Ken Venturi

Last updated
Ken Venturi
Personal information
Full nameKenneth Paul Venturi [1]
Born(1931-05-15)May 15, 1931
San Francisco, California
DiedMay 17, 2013(2013-05-17) (aged 82)
Rancho Mirage, California
Height6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)
Weight170 lb (77 kg; 12 st)
NationalityFlag of the United States.svg  United States
SpouseKathleen Venturi
(m. 2003–2013, his death)
Beau Wheat Venturi
(m. 1972–1997, her death) [2]
Conni Venturi
(m. 1954–1970, divorced) [3] [4]
ChildrenMatthew, Tim
College San Jose State
Turned professional1956
Former tour(s) PGA Tour
Professional wins15
Number of wins by tour
PGA Tour14
Best results in major championships
(wins: 1)
Masters Tournament 2nd: 1956, 1960
U.S. Open Won: 1964
The Open Championship CUT: 1973
PGA Championship T5: 1959, 1964
Achievements and awards
World Golf Hall of Fame 2013 (member page)
PGA Player of the Year 1964
Sports Illustrated
Sportsman of the Year

Kenneth Paul Venturi (May 15, 1931 May 17, 2013) was an American professional golfer and golf broadcaster. In a career shortened by injuries, he won 14 events on the PGA Tour including a major, the U.S. Open in 1964. Shortly before his death in 2013, Venturi was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame. [5]

Professional golfer golfer with professional status; ordinarily cannot not play in amateur tournaments

In the sport of golf, the distinction between amateurs and professionals is rigorously maintained. An amateur who breaches the rules of amateur status may lose their amateur status. A golfer who has lost their amateur status may not play in amateur competitions until amateur status has been reinstated; a professional may not play in amateur tournaments unless the Committee is notified, acknowledges and confirms the participation. It is very difficult for a professional to regain their amateur status; simply agreeing not to take payment for a particular tournament is not enough. A player must apply to the governing body of the sport to have amateur status reinstated.

PGA Tour golf tour in the United States

The PGA Tour is the organizer of the main professional golf tours played primarily by men in the United States and North America. It organizes most of the events on the flagship annual series of tournaments also known as the PGA Tour, as well as PGA Tour Champions and the Tour, as well as PGA Tour Canada, PGA Tour Latinoamérica, and PGA Tour China. The PGA Tour is a nonprofit organization headquartered in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, a suburb of Jacksonville.

Mens major golf championships Wikimedia list article

The men's major golf championships, commonly known as the major championships, often referred to simply as the majors, are the four most prestigious annual tournaments in professional golf. In order of play date, they are:


Early years and amateur career

Born in San Francisco, California, Venturi learned to play golf at an early age, and developed his game at Harding Park Golf Course and other public courses in the Bay Area. He attended Lincoln High School and was the San Francisco high school golf champion in 1948 and 1949. [6]

San Francisco Consolidated city-county in California, US

San Francisco, officially the City and County of San Francisco, is a city in, and the cultural, commercial, and financial center of, Northern California. San Francisco is the 13th-most populous city in the United States, and the fourth-most populous in California, with 884,363 residents as of 2017. It covers an area of about 46.89 square miles (121.4 km2), mostly at the north end of the San Francisco Peninsula in the San Francisco Bay Area, making it the second-most densely populated large US city, and the fifth-most densely populated U.S. county, behind only four of the five New York City boroughs. San Francisco is also part of the fifth-most populous primary statistical area in the United States, the San Jose–San Francisco–Oakland, CA Combined Statistical Area.

California State of the United States of America

California is a state in the Pacific Region of the United States. With 39.6 million residents, California is the most populous U.S. state and the third-largest by area. The state capital is Sacramento. The Greater Los Angeles Area and the San Francisco Bay Area are the nation's second and fifth most populous urban regions, with 18.7 million and 9.7 million residents respectively. Los Angeles is California's most populous city, and the country's second most populous, after New York City. California also has the nation's most populous county, Los Angeles County, and its largest county by area, San Bernardino County. The City and County of San Francisco is both the country's second-most densely populated major city after New York City and the fifth-most densely populated county, behind only four of the five New York City boroughs.

TPC Harding Park

TPC Harding Park, formerly Harding Park Golf Club and commonly known as Harding Park, is a municipal golf course on the West Coast of the United States, located in western San Francisco, California. It is owned by the city and county of San Francisco.

In the early 1950s, he was a pupil of Byron Nelson, and was also influenced by playing partner Ben Hogan. Venturi won the California State Amateur Championship in 1951 and 1956, serving in the U.S. Army in Korea and Europe in the interim. [7]

Byron Nelson American golfer

John Byron Nelson Jr. was an American professional golfer between 1935 and 1946, widely considered one of the greatest golfers of his generation, and widely considered one of the greatest golfers of all time.

Ben Hogan American golfer

William Ben Hogan was an American professional golfer who is generally considered to be one of the greatest players in the history of the game. He was born within six months of Sam Snead and Byron Nelson, who were two other acknowledged golf greats of the 20th century. Hogan is notable for his profound influence on golf swing theory and his legendary ball-striking ability.

The California Amateur Championship or California Amateur is a golf championship held in California for the state's top amateur golfers. The tournament is run by the California Golf Association. The first event was held in 1912 at the Del Monte Golf Club. It was played at Pebble Beach Golf Links from 1919 to 2006. The tournament rotates between Northern California and Southern California, and involves two rounds of stroke play followed by match play.

Venturi first gained national attention at age 24; while still an amateur, he finished second in the Masters in 1956, one shot behind Jack Burke, Jr., Venturi led after each of the first three rounds in an attempt to become the first-ever amateur to win the Masters, but shot a final round 80 and relinquished a four-shot lead. [8] Through 2019, no amateur has won the Masters.

Masters Tournament golf tournament held in Augusta, Georgia, United States

The Masters Tournament is one of the four major championships in professional golf. Scheduled for the first full week of April, the Masters is the first major of the year, and unlike the others, it is always held at the same location, Augusta National Golf Club, a private course in the southeastern United States, in the city of Augusta, Georgia.

1956 Masters Tournament golf tournament held in 1956

The 1956 Masters Tournament was the 20th Masters Tournament, held April 5–8 at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia.

Professional career

Venturi turned pro at the end of 1956 and was a regular winner during his early years on the PGA Tour. He again came close to winning the Masters in 1958 and 1960, but was edged out both times by Arnold Palmer.

1958 Masters Tournament golf tournament held in 1958

The 1958 Masters Tournament was the 22nd Masters Tournament, held April 3–6 at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia. Arnold Palmer won the first of his four Masters titles, one stroke ahead of runners-up Doug Ford and Fred Hawkins. It was the first of his seven major titles.

1960 Masters Tournament golf tournament held in 1960

The 1960 Masters Tournament was the 24th Masters Tournament, held April 7–10 at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia. Arnold Palmer birdied the final two holes to win by one stroke over runner-up Ken Venturi.

Arnold Palmer American golfer

Arnold Daniel Palmer was an American professional golfer who is generally regarded as one of the greatest and most charismatic players in the sport's history. Dating back to 1955, he won numerous events on both the PGA Tour and the circuit now known as PGA Tour Champions. Nicknamed The King, he was one of golf's most popular stars and seen as a trailblazer, the first superstar of the sport's television age, which began in the 1950s.

After suffering minor injuries in an automobile accident in 1961, Venturi's swing, and thus his career, began to slide. [9] This slump lasted until 1964 when, for no reason even Venturi could fathom, he began playing well again. [4] After a couple of high finishes, Venturi reached the pinnacle of his comeback by winning the U.S. Open in 1964 at Congressional Country Club, after nearly collapsing in the near-100 °F (38 °C) heat and humidity of the 36-hole final day. [10] [11] [12] [13] (The format was changed the next year in 1965.) Venturi was the first player to win the U.S. Open after conquering a sectional qualifier.

The 1964 PGA Tour season was played from January 3 to November 22. The season consisted of 44 official money events. Tony Lema won the most tournaments, five, and there were seven first-time winners. Jack Nicklaus was the leading money winner with earnings of $113,285. Ken Venturi was voted the PGA Player of the Year and Arnold Palmer won the Vardon Trophy for the lowest scoring average.

U.S. Open (golf) golf tournament held in the United States

The United States Open Championship, commonly known as the U.S. Open, is the annual open national championship of golf in the United States. It is the third of the four major championships in golf, and is on the official schedule of both the PGA Tour and the European Tour. Since 1898 the competition has been 72 holes of stroke play, with the winner being the player with the lowest total number of strokes. It is staged by the United States Golf Association (USGA) in mid-June, scheduled so that, if there are no weather delays, the final round is played on the third Sunday, which is Father's Day. The U.S. Open is staged at a variety of courses, set up in such a way that scoring is very difficult, with a premium placed on accurate driving. As of 2019 the U.S. Open awards a $12 million purse, the largest of all 4 major championships and second largest of all PGA Tour events.

1964 U.S. Open (golf) golf tournament held in 1964

The 1964 U.S. Open was the 64th U.S. Open, held June 18–20 at the Blue Course of Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Maryland, a suburb northwest of Washington, D.C. Ken Venturi won his only major title, four strokes ahead of runner-up Tommy Jacobs.

Venturi won again in July and August, [14] tied for fifth in the PGA Championship, and received that year's Sports Illustrated magazine's "Sportsman of the Year" award [3] and PGA Player of the Year award. [15] [16] He played on the Ryder Cup team in 1965, [8] [9] and received the 1998 Old Tom Morris Award from the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America, GCSAA's highest honor.

After 1964, [17] Venturi's career again took a blow when he was diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome in both wrists. After missing the cut at the Masters by nine strokes, [18] he received treatment at the Mayo Clinic in May. [19] Defending his title at the U.S. Open in June, Venturi continued to have difficulty with his hands and entered the championship with plans to have surgery the following week. [20] He missed the cut by ten strokes, [21] [22] had the surgery on both wrists, and was sidelined until the Ryder Cup in October in England. [9] Venturi's condition improved and he won a tour event in January 1966 at the very familiar Harding Park in his hometown, [23] [24] but he soon relapsed; after additional surgeries, he could not regain his form. [25]

Broadcasting career

After retiring from the Tour in 1967 with a total of 14 career wins, Venturi spent the next 35 years working as a color commentator and lead analyst for CBS Sports  – the longest lead analyst stint in sports broadcasting history, [8] made remarkable by the fact that he suffered from severe stuttering early in life. He retired from broadcasting at age 71 in June 2002, [7] [26] succeeded as CBS' lead analyst by Lanny Wadkins, then Nick Faldo in 2007. [27]

Other ventures


Venturi appeared in the 1996 film Tin Cup , portraying himself as a commentator at the U.S. Open, held at a fictional course in North Carolina. In one scene, Venturi is shown voicing his opinion that the film's protagonist, Roy McAvoy (Kevin Costner), should lay-up on a long par-5 rather than try to reach the green in two shots. McAvoy, who decided to go for it, is then shown saying, "This is for Venturi up in the booth thinking I should lay-up." His caddy, played by Cheech Marin, sarcastically responds, "Yeah, what does he know? He only won this tournament before you were born."

Venturi described the actor and singer Frank Sinatra as his best friend and former roommate. [8] [26]

Course design and instruction

In 1990, Venturi redesigned and renovated the Eagle Creek Golf & Country Club course near Naples, Florida. [28] He also lent his name to a series of instructional schools. [8]


In 2004, after some controversy, [29] a Golden Palm Star on the Palm Springs, California, Walk of Stars was dedicated to Venturi. [30] In 2013, he was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in the lifetime achievement category.


Venturi died two days after his 82nd birthday, in Rancho Mirage, California, on May 17, 2013. He had been hospitalized for two months for a spinal infection, pneumonia, and an intestinal infection. Venturi is survived by his third wife Kathleen, two sons, Matthew and Tim and four adult grandchildren Peter, Andrew, Sara and Gianna. [31] [32] He was buried at the Forest Lawn Cemetery in Cathedral City, California.

Amateur wins (5)

Professional wins (15)

PGA Tour wins (14)

No.DateTournamentWinning scoreTo parMargin
of victory
1Aug 18, 1957 St. Paul Open Invitational 66-67-65-68=266−222 strokes Flag of the United States (1912-1959).svg Bob Rosburg
2Aug 25, 1957 Miller High Life Open 68-66-65-68=267−135 strokes Canadian Red Ensign (1957-1965).svg Al Balding, Flag of the United States (1912-1959).svg Sam Snead
3Jan 26, 1958 Thunderbird Invitational 70-63-66-70=269−154 strokes Flag of the United States (1912-1959).svg Jimmy Demaret, Flag of the United States (1912-1959).svg Gene Littler
4Feb 2, 1958 Phoenix Open Invitational 70-68-66-70=274−101 stroke Flag of the United States (1912-1959).svg Walter Burkemo, Flag of the United States (1912-1959).svg Jay Hebert
5Mar 2, 1958 Baton Rouge Open Invitational 69-69-69-69=276−124 strokes Flag of the United States (1912-1959).svg Lionel Hebert, Flag of the United States (1912-1959).svg Arnold Palmer
6Aug 4, 1958 Gleneagles-Chicago Open Invitational 65-67-68-72=272−81 stroke Flag of the United States (1912-1959).svg Julius Boros, Flag of the United States (1912-1959).svg Jack Burke, Jr.
7Jan 5, 1959 Los Angeles Open 72-71-72-63=278−62 strokes Flag of the United States (1912-1959).svg Art Wall, Jr.
8Jun 28, 1959 Gleneagles-Chicago Open Invitational 64-75-68-66=273−71 stroke Flag of the United States (1912-1959).svg Johnny Pott
9Jan 24, 1960 Bing Crosby National Pro-Am 70-71-68-77=286−23 strokes Flag of the United States (1959-1960).svg Julius Boros, Flag of the United States (1959-1960).svg Tommy Jacobs
10Aug 28, 1960 Milwaukee Open Invitational 65-69-68-69=271−92 strokes Flag of the United States.svg Billy Casper
11Jun 20, 1964 U.S. Open 72-70-66-70=278−24 strokes Flag of the United States.svg Tommy Jacobs
12Jul 26, 1964 Insurance City Open Invitational 70-63-69-71=273−111 stroke Flag of the United States.svg Al Besselink, Flag of the United States.svg Paul Bondeson
Flag of the United States.svg Sam Carmichal, Flag of the United States.svg Jim Grant
13Aug 23, 1964 American Golf Classic 71-66-69-69=275−55 strokes Flag of the United States.svg Mason Rudolph
14Jan 31, 1966 Lucky International Open 68-68-71-66=273−111 stroke Flag of the United States.svg Frank Beard

PGA Tour playoff record (0–3)

11957 Thunderbird Invitational Flag of the United States.svg Jimmy Demaret, Flag of the United States.svg Mike Souchak Demaret wins 18-hole playoff (Demaret:67, Souchak:75, Venturi:76)
21958 Greater New Orleans Open Invitational Flag of the United States.svg Billy Casper Lost to eagle on second extra hole
31961 Houston Classic Flag of the United States.svg Jay Hebert Lost to birdie on first extra hole after 18 hole playoff (Hebert:69, Venturi:69)

Other wins (1)

Major championships

Wins (1)

YearChampionship54 holesWinning scoreMarginRunner-up
1964 U.S. Open 2 shot deficit–2 (72-70-66-70=278)4 strokes Flag of the United States.svg Tommy Jacobs

Results timeline


Masters Tournament T162 LA
U.S. Open CUT8 LA
The Open Championship
The Amateur Championship R64


Masters Tournament T13T4CUT
U.S. Open T6T35T38
The Open Championship
PGA Championship T20T5
Masters Tournament 2T11T934CUT16T21T50CUT
The Open Championship
PGA Championship 9T37T51T5T15T11T48
Masters Tournament
U.S. Open CUT
The Open Championship CUT
PGA Championship
  Top 10
  Did not play

LA = Low amateur
CUT = missed the half-way cut
WD = withdrew
R64, R32, R16, QF, SF = Round in which player lost in match play
"T" = tied

Sources: Masters, [33] U.S. Open, [34] Open Championship, [35] PGA Championship, [36] 1955 British Amateur [37]


TournamentWins2nd3rdTop-5Top-10Top-25EventsCuts made
Masters Tournament 0203491411
U.S. Open 100135138
The Open Championship 00000010
PGA Championship 00023699

U.S. national team appearances



See also

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