DICK Smith, who has died at the age of 84, was a comparatively late developer in golfing achievement, for he was of that generation whose sporting careers were interrupted by the Second World War.

As a consequence he did not firmly establish himself until the late 1950s.

This represented achievement delayed, eccentrically, as it would be considered now.

At St Andrews in 1951 Smith was the leading qualifier in the 36-hole competition which then preceded the match play stages of the Scottish Amateur Championship and then reached the semi-final round.

But he was not picked to play in that year's home Internationals nor was he even a reserve. At least one reason for these almost insulting oversights was the reputed judgment of one of the selectors: ''We're not having a swing like that in a Scottish team.''

Indeed Smith's back-swing was nothing if not idiosyncratic. Hand-knitted was one of the kindlier descriptions.

Another, less so, was that it resembled a coal-man trying to heave a bag of nutty slack on to his shoulders. Unorthodox as it was it worked, and allied to a fine putting stroke eventually produced serious results.

Smith, born in Glasgow and educated at Glasgow University, where he won his golfing blue in 1938, first entered his name in the record books in 1945 when, as a captain then still in Army service, he won the Indian Amateur Championship.

Having returned home, Smith made his first serious mark in 1957 when he finished leading amateur, and in fifth place overall, in the Open Championship at St Andrews. Further achievements were not long delayed, notably in the following year when he beat Ian Harris for the Scottish title at Prestwick, probably his favourite stamping ground.

That victory earned Smith a reserved place for the 1959 Walker Cup match at Muirfield and he came into the side when Jimmy Walker had to withdraw because of injury. In the singles he came up against J W Nicklaus, then aged 19, of whom, as the saying goes, much

was expected.

Nicklaus did indeed overwhelm Smith. He was five up after the first round of the 36-hole match and won the first three holes in the afternoon. However in his own account of the match Nicklaus charitably noted: ''I played Dick Smith, a bald-headed fellow of 41 with a little moustache - an affable, courteous man and a darned good fighter.''

Smith, who had already represented Britain against Europe, became a regular member of Scottish teams in the late fifties and early sixties.

He captained the side in 1965 home Internationals at Royal Port Rush, but it was not a responsibility with which he appeared entirely at ease.

Smith, despite membership of clubs of greater celebrity, always entered competitions from Selkirk, where he was a director of the Heather Mills company. He enjoyed other numerous successes, most notably in two Portuguese championships, the Worplesden mixed foursomes tournament in partnership with Betty Singleton, and the Scottish seniors.

However, Prestwick always seemed to be Smith's spiritual home.

It certainly appeared to be the most rewarding, for such was his prowess at separating fellow members from their legal tender that he was accorded - no doubt as ruefully as rightfully - the nickname of The Collector.

W Dickson Smith, amateur golfer; born Glasgow, January 2, 1918, died Troon. January 25, 2002