- Improve the Quality of your Practice by Keeping a Record
- Short Game
- Who Owns This Hole?
- Why You Can’t Break 100
- Beating the Dreaded “Yips”
- Hit Better Chip Shots
- It’s In The Bag!
- The Worst Defeat
- Practice Makes Permanent, So Practice What You Have Learned
- Talk of the Town
- The Importance Of The Legs
- Take the Low Road
- The True Rules of Golf
- Ben Hogan
- Jack Nicklaus
- Byron Nelson
- Arnold Palmer
- Sam Snead
- Bobby Jones
- Padraig Harrington
Improve the Quality of your Practice by Keeping a Record
Record, shoot video or take notes Keep a record of your actions and the results they produce for you. By recording your performance, on videotape if you are golfing, or by using audiotape or notes if you are at work, you can start to look for helpful or harmful patterns.
How many putts a round do you average? Do you hit all your drives in the right rough or are most of your bad shots pulled?
What percentage of prospects do you close? This type of self evaluation will indicate clearly to you the areas most urgently in need of improvement? As you collect this valuable information, continue to take notes, writing down both the problem and solution. Chart your progress and monitor your results frequently, even daily. In the heat of battle, it is amazing how even the most proficient among us tends to forget the simplest of fundamentals, like keeping our heads still, taking the clubhead away slowly or remembering to ask for a sale.
Brief notes in a diary, on scraps of paper or even on table napkins have provided a written reminder of a key fundamental and resulted in victory in many a tournament. For some champions the secret is contained in a single word or phrase taped inside their locker door.
When Britain’s Tony Jacklin arrived at his locker on the final day of the 1970 US Open Championship, he found his good friend Tom Weiskopf had taped a message to the door. The message was short and sweet. There were only two words. "Tempo, Jacko."
Now who would have thought the reigning British Open Champion, a man going into the final round with one of the biggest leads in US Open history, would need such basic advice. As it happened, Jacklin gave much of the credit for his victory to those two little words. The difficult Hazeltine National course made some of the big name players of the day pay a severe toll. Dave Hill, who finished second, said, "All this course lacks is 80 acres of corn and some cows." Well, in spite of Hill’s lack of affection for the venue, Jacklin maintained that smooth tempo and became the first Briton to win the US Open since Ted Ray in 1920, and by seven shots, the second largest margin in history.
Weiskopf’s little reminder helped him achieve his victory. As you know, we may not always need to be told, but we do need to be reminded from time to time.
Please contact the golf shop to learn how to put this technique to work for your game today!
Once a sound swinging motion is developed, all of the various shots in golf share a common feeling and motion. Most PGA Tour professionals hit, on average, only 10-13 greens a round. So why then do they score so well? The obvious answer is that the short game accounts for well over half of their score and for you, it may be even more. It doesn’t take brute strength or athletic ability to develop a sound short game. What it does involve is proper setup for a solid stroke that can be varied in pace and length, along with a developed feel for distance.
It takes as much practice -- probably more patience -- to become proficient at this than the full swing. Make a commitment to spend at least half of your practice time on your short game. The results will be well worth the effort.
Please contact the golf shop to learn how to put this technique to work for your game today!
Who Owns This Hole?
Our third great shot was played by, who else, Jack Nicklaus. It wasn’t the shot that launched his career or created his reputation; that had been earned years before. This timely masterstroke was just one in a career replete with such memorable shots, but it could be the one that established Nicklaus as the greatest player in the history of the sport. Although there were many great moments before and after this one, it is hard to recall one that was equally dramatic.
Imagine we are making a movie about the golf tournament to end all tournaments, starring three of the greatest players of the era. The scene is the 1975 Masters Tournament, to be enacted in brilliant April sunshine at the Augusta National Golf Course. Are you ready on camera? OK... Lights! Action!Let’s set the stage. On the par five, 15th green we have the final twosome. It consists of the hottest player currently playing the game, Johnny Miller, along with another heir apparent to the golfing throne, Tom Weiskopf. Just a few yards away, waiting to play his tee-shot on the 16th is Jack Nicklaus. Weiskopf and Nicklaus currently share the lead at 11 under par for the tournament. Miller trails by one shot.
Weiskopf lies over the green in two shots at the par five. He chips weakly, and is now faced with a slippery birdie putt across twenty feet of lightning fast Augusta green. Nicklaus knows the situation as he glances over toward the 15th green, then steps up to his ball and hits his tee shot to the par three, 16th hole. For the final round, the flag on 16 is usually located in the back left part of the green, allowing players to play down the right side. The putting surface slopes towards the water hazard to the left of the hole and shots landing on the right half of the green feed down to the cup.
This will not be the case today.
The flag is back right, and any shot that is not absolutely perfect will roll back down towards the water, resulting in a putt of at least 30 feet. Nicklaus’ attempt is weak. In fact, by the exacting standards of Jack Nicklaus at this point in a major championship, it is downright terrible! Barely on the front left part of the green, he leaves himself 45 feet away from the difficult hole placement.
As Jack reaches his ball he glances at the 15th green again. His view is obscured by spectators and trees, but he doesn’t need to see what’s going on because he soon hears. A tremendous roar from the crowd bounces around the tall pines. Some even claim it was heard all the way back at the clubhouse. Weiskopf has made his birdie putt, dead center, and now has a one-shot lead over Nicklaus with three holes to play. Moments later the tall, slim figure of Weiskopf appears on the 16th tee, where he will be able to watch his destiny unfolding. As he stands there he must surely be considering the possibility that his lead might soon be two shots, judging by the difficulty of the putt Nicklaus now faces.
Nicklaus methodically performs his customary pre-shot routine, picking a spot a few feet in front of the ball over which he intends it to travel. He hunches over the ball in his familiar putting stance. The silence is absolute. He strikes the putt. Weiskopf and Miller watch as the ball curves up the slope. No -- it couldn’t, could it? It disappears into the hole as Nicklaus leaps into the air, with putter raised high, and his caddie does the same with the flag stick.
If the cheer for Weiskopf’s putt at 15 could be heard in the clubhouse, the roar for Nicklaus can be heard in downtown Atlanta! He is tied for the lead again.
On the 16th tee it’s hard to guess what’s going through Tom Weiskopf’s mind as he stands there looking on in silence. His face is a mask but, being human, he is no doubt affected to some degree by the pressure, and he leaves his tee shot short of the putting surface, over 100 feet from the hole. His first putt catches the wrong side of the slope and drifts left, 25 feet away from the flag. He can do no better than a bogey. Nicklaus is now one ahead of Weiskopf and two shots ahead of Miller with just two holes left to play.
The atmosphere is electric. Who will win? Will there be a playoff?
As it happens, Miller will birdie the 17th hole to join Weiskopf at just one shot off the pace, and both of them will have makeable birdie putts at 18 to tie for the lead. It isn’t to be. Neither of them is able to hole his putt. There is a sense of inevitability about the Golden Bear’s victory. Nicklaus has rarely lost an important tournament when he has been in a position to win. He has always had an unmatched, almost uncanny ability to make the shots and hole the putts that really count.
End of scene. Cut! Print! It’s a wrap!
More than a decade later in 1986, in the commentator's booth covering the same hole, Jim Nantz asks Weiskopf to speculate on what is going through Jack’s mind, as he is about to hit another immortal shot. Weiskopf laughs and replies, "If I knew that, I would have won the tournament." This time Nicklaus puts his 5-iron shot two feet from the cup. He records birdies at 16 and 17, and goes on to win his 6th green jacket, shooting 30 on the back nine in the final round. Jim Nantz remarks in open admiration, "Jack owns this hole." Weiskopf offers no disagreement.
Why You Can’t Break 100
Why You Can’t Break 90
The main reason you can’t break 90 or 100 is that you haven’t consistently mastered, to a reasonable degree, four clubs; the driver, the two wedges (pitching and sand wedge) and the putter. If you can consistently hit a tee shot and then hit the green from fifty or sixty yards away into the pin, you can break 90 or 100.
I’ve heard that old Scottish saying for many years "Drive for show — putt for thedough." Well, let me tell you bunky, if you don’t hit it well and consistent off the tee, you never have a chance to putt for the dough. Tell Tiger Woods, Ernie Els or David Duvalthat they can hit it anywhere and short off the tee and they will still be among the best players in the world. I don’t think so.These guys hit it long and put it in play. This gives them the opportunity to hit thatsecond shot in close. I’d like to play Tiger any day his is hitting it in the woods or deep rough and me playing it from the middle of the fairway and fifty yards further towardsthe pin. I’ll eat his lunch day in and day out. That driver in your hands is your attack club. That’s what your best offensive club is. You need to have that idea in your mind everytime you step on the tee with it in your hands.
Usually when I have a student on the lesson tee and I tell him the above, he or she says "Yeah that’s all well and good. You can do it — I can’t. All I’m trying to do is hit it in the fairway." Then they proceed to try and steer the ball down the middle. They take it halfway back and halfway through. There’s no turn on the back swing and no release of the body and forearms on the follow through. they hit it out there about 150 yards with a big slice. "That’s my shot," they say. In five minutes I teach them to release and turn it over so they draw the ball. This usually equals about fifty more yards. They may be in the left rough, but they’re fifty yards further down towards the hole. All good players learn first to draw the ball.
The second reason most players can’t break 90 or 100 is that they can’t pitch the ball to the green from sixty yards on into the pin. They’ve got no feel for it. In our clinics we try to equate pitching the golf ball to making an underhand pitch in softball. In softball, you swing your pitching arm back as you transfer weight to your back foot and then transfer it back to your lead foot with your pitching arm extending forward to the plate. Same in golf: you swing your pitching arm forward and face the target. Most people are afraid they’re going to hit it too hard and then they stop their follow through with their weight transfer and follow through. (?) As a result, they skull it and chunk it, hitting the ground six inches behind the ball.
The third reason you can’t break 90 or 100 is you’re particularly lousy at chipping the ball close from the edge of the green. This is the stroke that turns bogies into birdies or at least pars. How many times have you gotten the ball close to the green on a par four in two shots and then made six or seven? I saw Jose Maria Olazabal hit six greens in regulation and shot three under par 69. He upped and downed it twelve times for par. An average tour pro only hits twelve green in regulation. Where does that leave you? If I hit ten greens, I shoot par or better. If you don’t hit many greens, you better be a whiz at the short game, especially chipping.
Now let’s get to that flat stick. Forty percent of your shots are going to be putts. If you’re three or four putting every green, this will surly add up that final number. Think about it. If you average three puffs a hole, that’s 54 shots. I can’t tell you the number of people who come to see me who just want a lesson on the swing, never a putting lesson. Remember, you usually hit a driver around 14 times a round, but you use that flat stick every hole and usually at least twice, that’s thirty six times. Needless to say, you better learn to use it well.
I had a bunch of kids in my Junior Program when they were about ten to twelve years old. Our focus was on the short game. By the time two of these kids got to high school they could hit it 240 yards or better. The rest were about 200 yards off the tee. In their senior year those kids beat the number one team in the state twice in one week. They weren’t long, but they could get it up and down out of the ball washer. They were the best short game players in the state.
I haven’t had but one player who ever came to our school who couldn’t break 90 or 100 after three days. The one who couldn’t, refused to work on his short game. All he wanted to do was hit his driver and long irons. He got pretty good at those, but still couldn’t score. Even Tiger Woods couldn’t win out there if he didn’t have a great short game. He’d just be another so-so player.
To sum it up, learn how to hit four clubs — the driver, the two wedges and the putter. You’ll break 100 or 90 easily.
Please contact the golf shop to learn how to put this technique to work for your game today!
Beating the Dreaded "Yips"
Bernard Langer became one of the world’s best players and a two-time Masters champion by identifying his limiting factor and overcoming a problem few players in history have ever conquered.
At a very early age he developed the putting "yips." In a nutshell, that means he lost control of the muscles in his hands and arms when facing short putts. From three feet he might leave a putt short by 18 inches, then, on the very next green, be forced to watch in anguish as his unruly putter fired the ball 10 feet past the hole!
Recognizing that this problem would prevent him permanently from reaching his goals, no matter how good his iron play, he spent hour upon hour, week after week, working to overcome his limitation.
He took Gary Player as his model and, through determination and will power, he finally found a stroke that would work for him. For several years he was among the top players in European golf, then, without warning, the dreaded yips returned!
Once again he was compelled to go back to the practice putting green in search of a cure. Eventually he discovered a unique and creative grip that entails placing his left hand about ten inches down the shaft and letting the shaft rest against the inside of his left forearm. He then locks the grip of the club in place by gripping both the shaft and his left wrist with his right hand. While it may be one of the most unorthodox grips in history, it has enabled him to play competitive golf at the highest level once again.
Many other fine players have had to leave the game when they became afflicted with the identical problem. Langer, through personal honesty, courage, and dogged determination, overcame his limiting factor and showed himself for what he is, a true champion.
Hit Better Chip Shots
The chip shot can be a golfer’s best friend or worst enemy. If you can chip the ball close enough to the hole to make the putt, your score will improve and so will your confidence level. On the otherhand, if you are unable to hit solid chip shots close to the hole, your score will rise as your confidence falls.
To hit better chip shots, move the ball back in your stance. Be sure and stand erect, then hit the ball with a descending blow. Keep you wrists firm throughout the shot. Be sure and accelerate through the ball. The result will be more solid chip shots that go where you are aiming. You will hit better chip shots and enjoy the game much more!
Please contact the golf shop to learn how to put this technique to work for your game today!
It’s In The Bag!
During a tournament Walter Hagen’s approach shot lands inside a paper bag that has blown into a bunker. Hagen asks for a drop but is told he isn’t entitled to one since the ball is in a hazard. He must either play the ball as it lies, in the bag, or take a penalty stroke.
Hagen is none to thrilled with either option but, as he draws on his cigarette, an idea comes to him. With the gallery and the official looking on, he discards the still smoldering butt onto the bag which instantly bursts into flames. The bag all but gone, he pitches out and makes par!
The Worst Defeat
The worst defeat Walter Hagen ever suffered came at the hands of British pro Archie Compston. In another of Hagen’s famous 72-hole challenge matches at the Moor Park Club, just outside London, he was beaten 18 and 17.
Compston played magnificent golf and Hagen was far from his best, being fatigued from a long ocean voyage. Nevertheless, it was hard to justify such a huge margin of defeat. In spite of this, Hagen was photographed after the match, smiling and looking as if he had just won a major championship. The following week he did so, beating Compston and the rest of the world to capture the British Open at Sandwich.
The following year, after a disastrous 10 and 8 loss in the Ryder Cup matches, he bought his caddie a new suit and took him to Muirfield, where he won his fourth Open Championship. Surely no player in golfing history enjoyed more comeback victories.
By accepting in advance that he would inevitably hit some bad shots, have bad rounds or bad weeks, and encounter difficult problems, Hagen always had a mental edge over his opponents. When faced with a problem, he never wasted time and energy dissecting the reasons the problem had occurred; there would be time enough to do that later, on the practice ground. The task at hand was to solve the problem, quickly and efficiently, and get the round back on track.
Practice Makes Permanent, So Practice What You Have Learned
Golfers come to our school for one, three or five days, or for and individual lesson. They discover what they need to do to improve their game, and then they go home. I always wonder if they are going to practice what they have learned.
If they do, they will improve, if they don’t they will fall back into their old "bad" habits. You get out of this game what you put into it. Once you’ve committed to improving your game, you need a practice strategy to get that handicap down.
Most golfers spend many wasted hours hitting ball after ball on the range and never getting any better. This section will focus on two very distinct sessions you can use when you go to the range.
The 1st session we’ll call swing practice. Keep a goal in mind as you practice, for example, making a better turn, eliminating swaying off the ball, working on your plane, etc. Once you have set your goal, don’t be a "ball beater"; hitting ball after ball over a period of time. Take some time. If you know the flaw in your swing, go through the correct procedure in slow motion so you can feel so you can feel the right move. If you don’t know what your flaw is, get some professional advice. It’s very tough to correct something if you don’t know what you’re doing wrong. It’s like a person doing brain surgery while he is reading the instruction book.
When you are working on your swing, change clubs every 4 or 5 balls. When I’m doing a practice session, I like to hit all the even numbered clubs one day and the odd numbered clubs the next session. Don’t reach for your favorite club and hit all 50, or so, balls with it. The problem with this type of practice is that it does not prepare you for playing the course. When you are on the course and faced with a shot using a club you are not comfortable with, you begin to doubt your abilities with that club. The odds of making that shot are not very good.
While you are working on your swing you need to be paying attention to fundamentals such as grip, set-up and alignment. If you cannot master these pre-shot fundamentals, you will not be able to swing correctly.Find yourself a good practice station. Lay down clubs for foot line, club head path and ball position. Make sure your practice session is aligned towards a target. You should always be aiming toward a target. Change your target during the course of the practice session so you don’t get comfortable with just one target.
Imagine you’ve worked on your swing and ironed out your problem(s). Many golfers say to me, "I do fine on the range, but when I go to the course it never works".
The second part of your session should eliminate that problem; it’s called "play practice".In your "play practice" you need to keep one swing thought in your head and play a course you are familiar with. What you are really doing is simulating play on the course.
For example, say your first hole is a par 4, 375 yards with water along the left side of the fairway. Use your Imagination here and set up and hit your tee shot. Put your driver down and wait at least 30 seconds. Let’s pretend you have 175 yards left to get to the green. See the shot in your imagination as you stand behind the ball and visualize the ball going through the air to the pin. Make the shot. Now let’s pretend you hit that shot a little fat and you’ve come up 30 yards short. There’s a bunker between your ball and the pin. After your 30 second wait, take your sand wedge and try a few practice swings for feel. Now imagine that little lob shot going over the bunker and settling next to the hole. Your play practice has taken you through a hole on the course.
Your next hole is a par 5 of 540 yards. Use the same strategy and "play practice" the hole. You have to use your imagination to make the driving range your golf course. This "play practice" will make practicing more fun and you will be able to take your game to the real golf course because you already practiced it on your "driving course range."
Please contact the golf shop to learn how to put this technique to work for your game today!
Talk of the Town
Another incident that took place several years later gives us added insight into Jones the man and the power of his image in the minds of the golfing public, especially the knowledgeable fans of St. Andrews. When Jones first visited the Old Course as a young man, he had torn up his score card and left the sacred turf in a fit of anger, without completing his round.
Over the years, however, he came to love this cradle of the game, and the city of St. Andrews returned the affection and adopted him as one of their own.In 1936, some six years after his retirement from competitive golf, Jones and some friends were staying at Gleneagles, a fabulous 54-hole golf resort a few hours by road from St. Andrews. On their last day, the group decided they would play the Old Course. Jones and his party arrived unannounced, but were, not surprisingly, quickly accommodated with a tee time.
By the time he and his group had reached the first green, word had spread through the town like wildfire. Young and old alike, townspeople stopped one another in the street to pass the word, "Bobby’s back!" On the second hole the crowd already numbered some 2,000 people and soon thereafter the entire town, to all intents and purposes, had shut down for the day!
Bobby Jones later wrote that it was during the festival atmosphere of this enjoyable round that he was paid the greatest and most sincere compliment of his life. Who complimented him in such a memorable fashion? A famous opponent? A beautiful woman? Could it have been the Lord Mayor of St. Andrews himself? None of these. It was a 12 year-old boy. Faced with a difficult recovery shot on the 12th hole, Jones played a majestic 4-iron shot into the heart of the green. His young caddie looked at him with awe and said in his strong Scottish accent,
"Mister but ye’re a wonder!"
The Importance Of The Legs
Some long hitters attribute their length off the tee primarily to their legs. They may feel this, but it's a misconception that the legs serve as the primary power generator in the swing. The function of the legs in the golf swing is to provide a solid platform for balancing the trunk and swinging of the arms.
Without the stability of the right foot and leg anchoring the swing, the power which comes from the motion of the arms, the rotation of the body and the ability of the wrists to hinge and release would be greatly diminished.
Please contact the golf shop to learn how to put this technique to work for your game today!
Take the Low Road
Many years ago at the Bing Crosby Tournament at Pebble Beach, a fierce wind was blowing off the Pacific. On the short 7th, a mere 107 yard par three played downhill to a tiny green perched on a cliff, most players were taking sixes and sevens. Player after player watched in melancholy horror as their efforts were blown off course, missing the miniature target and being dashed on the rocks and swallowed up by the hungry ocean below.
Sam Snead, having seen the problem others were having, and trying to protect a good round, knew he had to find a way to keep the ball out of the wind. Since the tee is elevated some 50 feet above the green this was not an easy task. Snead answered the challenge by banging the ball down the cart path with his putter, and ending close to the edge of the green. Then he chipped on and made par as an amazed gallery watched in awe.
In another time and place, Johnny Miller hit his drive through the fairway and into a small clump of trees. His ball came to rest next to a large tree trunk giving him no room to swing. He also used his putter to hit the ball left-handed through a tiny gap in the trees some 10 or 12 yards in front of him. The ball took off like a rocket and flew 160 yards, pitching just past the pin and actually backing up five or six feet, leaving Miller a "tap-in" birdie putt.Back To Top
- The game of golf is 90% mental and 10% mental.
- If you want to get better at golf, go back and take it up at a much earlier age.
- Since bad shots come in groups of three, a fourth bad shot is actually the beginning of the next group of three.
- When you look up and cause an awful shot, you will always look down again at exactly the moment when you ought to start watching the ball if you ever want to see it again.
- Any change works for a maximum of three holes and a minimum of not at all.
- No matter how bad you are playing, it is always possible to play worse
- Never keep more than 300 separate thoughts in your mind during your swing.
- When your shot has to carry over a water hazard, you can either hit one
more club or two more balls.
The True Rules Of Golf - Part 2 of 4
- Golfers who claim they don't cheat, also lie.
- If you're afraid a full shot might reach the green while the foursome ahead of you is still putting out, you have two options: you can immediately shank a lay-up, or you can wait until the green is clear and top a ball halfway there.
- The less skilled the player, the more likely he is to share his ideas about the golf swing.
- The inevitable result of any golf lesson is the instant elimination of the one critical unconscious motion that allowed you to compensate for all your errors.
- If it ain't broke, try changing your grip.
- It's not a gimme if you're still away.
- Everyone replaces his divot after a perfect approach shot.
- A golf match is a test of your skill against your opponent's luck.
- It's surprisingly easy to hole a 50-foot putt when you lie 10.
- Counting on your opponent to inform you when he breaks a rule is like expecting him to make fun of his own haircut.
The True Rules Of Golf - Part 3 of 4
- Non chalant putts count the same as chalant putts.
- The shortest distance beween any two points on a golf course is a straight line that passes directly through the center of a very large tree.
- There are two kinds of bounces: unfair bounces, and bounces just the way you meant to play it.
- You can hit a 2-acre fairway 10% of the time, and a 2-inch branch 90% of the time.
- Every time a golfer makes a birdie, he must subsequently make two triple bogeys to restore the fundamental equilibrium of the universe.
- If you want to hit a 7-iron as far as Tiger Woods does, simply try to lay up just short of a water hazard.
- To calculate the speed of a player's downswing, multiply the speed of his backswing by his handicap. Example: backswing 20 mph, handicap 15, downswing 600 mph.
The True Rules Of Golf - Part 4 of 4
- There are two things you can learn by stopping your backswing at the top and checking the position of your hands: how many hands you have, and which one is wearing the glove.
- Hazards attract. Fairways repel.
- You can put "draw" on the ball, you can put "fade" on the ball, but no golfer can put "straight" on the ball.
- A ball you can see in the rough from 50 yards away is not yours.
- If there is a ball in the fringe and a ball in the bunker, your ball is the one in the bunker.
- If both balls are in the bunker, yours is in the footprint.
- Don't buy a putter until you've had a chance to throw it.
William Ben Hogan (August 13, 1912 – July 25, 1997) was an American golfer, and is generally considered one of the greatest golfers in the history of the game. Born within six months of two other acknowledged golf greats of the twentieth century, Sam Snead and Byron Nelson, Hogan is notable for his profound influence on the golf swing theory and his legendary ball-striking ability, for which he remains renowned among players and fans. His life is depicted in the biographical film Follow the Sun (1951).
Early life and character
Born in Stephenville, Texas, he was the third and youngest child of Chester and Clara (Williams) Hogan. His father was a blacksmith and the family lived ten miles southwest in Dublin until 1921, when they moved 70 miles (112 km) northeast to Fort Worth. Following his father's suicide, a self-inflicted gunshot to the chest at the family home in 1922, the family incurred financial difficulty and the children took jobs to help their seamstress mother make ends meet. Older brother Royal quit school at age fourteen to deliver office supplies by bicycle, and nine year-old Ben sold newspapers after school at the nearby train station. A tip from a friend led him to caddying at the age of eleven, at Glen Garden Country Club, a nine-hole course seven miles (11 km) to the south.
When Hogan was 9, his father Chester committed suicide. By some accounts Chester committed suicide in front of him, which some (including Hogan biographer James Dodson) have cited as the cause of his introverted personality in later years. One of his fellow caddies at Glen Garden was Byron Nelson, later a tour rival. The two would tie for the lead at the annual Christmas caddy tournament in December 1927, when both were fifteen. Nelson sank a thirty foot putt to tie on the ninth and final hole. Instead of sudden death, they played another nine holes; Nelson sank another substantial putt on the final green to win by a stroke.
The following spring, Nelson was granted the only junior membership offered by the members of Glen Garden. Club rules did not allow caddies age 16 and older, so after August 1928, Hogan took his game to three scrubby daily-fee courses: Katy Lake, Worth Hills, and Z-Boaz.
Hogan dropped out of Central High School during the final semester of his senior year, and became a professional golfer at the Texas Open in San Antonio in late January 1930, more than six months shy of his eighteenth birthday. Hogan met Valerie Fox in Sunday school in Fort Worth in the mid-1920s, and they reacquainted in 1932 when he landed a low-paying club pro job in Cleburne, where her family had moved. They married in April 1935 at her parents' home.
Despite finishing 13th on the money list in 1938, Hogan had to take an assistant pro’s job, and was hired that year by Century Country Club in Purchase, New York. He worked at Century as an assistant and then as the head pro until 1941, when he took the head job at Hershey Country Club in Hershey, Pennsylvania.
His early years as a pro were very difficult, and Hogan went broke more than once. He did not win his first pro tournament as an individual until March 1940, when he won three consecutive tournaments in North Carolina. Although it took a decade to secure his first victory, Hogan's wife Valerie believed in him, and this helped see him through the tough years, when he battled a hook, which he later cured.
By most accounts, Ben Hogan was the best golfer of his era, and still stands as one of the greatest of all time. "The Hawk" possessed fierce determination and an iron will, which combined with his unquestionable golf skills, formed an aura which could intimidate opponents into competitive submission. In Scotland, Hogan was known as "The Wee Ice Man", or, in some versions, "Wee Ice Mon," a moniker earned during his famous British Open victory at Carnoustie in 1953. It is a reference to his steely and seemingly nerveless demeanor, itself a product of a golf swing he had built that was designed to perform better the more pressure he put it under. Hogan rarely spoke during competition, and few opponents could avoid wilting under his icy glare. Hogan was also highly respected by fellow competitors for his superb course management skills. During his peak years, he rarely if ever attempted a shot in competition which he had not thoroughly honed in practice.
Between the years of 1938 through 1959, Hogan won 63 professional golf tournaments despite his career's being interrupted in its prime by World War II and a near-fatal car accident. Hogan and his wife, Valerie, survived a head-on collision with a Greyhound bus on a fog-shrouded bridge east of Van Horn, Texas on February 2, 1949. Hogan threw himself across Valerie in order to protect her, and would have been killed had he not done so, as the steering column punctured the driver's seat.
This accident left Hogan, age 36, with a double-fracture of the pelvis, a fractured collar bone, a left ankle fracture, a chipped rib, and near-fatal blood clots: he would suffer lifelong circulation problems and other physical limitations. His doctors said he might never walk again, let alone play golf competitively. He left the hospital on April 1, 59 days after the accident.
The "Hogan Slam" season
The win at Carnoustie was but a part of Hogan's watershed 1953 season, in which he won five of the six tournaments he entered and the first three major championships of the year (a feat known as the "Hogan Slam").
It still stands among the greatest single seasons in the history of professional golf. Hogan, 40, was unable to enter — and possibly win — the 1953 PGA Championship (to complete the Grand Slam) because its play (July 1–7) overlapped the play of the British Open at Carnoustie (July 6–10), which he won. It remains the only time that a golfer has won the first three major professional championships of the year; Tiger Woods won the final three majors in 2000 and the first in 2001.
Hogan often declined to play in the PGA Championship, skipping it more and more often as his career wore on. There were two reasons for this: firstly, the PGA Championship was, until 1958, a match play event, and Hogan's particular skill was "shooting a number" — meticulously planning and executing a strategy to achieve a score for a round on a particular course (even to the point of leaving out the 7-iron in the U.S. Open at Merion, saying "there are no 7-iron shots at Merion"). The second reason was that the PGA required several days of 36 holes per day competition, and after his 1949 auto accident, Hogan struggled to manage more than 18 holes a day.
His nine career professional major championships tie him (with Gary Player) for fourth all-time, trailing only Jack Nicklaus (18), Tiger Woods (14) and Walter Hagen (11).
Hogan's golf swing
Ben Hogan is widely acknowledged to have been the greatest ball striker ever to have played golf. Although he had a formidable record as a tournament winner, it is this aspect of Hogan which mostly underpins his modern reputation.
Hogan was known to practice more than any other golfer of his contemporaries and is said to have "invented practice". On this matter, Hogan himself said, "You hear stories about me beating my brains out practicing, but... I was enjoying myself. I couldn't wait to get up in the morning, so I could hit balls. When I'm hitting the ball where I want, hard and crisply, it's a joy that very few people experience. "He was also one of the first players to match particular clubs to yardages, or references points around the course such as bunkers or trees, in order to improve his distance control.
Hogan thought that an individual's golf swing was "in the dirt" and that mastering it required plenty of practice and repetition. He is also known to have spent years contemplating the golf swing, trying a range of theories and methods before arriving at the finished method which brought him his greatest period of success.
The young Hogan was badly afflicted by hooking the golf ball. Although slight of build at only 5'7" and 140 pounds (64 kg) - attributes that earned him the nickname "Bantam", which he thoroughly disliked - he was very long off the tee early in his career, and even competed in long drive contests.
It has been alleged that Hogan used a "strong" grip, with hands more the right of the club grip in tournament play prior to his accident in 1949, despite often practicing with a "weak" grip, with the back of the left wrist facing the target, and that this limited his success, or, at least, his reliability, up to that date (source: John Jacobs in his book 'Fifty Greatest Golf Lessons of the Century').
Jacobs alleges that Byron Nelson told him this information, and furthermore that Hogan developed and used the "strong" grip as a boy in order to be able to hit the ball as far as bigger, stronger contemporaries. This strong grip is what resulted in Hogan hitting the odd disastrous snap hook. Nelson and Hogan both grew up in Fort Worth, and they are known to have played against each other as teenagers.
Hogan's late swing produced the famed "Hogan Fade" ball flight, lower than usual for a great player and from left to right. This ball flight was the result of his using a "draw" type swing in conjunction with a "weak" grip, a combination which all but negated the chance of hitting a hook.
Hogan played and practiced golf with only bare-hands i.e. he played or practiced without wearing any gloves. Moe Norman also did the same, playing and practicing without wearing any golf gloves. Both these players are/were arguably the greatest ball strikers golf has ever known; even Tiger Woods quoted them as the only players ever to have "owned their swings", in that they had total control of it and, as a result, the ball's flight.
Hogan is thought to have developed a "secret" which made his swing nearly automatic. There are many theories as to its exact nature. The earliest theory is that the "secret" was a special wrist movement known as "cupping under". This information was revealed in a 1955 Life magazine article. However, many believed Hogan did not reveal all that he knew at the time. It has since been alleged in Golf Digest magazine, and by Jody Vasquez in his book "Afternoons With Mr Hogan", that the second element of Hogan's "secret" was the way in which he used his right knee to initiate the swing and that this right knee movement was critical to the correct operation of the wrist.
Hogan revealed later in life that the "secret" involved cupping the left wrist at the top of the back swing and using a weaker left hand grip (thumb more on top of the grip as opposed to on the right side).
Hogan did this to prevent himself from ever hooking the ball off the tee. By positioning his hands in this manner, he ensured that the club face would be slightly open upon impact, creating a fade (left to right ball flight) as opposed to a draw or hook (right to left ball flight).
This is not something that would benefit all golfers, however, since the average golfer already slices or fades the ball. The draw is more appealing to amateurs due to its greater distance.
Many believed that although he played right-handed as an adult, Hogan was actually left-handed. In his book "Five Lessons," in the chapter entitled "The Grip," Hogan said "I was born left-handed -- that was the normal way for me to do things. I was switched over to doing things right-handed when I was a boy but I started golf as a left-hander because the first club I ever came into possession of, an old five-iron, was a left-handed stick." This belief also seemed to be corroborated by Hogan himself in his earlier book "Power Golf." However, some mystery still remains about this since Hogan in subsequent interviews said that the belief of him being left-handed was actually a myth (noted in what was probably his last video interview and in his 1987 Golf Magazine interview).
In these interviews Hogan said that he was indeed a right hand player who early on practiced/played with a left hand club that had been given to him because it was all that he had and that it was this issue that brought about the myth that he was left-handed. This may be the reason that his early play with right-handed equipment found him using a cross-handed grip (right hand at the end of the club, left hand below it). In "The Search for the Perfect Golf Swing", researchers Cochran and Stobbs held the opinion that a left-handed person playing right-handed would be prone to hook the ball.
Even a decade after his death, amateurs and professionals continue to study the techniques of this consummate player, as evidenced by such books as Ben Hogan, The Man Behind the Mystique (Martin, 2002) and the more recent The Secret of Hogan's Swing (Bertrand and Bowler, 2006).
"Five Fundamentals" and golf instruction
Hogan believed that a solid, repeatable golf swing involved only a few essential elements, which, when performed correctly and in sequence, were the essence of the swing. His book Five Lessons: The Modern Fundamentals of Golf is perhaps the most widely read golf tutorial ever written, although Harvey Penick's Little Red Book would also have a claim to that title, and the principles therein are often parroted by modern "swing gurus".
Ben Hogan's Modern Fundamentals: The Five Lessons of Golf was initially released as a five part series beginning in the March 1957 issue of Sports Illustrated magazine, and was printed in book form later in that same year. It is currently in its 64th printing. Even today it continues to maintain a place at or near the top of the Amazon.com golf book sales rankings. The book was co-authored by Herbert Warren Wind, and illustrated by artist Anthony Ravielli.
Hogan is widely acknowledged to have been the best ball striker ever.
Hogan's ball striking has also been described as being of near miraculous caliber by other very knowledgeable observers such as Jack Nicklaus, who only saw him play some years after his prime. Nicklaus once responded to the question, "Is Tiger Woods the best ball striker you have ever seen?" with, "No, no - Ben Hogan, easily".
Further testimony to Hogan's (and Norman's) status among top golfers is provided by Tiger Woods, who recently said that he wished to "own his (golf) swing" in the same way as Moe Norman and Hogan had. Woods claimed that this pair were the only players ever to have "owned their swings", in that they had total control of it and, as a result, of the ball's flight.
Although his ball striking was perhaps the greatest ever, Hogan is also known to have at times been a very poor putter by professional standards, particularly on slow greens. The majority of his putting problems developed after his car accident in 1949. Toward the end of his career, he would stand over the ball, in some cases for minutes, before drawing the putter back. It was written in the Hogan Biography, Ben Hogan: An American Life, that Hogan had damaged his left eye and that poor vision added to his putting problems.
While he suffered from the "yips" in his later years, Hogan was known as an effective putter from mid to short range on quick, U.S. Open style surfaces at times during his career.
Career and records
In 1948 alone, Ben Hogan won 10 tournaments, including the U.S. Open at Riviera Country Club, a course known as "Hogan's Alley" because of his success there. Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, a modern PGA tournament venue, is also known as "Hogan's Alley" and may have the better claim to the nickname as it was his home course after his retirement, and he was an active member of Colonial as well for many years. Hogan's Alley is also the name of an FBI training complex, and the term has its origins in the late 19th century in the form of a cartoon strip, only later being matched with courses at which Hogan excelled. The sixth hole at Carnoustie, a par five from the tee of which Hogan took a famously difficult line off during each of his rounds in the 1953 Open Championship, has also recently been renamed Hogan's Alley.
Hogan's homecoming ticker-tape parade in New York, 1953Prior to the 1949 accident, Hogan never truly captured the hearts of his galleries, despite being one of the better golfers of his time. Perhaps this was due to his cold and aloof on-course persona. But when Ben Hogan shocked and amazed the golf world by returning to tournament golf only 11 months after his accident, and, amazingly, took second place in the 1950 Los Angeles Open after a playoff loss to Sam Snead, he was cheered on by ecstatic fans. "His legs simply were not strong enough to carry his heart any longer", famed sportswriter Grantland Rice said of Hogan's near-miss. However, he proved to his critics (and to himself, especially) that he could still win by completing his famous comeback five months later, defeating Lloyd Mangrum and George Fazio in an 18-hole playoff at Merion Golf Club to win his second U.S. Open Championship. Hogan went on to achieve what is perhaps the greatest sporting accomplishment in history, limping to 12 more PGA Tour wins (including 6 majors) before retiring. In 1951, Hogan entered just five events, but won three of them - the Masters, the U.S. Open, and the World Championship of Golf, and finished second and fourth in his other two starts. He would finish fourth on that season's money list, barely $6,000 behind the season's official money list leader Lloyd Mangrum, who played over 20 events. That year also saw the release of a biopic starring Glenn Ford as Hogan, called Follow the Sun: The Ben Hogan Story. He even received a ticker-tape parade in New York City upon his return from winning the 1953 British Open Championship, the only time he played the event. With his British Open Championship victory, Hogan became just the second player, after Gene Sarazen, to win all four of the modern major championships—the Masters, U.S. Open, British Open, and PGA Championship.
Hogan never competed on the senior golf tour, as that circuit did not exist until he was in his late sixties.
He died in Fort Worth, Texas. His interment was located at its cemetery Greenwood Memorial Park.
Distinctions and honors
Hogan played on two U.S. Ryder Cup teams, 1947 and 1951, and captained the team three times, 1947, 1949, and 1967, famously claiming on the latter occasion to have brought the "twelve best golfers in the world" to play in the competition. (This line was used by subsequent Ryder Cup captain Raymond Floyd in 1989. In 1989, playing at The Belfry, the two sides halved at 14 points each and Team Europe retained the cup.)
Hogan won the Vardon Trophy for lowest scoring average three times: 1940, 1941, and 1948. In 1953, Hogan won the Hickok Belt as the top professional athlete of the year in the United States.
The Ben Hogan Award is given annually by the Golf Writers Association of America to a golfer who has stayed active in golf despite a physical handicap or serious illness. The first winner was Babe Zaharias.
He was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1974. In 1976, Ben Hogan was voted the Bob Jones Award, the highest honor given by the United States Golf Association in recognition of distinguished sportsmanship in golf.
A special room is dedicated to Hogan's career, comeback, and accomplishments at the United States Golf Association Museum and Arnold Palmer Center for Golf History in Far Hills, New Jersey.
Hogan ranked 38th in ESPN's SportsCentury 50 Greatest Athletes of the 20th Century in 1999.
In 2000, Hogan was ranked as the second greatest player of all time by Golf Digest magazine. Jack Nicklaus was first, and Sam Snead was third.
In 2009, Hogan was ranked as the fourth greatest player of all time by Golf Magazine. Jack Nicklaus was first, Tiger Woods was second, and Bobby Jones was third.
Ben Hogan Golf Company
Following his most successful season, Hogan started his golf club company in the fall of 1953 in Fort Worth. Production began in the summer of 1954, with clubs targeted toward "the better player." Always the stickler for perfection it is said Hogan ordered the entire first production run of clubs destroyed because they did not meet his exacting standards.
In 1960, he sold the company to American Machine and Foundry (AMF), but stayed on as chairman of the board for several more years. AMF Ben Hogan golf clubs were sold continuously from 1960 to 1985 when AMF was bought by Minstar who sold The Ben Hogan company in 1988 to Cosmo World. Cosmo world owned the club manufacturer until 1992. In 1992 Cosmo sold it to another independent investor, Bill Goodwin. Goodwin moved the company out of Fort Worth, and a union shop, to Virginia so it would be close to his home of operations for other AMF brands and, incidentally, a non-union shop in an effort to return the company to profitability. Goodwin sold to Spalding in 1997 closing the sale in January 1998. Spalding returned manufacturing to Hogan's Fort Worth, Texas roots before eventually including the company's assets in a bankruptcy sale of Spalding's Topflite division to Callaway in 2004. Callaway now owns the rights to the Ben Hogan brand. After over a half century and numerous ownership changes, the Ben Hogan line was discontinued by Callaway in 2008.
1953 - company founded
1960 - sold to AMF, Hogan retained as president
1984 - sold to Irwin Jacobs for $15 million
1988 - sold to Cosmo World of Japan for $55 million, initial sponsor of the Ben Hogan Tour from 1990–92
1992 - sold to Bill Goodwin of Richmond, Virginia
1997 - sold to Spalding Top-Flite 
2003 - sold to Callaway Golf, Hogan line discontinued in 2008
PGA Tour wins (64)
1938 (1) Hershey Four-Ball (with Vic Ghezzi)
1940 (4) North and South Open, Greater Greensboro Open, Asheville Land of the Sky Open, Goodall Palm Beach Round Robin
1941 (5) Asheville Open, Chicago Open, Hershey Open, Miami Biltmore International Four-Ball (with Gene Sarazen), Inverness Invitational Four-Ball (with Jimmy Demaret)
1942 (6) Los Angeles Open, San Francisco Open, North and South Open, Asheville Land of the Sky Open, Hale America Open, Rochester Open
1945 (5) Nashville Invitational, Portland Open Invitational, Richmond Invitational, Montgomery Invitational, Orlando Open
1946 (13) Phoenix Open, San Antonio Texas Open, St. Petersburg Open, Miami International Four-Ball (with Jimmy Demaret), Colonial National Invitation, Western Open, Goodall Round Robin, Inverness Invitational Four-Ball (with Jimmy Demaret), Winnipeg Open, PGA Championship, Golden State Open, Dallas Invitational, North and South Open
1947 (7) Los Angeles Open, Phoenix Open, Colonial National Invitation, Chicago Victory Open, World Championship of Golf, Miami International Four-Ball (with Jimmy Demaret), Inverness Invitational Four-Ball (with Jimmy Demaret)
1948 (11) Los Angeles Open, PGA Championship, U.S. Open, Inverness Invitational Four-Ball (with Jimmy Demaret), Motor City Open, Reading Open, Western Open, Denver Open, Reno Open, Glendale Open, Western Open
1949 (2) Bing Crosby Pro-Am, Long Beach Open
1950 (1) U.S. Open
1951 (3) Masters Tournament, U.S. Open, World Championship of Golf
1952 (1) Colonial National Invitation
1953 (5) Masters Tournament, Pan American Open, Colonial National Invitation, U.S. Open, The Open Championship (designated as a PGA Tour win in 2002)
1959 (1) Colonial National Invitation
this list is probably incomplete
1950 Greenbrier Pro-Am
1953 Pan American tournament (Mexico City)
1956 World Cup of Golf individual; World Cup of Golf team
 Major championships
 Wins (9)
Year Championship 54 Holes Winning Score Margin Runner(s)-up
1946 PGA Championship n/a 6 & 4 n/a Ed Oliver
1948 U.S. Open 2 shot lead -8 (67-72-68-69=276) 2 strokes Jimmy Demaret
1948 PGA Championship (2) n/a 7 & 6 n/a Mike Turnesa
1950 U.S. Open (2) 2 shot deficit +7 (72-69-72-74=287) Playoff 1 George Fazio, Lloyd Mangrum
1951 Masters Tournament 1 shot deficit -8 (70-72-70-68=280) 2 strokes Skee Riegel
1951 U.S. Open (3) 2 shot deficit +7 (76-73-71-67=287) 2 strokes Clayton Heafner
1953 Masters Tournament (2) 4 shot lead -14 (70-69-66-69=274) 5 strokes Ed Oliver
1953 U.S. Open (4) 1 shot lead -5 (67-72-73-71=283) 6 strokes Sam Snead
1953 The Open Championship Tied for lead -2 (73-71-70-68=282) 4 strokes Antonio Cerdá, Dai Rees,
Frank Stranahan, Peter Thomson
Note: The PGA Championship was match play until 1958
1 Defeated Mangrum and Fazio in 18-hole playoff: Hogan (69), Mangrum (73), Fazio (75)
Jack William Nicklaus (born January 21, 1940), also known as "The Golden Bear", is an American professional golfer. With the most victories in major championships (18), he was continuously ranked as the world's number one golfer on McCormack's World Golf Rankings from its inception in 1968 to 1977. Having won seven professional major titles between 1962 and 1967, he would likely have been considered number one in some of those years as well (a period when he, Arnold Palmer and Gary Player vied for that status in public acclaim as The Big Three). After 1978, while much younger players such as Tom Watson and Seve Ballesteros came to be ranked higher than him, Nicklaus continued to regularly challenge for and indeed win many major titles until 1986, making a full quarter-century in which he competed at the very highest level of his sport. Indeed, over the course of this 25-year period of 100 major championships as a professional, Nicklaus finished either first or second 36 times, in the top three 45 times, the top five 54 times, and the top 10 67 times. Nicklaus and the other 45 major championship winners during this period combined for a total of 119 major championship victories, 704 official PGA Tour wins, and over 825 additional individual professional victories (excludes Champions Tour events, etc.). While other marquee players such as Nick Faldo, Tom Kite, Nick Price, Payne Stewart, and Curtis Strange were winning numerous tournaments worldwide, they had yet to break through with major wins prior to 1987, but proved to be on the verge of doing so. These facts make this period arguably the most competitive in the history of professional golf and illustrate Nicklaus' ability and durability over time.
After winning two U.S. Amateur Championships in 1959 and 1961, and challenging for the 1960 U.S. Open, Nicklaus turned professional toward the end of 1961. The 1962 U.S. Open was both Nicklaus' first major championship victory and his first professional win. This win over Arnold Palmer began the on-course rivalry between the two. In 1966, Nicklaus won the Masters Tournament for the second year in a row, becoming the first golfer to achieve this, and also won The Open Championship, completing his career slam of major championships and at 26, the youngest to do so at the time. After failing to win a major in 1968 and 1969, Nicklaus won another Open Championship in 1970.
Between 1971 and 1980, he would win a further nine major championships, overtake Bobby Jones' record of 13 majors, and become the first player to complete double and triple career slams of golf's four professional major championships. Nicklaus also won the prestigious Players Championship a record three times during this period. At the age of 46, Nicklaus claimed his 18th and final major championship at the 1986 Masters Tournament, becoming that championship's oldest winner. (Julius Boros is the oldest major championship winner, having won the 1968 PGA Championship at the age of 48.) Nicklaus joined the Senior PGA Tour (now known as the Champions Tour) in January 1990, when he became eligible, and by April 1996 had won 10 of the tour's tournaments, including eight of that tour's major championships despite playing a very limited schedule. He continued to play the four regular Tour majors until 2005, when he made his final appearances at The Open Championship and the Masters Tournament.
Nicklaus has also taken part in various off-course activities, including golf course design, charitable work, book writing, magazine article contributions, video productions, and running his own tournament on the PGA Tour, the Memorial Tournament. His thriving golf course design company is one of the largest in the world. Nicklaus' books vary from instructional to autobiographical, with his Golf My Way considered one of the best instructional golf books of all time (influencing Greg Norman among others); the video of the same name is the best-selling golf instructional to date.
Nicklaus was born in Columbus, Ohio, the son of a pharmacist. He was raised in the suburb of Upper Arlington, and attended Upper Arlington High School. Overcoming a mild case of polio as a child, he took up golf at the age of 10, shooting a 51 at Scioto Country Club for his first nine holes ever played.
Nicklaus won the first of five straight Ohio State Junior titles at the age of 12. At 13, he broke 70 at Scioto Country Club for the first time. Nicklaus won the Tri-State High School Championship (Ohio/Kentucky/Indiana) at the age of 14 with a round of 68 and also recorded his first hole in one in tournament play the same year. At 15, Nicklaus shot a 66 at Scioto Country Club which was the amateur course record and qualified for his first U.S. Amateur Championship. He won the Ohio Open in 1956 at age 16 highlighted with a phenomenal third round of 64, competing against professionals. In all, Nicklaus won 27 events in the Ohio area from age 10 to age 17.
In 1957, Nicklaus won the U.S. National Jaycees Championship, having lost the previous year in a playoff. Nicklaus also competed in his first of 44 consecutive U.S. Opens that year, but missed the cut. In 1958 at age 18, he competed in his first PGA Tour event at Akron, Ohio tying for 12th place, and made the cut in the U.S. Open before tying for 41st place. Nicklaus also won two Trans-Mississippi Amateurs -- in 1958 at Prairie Dunes Country Club and 1959 at Woodhill Country Club, with final match victories of 9 & 8 and 3 & 2, respectively. Also in 1959, Nicklaus won the North and South Amateur at Pinehurst, North Carolina, which was generally considered the most prestigious amateur event next to the U.S. Amateur Championship, and competed in three additional PGA Tour events, with his best finish being another 12th place showing at the Buick Open.
While attending Ohio State University, he won the U.S. Amateur Championship twice (1959, 1961), and an NCAA Championship (1961). In the 1959 U.S. Amateur, Nicklaus defeated two-time winner and defending champion Charles Coe in the final 36-hole match 1-up with a birdie on the final hole. This was significant not only due to Coe's proven ability as a player, but Nicklaus became the then-youngest champion in the modern era and second only to Robert A. Gardner who won in 1909. In 1961, Nicklaus became the first player to win the individual title at the NCAA Championship and the U.S. Amateur in the same year. He was followed by Phil Mickelson (1990), Tiger Woods (1996), and Ryan Moore (2004). Nicklaus also won the NCAA Big Ten Conference Championship that year with a 72-hole aggregate of 283, while earlier claiming the Western Amateur in New Orleans. In his second and last U.S. Amateur win in 1961, Nicklaus convincingly defeated Dudley Wysong 8 & 6 at Pebble Beach in the 36-hole championship match. For the week, Nicklaus was 20 strokes under par including 34 birdies and two eagles.
At the 1960 U.S. Open, Nicklaus shot a two-under par 282, finishing second by two strokes to Arnold Palmer, who won the tournament with a final round charge of six-under par 65. This score remains the lowest ever shot by an amateur in the U.S. Open, and he did so playing the final 36 holes with Ben Hogan, who later remarked he had just played 36 holes with a kid who should have won by 10 shots. During the final 36 holes, Nicklaus was two-under-par, and never shot a single round above par during the entire tournament, the only entrant to do so. In 1960, Nicklaus also tied for 13th in the Masters Tournament. He tied for fourth in the 1961 U.S. Open, three shots behind champion Gene Littler, having played the final 54 holes one under par. Each of these three major championship finishes designated Nicklaus as Low Amateur. However, Nicklaus' one-under-par 287 tied for seventh in the 1961 Masters Tournament, and was second that year only to Charles Coe's low amateur placing, when he tied for second with Arnold Palmer at seven-under par 281, one shot behind champion Gary Player.
Nicklaus represented the United States against Great Britain and Ireland on winning Walker Cup teams in both 1959 and 1961, decisively winning both of his matches in each contest. He was also a member of the victorious 1960 U.S. Eisenhower Trophy team, winning the unofficial individual title by 13 shots over teammate Deane Beman with a four-round score of 269, a record which still stands and that broke Ben Hogan's earlier U.S. Open aggregate of 287 at the same site. Nicklaus was named the world's top amateur golfer by Golf Digest magazine for three straight years, 1959-1961.
PGA Tour career
Nicklaus began his professional career on the PGA Tour in 1962. While Nicklaus officially turned professional in late 1961, he debated heavily the idea of remaining an amateur in order to further emulate his idol, Bobby Jones. However, Nicklaus realized in order to be regarded the best, he would have to compete against the best and in greater frequency. Shortly after turning professional, Nicklaus' future agent, Mark McCormack was interviewed by Melbourne Age writer, Don Lawrence who inquired about the American golf scene. When McCormack described Nicklaus, Lawrence referred to the "large, strong, and blond" player as the Golden Bear. By 1963, the nickname stuck.
His first professional win came in his 17th start the same year, defeating the heavily-favored Arnold Palmer in a Monday playoff at Oakmont for the 1962 U.S. Open. While the galleries were more than vocal in their support for Palmer, who had grown up in the area, Nicklaus won the playoff by three shots (71 to 74). In 90 holes, Nicklaus had only one three-putt green. The U.S. Open victory made Nicklaus the reigning U.S. Open and U.S. Amateur champion. In addition, at age 22, Nicklaus was the youngest U.S. Open champion since Bobby Jones won at age 21 in 1923, and he has remained the youngest winner since. The U.S. Open win placed Nicklaus on the cover of Time magazine. This was also the beginning of the Nicklaus-Palmer rivalry, which attracted viewers to the new technology of television. The famous quotation regarding Nicklaus and Palmer is remembered as follows:
"When God created Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer, He turned to Nicklaus and said: 'You will be the greatest the game has ever seen.' Then He turned to Palmer, adding: 'But they will love you more.'"
By the end of the year Nicklaus had picked up two more wins, those being the Seattle Open and the Portland Open back-to-back. In addition, he tied for third in his first attempt at the PGA Championship. Nicklaus completed 1962 with over $60,000 in prize-money, made 26 of 26 cuts with 16 top-10 finishes, placed third on the PGA Tour money list, and was named Rookie of the Year.
In 1963 Nicklaus won two of the four major championships - the Masters and the PGA Championship. These victories made him the then-youngest winner of the Masters and third youngest winner of the PGA Championship, and each win came in just his second year as a professional. Earlier in 1963, Nicklaus injured his left hip playing an approach shot from the rough - an injury that would manifest itself years later. Ironically, Nicklaus credits this injury with assisting him in altering his swing heading into the 1963 Masters, thus allowing him to play a draw more easily. Along with three other wins including the Tournament of Champions, he placed second to Arnold Palmer on the PGA Tour money list with just over $100,000. He also teamed with Palmer to win the Canada Cup (now the World Cup of Golf) in France, representing the United States (this event was shortened to 63 holes due to heavy fog).
Despite winning no majors in 1964 (three runner-up finishes), Nicklaus led the PGA Tour money list for the first time in his career by a slim margin of $81.13 over Palmer. At The Open Championship at St Andrews, Nicklaus set a new record for the lowest score in the final 36 holes with 66-68 in high winds (the first time in the championship's history that 70 had been broken in each of the last two rounds). This was not enough, however, to win the event; Nicklaus placed second to the late Tony Lema. Nicklaus also set a record for the lowest final round score in the PGA Championship with a 64 (since broken by Brad Faxon in 1995 with a 63), but fell three shots short of champion Bobby Nichols and his record-setting 271 score. In 31 official worldwide events in 1964, Nicklaus achieved six victories, seven runners-up, placed in the top-five 21 times, the top-10 21 times, and one missed cut.
Nicklaus won the Masters in 1965 and 1966, becoming the first consecutive winner of this event and the youngest two-time and three-time winner. He broke Ben Hogan's 72-hole scoring record of 274 from 1953 by compiling a new aggregate of 271 in the 1965 Masters, which while tied by Raymond Floyd in 1976, lasted until Tiger Woods shot 270 in 1997. During this tournament, Nicklaus hit 62 of 72 greens in regulation and had 123 putts inclusive of just one three-putt green. This was good enough to win by nine shots over Arnold Palmer and Gary Player. The week's performance was highlighted by a third-round 64 that consisted of eight birdies and no bogeys. It was of this round that Nicklaus said, "I had never before and have never since played quite as fine a complete round of golf in a major championship as I did in the third round of the 1965 Masters". This round tied Lloyd Mangrum's record set in 1940 at Augusta National and remained in place until Nick Price shot 63 during the third round in 1986. It was at this time that Bobby Jones stated Nicklaus played a game with which he was unfamiliar. After Nicklaus' record in 1965, some changes were made to Augusta National to toughen the course. Between these modifications and the difficult weather, Nicklaus successfully defended his title with an even par aggregate of 288, 17 shots higher. He won in an 18-hole playoff over Gay Brewer and Tommy Jacobs by shooting a two-under par 70. Nicklaus led the PGA Tour money list again in 1965 by a healthy margin over Tony Lema. In all, Nicklaus competed in 28 official worldwide events in 1965 accumulating five victories, seven runners-up, 19 top-five finishes, 23 top-10 finishes, and zero missed cuts.
In 1966, Nicklaus also won The Open Championship at Muirfield in Scotland under difficult weather conditions, using his driver just 17 times, because of very heavy rough. This was the only major he had failed to win up to that point. This win made him the youngest player, age 26 (his fifth year on Tour), and the only one after Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, and Gary Player (until Tiger Woods at age 24 during his fourth year on Tour) to win all four major championships, now known as the Career Slam. Nicklaus eventually accomplished the double career slam in 1971 and the triple career slam in 1978, winning all four majors two and three times, respectively. Nicklaus concluded 1966 playing 22 official worldwide events with four victories, four runners-up, 14 top-five finishes, 16 top-10 finishes, and zero missed cuts.
The following year, he won his second U.S. Open title at Baltusrol, breaking Hogan's 72-hole record by one shot with a 275. During the four rounds, Nicklaus hit 61 of 72 greens in regulation. Nicklaus finished this record win with a dramatic 239-yard one-iron shot, uphill into a breeze and light rain, to the 72nd green (an approximate 260 yard equivalent) and holing a 22-foot birdie putt to close out a final nine of 30 and final round of 65 to beat Arnold Palmer by four shots. Nicklaus and Palmer were the only two players to break par for the week. He also finished runner up in The Open Championship and third in the PGA Championship one shot our of a playoff between Don January and Don Massengale. For a third time, Nicklaus led the PGA Tour money list for 1967. Later that year, Nicklaus and Palmer teamed up for a 13-shot wire-to-wire World Cup victory in Mexico City. Nicklaus competed in 24 official worldwide events in 1967 with five victories, four runners-up, 14 top-five finishes, 16 top-10 finishes, and one missed cut.
Career downturn (1968-1970)
After Nicklaus won the 1967 U.S. Open, he did not win another major championship until the 1970 Open Championship at the Old Course at St Andrews. Moreover, his highest finish on the Tour money list for the years 1968-70 was second; his lowest was fourth, his worst ranking on the list since turning professional. However, it should be noted that his fourth place ranking in 1970 would have been elevated to second if The Open Championship winnings were included during that period in the official PGA Tour money list, as they are today.
In his inaugural Ryder Cup play in 1969, Nicklaus was the anchor singles match on the final day and both his and the team matches were tied as he and opponent Tony Jacklin played the eighteenth hole. With the entire competition outcome riding on his match, Nicklaus made a five-foot par put on the last hole, and then conceded Jacklin's three-foot par putt to halve the individual match and the overall team results. This concession was considered by many as one of the greatest displays of sportsmanship in the game's history. As defending champions, the Americans retained possession of the Ryder Cup.
During this period, Nicklaus also let his physical condition decline somewhat, putting on excess weight, which affected his stamina. He significantly improved his condition in the fall of 1969 by losing twenty pounds, and his game returned to top form. In February 1970, Nicklaus' father, Charlie Nicklaus, died. Soon after this Nicklaus won the 1970 Open Championship under difficult scoring conditions where the wind howled up to 56 MPH, defeating fellow American Doug Sanders in an 18-hole playoff round in emotional fashion. On the 18th hole of the playoff, Nicklaus drove about 380 yards, through the par-4 green with a three-wood, and was forced to pitch back to the hole. His eagle pitch finished approximately eight feet short of the hole. Nicklaus threw his putter into the air after sinking the winning putt, as he was thrilled to have won the Open at the home of golf, St Andrews. He describes this period in his life:
"I was playing good golf, but it really wasn't that big a deal to me one way or the other. And then my father passed away and I sort of realized that he had certainly lived his life through my golf game. I really hadn't probably given him the best of that. So I sort of got myself back to work. So '70 was an emotional one for me from that standpoint. ... It was a big boost."
Nicklaus also went on to capture the Piccadilly World Match Play Championship in 1970 with a 2 & 1 win over Lee Trevino in the championship match. In all for the year, Nicklaus competed in 23 official worldwide events, won four, placed in the top five 10 times, and the top 10 in 14.
With a wire-to-wire two-shot win at the 1971 PGA Championship in February over Billy Casper, Nicklaus became the first golfer to win all four majors twice in a career. In this championship, Nicklaus was the only player to break 70 consecutively in the first two rounds under windy conditions and finished at seven-under par 281. Nicklaus finished second twice and fifth in the remaining three major championships for the year. While he finished tied for second in the Masters with Johnny Miller, Nicklaus made a big enough impression on a young Nick Faldo (watching on TV in England) in order for him to take up the game seriously. By the end of the year, he had won four additional PGA tournaments including the Tournament of Champions by eight shots and the National Team Championship with Arnold Palmer by six shots. With $244,490 in official PGA Tour earnings, Nicklaus established a new single season money record during the year. Nicklaus also claimed his third World Cup individual title in 1971 with help from a 63 in the third round. He also won the team competition with partner Lee Trevino by 12 shots. 1971 brought Nicklaus a victory in the Australian Dunlop International as well, punctuated by a course record 62 (his career low score in competition; one of three) in the second round. For the record, Nicklaus played in 23 official worldwide events in 1971, won eight, had 17 top-five finishes, 20 top-10 finishes, and compiled a 5-1-0 record in that year's Ryder Cup competition.
Nicklaus won the first two major championships of 1972 by three shots each in wire-to-wire fashion, the Masters and the U.S. Open, creating talk of a Grand Slam. Nicklaus opened with a four-under par 68 at Augusta National and never looked back. He was the only player under par for the week as he and the field battled difficult scoring conditions. In the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach again under severe scoring conditions, Nicklaus struck a one-iron on the 218-yard par-three 17th hole during the final round into a stiff, gusty ocean breeze that hit the flagstick and ended up three inches from the cup. The U.S. Open was Nicklaus' 13th career major and tied him with Bobby Jones for career majors (although a different group of tournaments had been considered majors in Jones's time). This victory was also Nicklaus' 11th professional major tying him with Walter Hagen and made him the first player to win the U.S. Amateur and U.S. Open championships on the same golf course. He won a total of seven tournaments during the year, and was runner-up in a further three PGA Tour events. Nicklaus did not win the Grand Slam in 1972, however, as Lee Trevino repeated as the Open Championship winner (Nicklaus finished second, one shot behind), and Gary Player prevailed in the PGA Championship. He closed out this remarkable year with a second of three consecutive Walt Disney World Golf Classic victories by shooting a 21-under par 267 to win by nine shots. Nicklaus concluded 1972 by competing in 20 official worldwide events winning seven, placing second in four, and compiling 15 top-10 finishes.
Jones' record of majors was soon broken when Nicklaus won the PGA Championship in August 1973 by four shots over Bruce Crampton for his 12th professional major (surpassing Hagen's mark of 11) and 14th overall when using the old-style configuration of Jones' day. In that year he won another six tournaments. When he won the 1973 Ohio King's Island Open, he became the first PGA Tour player to win a Tour event over a course which he designed himself. The PGA Player of the Year was awarded to Nicklaus for the third time, and the second year in a row. Nicklaus was also the first player to win over $300,000.00 in official money for a single season in 1972 at $320,542; he eclipsed that threshold again the following year with $308,362. The former total was $106,137 more than runner-up Lee Trevino. The latter total for the year 1973 catapulted Nicklaus over the $2 million career PGA Tour earnings mark, making him the first player to reach that milestone. Nicklaus teamed with Johnny Miller for another team title in the World Cup of Golf, held in Spain. For the year, Nicklaus competed in 20 official worldwide events and claimed seven victories, 14 top-five finishes, 17 top-10s, and compiled a 4-1-1 record in that year's Ryder Cup competition.
Nicklaus' failure to win a major in 1974 was offset somewhat by winning the inaugural Tournament Players Championship and being named one of the 13 original inductees into the World Golf Hall of Fame. Nicklaus said this honor was a "nice memento" after a "disappointing season". Although he had no major championship victories in 1974, Nicklaus still achieved four top-ten finishes in the four events, three of which were in the top four, and placed second on the official money list behind Johnny Miller. While less than a stellar year, Nicklaus was able to claim two victories and 13 top-10 finishes in 20 official worldwide events.
Nicklaus started off well in 1975: he won the Doral-Eastern Open, the Sea Pines Heritage Classic, and the Masters in consecutive starts. His Masters win was his fifth, a record he was to break eleven years later. In this tournament, Nicklaus made a 40-foot putt on the 16th hole of the final round to all but secure his victory over Tom Weiskopf and Johnny Miller in a riveting final round battle. He also won the PGA Championship in August at Firestone Country Club by two shots over Bruce Crampton for his fourth win. Having won the Masters and PGA Championship, Nicklaus missed a playoff for the U.S. Open by two shots and a playoff for Open Championship by one shot. His performance in 1975 resulted in his being named PGA Player of the Year for the fourth time, tying Ben Hogan, and he was also named ABC's Wide World of Sports Athlete of the Year. Nicklaus also captured his fourth Australian Open during the year. 1975 yielded Nicklaus six wins, 12 top-five finishes, and 16 top-10 finishes in 18 official worldwide events.
Nicklaus' performance from the five-year period of 1971 through 1975 is summarized as follows:
Official Worldwide Tournaments Played: 101
Top-Five Finishes: 64
Top-10 Finishes: 81
Missed Cuts: 0
Major Championships Played: 20
Major Championship Victories: 6
Major Championship Runners-up: 4
Major Championship Top-Five Finishes: 17
Major Championship Top-10 Finishes: 19
Ryder Cup Record: 11-4-2
Nicklaus placed first on the PGA Tour money list again in 1976, despite competing in only 16 events, winning just two (Tournament Players Championship and World Series of Golf) — neither of them majors — and playing what he called "hang-back-and-hope golf". The 1976 Tournament Players Championship saw Nicklaus set a championship record of 19-under par 269 for his second win in this event which remained in place until Greg Norman's 24-under par 264 assault in 1994. He also won the PGA Player of the Year award for a record fifth time. Between 1972 and 1976 the only time he failed to win this award was 1974. The year 1976 also concluded an official streak of 105 consecutive cuts made on the PGA Tour which began for Nicklaus in 1970. At the time this streak was second only to Byron Nelson's record of 113.
The following year, 1977, was also majorless for Nicklaus, but he did achieve four top-10 finishes in the four events inclusive of two second and one third place finish - this being one shot out of the PGA Championship playoff between Lanny Wadkins and Gene Littler. Despite a brilliant final round 66 at the Masters, he finished second by two shots to Tom Watson. But his subsequent second-place finish behind Watson at the Open Championship at Turnberry created headlines around the world. In a one-on-one battle dubbed the "Duel in the Sun," Nicklaus shot 65-66 in the final two rounds, only to be beaten by Watson, who scored 65-65. This event marked the first time 270 was broken in a major championship and the third-place finisher Hubert Green scored 279. Nicklaus would later say:
"There are those in golf who would argue into next month that the final two rounds of the 1977 British Open were the greatest head-to-head golf match ever played. Not having been around for the first five hundred or so years of the game, I'm not qualified to speak on such matters. What's for sure, however, is that it was the most thrilling one-on-one battle of my career."
In 1977, Nicklaus won his 63rd tour event, passing Ben Hogan to take second place on the career wins list, behind only Sam Snead. He also became the first player to amass over $3 million in official PGA Tour earnings. The year also saw Nicklaus win for the first time his own Memorial Tournament in which he described the victory as the most emotional moment of his entire career where he nearly decided to retire from competitive golf.
During the 1977 Ryder Cup at Royal Lytham & St Annes, Nicklaus approached the PGA of Great Britain about the urgency to improve the competitive level of the contest. The issue had been discussed earlier the same day by both past PGA of America President Henry Poe and British PGA President Lord Derby. Nicklaus pitched his ideas, adding: "It is vital to widen the selection procedures if the Ryder Cup is to continue to enjoy its past prestige." The changes in team selection procedure were approved by descendants of the Samuel Ryder family along with The PGA of America. The major change was expanding selection procedures to include players from the European Tournament Players' Division, and "that European Members be entitled to play on the team." This meant that professional players on the European Tournament Players' Division, the forerunner to the European Tour we have today, from continental Europe would be eligible to play in the Ryder Cup.
Nicklaus won the 1978 Open Championship at St. Andrews to become the only player to have won each major championship three times. This record has since been tied by Tiger Woods, by winning the 2008 U.S. Open. Nicklaus and Woods are the only two players to win three "Career Grand Slams". Nicklaus considered his performance in the 1978 Open as the finest four days of tee-to-green golf he had ever produced and was most proud that the win came at St. Andrews, his favorite place to play golf. The victory was also his most emotional to date. Nicklaus won three other tournaments that year on the PGA Tour including the Jackie Gleason-Inverrary Classic by playing the final 36 holes 13 under par that included five consecutive birdies over the closing holes in the final round plus the Tournament Players Championship in difficult weather conditions, and was named Sportsman of the Year by Sports Illustrated. The latter win was Nicklaus' third Tournament Players Championship having won three of the first five played and he remains that championship's only three-time winner. 1978 also marked Nicklaus' sixth and final Australian Open victory.
After that year he suffered a lapse of form, not winning another tournament until June 1980. The year of 1979 was the first since turning professional in which he failed to win a tournament; he had only one runner-up finish plus tied for second with Ben Crenshaw behind 22-year-old Seve Ballesteros at The Open Championship. Previously, Nicklaus won a minimum of two tournaments per year for 17 consecutive years.
During the offseason, Nicklaus addressed two problems which had hurt his performance. His lifelong teacher Jack Grout noticed that he had become much too upright with his full swing causing a steep, oblique approach into the ball vs. a more direct hit; this was corrected by flattening or "deepening" his backswing. Then Nicklaus' short game, never a career strength, was further developed with the help of Phil Rodgers, a 20-year friend and earlier PGA Tour rival, who had become a fine coach. Rodgers lived for a time at the Nicklaus home while this work was going on.
In 1980, Nicklaus recorded only four top-10 finishes in 14 events, but two of these were record-setting victories in majors (the U.S. Open and the PGA Championship); the other two were a tie for fourth in The Open Championship and a runner-up finish in the Doral-Eastern Open to Raymond Floyd via his chip-in birdie on the second hole of a sudden-death playoff. These victories and placements more than justified the work Nicklaus put in toward his game during the off-season.
Nicklaus set a new scoring record for the 1980 U.S. Open with an aggregate of 272 that while having been tied by three other players still stands today, eclipsing his earlier record of 275 from 1967. This was his second win at Baltusrol Golf Club. Nicklaus opened with a record-tying 63 in round one and fought off his playing partner of all four rounds, 1978 Colgate World Match Play Championship winner, Isao Aoki. Entering the final round, Aoki had caught Nicklaus after three consecutive rounds of 68, but over the course of the last day, Nicklaus pulled away by two shots. Each player birdied the final two holes for a dramatic finish. Aoki's aggregate of 274 was the lowest score for a U.S. Open runner-up and would have been the winning total any other year. Nicklaus' win was his fourth and final victory in the championship tying him with Willie Anderson, Bobby Jones, and Ben Hogan. Nicklaus referred to this win as "by far the most emotional and warmest reaction to any of my wins in my own country".
In the 1980 PGA Championship, Nicklaus set another record in winning the championship by seven shots over Andy Bean at the Oak Hill Country Club largely due to exceptional putting. Nicklaus shot an even-par 70 in the first round followed by three successive rounds in the 60s over the difficult terrain and was the only player to break par for the 72 holes. for the week, the field averaged 74.60 strokes while Nicklaus averaged 68.50. This was Nicklaus' fifth and final victory in the PGA Championship which elevated him to record-holder for the most wins in the stroke-play era and tied him with Walter Hagen for the most wins overall since the latter's victories were all during the match-play era. Nicklaus' seven-shot winning margin remains the largest for the championship since converting from match play to stroke play in 1958. This victory also made Nicklaus the only player since Gene Sarazen in 1922 and Ben Hogan in 1948 to win the U.S. Open and PGA Championship the same year (subsequently equaled by Tiger Woods in 2000).
Over the next five years Nicklaus won only twice on the PGA Tour, including his own Memorial Tournament in 1984 for the second time as that tournament's first repeat champion. He accumulated seven more top-10 placements in major championships including three runner-up performances. Nicklaus also finished second in the 1985 Canadian Open to Curtis Strange which marked his seventh and final second place finish in that tournament. These seven runner-up finishes came over the course of 21 events - or one second place finish for every three tournaments played and does not include a third place finish in 1983 one shot out of the playoff between John Cook and Johnny Miller. Also in 1983, Nicklaus closed out the PGA Championship and World Series of Golf with brilliant final rounds of 65 and passed many players to move into contention, but finished runner-up in each to Player of the Year Hal Sutton and red-hot Nick Price, respectively, who dominated the tournaments from start to finish. Despite not winning a PGA Tour event in 1983, Nicklaus finished 10th on the PGA Tour money list and passed a significant milestone by becoming the first player to eclipse the $4 million level in career earnings.
During this five-year period, the Ryder Cup matches provided Nicklaus with two bright spots. He completed his competition as a player in style by contributing a perfect 4-0-0 record inclusive of a 5 & 3 anchor singles match win over Eamonn Darcy in 1981 and captained the United States team in 1983 to a one-point win over Europe.
In 1986, Nicklaus capped his career by recording his sixth Masters victory under incredible circumstances, posting a six-under par 30 on the back nine at Augusta for a final round of seven-under par 65. At the 17th hole, Nicklaus hit his second shot to within 18 feet and rolled it in for birdie, raising his putter in celebration and completing an eagle-birdie-birdie run. Nicklaus made a victory-sealing par-4 at the 72nd hole, and waited for the succeeding players to falter. Nicklaus played the final 10 holes seven under par with six birdies and an eagle. At age 46, Nicklaus became the oldest Masters winner in history, a record which still stands. On the feat, sports columnist Thomas Boswell remarked,
"Some things cannot possibly happen, because they are both too improbable and too imperfect. The U.S. hockey team cannot beat the Russians in the 1980 Olympics. Jack Nicklaus cannot shoot 65 to win The Masters at age 46. Nothing else comes immediately to mind."
This victory was his 18th major title as a professional.
Before the 1986 Masters Tournament, Tom McCollister, writing in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, said that Nicklaus was "done, washed up, through," and this spurred him on. He said:
"I kept thinking all week, 'Through, washed up, huh?' I sizzled for a while. But then I said to myself, 'I'm not going to quit now, playing the way I'm playing. I've played too well, too long to let a shorter period of bad golf be my last."
This victory was to be his last in his long career on the PGA Tour and was described at the time by noted golf historian and writer Herbert Warren Wind as "nothing less than the most important accomplishment in golf since Bobby Jones' Grand Slam in 1930".
Author Ken Bowden would write after the win:
"There have been prettier swingers of the club than Jack Nicklaus. There may have been better ball-strikers than Jack Nicklaus. There have definitely been better short-game exponents than Jack Nicklaus. Other golfers have putted as well as Jack Nicklaus. There may have been golfers as dedicated and fiercely competitive as Jack Nicklaus. But no individual has been able to develop, combine and sustain all of the complex physical skills and the immense mental and emotional resources the game demands at its highest level as well as Jack Nicklaus has for as long as he has."
At the age of 58, Nicklaus made another valiant run at the 1998 Masters, where he tied for sixth despite being hampered by an ever-increasing painful left hip. Nicklaus' five-under par 283 is the lowest 72-hole score by a player over 50 in the Masters.
Over the course of his 25-year span (1962–1986) of winning 18 major championships, Nicklaus finished second an astounding 18 times (excludes the second place finish at the 1960 U.S. Open as an amateur). In addition to the 18 runners-up as a professional, Nicklaus placed third four times and fourth one time and in each case was one shot out of a playoff. Nicklaus' total span of 73 top-10 finishes was 39 years (1960–1998) which is a record in total number as well as longevity among the four major championships and encompassed his tenure from an amateur through the majority of his Champions Tour career.
Champions Tour career
Nicklaus became eligible to join the Senior PGA Tour, now known as the Champions Tour, when he turned 50 in January 1990 at which point he declared, "I'm never satisfied. Trouble is, I want to play like me—and I can't play like me anymore." He then quickly won in his first start on the Tour, The Tradition, also a Senior Tour major championship. Nicklaus would go on to win another three Traditions—the final two in succession—while the most anyone else has won is two.
Nicklaus walks up to his ball on the 9th hole of the par-3 course at Augusta National Golf Club during the 2006 par-3 contest.Later in the year, Nicklaus won the Senior Players Championship by six shots over Lee Trevino for his second win of the year, and also his second major of the year by shooting a record 27-under par 261. The next year, in 1991, Nicklaus won three of the five events he started in, those being the U.S. Senior Open at Oakland Hills by firing a 65 in a playoff against Chi Chi Rodriguez and his fine round of 69, the PGA Seniors Championship and The Tradition for the second year straight. These, again, were all majors on the Champions Tour.
Nicklaus has won all the Champions Tour majors with the exception of the Senior British Open. However, he never played the Senior British Open which was only elevated to a major in 2003. After a winless year in 1992, Nicklaus came back to win the U.S. Senior Open for the second time in 1993 by one shot over Tom Weiskopf. Also in that year he teamed up with Chi Chi Rodriguez and Raymond Floyd to win the Wendy's Three Tour Challenge for the Senior Tour team. In 1994 he won the Senior Tour's version of the Mercedes Championship for his only win of the year. The Tradition was his again in 1995, in a year where he made the top 10 in all of the seven tournaments he entered in. His 100th career win came the next year, when he won the Tradition for the fourth time, and second time in succession. He made a double eagle in the final round. Nicklaus closed the final 36 holes with back-to-back seven-under par rounds of 65 to shoot a 16-under par 272 and win by three shots over Hale Irwin. This was to be his last win on the Champions Tour, and the last official win of his career.
Close of playing career
Nicklaus' final U.S. Open was held at Pebble Beach Golf Links in 2000, where he shot 73-82 to miss the cut. Later in the year, he was paired with Tiger Woods and Vijay Singh in his final PGA Championship only a few days after the death of his mother, where he also missed the cut by one shot. In both tournaments, Nicklaus provided last minute heroics by reaching the par-5 18th in two shots in the U.S. Open and nearly holing his wedge shot for eagle at the par-5 18th in the PGA Championship.
Nicklaus played without much preparation in the 2005 Masters, a month after the drowning death of his 17-month-old grandson Jake (child of his son, Steve) on March 1, 2005. He and Steve played golf as therapy for their grief following the death. After days of playing, it was Steve who suggested his dad return to The Masters. He made that his last appearance in the tournament. Later in 2005, Nicklaus finished his professional career at The Open Championship played at St Andrews on July 15, 2005. Nicklaus turned 65 in January that year, which was the last year he could enter The Open Championship as an exempt player. He played with Luke Donald and Tom Watson in his final round. After hitting his tee shot off the 18th tee in the second round, Nicklaus received a ten-minute standing ovation from the crowd. Soon afterwards, Nicklaus ended his career with a fitting birdie, holing a fifteen-foot birdie putt on the 18th green. Nicklaus missed the 36-hole cut with a score of +3 (147).
The last competitive tournament in which Nicklaus played in the United States was the Champions Tour's Bayer Advantage Classic in Overland Park, Kansas on June 13, 2005.
Golf course design
Main article: List of Jack Nicklaus designed golf courses
Nicklaus devotes much of his time to golf course design and operates one of the largest golf design practices in the world. In the mid-1960s, Pete Dye initially requested Nicklaus' opinion in the architecture process of The Golf Club in suburban Columbus, OH and the input increased from that point forward. Nicklaus considered golf course design another facet of the game that kept him involved and offered a challenge. His first design, Harbour Town Golf Links, was opened for play in 1969. A subsequent early, yet more prominent design was Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, OH which opened in 1974 and has hosted the Memorial Tournament since its inception in 1976. This course has also hosted the 1987 Ryder Cup and the 1998 Solheim Cup matches. For the first few years, all of his projects were co-designs with either Pete Dye or Desmond Muirhead, who were two of the leading golf course architects of that era.
His first solo design, Glen Abbey Golf Course in Oakville, Ontario, opened for play in 1976. This course served as the host site for the Canadian Open for many years, the first being in 1977. In 2000, the King & Bear opened in St. Augustine, FL as a joint collaboration between Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer. In 2006, the Concession Golf Club opened in Sarasota, FL as a joint collaboration between Nicklaus and Tony Jacklin to commemorate their historic Ryder Cup singles match in 1969.
Nicklaus is in partnership with his four sons and his son-in-law through Nicklaus Design. The company had 299 courses open for play at the end of 2005, which was nearly 1% of all the courses in the world (In 2005 Golf Digest calculated that there were nearly 32,000 golf courses in the world, approximately half of them in the United States). While the majority of Nicklaus-designed courses reside in the United States, a significant presence also occupies Asia, Australia, Canada, Europe, and Mexico. For 2009, Nicklaus Design had 12 courses in Golf Digest’s "75 Best Golf Resorts in North America".
Writings and media
Nicklaus has written several golf instructional books, an autobiography (My Story), a book on his golf course design methods and philosophy, and has produced several golf videos. The writer Ken Bowden often assisted him with this work. His book Golf My Way is one of the all-time classics of golf instruction, and has been reissued several times since the initial printing in 1974. Nicklaus has also written golf instructional columns for Golf Magazine and for Golf Digest magazine, with which he is currently associated. He also appeared as a television analyst and commentator with ABC Sports on golf broadcasts. Several of the books have been reissued, sometimes under different titles, and "My Story" as a special high-quality limited edition for the 2000 Memorial Tournament.
A selection of his major works follows.
The Greatest Game of All, by Jack Nicklaus, 1969.
Golf My Way, by Jack Nicklaus, with Ken Bowden, 1974, 1998, 2005.
On and Off the Fairway, by Jack Nicklaus, with Ken Bowden, 1978.
The Full Swing, by Jack Nicklaus, with Ken Bowden, 1983.
Golf My Way, by Jack Nicklaus, 1983 (video).
Play Better Golf: The Short Game and Scoring, by Jack Nicklaus, with Ken Bowden, 1987.
My Most Memorable Shots in the Majors, by Jack Nicklaus, with Ken Bowden, 1989.
Golf My Way II, by Jack Nicklaus, 1989 (video).
Play Better Golf: Short Cuts to Lower Scores, by Jack Nicklaus, with Ken Bowden, 1990.
Jack Nicklaus: My Story, by Jack Nicklaus, with Ken Bowden, 1997 (plus a limited edition of 225 to honor Nicklaus at the 2000 Memorial Tournament).
Jack Nicklaus' Lesson Tee, by Jack Nicklaus, with Ken Bowden, 1998.
Nicklaus by Design: Golf Course Strategy and Architecture, by Jack Nicklaus and Chris Millard, 2002.
Jack Nicklaus: Memories and Mementos from Golf's Golden Bear, by Jack Nicklaus, 2007.
Golf and Life, by Jack Nicklaus and Dr. John Tickell, 2007.
Putting My Way, by Jack Nicklaus, with Ken Bowden, 2009.
 Golf computer games
Between 1988 and 1998, Nicklaus also gave his name to promote the successful Jack Nicklaus Golf computer game series developed by Accolade. Several of the golf courses he designed were incorporated into the fourth incarnation of the game Jack Nicklaus 4 published in 1997. In addition, "Jack Nicklaus 6: Golden Bear Challenge" by Activision was published in 1999.
Nicklaus continues to manage the Memorial Tournament he created in his home state of Ohio, which is played at Muirfield Village, a course which he designed and opened in 1974. The course was officially dedicated on Memorial Day, May 27, 1974, with an exhibition match between Nicklaus and Tom Weiskopf. Nicklaus scored a six-under par 66, which stood as the course record until 1979. The forerunner to this tournament, the Columbus Pro-Am, had its final year in 1975, and the inaugural Memorial Tournament was held the following year. The tournament is one of the more prestigious events on the PGA Tour.
Each year, the tournament selects one or more individuals as honorees who have made a significant impact to the game. The inaugural tournament in 1976 paid tribute to the late Bobby Jones, while the 25th edition in 2000 honored Nicklaus, himself. This concept was Nicklaus' idea as a contribution to perpetuating achievements of the game's greatest individuals. The honoree is selected by the Captain's Club, a group that acts independently of the tournament organization, but also advises on player invitations and the general conduct of the event. Members of the Captain's Club include Peter Alliss, Peggy Kirk Bell, George H.W. Bush, Sean Connery, Arnold Palmer, and Gary Player among others.
The Memorial Tournament continues the PGA Tour's philanthropic focus through its relationships with Central Ohio charities. The most significant of which is its relationship with Nationwide Children's Hospital since 1976. Contributions generated through the support of over 2,600 volunteers are distributed each year to the Hospital's unrestricted giving fund. This fund assists in ensuring Central Ohio continues to have one of the best children's hospitals in the United States. The Memorial Tournament has raised more than $5.7 million to support the programs and services at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in those 30-plus years. In 2005 the Memorial made a pledge that will elevate its level of giving to more than $11 million in the coming years. Unique and successful relationships also exist with Fore Hope, James Cancer Hospital, Wolfe Associates, The First Tee, Central Ohio Junior Golf Association, Shriners, Lions Club and many more.
Nicklaus and wife Barbara serve as honorary chairman and active chairwoman of the Nicklaus Children’s Health Care Foundation in North Palm Beach, Florida which provides valuable programs and services to more than 4,000 hospitalized children and their families, free of charge, through Child Life programs, the Pediatric Oncology Support Team, and the Safe Kids program. The Nicklauses established "The Jake", a pro-am golf tournament played annually at The Bear's Club in Jupiter, Florida in honor of their 17-month-old grandson who drowned in a hot tub in 2005. It has become the foundation's chief fundraiser. Players like Robert Allenby, Raymond Floyd, Tom Watson, Ian Baker-Finch, Ernie Els, Jay Haas, Johnny Miller, and Gary Player have participated. No one accepts a fee. Everything goes to the foundation, more than $3 million over the past three years.
Nicklaus and retired General John Shalikashvili, who served as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1993–97, are serving as honorary chairs for the American Lake Veterans Golf Course capital campaign in Tacoma, WA. The $4.5 million campaign in 2009 was established to complete the nation's only golf course designed for the rehabilitation of wounded and disabled veterans. The existing nine-hole course is operated, maintained, and managed by 160 volunteers. Funds are needed to add nine new holes and make other improvements to better accommodate demand from the growing influx of wounded veterans. A two-day event was held at Bighorn Golf Club at Palm Desert, CA featuring Nicklaus, who is donating his design services for the "Nicklaus Nine". In announcing his donation of services (valued at $500,000), Nicklaus said, "I was moved to see the amazing efforts at American Lake Veterans Golf Course where our wounded warriors learn to play golf with the help of an incredible army of volunteers." Monies raised during the campaign will be used to construct the new holes, complete the construction of the Rehabilitation and Learning Center, make improvements to the original holes to enhance accessibility, upgrade the maintenance facilities and restrooms, and help underwrite operational costs.
Nicklaus owns Nicklaus Golf Equipment, founded in 1992. Nicklaus Golf Equipment manufactures equipment in three brands: Golden Bear, Jack Nicklaus Signature, and Nicklaus Premium. These brands are designed to target golfers at different stages of golfing ability.
He has also been known to reach out to younger golfers. One notable example came in 1984, when a teenage Canadian golfer who had previously met Nicklaus at an exhibition wrote him for career advice. The young golfer was right-handed but played left-handed; although he was showing considerable promise as a left-hander, he had been told that he might be an even better player if he switched to right-handed play. He wrote Nicklaus asking for advice; Nicklaus immediately wrote back telling him not to change if he was comfortable playing left-handed. The young Canadian—future Masters champion Mike Weir—still keeps Nicklaus' letter framed in his home.
Nicklaus was consistently among the longest and straightest hitters on the PGA Tour during his prime. This was more than evidenced by his winning the official long drive contest at the 1963 PGA Championship with a belt of 341 yards, 17 inches. This record lasted more than 20 years. He preferred the fade for his ball flight, since it allowed the ball to stop quickly on hard and fast greens. Another factor in this decision was his distance capabilities which were developed enough to allow him to play a fade and still reach long par fours and par fives in two shots. Nicklaus considers his longest drive in competition to be during the final round of the 1964 Masters on the 15th hole where he had less than 160 yards left to the 500 yard par five. He hit an eight-iron slightly over the green for his second shot.
Even though official PGA Tour statistics did not begin until 1980, Nicklaus was consistently the leader in greens hit in regulation through that year displaying great command of the long and middle irons. Indeed, Nicklaus remained in the top six of this category through 1985 – far from his best playing years. Nicklaus also finished 10th in driving distance and 13th in driving accuracy in 1980 at age 40 which equated to a "Total Driving" composite of 23 – a statistical level not attained since by a comfortable margin. Nicklaus led this category through 1982. One key to Nicklaus' ball-striking ability and overall power was his exceptional swing tempo. Of this Tom Watson referred to it as Nicklaus' greatest strength in its ability to remain smooth. This proved an asset, especially under pressure, which allowed him to sustain great distance control with his irons.
Nicklaus was also known for his course management skills. He would plan to hit each shot on the most convenient side of the fairway to aid his next shot. Nicklaus was the first player to chart and document yardages on the course. Gary Player states that Nicklaus had "the greatest mind the game has ever known".
While not a great putter, he was able to make the important putts when he needed them. He was also known as a conservative player at times, going for broke only when he needed to. This was especially apparent on the green, where he would often choose to be less aggressive and make sure of an easy two-putt. Nicklaus spoke about this in his autobiography. "I was a fine two-putter, but sometimes too defensive—too concerned about three-putting—to go for putts that I probably should have gone for."
Awards and recognition
Nicklaus "dotting the i" at the Ohio State Buckeyes football game against Minnesota Golden Gophers at Ohio Stadium on 2006-10-28. Nicklaus can be seen in red.After his first year on the PGA Tour in 1962, Nicklaus received the PGA Tour Rookie of the Year award. As well as receiving the PGA Tour Player of the Year five times and topping the PGA Tour money list eight times, he has also attained the Bob Jones Award and the Payne Stewart Award, among others.
Nicklaus was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in the inaugural class of 1974 and the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame in 1995. His likeness was featured on a special commemorative issue five-pound note issued by the Royal Bank of Scotland, making him the first living person outside the Royal Family to appear on a British banknote.
There is a Jack Nicklaus Museum on the campus of The Ohio State University in his home town of Columbus, Ohio. The museum was opened in 2002 and is a state-of-the-art , 24,000 square foot facility offering a comprehensive view of Nicklaus' life and career in and out of golf as well as exhibits celebrating the history and legends of the game.
Nicklaus had the rare privilege of "dotting the 'i'" of "Script Ohio", the signature formation of the Ohio State University Marching Band, at the Ohio State homecoming game on October 28, 2006 when the Buckeyes played Minnesota; this is considered the greatest honor that can be bestowed on a non-band member. Nicklaus was the fifth non-band member to receive this award. Other recipients include Bob Hope and Woody Hayes. While at Ohio State University, Nicklaus became a member of the Fraternity of Phi Gamma Delta.
Along with Annika Sörenstam, Nicklaus was named a Global Ambassador for the International Golf Federation in 2008 and was instrumental in bringing golf to the Olympics for the 2016 and 2020 games. Golf was last an Olympic sport at the 1904 Games in St. Louis, Mo. when the United States and Canada were the only two competing countries. The International Olympic Committee approved the inclusion by a vote of 63-27, with two abstentions.
In August 2009, Augusta National announced that Nicklaus will join Arnold Palmer as an honorary starter for the 2010 Masters. Nicklaus will become the eighth honorary starter since the tradition began in 1963 when Nicklaus won his first green jacket. It will be Palmer's fourth year to hit the ceremonial opening tee shot.
Nicklaus, through his global reach in design and development, as well as the worldwide marketing and licensing of his golf and lifestyle brand, is atop Golf Inc. magazine’s coveted list of the "Most Powerful People in Golf" for a record-extending sixth consecutive year. He is the only golf industry figure who has ever been named to the No. 1 spot for more than three years. Nicklaus topped the 2009 worldwide list of 35 individuals who were selected by a panel of editors for their ability to influence and impact the business of golf, be it the development of courses and communities, the operation of courses, the equipment used by golfers, or the rules and regulations of the game. Golf Inc. wrote that while the Golden Bear’s reign at No. 1 is unprecedented, "the fact is that he keeps adding to his legend, at the design table and in the business world. Despite a worldwide course development slowdown, Nicklaus’s design firm has over 40 courses in development around the globe...And he remains perhaps golf’s most respected spokesperson on a wide range of issues."
Main article: List of career achievements by Jack Nicklaus
During his career on the PGA Tour, Nicklaus accumulated 18 major championships, which is a record, and 73 PGA Tour victories, second only to Sam Snead. He also holds the outright record for the most wins at The Masters with six, and The Players Championship with three. He played on six Ryder Cup teams, captained the team twice and the Presidents Cup team four times, and topped the PGA Tour money list and scoring average eight times each. For 24 straight seasons, from 1960 to 1983 inclusive, he made at least one top ten finish in a major championship, and this is a record.
PGA Tour wins (73)
Other wins (22)
Senior Tour wins (10)
Other senior wins (10)
 Major championships (18)
Year Championship 54 Holes Winning Score Margin Runner(s)-up
1962 U.S. Open 2 shot deficit -1 (72-70-72-69=283) Playoff 1 Arnold Palmer
1963 Masters Tournament 1 shot lead -2 (74-66-74-72=286) 1 stroke Tony Lema
1963 PGA Championship 3 shot deficit -5 (69-73-69-68=279) 2 strokes Dave Ragan
1965 Masters Tournament (2) 5 shot lead -17 (67-71-64-69=271) 9 strokes Arnold Palmer, Gary Player
1966 Masters Tournament (3) Tied for lead E (68-76-72-72=288) Playoff 2 Gay Brewer, Tommy Jacobs
1966 The Open Championship 2 shot deficit -2 (70-67-75-70=282) 1 stroke Doug Sanders, Dave Thomas
1967 U.S. Open (2) 1 shot deficit -9 (71-67-72-65=275) 4 strokes Arnold Palmer
1970 The Open Championship (2) 2 shot deficit -5 (68-69-73-73=283) Playoff 3 Doug Sanders
1971 PGA Championship (2) 4 shot lead -7 (69-69-70-73=281) 2 strokes Billy Casper
1972 Masters Tournament (4) 1 shot lead -2 (68-71-73-74=286) 3 strokes Bruce Crampton, Bobby Mitchell,
1972 U.S. Open (3) 1 shot lead +2 (71-73-72-74=290) 3 strokes Bruce Crampton
1973 PGA Championship (3) 1 shot lead -7 (72-68-68-69=277) 4 strokes Bruce Crampton
1975 Masters Tournament (5) 1 shot deficit -12 (68-67-73-68=276) 1 stroke Tom Weiskopf, Johnny Miller
1975 PGA Championship (4) 4 shot lead -4 (70-68-67-71=276) 2 strokes Bruce Crampton
1978 The Open Championship (3) 1 shot deficit -7 (71-72-69-69=281) 2 strokes Ben Crenshaw, Raymond Floyd,
Tom Kite, Simon Owen
1980 U.S. Open (4) Tied for lead -8 (63-71-70-68=272) 2 strokes Isao Aoki
1980 PGA Championship (5) 3 shot lead -6 (70-69-66-69=274) 7 strokes Andy Bean
1986 Masters Tournament (6) 4 shot deficit -9 (74-71-69-65=279) 1 stroke Tom Kite, Greg Norman
1 Defeated Arnold Palmer in 18-hole playoff - Nicklaus (71), Palmer (74)
2 Defeated Tommy Jacobs & Gay Brewer in 18-hole playoff - Nicklaus (70), Jacobs (72), Brewer (78)
3 Defeated Doug Sanders in 18-hole playoff - Nicklaus (72), Sanders (73)
Summary of major championship performances
Starts - 163
Wins - 18
2nd place finishes - 19
Top-three finishes - 46
Top-five finishes - 56
Top-10 finishes - 73
Longest streak of top-10s in majors - 13
Longest streak of consecutive cuts made in majors - 39
All of the above figures are stand-alone records with the exception of the longest streak of consecutive cuts made in majors at 39 which was equalled by Tiger Woods.
Champions Tour major championships
Year Championship Winning Score Margin Runner(s)-up
1990 The Tradition at Desert Mountain -10 (71-67-68=206) 4 strokes Gary Player
1990 Mazda Senior Tournament Players Championship -27 (65-68-64-64=261) 6 strokes Lee Trevino
1991 The Tradition at Desert Mountain (2) -11 (71-73-66-67=277) 1 stroke Jim Colbert, Jim Dent, Phil Rodgers
1991 PGA Seniors' Championship -17 (66-66-69-70=271) 6 strokes Bruce Crampton
1991 U.S. Senior Open +2 (72-69-70-71=282) Playoff1 Chi-Chi Rodríguez
1993 U.S. Senior Open (2) -6 (68-73-67-70=278) 1 stroke Tom Weiskopf
1995 The Tradition (3) -12 (69-71-69-67=276) Playoff2 Isao Aoki
1996 The Tradition (4) -16 (68-74-65-65=272) 3 strokes Hale Irwin
1 In an 18-hole playoff, Nicklaus shot a (65) to Rodríguez's (69).
Summary of senior major championship performances
Starts - 50
Cuts made - 46 (cut once, withdrew 3 times)
Wins - 8
Second place finishes - 5
Top-three finishes - 15
Top-five finishes - 18
Top-10 finishes - 30
Longest streak of top-10s - 10
John Byron Nelson, Jr. (February 4, 1912 – September 26, 2006) was an American PGA Tour golfer between 1935 and 1946. Nelson and two other well known golfers of the time, Ben Hogan and Sam Snead, were born within seven months of each other in 1912. Although he won many tournaments in the course of his relatively brief career, he is mostly remembered today for having won 11 consecutive tournaments and 18 total tournaments in 1945. He retired officially at the age of 34 to be a rancher, later becoming a commentator and lending his name to the HP Byron Nelson Championship, the first PGA Tour event to be named for a professional golfer. In 1974, Byron Nelson received the Bob Jones Award, the highest honor given by the United States Golf Association in recognition of distinguished sportsmanship in golf.
Nelson became the second recipient of the PGA Tour Lifetime Achievement Award in 1997, and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1974. He received the 1994 Old Tom Morris Award from the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America, GCSAA's highest honor. Nelson received the Congressional Gold Medal shortly after his death in 2006.
Early life and career
Born near Waxahachie, Texas, Byron Nelson was the son of Madge Allen Nelson and John Byron Nelson, Sr. His parents set a precedent for him not only in their long lives — Madge Nelson lived to age 98, and her husband to age 77 — but also in their religious commitment. Madge, who had grown up Baptist, was baptized in a Church of Christ at age 18, and John Byron Sr., raised Presbyterian, was baptized in a Church of Christ soon after meeting Madge. The senior Byron Nelson went on to serve as an elder in the Roanoke Church of Christ, and the younger Byron Nelson was a committed member of that congregation — even performing janitorial services there from time to time long after he became famous — he later placed his membership at the Hilltop Church of Christ in Roanoke from 1989 until 2000 when he moved his membership to the Richland Hills Church of Christ in North Richland Hills, Texas in later life.
When Nelson was 11 years old, the family moved to Fort Worth, where he barely survived typhoid fever after losing nearly half his body weight to the disease, which also left him unable to sire children. Soon after his baptism at age 12, he started caddying at Glen Garden Country Club. On his caddying days, Nelson said, "I knew nothing about caddying at first, but it wasn't difficult to learn. The other caddies, though, didn't like to see any new ones, because that might mean they wouldn't get a job sometime." An article on Nelson in Sports Illustrated noted that initially caddies were not permitted to play at the club: "[H]e would often practice in the dark, putting his white handkerchief over the hole so he could find it in the darkness." The club later changed its policy and sponsored the Glen Garden Caddy Tournament, where a 14-year-old Nelson beat fellow caddy and future golf great Ben Hogan by a single stroke after a nine-hole playoff. Nelson and Hogan were rivals but close friends in their teen years, and for the first part of their professional careers as well, but Nelson's early success was difficult for the struggling Hogan to deal with, and they gradually grew apart, while retaining mutual respect.
In 1934, Nelson was working as a golf pro in Texarkana, Texas, when he met future wife Louise Shofner, to whom he was married for 50 years, before she died in 1985 after two severe strokes.
Father of the modern golf swing
After turning professional in 1932, Nelson served as a club professional in Texas, and played as many significant tournaments as he could afford, to develop his game. Money was tight, as Texas was hit very hard by the Great Depression. A pair of top-three finishes in important Texas events encouraged him. He then took a club professional's job at the Ridgewood Club in New Jersey in 1935. He worked hard on his game, having earlier realized that with the technological change from hickory to steel shafts, which was gathering momentum in the early 1930s, that the golf swing would have to adapt as well. Nelson was among the first of a new generation of players who developed a full swing with increased leg drive leading the downswing; this is the forerunner of modern golf technique as practised by top players, right to the present day. Nelson is sometimes credited as being the father of the modern golf swing. He refined the changes for a couple of years, and then took his game to the highest level of competition, the PGA Tour. Nelson waited until 1935 to post his first significant victory, at the New Jersey State Open. He followed this up with a win at the Metropolitan Open the following year. He reportedly won this tournament with "$5 in my pocket".
Nelson was hired as the head professional at the Hershey Country Club in Hershey, Pennsylvania, and worked there until 1940, when he took a new job as head pro at the Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio.
Wins major championships
Nelson won his first major event at The Masters in 1937, winning by two shots over Ralph Guldahl. During this tournament he shot a first-round 66, which stood as a record as the lowest first round in Masters' history until Raymond Floyd had 65 in the 1976 event. Nelson would subsequently win four more major tournaments, the U.S. Open in 1939, the PGA Championship in 1940 and 1945, and a second Masters in 1942. Nelson had a blood disorder that caused his blood to clot four times slower than normal, which kept him out of military service during World War II. It has sometimes mistakenly been reported that he had hemophilia; this is not true.
During World War II, Nelson gave dozens of golf exhibitions across the country to raise money for charitable causes.
In his career, Nelson won 52 professional events. Nelson won the Vardon Trophy in 1939. He played on the U.S. Ryder Cup teams in 1937 and 1947 and was non-playing captain of the team in 1965. After 1946, Nelson curtailed his schedule, although he continued to make regular appearances at The Masters as a competitor, and later as a ceremonial starter for many years.
In 1945 Nelson enjoyed a record-breaking year, winning 18 of 35 PGA tournaments including 11 in a row. Both records are still yet to be beaten. Nelson however lost many chances at major championships during this year, and previous years, because of the war, and only won the 1945 PGA Championship. There has been debate to how impressive these results are, as it was believed to be a weakened tour due to the war. But in reality many of the leading golfers of that time, including Sam Snead and Ben Hogan still played a full or at least part schedule that year. Both Snead and Hogan won multiple times on the tour in 1945. During this year Nelson finished second another 7 times, set a record for the scoring average (68.33 for 18 holes) that was only recently broken (by Tiger Woods in 2000), a record 18 hole score (62), and a record 72-hole score (259, which beat the previous record set by Ben Hogan earlier that year). This year is now known as the greatest single year by a player on the PGA Tour, as Arnold Palmer said: "I don't think that anyone will ever exceed the things that Byron did by winning 11 tournaments in a row in one year." Even more recently, Tiger Woods referred to the year as "one of the greatest years in the history of the sport."
Nelson's record of 113 consecutive cuts made is second only to Tiger Woods' 142. The PGA Tour defines a "cut" as receiving a paycheck, even if an event has no cut per se. In Nelson's era, only the top 20 in a tournament received a check. In reality, Nelson's "113 consecutive cuts made" are representative of his unequaled 113 consecutive top 20 tournament finishes.
Death and legacy
Nelson died Tuesday, September 26, 2006. According to a family friend, Nelson died at his Roanoke, Texas home around noon. He was survived by Peggy, his wife of nearly 20 years, sister Margaret Ellen Sherman, and brother Charles, a professor emeritus at Abilene Christian University, where Byron Nelson had been a trustee and benefactor. Nelson met his second wife, the former Peggy Simmons, when she volunteered at the Bogie Busters celebrity golf tournament in Dayton, Ohio in 1985.
Nelson was often referred to as "Lord Byron," after the English poet by that name, in recognition of his reputation for gentlemanly conduct, a nickname given him by Atlanta sports journalist O. B. Keeler. Many of his obituaries referenced this reputation.
Nelson has several successful years as a television golf commentator. Nelson had a significant role in the development of Tom Watson as a world-class player in the mid-1970s, and had earlier mentored Ken Venturi in the 1950s, while he was a rising star.
Nelson was ranked as the fifth greatest golfer of all time by Golf Digest magazine in 2000. On this list, Jack Nicklaus was first, Nelson's longtime rivals Ben Hogan and Sam Snead were second and third respectively, and Bobby Jones was fourth. A 2009 Sports Illustrated panel ranked him seventh on its list of all-time greatest golfers, behind Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Jones, Hogan, Snead, and Arnold Palmer.
The "Iron Byron" electro-mechanical machine or robot used by the United States Golf Association, as well as golf manufacturers, to compare and test clubs and balls for conformity to standards was named for Nelson, honoring the consistency of his swing.
In Jack Nicklaus's 1978 book On and Off the Fairway, Nicklaus wrote that Nelson was the straightest golfer he ever saw. The two never played competitively, but a 14-year-old Nicklaus was in the crowd of youngsters at the 1954 U.S. Junior Amateur, when Nelson gave an exhibition hitting golf shots.
State Highway 114 Business through Roanoke, Texas is named Byron Nelson Boulevard, in honor of Nelson's residence; the street he lived on was recently changed to Eleven Straight Lane in honor of his 1945 record. In Irving, Texas a street immediately adjacent to the Four Seasons Resort and Club, where the HP Byron Nelson Championship is played each year, is named Byron Nelson Lane. A street in Southlake, Texas, Byron Nelson Parkway, was named in his honor, as was a street in a residential neighborhood in McAllen, Texas.
On October 16, 2006, President George W. Bush approved H.R. 4902 awarding Byron Nelson the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest award that can be bestowed by the Legislative Branch of the United States government. The resolution cites Mr. Nelson's "significant contributions to the game of golf as a player, a teacher, and a commentator." Representative Michael C. Burgess (R-TX) sponsored the resolution, originally proposed March 8, 2006, well before Nelson's death. Senate Resolution 602 memorialized Nelson on September 29, 2006.
On April 23, 2007 the Northwest Independent School District named their second high school Byron Nelson High School. This is the first high school named in honor of Byron Nelson, and opened in the fall of 2009. The school is located in Trophy Club, Texas, near Nelson's hometown of Roanoke.
Orange County Choppers built three choppers in dedication which were auctioned off.
PGA Tour wins (52)
1935 (1) New Jersey State Open
1936 (1) Metropolitan Open
1937 (2) Masters Tournament, Belmont Country Club Match Play
1938 (2) Thomasville Open, Hollywood Open
1939 (4) Phoenix Open, North and South Open, U.S. Open, Western Open
1940 (3) Texas Open, Miami Open, PGA Championship
1941 (3) Greater Greensboro Open, Tam O'Shanter Open, Miami Open
1942 (3) Oakland Open, Masters Tournament, Tam O'Shanter Open
1944 (8) San Francisco Victory Open, Knoxville War Bond Tournament, New York Red Cross Tourney, Minneapolis Four-Ball (with Harold "Jug" McSpaden), Tam O'Shanter Open, Nashville Open, Texas Victory Open, San Francisco Open
1945 (18) Phoenix Open, Corpus Christi Open, New Orleans Open, Miami International Four-Ball (with Harold "Jug" McSpaden), Charlotte Open, Greater Greensboro Open, Durham Open, Atlanta Open, Montreal Open, Philadelphia Inquirer Open, Chicago Victory National Open, PGA Championship, Tam O'Shanter Open, Canadian Open, Knoxville Invitational, Esmeralda Open, Seattle Open, Glen Garden Open
1946 (6) Los Angeles Open, San Francisco Open, New Orleans Open, Houston Open, Columbus Invitational, Chicago Victory National Open
1951 (1) Bing Crosby Pro-Am
Major championships are shown in bold.
Other wins (12)
1937 Central Pennsylvania Open
1939 Massachusetts Open
1940 Ohio Open
1941 Ohio Open, Seminole Pro-Am
1942 Toledo Open, Ohio Open
1943 Kentucky Open
1944 New York Open, Beverly Hills Open
1948 Texas PGA Championship
1955 French Open
Year Championship 54 Holes Winning Score Margin Runner(s)-up
1937 Masters Tournament 4 shot deficit -5 (66-72-75-70=283) 2 strokes Ralph Guldahl
1939 U.S. Open 5 shot deficit +8 (72-73-71-68=284) Playoff 1 Denny Shute, Craig Wood
1940 PGA Championship n/a 1 up n/a Sam Snead
1942 Masters Tournament (2) 2 shot lead -6 (68-67-72-73=280) Playoff 2 Ben Hogan
1945 PGA Championship (2) n/a 4 & 3 n/a Sammy Byrd
Note: The PGA Championship was match play until 1958
1 Defeated Craig Wood and Denny Shute in a 36-hole playoff - Nelson (68-70=138), Wood (68-73=141), Shute (76) (eliminated after first 18)
2 Defeated Ben Hogan in an 18-hole playoff - Nelson (69), Hogan (70)
Vardon Trophy: 1939
PGA Tour Money Winner: 1944, 1945
Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year: 1944, 1945
Bob Jones Award: 1974
World Golf Hall of Fame: 1974
Old Tom Morris Award: 1994
PGA Tour Lifetime Achievement Award: 1997
Payne Stewart Award: 2000
Congressional Gold Medal: 2006
Arnold Daniel Palmer (born September 10, 1929) is an American golfer who is generally regarded as one of the greatest players in the history of men's professional golf. He has won numerous events on both the PGA Tour and Champions Tour, dating back to 1955. Nicknamed "The King," he is one of golf's most popular stars and its most important trailblazer because he was the first star of the sport's television age, which began in the 1950s. He is part of "The Big Three" in golf along with Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player who are widely credited with popularizing and commercialising the sport around the world.
Palmer won the PGA Tour Lifetime Achievement Award in 1998, and in 1974 was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame.
Palmer, while enlisted in the Coast Guard in 1953Palmer was born in the Pittsburgh suburb of Latrobe, Pennsylvania. He learned golf from his father Deacon Palmer, who was head professional and greenskeeper at Latrobe Country Club, allowing young Arnold to accompany his father as he maintained the course. He attended Wake Forest University, on a golf scholarship. He left upon the death of close friend Bud Worsham, and enlisted in the Coast Guard, where he served for three years and had some time to continue to hone his golf skills. Palmer gathered himself, and returned to competitive golf. His win in the 1954 U.S. Amateur Championship made him decide to try the pro tour for a while, and he and new bride Winifred Walzer (whom he had met at a Pennsylvania tournament) traveled the circuit for 1955. Palmer won the 1955 Canadian Open in his rookie season, and raised his game systematically for the next several seasons.
Palmer's charisma was a major factor in establishing golf as a compelling television event in the 1950s and 1960s, setting the stage for the popularity it enjoys today. His first major championship win at the 1958 Masters cemented his position as one of the leading stars in golf, and by 1960 he had signed up as pioneering sports agent Mark McCormack's first client. In later interviews, McCormack listed five attributes that made Palmer especially marketable: his good looks; his relatively modest background (his father was a greenskeeper before rising to be club professional and Latrobe was a humble club); the way he played golf, taking risks and wearing his emotions on his sleeve; his involvement in a string of exciting finishes in early televised tournaments; and his affability.
Palmer is also credited by many for securing the status of The Open Championship (British Open) among US players. After Ben Hogan won that championship in 1953, few American professionals had travelled to play in The Open, due to its travel requirements, relatively small prize purses, and the style of its links courses (radically different from most American courses). Palmer was convinced by his business partner Mark McCormack that success in the Open - to emulate the feats of Bobby Jones, Sam Snead and Hogan before him - would truly make him a global sporting star, not simply a leading American golfer. In particular, Palmer travelled to Scotland in 1960, having already won both the Masters and U.S. Open, to try to emulate Hogan's feat of 1953, of winning all three in a single year. He failed, losing out to Kel Nagle by a single shot, but his subsequent Open wins in the early 1960s convinced many American pros that a trip to Britain would be worth the effort, and certainly secured Palmer's popularity among British and European fans, not just American ones.
Palmer won seven major championships:
The Masters: 1958, 1960, 1962, 1964
U.S. Open: 1960
The Open Championship: 1961, 1962
Palmer's most prolific years were 1960-1963, when he won 29 PGA Tour events in four seasons. In 1960, he won the Hickok Belt as the top professional athlete of the year and Sports Illustrated magazine's "Sportsman of the Year" award. He built up a wide fan base, often referred to as "Arnie's Army", and in 1967 he became the first man to reach one million dollars in career earnings on the PGA Tour. By the late 1960s Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player had both acquired clear ascendancy in their rivalry, but Palmer won a PGA Tour event every year up to 1970, and in 1971 he enjoyed a revival, winning four events.
Palmer won the Vardon Trophy for lowest scoring average four times: 1961, 1962, 1964, and 1967. He played on six Ryder Cup teams: 1961, 1963, 1965, 1967, 1971, and 1973. He was the last playing-captain in 1963 and captained the team again in 1975.
Palmer was eligible for the Senior PGA Tour (now the Champions Tour) from its first season in 1980, and he was one of the marquee names who helped it to become successful. He won ten events on the tour, including five senior majors.
Palmer won the first World Match Play Championship in England, an event which was originally organized by McCormack to showcase his stable of players. Their partnership was one of the most significant in the history of sports marketing. Long after he ceased to win tournaments, Palmer remained one of the highest earners in golf due to his appeal to sponsors and the public.
Palmer gives President Bush golf tips before being awarded the Presidential Medal of FreedomIn 2004, he competed in The Masters for the last time, marking his 50th consecutive appearance in that event. After missing the cut at the 2005 U.S. Senior Open by twenty-one shots he announced that he would not enter any more senior majors. Since 2007, Palmer has served as the honorary starter for the Masters. He retired from tournament golf on October 13, 2006, when he withdrew from the Champions Tours' Administaff Small Business Classic after four holes due to dissatisfaction with his own play. He played the remaining holes but did not keep score. Palmer's legacy was reaffirmed by an electrifying moment during the 2004 Bay Hill Invitational. Standing over 200 yards from the water-laden 18th green, Palmer, who is known for his aggressive play, lashed his second shot onto the green with a driver. The shot thrilled his loyal gallery and energized the excitable Palmer. He turned to his grandson and caddie, Sam Saunders, and gave him a prolonged shimmy and playful jeering in celebration of the moment.
Palmer has had a diverse golf related business career including owning the Bay Hill Club and Lodge, which is the venue for the PGA Tour's Arnold Palmer Invitational (renamed from the Bay Hill Invitational in 2007), helping to found The Golf Channel, and negotiating the deal to build the first golf course in the People's Republic of China. This led to the formation of Palmer Course Design in 1972, which was renamed Arnold Palmer Design Company when the company moved to Orlando Florida in 2006. Since 1971 he has owned Latrobe Country Club, where his father used to be the club professional.
In 2000, Palmer was ranked the sixth greatest player of all time in Golf Digest magazine's rankings.
According to Golf Digest, Palmer made $1,861,857 in 734 PGA Tour career starts over 53 years; he earned an estimated $30 million off the course in 2008.
He now resides near his golf course, Arnold Palmer's Bay Hill Country Club and Lodge, in Orlando, Florida which was originally designed by Dick Wilson.
Palmer's grandson, Sam Saunders, is a professional golfer.
Amateur wins (2)
1953 Evergreen Pitch and Putt Invitational
1954 U.S. Amateur
Professional wins (94)
PGA Tour wins (62)
No. Date Tournament Winning Score Margin of Victory Runner(s)-up
1 Aug 20, 1955 Canadian Open -23 (64-67-64-70=265) 4 strokes Jack Burke, Jr.
2 Jul 1, 1956 Insurance City Open -10 (66-69-68-71=274) Playoff Ted Kroll
3 Jul 29, 1956 Eastern Open -11 (70-66-69-72=277) 2 strokes Dow Finsterwald
4 Feb 25, 1957 Houston Open -9 (67-72-71-69=279) 1 stroke Doug Ford
5 Mar 31, 1957 Azalea Open Invitational -6 (70-67-70-75=282) 1 stroke Dow Finsterwald
6 Jun 9, 1957 Rubber City Open Invitational -12 (71-66-67-68=272) Playoff Doug Ford
7 Oct 30, 1957 San Diego Open Invitational -17 (65-68-68-70=271) 1 stroke Al Balding
8 Oct 20, 1958 St. Petersburg Open Invitational -12 (70-69-72-65=276) 1 stroke Al Balding, Dow Finsterwald
9 Apr 6, 1958 Masters Tournament -4 (70-73-68-73=284) 1 stroke Doug Ford, Fred Hawkins
10 Jun 29, 1958 Pepsi Championship -11 (66-69-67-71=273) 5 strokes Jay Hebert
11 Jan 25, 1959 Thunderbird Invitational -18 (67-70-67-62=266) Playoff Jimmy Demaret, Ken Venturi
12 May 11, 1959 Oklahoma City Open Invitational -15 (73-64-67-69=273) 2 strokes Bob Goalby
13 Nov 29, 1959 West Palm Beach Open Invitational -7 (72-67-66-76=281) Playoff Gay Brewer, Pete Cooper
14 Feb 7, 1960 Palm Springs Desert Golf Classic -22 (67-73-67-66-65=338) 3 strokes Fred Hawkins
15 Feb 28, 1960 Texas Open Invitational -12 (69-65-67-75=276) 2 strokes Doug Ford, Frank Stranahan
16 Mar 6, 1960 Baton Rouge Open Invitational -9 (71-71-69-68=279) 7 strokes Jay Hebert, Ron Reif,
17 Mar 13, 1960 Pensacola Open Invitational -15 (68-65-73-67=273) 1 stroke Doug Sanders
18 Apr 10, 1960 Masters Tournament -6 (67-73-72-70=282) 1 stroke Ken Venturi
19 Jun 18, 1960 U.S. Open -4 (72-71-72-65=280) 2 strokes Jack Nicklaus
20 Aug 7, 1960 Insurance City Open Invitational -14 (70-68-66-66=270) Playoff Bill Collins, Jack Fleck
21 Nov 27, 1960 Mobile Sertoma Open Invitational -14 (68-67-74-65=274) 2 strokes Johnny Pott
22 Jan 15, 1961 San Diego Open Invitational -17 (69-68-69-65=271) Playoff Al Balding
23 Feb 12, 1961 Phoenix Open Invitational -14 (69-65-66-70=270) Playoff Doug Sanders
24 Feb 26, 1961 Baton Rouge Open Invitational -22 (65-67-68-66=266) 7 strokes Wes Ellis
25 Apr 30, 1961 Texas Open Invitational -10 (67-63-72-68=270) 1 stroke Al Balding
26 Jun 25, 1961 Western Open -13 (65-70-67-69=271) 2 strokes Sam Snead
27 Jul 14, 1961 The Open Championship -4 (70-73-69-72=284) 1 stroke Dai Rees
28 Feb 4, 1962 Palm Springs Golf Classic -18 (69-67-66-71-69=342) 3 strokes Jay Hebert, Gene Littler
29 Feb 11, 1962 Phoenix Open Invitational -15 (64-68-71-66=269) 12 strokes Billy Casper, Don Fairfield,
30 Apr 9, 1962 Masters Tournament -8 (70-66-69-75-68=280) Playoff Dow Finsterwald, Gary Player
31 Apr 29, 1962 Texas Open Invitational -1 (72-70-72-69=273) 1 stroke Joe Campbell, Gene Littler,
Mason Rudolph, Doug Sanders
32 May 6, 1962 Tournament of Champions -12 (69-70-69-68=276) 1 stroke Billy Casper
33 May 13, 1962 Colonial National Invitation +1 (67-72-66-76=281) Playoff Johnny Pott
34 Jul 13, 1962 The Open Championship -12 (71-69-67-69=276) 6 strokes Kel Nagle
35 Aug 12, 1962 American Golf Classic -4 (67-69-70-70=276) 5 strokes Mason Rudolph
36 Jan 7, 1963 Los Angeles Open -10 (69-69-70-66=274) 3 strokes Al Balding, Gary Player
37 Feb 12, 1963 Phoenix Open Invitational -11 (68-67-68-70=273) 1 stroke Gary Player
38 Mar 10, 1963 Pensacola Open Invitational -15 (69-68-69-67=273) 2 strokes Harold Kneece, Gary Player
39 Jun 16, 1963 Thunderbird Classic Invitational -11 (67-70-68-72=277) Playoff Paul Harney
40 Jul 1, 1963 Cleveland Open Invitational -9 (68-73-65-73=279) Playoff Tommy Aaron, Tony Lema
41 Jul 29, 1963 Western Open -11 (71-68-66-68=273) Playoff Julius Boros, Jack Nicklaus
42 Oct 6, 1963 Whitemarsh Open Invitational -7 (70-71-66-74=281) 1 stroke Lionel Hebert
43 Apr 12, 1964 Masters Tournament -12 (69-68-69-70=276) 6 strokes Dave Marr, Jack Nicklaus
44 May 18, 1964 Oklahoma City Open Invitational -11 (72-69-69-67=277) 2 strokes Lionel Hebert
45 Apr 25, 1965 Tournament of Champions -11 (66-69-71-71=277) 3 strokes Chi Chi Rodriguez
46 Jan 31, 1966 Los Angeles Open -11 (72-66-62-73=273) 3 strokes Miller Barber, Paul Harney
47 Apr 18, 1966 Tournament of Champions -5 (74-70-70-69=283) Playoff Gay Brewer
48 Nov 20, 1966 Houston Champions International -9 (70-68-68-69=275) 1 stroke Gardner Dickinson
49 Jan 29, 1967 Los Angeles Open -2 (70-64-67-68=269) 5 strokes Gay Brewer
50 Feb 19, 1967 Tucson Open Invitational -15 (66-67-67-73=273) 1 stroke Chuck Courtney
51 Aug 13, 1967 American Golf Classic -4 (70-67-72-67=276) 3 stroke Doug Sanders
52 Sep 24, 1967 Thunderbird Classic -5 (71-71-72-69=283) 1 stroke Charles Coody, Jack Nicklaus,
Art Wall, Jr.
53 Feb 14, 1968 Bob Hope Desert Classic -12 (72-70-67-71-68=348) Playoff Deane Beman
54 Sep 15, 1968 Kemper Open -12 (69-70-70-67=276) 4 strokes Bruce Crampton, Art Wall, Jr.
55 Nov 30, 1969 Heritage Golf Classic -1 (68-71-70-74=283) 3 strokes Dick Crawford, Bert Yancey
56 Dec 7, 1969 Danny Thomas-Diplomat Classic -18 (68-67-70-65-270) 2 strokes Gay Brewer
57 Jul 26, 1970 National Four-Ball Championship
PGA Players (with Jack Nicklaus) -25 (61-67-64-67=259) 3 strokes Bruce Crampton & Orville Moody,
Gardner Dickinson & Sam Snead,
George Archer & Bobby Nichols
58 Feb 14, 1971 Bob Hope Desert Classic -18 (67-71-66-68-70=342) Playoff Raymond Floyd
59 Mar 14, 1971 Florida Citrus Invitational -18 (66-68-68-68=270) 1 stroke Julius Boros
60 Jul 25, 1971 Westchester Classic -18 (64-70-68-68=270) 5 strokes Gibby Gilbert, Hale Irwin
61 Aug 1, 1971 National Team Championship
(with Jack Nicklaus) -27 (62-64-65-66=257) 6 strokes Julius Boros & Bill Collins,
Bob Charles & Bruce Devlin
62 Feb 11, 1973 Bob Hope Desert Classic -17 (71-66-69-68-69=343) 2 strokes Jack Nicklaus, Johnny Miller
Other wins (17)
1955 Colombian Open
1956 Panama Open
1960 Canada Cup (with Sam Snead)
1962 Canada Cup (with Sam Snead)
1963 Australian Wills Masters Tournament, Canada Cup (with Jack Nicklaus)
1964 Piccadilly World Match Play Championship (England, but not a European Tour event at that time), Canada Cup (with Jack Nicklaus)
1966 Australian Open, Canada Cup (with Jack Nicklaus), PGA Team Championship (with Jack Nicklaus)
1967 Piccadilly World Match Play Championship (England, but not a European Tour event at that time), World Cup (with Jack Nicklaus)
1971 Lancome Trophy (France, but not a European Tour event at that time)
1975 Spanish Open (European Tour), Penfold PGA Championship (European Tour)
1980 Canadian PGA Championship
Senior PGA Tour wins (10)
1980 (1) PGA Seniors' Championship
1981 (1) U.S. Senior Open
1982 (2) Marlboro Classic, Denver Post Champions of Golf
1983 (1) Boca Grove Seniors Classic
1984 (3) General Foods PGA Seniors' Championship, Senior Tournament Players Championship, Quadel Seniors Classic
1985 (1) Senior Tournament Players Championship
1988 (1) Crestar Classic
Senior majors are shown in bold.
Other senior wins (5)
1984 Doug Sanders Celebrity Pro-Am
1986 Union Mutual Classic
1990 Senior Skins Game
1992 Senior Skins Game
1993 Senior Skins Game
Year Championship 54 Holes Winning Score Margin Runner(s)-up
1958 Masters Tournament Tied for lead -4 (70-73-68-73=284) 1 stroke Doug Ford, Fred Hawkins
1960 Masters Tournament (2) 1 shot lead -6 (67-73-72-70=282) 1 stroke Ken Venturi
1960 U.S. Open 7 shot deficit -4 (72-71-72-65=280) 2 strokes Jack Nicklaus
1961 The Open Championship 1 shot lead -8 (70-73-69-72=284) 1 stroke Dai Rees
1962 Masters Tournament (3) 2 shot lead -8 (70-66-69-75=280) Playoff 1 Gary Player, Dow Finsterwald
1962 The Open Championship (2) 5 shot lead -12 (71-69-67-69=276) 6 strokes Kel Nagle
1964 Masters Tournament (4) 5 shot lead -12 (69-68-69-70=276) 6 strokes Dave Marr, Jack Nicklaus
1 Defeated Gary Player & Dow Finsterwald in 18-hole playoff - Palmer (68), Player (71), Finsterwald (77)
Summary of performances
Starts - 142
Wins - 7
2nd place finishes - 10
Top 3 finishes - 19
Top 5 finishes - 26
Top 10 finishes - 38
Longest streak of top-10s in majors - 6
 Champions Tour major championships
 Wins (5)
Year Championship Winning Score Margin Runner(s)-up
1980 PGA Seniors' Championship +1 (72?69?73?75=289) Playoff1 Paul Harney
1981 U.S. Senior Open +9 (72?76?68?73=289) Playoff2 Billy Casper, Bob Stone
1984a General Foods PGA Seniors' Championship (2) ?6 (69?63?79?71=282) 2 strokes Don January
1984 Senior Players Championship ?12 (72?68?67?69=276) 3 strokes Peter Thomson
1985 Senior Players Championship (2) ?14 (67?71?68?68=274) 11 strokes Miller Barber, Lee Elder,
Gene Littler, Charles Owens
Back To Top
Samuel Jackson Snead (May 27, 1912 – May 23, 2002) was an American professional golfer who was one of the top players in the world for most of four decades. He and two of the other greatest golfers of all time, Ben Hogan and Byron Nelson, were born within six months of each other in 1912. Snead won a record 82 PGA Tour events.
Snead won seven majors: three Masters, three PGA Championships and one British Open. But his reputation has always been slightly tarnished by his failure to win a U.S. Open. Snead used to share the record for most second-place finishes in that championship (four) with four others; Bobby Jones, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, and Phil Mickelson. After the 2009 U.S. Open, Mickelson became the all-time leader with five second place finishes.
Snead's nickname was "Slammin' Sammy." He was admired by many for having the so-called "perfect swing," and generated many imitators. Snead was famed for his folksy image, wearing a straw hat, playing tournaments barefoot, and making such statements as "Keep close count of your nickels and dimes, stay away from whiskey, and never concede a putt. "He was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1974, and received the PGA Tour Lifetime Achievement Award in 1998.
Snead was born in Ashwood, Virginia near Hot Springs, Virginia. At the age of seven, he began caddying at The Homestead in Hot Springs; he worked as an assistant pro at The Homestead at 19, and turned professional in 1934. In 1944 he became head pro at The Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. Snead maintained ties to Hot Springs and The Homestead for all of his life.
Sam Snead died in Hot Springs in 2002 following complications from a stroke four days short of his 90th birthday. He was survived by two sons, Sam Jr., of Hot Springs, Virginia and Terry, of Mountain Grove, Virginia; a brother, Pete, of Pittsburgh; and two grandchildren. His wife, Audrey, died in 1990. His nephew J. C. Snead was also a PGA Tour golfer.
In 1937, Snead's first year on the Tour, he won five events, including the Oakland Open at Claremont Country Club in California.
In 1938, he first won the Greater Greensboro Open. He won that event a total of eight times, the Tour record, concluding in 1965 at the age of 52 years, & 311 days, making him the oldest player to win a PGA Tour event.
1939 was the first of several times he failed at crucial moments of the U.S. Open, the only major event he never won. Needing par to win, he posted an 8 on the 72nd hole. At the U.S. Open in 1949, Snead missed a 2 1/2-foot putt on the final playoff hole to lose to Lew Worsham.
In 1950, he won 11 events. No one has since won more in one year. He won the Vardon Trophy for lowest scoring average four times: 1938, 1949, 1950, and 1955. He played on seven Ryder Cup teams: 1937, 1947, 1949, 1951, 1953, 1955, and 1959, and captained the team in 1951, 1959, and 1969.
In 1971, he won the PGA Club Professional Championship.
In 1974, at age 62, he shot a one-under-par 279 to come in third, three strokes behind winner Lee Trevino at the PGA Championship at Tanglewood in Clemmons, North Carolina.
In 1978, he won the first Legends of Golf event, which was the impetus for the creation two years later of the Senior PGA Tour, now known as the Champions Tour.
In 1979 he was the youngest PGA Tour golfer to shoot his age (67) in the second round of the 1979 Quad Cities Open. He shot under his age (66) in the final round.
In 1983, at age 71, he shot a round of 60 (12-under-par) at The Homestead in Hot Springs, Virginia.
In 1997, at age 85, he shot a round of 78 at the Old White course of The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia.
In 1998, he received the PGA Tour Lifetime Achievement Award, the fourth person to be so honored.
From 1984 to 2002, he hit the honorary starting tee shot at The Masters. Until 1999, he was joined by Gene Sarazen, and until 2001, by Byron Nelson.
Snead wrote several golf instructional books, and frequently wrote instructional columns in golf magazines.
In 2000, he was ranked the third greatest golfer of all time, in Golf Digest magazine's rankings. Jack Nicklaus was first, and Ben Hogan was second.
Snead was inducted into the West Virginia Golf Hall of Fame in 2009 with William C. Campbell.
During his peak years, Snead was an exceptionally long driver, particularly into the wind, with very good accuracy as well. He was a superb player with the long irons. Snead was also known for a very creative short game, pioneering use of the sand wedge for short shots from grass. As he aged, his putting deteriorated. Snead pioneered croquet-style putting in the 1960s, where he straddled the ball with one leg on each side. The United States Golf Association banned this technique in 1968 by amending the old Rule 35-1, since until that time, golfers had always faced the ball when striking. Snead then went to side-saddle putting, where he crouched and angled his feet towards the hole, and held the club with a split grip. He used that style for the rest of his career.
From official PGA Tour site.
Most PGA Tour victories: 82
Most PGA Tour victories at an event: 8 at the Greater Greensboro Open (1938, 1946, 1949, 1950, 1955, 1956, 1960, 1965)
Oldest player to win a PGA Tour event: age 52 years, 10 months, 8 days at the 1965 Greater Greensboro Open
Oldest player to make the cut at a major: age 67 years, 2 months, 7 days at the 1979 PGA Championship
First PGA Tour player to shoot his age: 67 in the second round of the 1979 Quad Cities Open
Oldest player to make a cut on the PGA Tour: age 67 years, 2 months, 21 days at the 1979 Manufacturers Hanover Westchester Classic.
Only player to post a top ten finish in at least one major championship in five different decades.
Snead also held the record for most PGA Tour wins after reaching age 40, with 17, until it was broken at the 2007 Mercedes-Benz Championship by Vijay Singh.
Professional wins (165)
PGA Tour wins (82)
1936 (1) West Virginia Closed Pro
1937 (5) Oakland Open, Bing Crosby Pro-Am, St. Paul Open, Nassau Open, Miami Open (Dec.)
1938 (8) Bing Crosby Pro-Am, Greater Greensboro Open, Chicago Open, Canadian Open, Westchester 108 Hole Open, White Sulphur Springs Open, Inverness Invitational Four-Ball (with Vic Ghezzi), Palm Beach Round Robin
1939 (3) St. Petersburg Open, Miami Open, Miami Biltmore International Four-Ball (with Ralph Guldahl)
1940 (3) Canadian Open, Anthracite Open, Inverness Invitational Four-Ball (with Ralph Guldahl)
1941 (6) Bing Crosby Pro-Am, St. Petersburg Open, North and South Open, Canadian Open, Rochester Times Union Open, Henry Hurst Invitational
1942 (2) St. Petersburg Open, PGA Championship
1944 (2) Portland Open, Richmond Open
1945 (6) Los Angeles Open, Gulfport Open, Pensacola Open, Jacksonville Open, Dallas Open, Tulsa Open
1946 (6) Jacksonville Open, Greater Greensboro Open, The Open Championship (not counted as a PGA Tour win at the time, but designated as such in 2002), World Championship of Golf, Miami Open, Virginia Open
1948 (1) Texas Open
1949 (6) Greater Greensboro Open, Masters Tournament, Washington Star Open, Dapper Dan Open, Western Open, PGA Championship
1950 (11) Los Angeles Open, Bing Crosby Pro-Am (tie with Jack Burke, Jr., Smiley Quick, Dave Douglas), Texas Open, Miami Beach Open, Greater Greensboro Open, Western Open, Colonial National Invitation, Inverness Invitational Four-Ball (with Jim Ferrier), Reading Open, North and South Open, Miami Open
1951 (2) PGA Championship, Miami Open
1952 (5) Masters Tournament, Palm Beach Round Robin, Inverness Invitational Four-Ball (with Jim Ferrier), All American Open, Eastern Open
1953 (1) Baton Rouge Open
1954 (2) Masters Tournament, Palm Beach Round Robin
1955 (4) Greater Greensboro Open, Palm Beach Round Robin, Insurance City Open, Miami Open
1956 (1) Greater Greensboro Open
1957 (2) Dallas Open Invitational, Palm Beach Round Robin
1958 (1) Dallas Open Invitational
1960 (2) De Soto Open Invitational, Greater Greensboro Open
1961 (1) Tournament of Champions
1965 (1) Greater Greensboro Open
Major championships are shown in bold.
1936 West Virginia Open
1937 West Virginia Open
1938 West Virginia Open
1940 Ontario Open (Canada)
1941 Center Open (Argentina)
1948 West Virginia Open
1949 North and South Open, West Virginia Open
1952 West Virginia Open, Brazil Open, Greenbrier Pro-Am
1953 Greenbrier Pro-Am
1954 Panama Open
1957 West Virginia Open
1958 West Virginia Open, Greenbrier Invitational
1959 Sam Snead Festival
1960 West Virginia Open
1961 West Virginia Open, Sam Snead Festival
1964 Haig & Haig Scotch Foursome (with Shirley Englehorn)
1966 West Virginia Open
1967 West Virginia Open
1968 West Virginia Open
1970 West Virginia Open
1971 PGA Club Professional Championship, West Virginia Open
1972 West Virginia Open
1973 West Virginia Open
Note: this list is incomplete.
Senior wins (14)
1964 PGA Seniors' Championship, World Seniors
1965 PGA Seniors' Championship, World Seniors
1967 PGA Seniors' Championship
1970 PGA Seniors' Championship, World Seniors
1972 PGA Seniors' Championship, World Seniors
1973 PGA Seniors' Championship, World Seniors
1978 Legends of Golf (with Gardner Dickinson)
1980 Golf Digest Commemorative Pro-Am
1982 Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf (with Don January)
Year Championship 54 Holes Winning Score Margin Runner(s)-up
1942 PGA Championship n/a 2 & 1 n/a Jim Turnesa
1946 The Open Championship Tied for lead -2 (71-70-74-75=290) 4 strokes Johnny Bulla, Bobby Locke
1949 Masters Tournament 1 shot deficit -6 (73-75-67-67=282) 3 strokes Johnny Bulla, Lloyd Mangrum
1949 PGA Championship (2) n/a 3 & 2 n/a Johnny Palmer
1951 PGA Championship (3) n/a 7 & 6 n/a Walter Burkemo
1952 Masters Tournament (2) Tied for lead -2 (70-67-77-72=286) 4 strokes Jack Burke, Jr.
1954 Masters Tournament (3) 3 shot deficit +1 (74-73-70-72=289) Playoff 1 Ben Hogan
Note: The PGA Championship was match play until 1958.
1 Defeated Ben Hogan in 18-hole playoff - Snead (70), Hogan (71)
Starts - 117
Wins - 7
2nd place finishes - 8
Top 3 finishes - 22
Top 5 finishes - 29
Top 10 finishes - 48
Longest streak of top-10s in majors - 6
Snead was referenced in several jokes in the Peanuts comic strip in the 1950s and 1960s. Linus van Pelt has claimed to "have always kind of admired him", and Schroeder bragged that he was "going to be the Sam Snead of music!"
Snead hit the Wrigley Field scoreboard with a golf ball teed off from home plate.
Snead once appeared in an episode of The Phil Silvers Show (Sergeant Bilko).
In 1987, Snead appeared opposite Tim Conway in Dorf's Golf Bible. Despite Snead's efforts, Dorf cannot follow through on even the simplest of Snead's instructions, prompting Snead's repeated pleas of "why don't you quit?"
According to an edition of the Book of Sports Lists, Snead made a commercial for Bromo-Seltzer in which he said, "On the day of atonement, I cannot afford to be sick." It was a while before the Jewish audience realized Sammy was not referring to Yom Kippur, but "could not pronounce 'tournament' like other white folk."
Snead was so flexible and coordinated that for most of his adult life, he was able to stand on one foot and kick the other foot high enough to touch the top of a seven-foot high door frame without losing his balance.
Robert Tyre "Bobby" Jones Jr. (March 17, 1902 – December 18, 1971) was arguably the most famous amateur golfer ever to compete on a national and international level. He earned his living mainly as an attorney and participated only as an amateur, primarily on a part-time basis, and chose to retire from competition at age 28, though he would indirectly profit from golf later as an instructor and designer.
Explaining his decision to retire, Jones said, "It (championships) is something like a cage. First you are expected to get into it and then you are expected to stay there. But of course, nobody can stay there."
Jones is most famous for his unique "Grand Slam," consisting of his victory in all four major golf tournaments of his era (the open and amateur championships in both the U.S. & Britain) in a single calendar year (1930).
Jones was born in Atlanta, Georgia. He battled health issues as a young boy, and golf was prescribed to strengthen him. Encouraged by his father, Jones loved golf from the start. He evolved into a child prodigy, who won his first children's tournament at the age of six, and made the third round of the U.S. Amateur Championship at 14. That same year, 1916, he won the Georgia State Amateur Championship for his first important title at Capital City Club located in Brookhaven, where he became an active member later in life.
He was trained and coached by club professional Stewart Maiden, a native of Carnoustie, Scotland. Maiden was the professional at the Atlanta Athletic Club's East Lake Golf Club, who also trained the somewhat older Alexa Stirling, also a prodigy, at East Lake around the same time. Jones played frequently with his father, Col. Robert P. Jones, a skilled player himself. The younger Jones sometimes battled his own temper on the course, but later cured this problem as he became more experienced. Jones toured the U.S. during World War I from 1917–18, playing exhibition matches before large crowds, often with Alexa Stirling, to generate income for war relief. Playing in front of such crowds in these matches helped him, as he moved into national competition a bit later on.
Jones successfully represented the United States in two winning international team matches against Canada, in 1919 and 1920, earning three of a possible four points in foursomes and singles play. In 1919 he travelled to Hamilton Golf and Country Club, for his first serious competitive action outside the U.S., while in 1920, Engineers' G.C., in Roslyn, Long Island hosted the matches. Still a teenager, he was by far the youngest player in the series. Jones also played in the 1919 Canadian Open while in Hamilton, Ontario, performing very well to place tied for second, but 16 shots behind winner J. Douglas Edgar. Jones qualified for his first U.S. Open at age 18 in 1920, and was paired with the legendary Harry Vardon for the first two rounds. He won the Southern Amateur three times, 1917, 1920, and 1922.
As an adult, he hit his stride in 1923, when he won his first U.S. Open. From that win at New York's Inwood Country Club, through his 1930 victory in the U.S. Amateur, he won 13 major championships (as they were counted at the time) in 20 attempts. Jones was the first player to win The Double, both the U.S. Open and The Open Championship in the same year (1926). He is still the only player ever to have won the Grand Slam, or all four major championships, in the same year (1930). He represented the United States in the Walker Cup five times, winning nine of his 10 matches. He also won two other tournaments against professionals: the 1927 Southern Open and the 1930 Southeastern Open. Jones was a life-long member of the Atlanta Athletic Club (at the club's original site, now the East Lake Golf Club), and the Capital City Club in Atlanta.
Jones is considered one of the five giants of the 1920s American sports scene, along with baseball's Babe Ruth, boxing's Jack Dempsey, football's Red Grange, and tennis player Bill Tilden. He was the first recipient of the AAU's Sullivan Award as the top amateur athlete in the United States. He is the only sports figure to receive two ticker-tape parades in New York City, the first in 1926 and the second in 1930. Jones is memorialized in Augusta, Georgia at the Golf Gardens and has the Bobby Jones Expressway, also known as Interstate 520, named for him.
Jones was not only a consummately skilled golfer but exemplified the principles of sportsmanship and fair play. Early in his amateur career, he was in the final playoff of the 1925 U.S. Open at the Worcester Country Club. During the match, his ball ended up in the rough just off the fairway, and as he was setting up to play his shot, his iron caused a slight movement of the ball. He immediately got angry with himself, turned to the marshals, and called a penalty on himself. The marshals discussed among themselves and questioned some of the gallery whether they had seen Jones's ball move. Their decision was that neither they nor anyone else had witnessed any incident, so the decision was left to Jones. Bobby Jones called the two-stroke penalty on himself, not knowing that he would lose the tournament by one stroke. When he was praised for his gesture, Jones replied, "You may as well praise a man for not robbing a bank." The USGA's sportsmanship award is named the Bob Jones Award in his honor.
St Andrews, Scotland
Jones had a unique relationship with the town of St Andrews, Scotland. On his first appearance on the Old Course in The Open Championship of 1921, he withdrew after 11 holes in the third round. He firmly stated his dislike for the Old Course and the town reciprocated, saying in the press, "Master Bobby is just a boy, and an ordinary boy at that." Later, he came to love the Old Course and the town like few others. When he won the Open at the Old Course in 1927, he wowed the crowd by asking that the trophy remain with his friends at the Royal and Ancient Golf Club rather than return with him to Atlanta. In 1958, he was named a Freeman of the City of St Andrews, becoming only the second American to be so honored, the other being Benjamin Franklin in 1759. Today, a scholarship exchange bearing the Jones name exists between the University of St Andrews and both Emory University and the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta. At Emory, four students are sent to St Andrews for an all-expenses-paid year of study and travel. In return, Emory accepts four students from St Andrews each year. The program, the Robert T. Jones Scholarship, is among the most prestigious scholarships offered by any university.
University, family, career
Jones's grave in Oakland Cemetery with putting green, golf balls, and mementos. Jones was successful outside of golf as well. He earned his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Georgia Tech in 1922, where he was a member of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, and played for the golf team. He then earned a B.A. in English Literature from Harvard College in 1924, where he was a member of the Owl Club. After only one year in law school at Emory University, he passed the Georgia bar exam. While attending Emory University, Jones became a member of Phi Delta Phi.
Jones was married in 1924 to the former Mary Rice Malone. They had three children, Clara, Robert Tyre III, and Mary Ellen. When he retired from golf at age 28, he concentrated on his Atlanta law practice. That same year, 1930, he was honored with the first James E. Sullivan Award, awarded annually by the Amateur Athletic Union to the most outstanding amateur athlete in the United States.
Golf films, golf club design
In addition, he made 18 instructional golf films in Hollywood, where he coached well-known stars with golf pointers. The films were very popular, and Jones gave up his amateur status while earning lucrative contract moneys in this venture. Jones worked with A.G. Spalding & Co. to develop the first set of matched clubs in the early 1930s; the clubs sold very well and are still considered among the best-designed sets ever made.
Jones co-designed the Augusta National course with Alister MacKenzie, and founded the Masters Tournament, first played at Augusta in March 1934. The new tournament was an immediate success.
During World War II, Jones served as an officer in the U.S. Army Air Forces, reaching the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. During the war, Jones permitted the U.S. Army to graze cattle on the grounds at Augusta National. Later, in 1947, he founded Peachtree Golf Club in Atlanta and co-designed the course with Robert Trent Jones.
Masters Tournament, health worries
Jones did play in the Masters every year it was held until 1948, when he was 46 years old. By then, his health had declined to the stage where this was no longer possible. But with his health difficulties, and being past his prime and not competing elsewhere to stay in tournament form, he never truly contended to win the Masters, although his scores were usually respectable. These were largely ceremonial performances, since his main duty was as host of the event. His extraordinary popularity, efforts with the course design, and tournament organization boosted the profile of the Masters significantly. The tournament, jointly run by Jones and Clifford Roberts, made many important innovations which became the norm elsewhere, such as gallery ropes to control the flow of the large crowds, many scoreboards around the course, the use of red / green numbers on those scoreboards to denote under / over par scores, an international field of top players, high-caliber television coverage, and week-long admission passes for patrons, which became extremely hard to obtain. The tournament also sought and welcomed feedback from players, fans, and writers, leading to continual improvement over the years. The Masters gradually evolved to being one of the most respected tournaments in the world, one of the four major championships.
Incapacity and death
In 1948, Jones was diagnosed with syringomyelia, a fluid-filled cavity in his spinal cord which caused first pain, then paralysis. He was eventually restricted to a wheelchair. He died in Atlanta, Georgia, on December 18, 1971, about a week after converting to Catholicism. Jones was baptized on his death bed by Monsignor John D. Stapleton, pastor of the Cathedral of Christ the King in Atlanta, the church attended by the Jones family and was buried in Atlanta's historic Oakland Cemetery. He was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1974.
The Opens (7)
Year Championship 54 Holes Winning Score Margin Runner(s)-up
1923 U.S. Open 3 shot lead +8 (71-73-76-76=296) Playoff 1 Bobby Cruickshank
1926 U.S. Open (2) 3 shot deficit +5 (70-79-71-73=293) 1 stroke Joe Turnesa
1926 The Open Championship 2 shot deficit -2 (72-72-73-74=291) 2 strokes Al Watrous
1927 The Open Championship (2) 4 shot lead -6 (68-72-73-72=285) 6 strokes Aubrey Boomer, Fred Robson
1929 U.S. Open (3) 3 shot lead +6 (69-75-71-79=294) Playoff 2 Al Espinosa
1930 U.S. Open (4) 5 shot lead -1 (71-73-68-75=287) 2 strokes Macdonald Smith
1930 The Open Championship (3) 1 shot deficit -2 (70-72-74-75=291) 2 strokes Leo Diegel, Macdonald Smith
1 Defeated Bobby Cruickshank in an 18-hole playoff: Jones (76), Cruickshank (78)
2 Defeated Al Espinosa in a 36-hole playoff: Jones (72-69=141), Espinosa (84-80=164)
The Amateurs (6)
Year Championship Winning Score Runner-up
1924 U.S. Amateur 9 & 8 George Von Elm
1925 U.S. Amateur 8 & 7 Watts Gunn
1927 U.S. Amateur 8 & 7 Chick Evans
1928 U.S. Amateur 10 & 9 Phil Perkins
1930 British Amateur 7 & 6 Roger Wethered
1930 U.S. Amateur 8 & 7 Eugene V. Homans
It is noteworthy that National Amateur championships were counted as majors at the time. Jones's actual major total using the standard in place in his lifetime was 13.
Jones's four titles in the U.S. Open remain tied for the most ever in that championship, along with Willie Anderson, Ben Hogan, and Jack Nicklaus. His four second-place finishes in the U.S. Open also tied a record, along with Sam Snead, Jack Nicklaus, and Phil Mickelson until 2009 when Mickelson recorded his fifth second-place finish. His five titles in the U.S. Amateur are a record. Jones was ranked as the fourth greatest golfer of all time by Golf Digest magazine in 2000. Jack Nicklaus was first, Ben Hogan second, and Sam Snead third. Jones was ranked as the third greatest golfer of all time in a major survey published by Golf Magazine, September 2009. Jack Nicklaus was ranked first, and Tiger Woods was ranked second, with Ben Hogan fourth and Sam Snead fifth.
Jones appeared in a series of short instructional films produced by Warner Brothers in 1931 titled How I Play Golf, by Bobby Jones (12 films) and in 1933 titled How to Break 90 (6 films). Actors and actresses, mostly under contract with Warner Brothers, but also from other studios, volunteered to appear in these 18 episodes. Some of the more well known actors to appear in the instructional plots included James Cagney, Joe E. Brown, Edward G. Robinson, W.C. Fields, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Richard Barthelmess, Richard Arlen, Guy Kibbee, Warner Oland and Loretta Young. Various scenarios involving the actors were used to provide an opportunity for Jones to convey a lesson about a particular part of the game. The shorts were directed by the prolific George Marshall.
Jones was the subject of the quasi-biographical 2004 feature film Bobby Jones: A Stroke of Genius in which he was portrayed by James Caviezel. The film was a major box office flop, grossing only $1.2 million the first weekend and $2.7 million overall, against a production cost of over $17 million. The film was also littered with historical inaccuracies. The Jones legend was also used to create a supporting character in The Legend of Bagger Vance in 2000, portrayed by Joel Gretsch, and the event where he called his own penalty is used for the main character, Rannulph Junuh.
Jones authored several books on golf including Down the Fairway with O.B. Keeler (1927), The Rights and Wrongs of Golf (1933), Golf Is My Game (1959), Bobby Jones on Golf (1966), and Bobby Jones on the Basic Golf Swing (1968) with illustrator Anthony Ravielli. The 300-copy limited edition of "Down The Fairway" is considered one of the rarest and most sought after golf books by collectors.
Jones has been the subject of several books, most notably The Bobby Jones Story and A Boy's Life of Bobby Jones, both by O.B. Keeler. Other notable texts are The Life and Times of Bobby Jones: Portrait of a Gentleman by Sidney L. Matthew, The Greatest Player Who Never Lived by J. Michael Veron, and Triumphant Journey: The Saga of Bobby Jones and The Grand Slam of Golf by Richard Miller. Published in 2006, "The Grand Slam" by Mark Frost has received much note as being evocative of Jones's life and times.
A special room is dedicated to Jones's life and accomplishments at the United States Golf Association Museum and Arnold Palmer Center for Golf History in Far Hills, New Jersey.
Bobby Jones Golf Company
Founded in 2003, the Bobby Jones Golf Company designs, develops, and sells metal-woods, wedges and hybrid golf clubs. The company has an exclusive, worldwide license agreement with the family of Bobby Jones (known as Jonesheirs, Inc.) and the Hartmarx Corporation for the use of the Bobby Jones name for golf equipment and golf accessories. The craftsman is Jesse Ortiz.
Back To Top
Pádraig Harrington (born 31 August 1971) is an Irish professional golfer. He has won three major championships: The Open Championship in 2007 and 2008 and the PGA Championship, also in 2008.
Harrington was born in Ballyroan, Dublin, Ireland, the youngest of five sons of Patrick and Breda Harrington. His father, "Paddy" (1933-2005), a Garda (Irish police officer) who played Gaelic football for Cork in the 1950s, was also a boxer and hurler, and played to a five handicap in golf.
The Ballyroan Parish is located in Rathfarnham, a middle class area in Dublin's Southside and the birth place of two other touring professional golfers - Paul McGinley and Peter Lawrie. Harrington attended local secondary school Coláiste Éanna at the same time, but not in the same year/class, as McGinley, giving it the unique distinction of having produced two Ryder Cup golfers. Coached by Joseph McGinley, a golf enthusiast in the school, and Mark Hynes, local professional and first caddie, Harrington's interest and passion for the game grew, as the pair recorded their first victory together, in Stackstown G.C.
After a successful amateur career, including winning the Walker Cup with the Great Britain & Ireland team in 1995, Harrington turned professional later that year, joining the European Tour in 1996. Harrington came to professional golf at a relatively late age, having studied accountancy at university; he worked in that profession for a number of years while playing high-standard amateur golf. He was unsure whether to turn professional, initially doubting his skills.
His first victory came quickly, in the 1996 Peugeot Spanish Open. But for the next few years, the most remarkable thing about his career was the number of times he finished second in European Tour events without ever bettering that position, including four second places in five events in late 1999. However, in 2000 he discovered a winning touch, and he had at least one win on the European Tour each year from then up to 2004. He has finished in the top ten on the European Tour's Order of Merit seven times, including second places in 2001 and 2002 and third places in 2003 and 2004 and eventually won the Order of Merit in 2006. Harrington won the European Tour Golfer of the Year award in 2007 and 2008.
Harrington's 2006 European Order of Merit win came after a titanic battle with Paul Casey and David Howell, which was won on the last hole of the last event. Sergio García bogeyed the 72nd hole in the season ending Volvo Masters to give Harrington a share of second place which earned him enough money to leapfrog Paul Casey to 1st place on the Order of Merit.
From around 2000, Harrington appeared with increasing frequency in the U.S. at the majors and World Golf Championships events, and as a sponsor's invitee. He won his first professional event in the U.S. at the Target World Challenge, a non-PGA Tour event hosted by Tiger Woods in 2002. In both 2003 and 2004 he was the runner up in the Players Championship, and in the latter year he won enough money on the PGA Tour as a non-member to earn an invitation to the end of season Tour Championship.
He took membership of the PGA Tour in 2005 and in March he won his first PGA Tour official money event at the Honda Classic, where he beat Vijay Singh and Joe Ogilvie in a sudden-death playoff. In late June, Harrington snatched the Barclays Classic from Jim Furyk with a spectacular 65-foot eagle putt on the final hole for his second PGA Tour win. Two weeks later his father died from esophageal cancer on 11 July, the Monday night preceding the 2005 Open Championship, forcing Harrington's withdrawal.
Harrington has spent a considerable amount of time both in the top ten of the Official World Golf Rankings (over 290 weeks between 2001 and 2009 and as the highest ranked European golfer, his best ranking being third, which he achieved following his second Open Championship victory. He has also played for Europe in five Ryder Cups; losing in 1999 and 2008, but winning in 2002, 2004, and 2006. He has also won the par-3 contest at Augusta National, held the day before The Masters, in 2003 (tie) and 2004.
Major championship breakthrough
At the 2007 Open Championship, Harrington defeated Sergio García in a four-hole playoff at Carnoustie Golf Links, becoming the first Irishman to win The Open Championship in 60 years, and the first ever from the Republic of Ireland. Both players went into the playoff having shot a 7-under 277 for the championship. Harrington subsequently won by one stroke in the playoff.
A year later at the 2008 Open Championship, it was unclear if he would get a chance to defend his Open title at Royal Birkdale as eight days prior to the event he injured his wrist. But Harrington successfully defended his title, overcoming a 2-shot deficit to Greg Norman with a final round 69. He shot a four-under-par 32 on the back nine, which enabled him to pull away from Norman and Ian Poulter. His eagle on the par-5 17th all but sealed the tournament. He is the first European golfer since James Braid in 1906 to retain the Claret Jug. The win moved him from fourteenth to third in the world rankings, behind only Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.
Just three weeks after winning the Open Championship, Harrington won the PGA Championship over the South Course of the Oakland Hills Country Club, for his third major. Although at five over par after two rounds, he shot eight under par for the weekend, carding successive scores of 66 in the third and fourth rounds. His three under par 277 was two shots ahead of Sergio García and Ben Curtis. Harrington became the first European to win the PGA Championship in 78 years (Tommy Armour in 1930), and is the first winner from Ireland.
Aside from Tiger Woods, who has won consecutive majors three times (2000, 2002, and 2006), Harrington is the first golfer to win two majors in the same year since Mark O'Meara in 1998 and the first to win consecutive majors in the same year since Nick Price in 1994. Furthermore, aside from Woods, he is the first golfer to win three of six consecutive majors in 25 years, since Tom Watson accomplished the feat in 1983, something that only four other players - Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, and Lee Trevino had previously achieved since the modern "Grand Slam" of four majors began to be recognized in the 1950s.
Harrington's victory in the PGA Championship secured his position as the number one player in Europe, earning him the number one spot in the 2008 European Ryder Cup team under captain Nick Faldo.
Harrington is coached by Bob Torrance, the father of former Ryder Cup captain Sam Torrance.
Harrington has known his wife Caroline since childhood. They were married in 1997 and have two sons: Patrick, born in 2003, and Ciarán, born in November 2007. After Harrington's Open win in 2007, Patrick was caught on microphone asking his father if they could 'put ladybirds in it' (referring to the trophy). Following his win in 2008, there were some light-hearted references to this in a subsequent interview, whereupon Harrington suggested that it was more likely that Patrick would now want snails in the trophy.
Harrington is a distant cousin of 1995 World Series of Poker champion and author Dan Harrington and NFL quarterback Joey Harrington.
Harrington's given name "Pádraig" is the Irish Language version of the name Patrick, which is in common usage in Ireland. His four older brothers have Irish names as well (Tadhg, Columb, Fintan, and Fergal).
Harrington's caddy since 2004 is Ronan Flood, who is also his brother-in-law. Flood married Susie Gregan, the sister of Pádraig's wife, in 2007. Flood is a former assistant bank manager who plays to a two handicap, and is the younger brother of one of Harrington's boyhood friends.
After leaving school, Harrington mixed amateur golf with studying Accounting. He passed his final exams in 1994 to gain admittance to ACCA (Association of Certified Chartered Accountants). He is not a qualified accountant as he has not gained the practical experience required.
Amateur wins (4)
* 1991 Sherry Cup
* 1994 West of Ireland Amateur Championship
* 1995 Irish Amateur Open Championship, Irish Amateur Close Championship
Professional wins (25)
European Tour wins (14)
Major Championships (3)
Other European Tour (11)
No. Date Tournament Winning Score Margin of
1 12 May 1996 Peugeot Spanish Open -16 (70-64-67-71=272) 4 strokes Scotland Gordon Brand Jnr.
2 2 Apr 2000 Brazil São Paulo 500 Years Open -14 (69-68-65-68=270) 2 strokes United States Gerry Norquist
3 22 Oct 2000 BBVA Open Turespaña Masters
Comunidad de Madrid -21 (67-64-66-70=267) 2 strokes Scotland Gary Orr
4 11 Nov 2001 Volvo Masters Andalucia -12 (67-71-66=204) 1 stroke Republic of Ireland Paul McGinley
5 6 Oct 2002 Dunhill Links Championship -19 (66-66-68-69=269) Playoff1 Argentina Eduardo Romero
6 24 Nov 2002 BMW Asian Open -15 (66-70-68-69=273) 1 stroke India Jyoti Randhawa
7 18 May 2003 Deutsche Bank - SAP Open TPC of Europe -19 (65-66-70-68=269) Playoff2 Denmark Thomas Bjørn
8 7 Dec 2003 Omega Hong Kong Open -13 (66-75-64-70=275) 1 stroke South Africa Hennie Otto
9 12 Sep 2004 Linde German Masters -11 (67-69-67-66=269) 3 strokes Australia Nick O'Hern
10 8 Oct 2006 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship -17 (66-69-68-68=271) 5 strokes Wales Bradley Dredge, United States Edward Loar,
England Anthony Wall
11 20 May 2007 Irish Open -5 (73-68-71-71=283) Playoff3 Wales Bradley Dredge
12 22 Jul 2007 The Open Championship -7 (69-73-68-67=277) Playoff4 Spain Sergio García
13 20 Jul 2008 The Open Championship +3 (74-68-72-69=283) 4 strokes England Ian Poulter
14 10 Aug 2008 PGA Championship -3 (71-74-66-66=277) 2 strokes Spain Sergio García, United States Ben Curtis
1Beat Eduardo Romero with birdie on second extra hole
2Beat Thomas Bjorn with a par on first extra hole
3Beat Bradley Dredge with par on first extra hole
4Shot 15 (3-3-4-5) in a four hole playoff to defeat Sergio García (5-3-4-4=16)
PGA Tour wins (5)
Major Championships (3)
Other PGA Tour (2)
No. Date Tournament Winning Score Margin of Victory Runner(s)-up
1 13 Mar 2005 Honda Classic -14 (73-69-69-63=274) Playoff1 Fiji Vijay Singh, United States Joe Ogilvie
2 26 Jun 2005 Barclays Classic -10 (71-65-68-70=274) 1 stroke United States Jim Furyk
3 22 Jul 2007 The Open Championship -7 (69-73-68-67=277) Playoff2 Spain Sergio García
4 20 Jul 2008 The Open Championship +3 (74-68-72-69=283) 4 strokes England Ian Poulter
5 10 Aug 2008 PGA Championship -3 (71-74-66-66=277) 2 strokes Spain Sergio García, United States Ben Curtis
1Beat Vijay Singh with par on second extra hole (Joe Ogilvie was eliminated on 1st hole when he made bogey)
2Shot 15 (3-3-4-5) in a four hole playoff to defeat Sergio García (5-3-4-4=16) by one shot
Japan Golf Tour wins (1)
* 2006 Dunlop Phoenix
Other wins (8)
* 1998 Irish PGA Championship
* 2002 Target World Challenge (unofficial money, PGA Tour-sanctioned event)
* 2004 Irish PGA Championship
* 2005 Irish PGA Championship
* 2007 Irish PGA Championship, Hassan II Trophy
* 2008 Irish PGA Championship
* 2009 Irish PGA Championship
Year Championship 54 Holes Winning Score Margin Runner(s)-up
2007 The Open Championship 6 shot deficit -7 (69-73-68-67=277) Playoff1 Spain Sergio García
2008 The Open Championship (2) 2 shot deficit +3 (74-68-72-69=283) 4 strokes England Ian Poulter
2008 PGA Championship 3 shot deficit -3 (71-74-66-66=277) 2 strokes Spain Sergio García, United States Ben Curtis
1 Defeated Sergio García in four-hole playoff by 1 stroke: Harrington (3-3-4-5=15), García (5-3-4-4=16)
Results in World Golf Championship events
Tournament 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008
Accenture Match Play Championship DNP R64 R64 R64 R32 QF R32 QF R32 R32
CA Championship T30 T5 NT1 21 T6 T6 67 T17 T19 DNP
Bridgestone Invitational T12 T27 T17 T47 T39 74 T24 T27 T14 T20
Tournament 2009 2010
Accenture Match Play Championship R64 R64
CA Championship T20 T3
Bridgestone Invitational T2 T9
HSBC Champions T25
* Walker Cup: 1991, 1993, 1995 (winners)
* Ryder Cup (representing Europe): 1999, 2002 (winners), 2004 (winners), 2006 (winners), 2008
o Record: 21 matches, 8.5 points (40.48% Point Percentage)
o All Formats(W-L-H): 7-11-3 = 8.5pts
+ Singles: 3-2-0 = 3pts
# 2004: beat Jay Haas 1h
# 2002: beat Mark Calcavecchia 5&4
# 1999: beat Mark O'Meara 1h
+ Foursomes: 2-4-3 = 3.5pts
# 2004: Harrington/Montgomerie bt Love III/Funk 4&2
# 2004: Harrington/McGinley bt Love III/Woods 4&3
+ Fourballs: 2-5-0 = 2pts
# 2004: Harrington/Montgomerie bt Woods/Mickelson 2&1
# 2002: Harrington/Montgomerie bt Mickelson/Toms 2&1
* Alfred Dunhill Cup (representing Ireland): 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000
* World Cup (representing Ireland): 1996, 1997 (winner with Paul McGinley), 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005
* Seve Trophy (representing GB & Ireland): 2000, 2002 (winners), 2003 (winners), 2005 (winners)
+ European Tour Order of Merit
+ European Tour Player of the Year
+ Association of Golf Writers Player of the Year
+ PGA Player of the Year
+ PGA Tour Player of the Year Award
+ European Tour Player of the Year
+ Golf Writers Association of America (GWAA) Player of the Year
+ Association of Golf Writers Player of the Year
+ European Tour Shot of the Year - 5w on 71st Hole in Open Championship
o 1996 Texaco Ireland Sportstar Golf Award
o 1999 Texaco Ireland Sportstar Golf Award
o 2001 Texaco Ireland Sportstar Golf Award
o 2002 Texaco Ireland Sportstar Golf Award, RTÉ Sports Person of the Year
o 2004 Texaco Ireland Sportstar Golf Award (shared with Darren Clarke & Paul McGinley)
o 2005 Texaco Ireland Sportstar Golf Award
o 2006 Texaco Ireland Sportstar Golf Award
o 2007 Texaco Ireland Sportstar Golf Award, RTÉ Sports Person of the Year
o 2008 Texaco Ireland Sportstar Golf Award, Irish Golf Writers Professional of the Year Award, RTÉ Sports Person of the Year
* Driver: Taylor Made R9 Driver
* Woods: Wilson Staff Fw6 Fairway 5-wood
* Hybrids: Wilson Staff Fh6 Hybrid (19°)
* Irons: Wilson Staff FG Tour Irons 3-PW
* Wedges: Wilson Staff Tw9(54° and 60°)
* Putter: Odyssey White Hot 2-Ball Blade
* Ball: Titleist Pro V1x
* Clothing: Kartel Clothing throughout
* Shoes: Footjoy
* Harrington is the only player in the world to have been partnered with Tiger Woods in a tournament five or more times and to outscore him. Harrington has a 68.83 average in six rounds, compared with Woods' average score of 69.50. The rest of the world's top players averaged over 70.
* An oil painting of Padraig Harrington by Irish artist Nuala Holloway is currently on exhibit at the Waldock Gallery in Blackrock, Co. Dublin.
* In May 2009 he verified that the "Happy Gilmore swing", a swing with a running start, is successful and increased his usual drive of 296 yards by an extra 30 yards.