fashion.
Askew’s wife, Alice Ann, was a genealogist. She would often travel around the United States to various cemeteries in the middle of nowhere, particularly in the southeastern United States, to visit the graves of Revolutionary War and Civil War descendants that she was researching. While Askew was consumed in golf, he would join his wife on these trips, which Marc says shows his dedication to those in his life.
This kind nature and gentleman qualities were easy to spot, and Schoolcraft says the fact Askew was so nice and respectful to everyone around him will be remembered.
“His legacy will be here forever. I think a lot of people when they think about OU golf, they think about ‘A-Game’ as well because he’s been such a big part of our tradition, a big part of our team,” Schoolcraft shares.
It didn’t take long being around Askew to realize he was honest, approachable and a gentleman, Snider says.
“He was just kind of, he wouldn’t like the word ‘impressive’ if he heard somebody say that, but all in all he is the kind of person that you think there needs to be more people like that.”
A proud member of the Senior Golfers Association, Dick Askew prepares to hit a tee shot at Coeur d'Alene.
This past fall, Askew was not able to travel to tournaments because of health problems. His absence was immediately noticed, and Hybl says people who did not really know who he was but became used to seeing him would ask where the “scooter guy” was.
“There are a lot of folks who know who Dick Askew is in college golf. He is a very iconic figure in my opinion, him sitting in that scooter, watching our kids play and watching so many other college golfers play,” Hybl shares.
At a couple of tournaments in the fall, opposing coaches asked Snider where Askew was.
“They missed him. They knew something was missing when they saw OU there and he wasn’t there,” Snider says. “Even our big rivals like Texas – I know the golf coach at Texas very well and he always liked Mr. Askew. And when he saw him he would come up and visit with him and he crossed over all those little barriers like the rivals. He was appreciated by everybody.”
Askew was a truly special person, building these strong relationships with so many people in his life. For Haas, knowing Askew was a unique opportunity.
The only way I can describe it is that everybody has a lifetime and he’s like a comet that comes around, but I don’t think there will ever be anybody else like him.
“The only way I can describe it is that everybody has a lifetime and he’s like a comet that comes around, but I don’t think there will ever be anybody else like him,” Haas explains. “If you missed Halley’s, you’ll never see her again. That guy was special.
“It’s kind of like the ice cream truck coming around over and over again,” Haas continues. “When it stops coming, that’s when you miss it. He was a special man. He meant a lot to the program and he meant a lot to me.”
Askew was well liked and an incredible spokesperson not only for the golf program but also for the university as a whole, Hybl says.
“What makes you so proud when talking about Dick Askew is there’s not anybody that has a bad story about him, and I challenge anybody to find it because I can promise you I’ve got millions of others that will refute,” Hybl declares. “He was a beautiful man, and I’m just thankful that I was able to be a part of it because he taught me a lot and it makes you want to be more like him. I hope that as I get older, I can continue to be more and more like ‘A-Game.’”
To honor Askew and the impression he made on the OU program, the Sooners will wear “A-Game” patches on their golf bags for the rest of the season.
The Sooner Scooter may no longer sputter around golf courses across the country, but that most definitely does not mean the man who drove it will not be forever remembered by those in the OU community. Goodbye, “A-Game.”