July 21, 2005 in Voices

Bud Ashworth, who loved golf, ‘just a good man’

By The Spokesman-Review
The Spokesman-Review photo

Bud and Nancy Ashworth.
(Full-size photo)


On the Web

» To view a short multimedia feature to Roland ‘Bud’ Ashworth, go to www.spokesmanreview.com/tributes and follow the link packaged with the story. To order a compact disc of a rich media presentation of this Tributes feature, contact The Spokesman-Review at (509) 459-5416 or e-mail larryr@spokesman.com

Roland Ashworth, the man who hand-seeded the greens at MeadowWood and Hangman Valley golf courses and spent nearly three decades managing the links for Spokane County, died June 9 of a heart attack. He was 70.

“He got to do everything that he wanted to do,” said Scott Ashworth, his son.

Roland “Bud” Ashworth traveled extensively in Europe and golfed in exotic places, from St. Andrews in Scotland to the course in Maui, Hawaii, where Scott is head pro.

“We connected on the golf course; my dad was my golfing buddy,” he said.

“Bud” Ashworth became captivated by the game when he was 8 years old in Southern California and asked his father for a set of clubs. His dad said Roland would have to earn them, which he did by starting a lawn mowing business in the neighborhood.

Family members say a love of golf and an unrelenting work ethic stayed with him ever since.

“We call it the Ashworth curse,” said daughter Susan Anderson. “You just feel that you have a responsibility to what you’re doing.”

Both Anderson and Scott Ashworth said their dad passed on to them a sense of tirelessness when it came to their jobs. He wasn’t a slave driver, Anderson said, but he led by example.

That meant pulling in equipment during lightning storms in the middle of the night or going back to the course after dinner to check on the sprinklers, “basically making sure everything went right,” Anderson said.

“He kind of came from the school, I think, of hard work and ‘your actions will speak volumes to others,’ ” said nephew Kurt Noonan. Ashworth helped Noonan’s father get his start in the golf business and hired Noonan, Scott Ashworth and many of the people now running area golf courses.

Bud Ashworth’s journey to the Northwest began one day while he was golfing in California and “he was on the green and he couldn’t see the hole because of the smog,” said his wife, Nancy. So, he decided to attend the University of Idaho, where he studied forestry.

They met while he was working for Idaho Fish and Game in Priest Lake, Idaho, where Nancy Ashworth’s family owned a resort.

After earning his degree, he was drafted into the Army and served from 1958 to 1960. Most of his comrades in basic training were sent to Korea. But because of his education, Ashworth was stationed at NATO headquarters in Paris, where he worked as a clerk.

“He saw lots of Europe and played lots of golf,” Nancy Ashworth said.

Back in the Inland Northwest, they built their home just above Liberty Lake in 1967, before the 100-foot-high trees around it now were tall enough to obscure the view.

Bud Ashworth was the superintendent of Liberty Lake Golf Course from 1964 until he left to supervise the construction of Hangman Valley Golf Course. He was the course superintendent there when it opened in 1969, and at one time he was the superintendent at both county courses. When work began on MeadowWood, he supervised construction and took on the superintendent position there when it opened in 1988.

“He was dedicated,” Jim Kearney said, “the county got their money’s worth out of him.”

If Ashworth saw something amiss on the golf course while they were playing on a weekend, Kearney said, he would go back after the game and fix it.

Kearney and Ashworth are charter members of the Liberty Lake/MeadowWood Men’s Golf Club. They started golfing together on weekends in the early ‘60s and golfed five days a week after Ashworth retired in 1990. Early in the morning or on a slow day they could play Liberty Lake Golf Course without a cart in just two hours, Kearney said.

Ashworth was a good golfer who hit straight and was easy-going both on and off the course.

“We had a lot of good times. He was a good guy to be with,” Kearney said.

At home, Ashworth always made a point to have dinner with Scott Ashworth, Anderson and daughter Cathy Dixon, even if it meant going back to work later. His children described Ashworth as someone with strong values and whom people never wanted to disappoint.

Later in his life, he loved playing with his three grandchildren and shooting the breeze with his adult children.

“He was just a good man, who had a really funny sense of humor, too,” said Scott Ashworth.

“He would just make funny little comments,” he said. “Sometimes when you weren’t expecting it he could ham it up pretty good.”

Thoughts and opinions on this story? Click here to comment >>

Get stories like this in a free daily email