Like his Florentine namesake, Dr. Leonardo Buck '38 is a true Renaissance man. Lettering in five sports at Bath’s Morse High School, he refined his talents for baseball, hockey and golf at Bowdoin, while studying chemistry. He went on to earn a degree in dental medicine from Harvard. He plays the piano, writes the occasional piece for the local paper, and is a leading figure in Maine, regional and national golf circles.
“The rules of golf have always intrigued me,” says Buck, who started working as a rules official for the Maine State Golf Association (MSGA) in 1936. “A good rules official is inconspicuously present. We’re there to help the players and make sure that no one takes advantage.”
When Buck, Buckie as he’s known to friends, retired from dentistry, in 1980, he began officiating at golf tournaments full time. He has traveled the country shadowing players like Tiger Woods, giving seminars and scrutinizing the game from the sidelines. He is the top rules official in Maine and players from California to Florida ring his phone regularly, seeking his opinion on rulings.
This past summer, Buckie officiated at seven championships. He even makes his own stakes for marking course boundaries and water hazards. He’s been known to sit in his driveway, Fats Waller playing on a portable CD player, as he fashions them from pine and rebar.
In 2006, he conceived a set of seven hand signals for golfers and rules officials to use at MSGA events. The signals filled a void in which no previous standard existed and have since been adopted internationally.
Buckie, who turns 93 in March, credits the YMCA for instilling him with the confidence that has served him so well. He lives his life with the same integrity that he brings to the rules of golf.
So, which of his many accomplishments is this Renaissance man most proud? “Winning the Maine Amateur Golf Championship in 1950,” he says. “I was eight down at the eleventh hole. My chances were slim and none. And I won.” His face breaks into one of his famous smiles. “Keep trying and never give up. That’s my motto in life.”
Posted June 08, 2007