FORT WORTH, Texas – Colonial Country Club prides itself on its history. As the host of a PGA TOUR event for the past 75 years, the greats from multiple eras have competed here.
That tradition made this year’s Charles Schwab Challenge a fitting place for an enduring partnership to come to an end. This is the last week that rules officials Mark Russell and Slugger White will work together on the PGA TOUR. They’re formed a team for four decades. They’re so closely associated that they’re often mistaken for each other. Their respect for the game and its rules has formed the foundation for their friendship.
“We’ve always had a good time together and we’ve always been in a situation where both of us like to laugh and have senses of humor,” Russell said. “No matter what was going on, we could always see the bright spot in things, and we’ve just always had a good time. We kind of think alike. We like to uphold traditions of the game and the PGA TOUR and the players. Slugger is just a great friend, always has been.
Added White, “It’s a special relationship I think that not many people can say they have. I’ll cherish that.”
Colonial’s long history was one of the reasons they chose this to be their final event together. They’ve seen the TOUR progress from the days of Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus to today’s modern era.
Russell started with the TOUR in 1980. White joined him two years later, after his playing career over. White played in 73 events from 1975-81. His best finish was fourth in the 1977 San Antonio Texas Open, where he started the final round one shot behind co-leaders Tom Kite and Hale Irwin.
“I was able to play with some of those guys. I played with Arnold a couple times. Practice round with Jack,” White said. “And then I came to this side of it, and it’s just grown so much. … I’m glad we put together a pretty dog-gone good team and they will carry forward, that’s for sure.”
White couldn’t recall ever receiving a penalty from Russell, but does remember the time he retreated to the bar at Pleasant Valley before turning in his scorecard from the Monday qualifier. Russell had to interrupt White’s post-round refreshment and remind him to take it to the scoring area.
White said he’ll use retirement to learn the piano – “He’s a tremendous singer, I can tell you that,” Russell said – do volunteer work and spend time with his granddaughter. Russell said his retirement plans are to be determined.
“It is kind of strange, realizing this is going to be the last time we work together but we are turning it over to some really good people that we’ve hired through the years,” Russell said, “and they are going to uphold traditions of the great game and the etiquette of the great game. They will do a great job.”
The legacy of Slugger White and Mark Russell will extend well beyond one last week.