Paying Tribute

A look back at 3 prominent Colorado rules officials who passed away in 2023: Mike Boster, Vivian Heggie and Ken McGechie

By Gary Baines – 1/22/2024

They were among the best at their craft in Colorado golf, and were very familiar faces to players who competed in state and regional competitions. They also generously gave of their time to help make golf in the Centennial State what it is.

Mike Boster, Vivian Heggie and Ken McGechie — all distinguished volunteer rules officials in Colorado for many years — passed away in 2023 in their 80s. Each made a mark on the game and won’t soon be forgotten by those they crossed paths with over the years.

As CGA executive director Ed Mate once said regarding particularly dedicated rules officials: “We couldn’t do what we do without them; it’s that simple. Their knowledge of the rules and their dedication to doing the job right is exceptional. (They’re) what a volunteer golf association is all about.”

Here’s a brief look at how the three impacted Colorado golf:

Mike Boster (passed away on Nov. 14 — his 81st birthday)

Boster, a resident of Lakewood since 1964, practiced law for 50 years after graduating from the University of Denver, and he used his legal knowledge well both on and off the golf course. 

Starting in 1999, Boster served as a rules official for the CGA for more than two decades, to the point of being the chairman of the CGA Rules Committee during his time as a CGA board member. He officiated at countless USGA, CGA, Colorado PGA, college and junior championships, sometimes working more than 60 days a year in that capacity — not counting committee work.

“This is a great game and I’ve said for years that I’m not going to make a contribution with a club in my hands; I’ve got to do it another way,” Boster once said. “So this is how I’m doing it.

“Volunteer rules officials are a great group of people. You’ll never meet a finer group. They care about what they’re doing, and they’re unselfish with their time.”

Boster, who mentored many fellow rules officials along the way, advanced to the point he was designated a master rules official in the game, and he worked as the chief rules official at a considerable number of tournaments. He was also a former president of the men’s club at Fox Hollow, his home course for many years.

A native of West Virginia, Boster was buried following a military funeral service Jan. 5 at Fort Logan National Cemetery. For four years he served as a U.S. Air Force Missile Mechanic and Launch Technician.

Vivian Heggie (passed away on Sept. 10 at age 84)

Ironically, Heggie became heavily involved with the CWGA in part because she couldn’t play as much golf herself due to three hip surgeries in six years. Her devotion to working as a rules official eventually led to the native of England being named the CWGA Volunteer of the Year for 2016.

“Vivian is the most dedicated, passionate, enthusiastic and nutsy person,” then-CWGA executive director Laura Robinson said with a smile at the time. “She stayed out at (the 2016) U.S. Women’s Open qualifier for more than 10 hours in the rain and cold. We kept trying to rescue her. She is there when we ask her to be — helping the golfers and making sure everyone has a great experience She’s as enthusiastic about the Rules as she is knowledgeable.”

Heggie worked CWGA championships and USGA qualifiers on a regular basis and served on the CWGA Rules Committee since 2003. Over the years, she worked events at more than 50 courses around the state.

“It’s a delightful time — peaceful and quiet,” Heggie once said of the reason she enjoyed serving as a rules official. “I love being on the golf course. I don’t play as much anymore, but I want to stay in touch with people I know.

“The Rules have always fascinated me. If you really pay attention to the Rules, they can help you rather than hinder you.”

Heggie had a unique perspective on the role of a rules official.

“I’ve always felt being a rules person is a cross between a mailman and a roadside assistant,” she said. “You’re not stopped by weather and you’re out there to help people. ‘Can I help you and what can I do to make it easier for you?’ I go out there with that attitude.”

Heggie settled in Colorado in 1965 and over the years lived in Aspen, Glenwood Springs and Thornton. She called Riverdale her home club.

Back in her native England, Heggie was a fine player as a girl. In fact, by the time she was 16, she owned roughly a 4 handicap. But when she started beating the boys, she largely gave up the game, not picking it up again and playing regularly until about age 40. Subsequently, for many years, Heggie was a regular competing in the CWGA Brassie and Mashie best-ball championships.

Ken McGechie (passed away on March 16 at age 84)

McGechie, a longtime Grand Junction resident who moved to western Colorado as a youngster, won the state 220-yard dash while at Palisade High School — and also was an accomplished football player at the school. Many years later, McGechie’s son Shawn won the state amateur in golf — specifically, the 1989 CGA Amateur. 

Ken served on the CGA board of directors for 12 years and was a dedicated rules official, starting in that role in 1990. Later that decade, in 1997, McGechie was named the third recipient of the Jim Topliff Rules Official of the Year Award.

In fact, one of the 2023 Topliff Award winners, Leo Barabe of Aspen, paid tribute to two Western Slope rules officials — McGechie and Jon Burnett — who mentored him roughly 20 years ago.

“They took me under their wings, and I’ve been working ever since,” Barabe said.

Besides serving as a rules official at many tournaments, McGechie taught at rules seminars for high school players in western Colorado. He also helped cultivate junior golf programs in Grand Junction, beginning in the 1970s. One time, McGechie took the junior golfers to the Jerry Ford Invitational in Vail, where they met the likes of Jack Nicklaus, Bob Hope and Jackie Gleason. He also helped run Rocky Mountain Golf Association junior tournaments.

McGechie competed in and helped at the Rocky Mountain Open many times over the years, including working as a rules official. In addition, he served as an unofficial historian of sorts regarding western Colorado golf.

McGechie was a native of Los Angeles but lived in Colorado for almost his entire life.

About the Writer: Gary Baines has covered golf in Colorado continuously since 1983. He was a sports writer at the Daily Camera newspaper in Boulder, then the sports editor there, and has written regularly for since 2009. He was inducted into the Colorado Golf Hall of Fame in 2022. He owns and operates