Donald W. “Doc” Giffin, in his 49th year as Arnold Palmer’s primary staff assistant, is the recipient of the 2015 William D. Richardson Award, presented annually by the Golf Writers Association of America. He will be recognized at their awards dinner during The Masters Tournament on April 8.
Giffin’s prior employment in journalism includes The Pittsburgh Press, 1953-62, as a golf writer, then beginning in 1963 as Press Secretary for the PGA Tour until he went to work for Palmer. Giffin indicated he was “perfectly content” working for the Tour when Arnold Palmer approached him in 1966. He commented that Palmer “wore me down” with his request for Giffin to become his traveling secretary, observing “how could I say no?” The job evolved from traveling with Palmer to an agreement between them that Giffin would do the job from Latrobe with activities such as answering mail, handling autograph requests, writing, and keeping up with the heavy work load that involves working for whom many believe is “golf’s most significant person.” Even though Palmer was on the back nine of his career when Giffin signed on two years after Palmer’s last major title, the 1964 Masters, Giffin knew his life would be very busy indeed.
Giffin has received many golf and journalism awards during his career. Other awards the GWAA confers are the Ben Hogan Award to Jared Lyle, given to a golfer who continues in the game despite a physical handicap or illness. Hogan recovered from a near death auto accident in 1949 returning to win major championships. Lyle, 33, an Australian, has battled leukemia since his teenage years, being sidelined 2012-14. The Jim Murray Award recipient is Jim Furyk, recognizing a player who is most accommodating and cooperative with the media. The award is named after the Los Angeles Times golf writer Jim Murray.