Paul Runyan

Last updated
Paul Runyan
Personal information
Full name Paul Scott Runyan
NicknameLittle Poison
Born(1908-07-12)July 12, 1908
Hot Springs, Arkansas
Died March 17, 2002(2002-03-17) (aged 93)
Palm Springs, California
Height 5 ft 7 in (1.70 m)
Weight 130 lb (59 kg; 9.3 st)
NationalityFlag of the United States.svg  United States
Turned professional 1925
Former tour(s) PGA Tour
Professional wins 37
Number of wins by tour
PGA Tour 29
Other 8
Best results in major championships
(wins: 2)
Masters Tournament 3rd/T3: 1934, 1942
U.S. Open T5: 1941
The Open Championship T18: 1961
PGA Championship Won: 1934, 1938
Achievements and awards
World Golf Hall of Fame 1990 (member page)
PGA Tour
leading money winner

Paul Scott Runyan (July 12, 1908 – March 17, 2002) was an American professional golfer. Among the world's best players in the mid-1930s, he won two PGA Championships, and is a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame. Runyan was also a golf instructor.

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 Championship golf tournament in the United States

The PGA Championship is an annual golf tournament conducted by the Professional Golfers' Association of America. It is one of the four major championships in professional golf.

World Golf Hall of Fame Professional sports hall of fame in St. Johns County, Florida

The World Golf Hall of Fame is located at World Golf Village near St. Augustine, Florida, in the United States, and it is unusual among sports halls of fame in that a single site honors both men and women. It is supported by a consortium of 26 golf organizations from all over the world.


Early life

Born in Hot Springs, Arkansas, Runyan started out as a caddie and then an apprentice at a golf course in his hometown, before turning pro at age 17. He was head professional at a Little Rock club by age 18. [1] Runyan served as head pro at Metropolis Country Club in White Plains, New York from 1931 to 1943 during which time he won both of his PGA championships.

Hot Springs, Arkansas City in Arkansas, United States

Hot Springs is a city in the state of Arkansas and the county seat of Garland County. The city is located in the Ouachita Mountains among the U.S. Interior Highlands, and is set among several natural hot springs for which the city is named. As of the 2010 United States Census, the city had a population of 35,193. In 2017 the estimated population was 36,915.

Caddie Person who carries a golfers bag and clubs

In golf, a caddie is the person who carries a player's bag and clubs, and gives insightful advice and moral support, almost like a coach. A good caddie is aware of the challenges and obstacles of the golf course being played, along with the best strategy in playing it. This includes knowing overall yardage, pin placements and club selection. A caddie is not usually an employee of a private club or resort. They are classified as an "independent contractor", meaning that he or she is basically self-employed and does not receive any benefits or perks from his association with the club. Some clubs and resorts do have caddie programs, although benefits are rarely offered. Particularly in Europe, the vast majority of clubs do not offer caddies, and amateur players will commonly carry or pull their own bags.

Golf course Series of holes designed for the game of golf

A golf course is the grounds where the game of golf is played. It comprises a series of holes, each consisting of a teeing ground, a fairway, the rough and other hazards, and a green with a flagstick ("pin") and hole ("cup"). A standard round of golf consists of 18 holes. Most courses contain 18 holes; some share fairways or greens, and a subset has nine holes, played twice per round. Par-3 courses consist of nine or 18 holes all of which have a par of three strokes.

Tour winner

Three years later, Runyan defeated Wood in extra holes in the title match of the 1934 PGA Championship, the first of his two PGA Championships. Of Runyan's 29 career PGA Tour wins, 16 of them came in 1933 and 1934, and his nine wins in 1933 make him one of only seven golfers to win nine or more times in one year on the PGA Tour. In the first Masters Tournament in 1934, he was paired for the first 36 holes with tournament host Bobby Jones. Runyan won the tour money title in 1934, and was a member of the U.S. Ryder Cup team in 1933 and 1935.

1934 PGA Championship golf tournament held in 1934

The 1934 PGA Championship was the 17th PGA Championship, held July 24–29 at Park Country Club in Williamsville, New York, a suburb northeast of Buffalo. Then a match play championship, Paul Runyan won the first of his two PGA Championship titles, defeating Craig Wood in 38 holes.

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.

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.

Runyan was competitive for many years; he won the PGA Championship again in 1938 and led the U.S. Open after three rounds as late as 1951. In the finals of his 1938 PGA, Runyan defeated Sam Snead 8 and 7, the most lopsided title match ever in the event, conducted as match play through 1957. This was despite Snead's vastly greater length off the tee, as much as 75 yards (70 m) per hole. [1]

1938 PGA Championship golf tournament held in 1938

The 1938 PGA Championship was the 21st PGA Championship, held July 10–16 at Shawnee Country Club in Smithfield Township, Pennsylvania.

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.

1951 U.S. Open (golf) golf tournament

The 1951 U.S. Open was the 51st U.S. Open, held June 14–16 at the South Course of Oakland Hills Country Club in Birmingham, Michigan, a suburb northwest of Detroit. Ben Hogan won his second consecutive U.S. Open title, two strokes ahead of runner-up Clayton Heafner. Hogan missed the 1949 U.S. Open due to an automobile accident; this was his third title in his last three attempts.

Fellow golfers nicknamed him "Little Poison" (a take on 1930s baseball player Lloyd Waner, who had the same nickname), primarily because he did not drive the ball very far, but also because he had a terrific short game. Runyan had worked tirelessly on his short game from boyhood, since he realized early on if he were to succeed in golf, he had to compensate for his lack of length. Runyan opined that he is the smallest player in golf history who had significant success, [1] although Fred McLeod had a fine record, too, and stood only 5 ft 4 in (1.63 m) and weighed a paltry 108 lb (49 kg; 7.7 st).

Lloyd Waner American baseball player

Lloyd James Waner, nicknamed "Little Poison", was a Major League Baseball (MLB) center fielder. His small stature at 5 ft 9 in (1.75 m) and 132 lb (68 kg) made him one of the smallest players of his era. Along with his brother, Paul Waner, he anchored the Pittsburgh Pirates outfield throughout the 1920s and 1930s. After brief stints with four other teams late in his career, Waner retired as a Pirate.

Fred McLeod professional golfer

Frederick Robertson McLeod was a Scottish-American professional golfer who had a distinguished career in the United States, which included victory in the 1908 U.S. Open. He was born in Kirk Ports, North Berwick, East Lothian, Scotland.

Master teacher

Runyan's teaching prowess led many top pros to him over his 75 years of teaching, including Gene Littler, Phil Rodgers, Chuck Courtney, Frank Beard, Jim Ferree and Mickey Wright. Golf Magazine wrote: "... since the late 1930s, he has probably been the most influential short game instructor. Untold thousands have been taught his methods for putting and chipping." Runyan wrote an influential book outlining his short-game methods, The Short Way to Lower Scoring. In 2000, he astoundingly completed the annual Par 3 competition held one day before the Masters at the age of 91. He died in Palm Springs, California. [2]

Gene Littler American golfer

Gene Alec Littler was an American professional golfer and a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame. Known for a solid temperament and nicknamed "Gene the Machine" for his smooth rhythmical swing, he once said that, "Golf is not a game of great shots. It's a game of the best misses. The people who win make the smallest mistakes."

Phil Rodgers was an American professional golfer.

Joseph Franklin Beard is an American former professional golfer who was a member of the PGA Tour and Champions Tour. Beard won eleven PGA Tour events.


Runyan was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1990. In addition, he is a member of the World Golf Teachers Hall of Fame, the Arkansas Hall of Fame and The Southern California Golf Association Hall of Fame. He received the Harvey Penick Lifetime Teaching Award and the PGA of America Distinguished Service Award.

Professional wins

PGA Tour wins (29)

Major championships are shown in bold.

Other wins

this list is probably incomplete

Senior wins

Major championships

Wins (2)

YearChampionshipWinning scoreRunner-up
1934 PGA Championship 38 holes Flag of the United States.svg Craig Wood
1938 PGA Championship8 & 7 Flag of the United States.svg Sam Snead

Note: The PGA Championship was match play through 1957

Results timeline

U.S. Open 63
The Open Championship
PGA Championship
Masters Tournament NYFNYFNYFNYFT37T4T194T16
U.S. Open T12DQT28T10T8T14T7T9
The Open Championship CUT
PGA Championship R16R32QF1QFR64R161QF
Masters Tournament T12T353NTNTNT
U.S. Open 49T5NTNTNTNT21T6T53
The Open Championship NTNTNTNTNTNT
PGA Championship QFR64DNQNTDNQ
Masters Tournament CUTT35
The Open Championship
PGA Championship R64DNQ
Masters Tournament CUT
U.S. Open CUT
The Open Championship T18CUT
PGA Championship WDCUT
Masters Tournament
U.S. Open
The Open Championship
PGA Championship CUTWD
  Top 10
  Did not play

NYF = tournament not yet founded
NT = no tournament
WD = withdrew
DQ = disqualified
DNQ = did not qualify for match play portion
CUT = missed the half-way cut
R64, R32, R16, QF, SF = Round in which player lost in PGA Championship match play
"T" indicates a tie for a place


TournamentWins2nd3rdTop-5Top-10Top-25EventsCuts made
Masters Tournament 0024581210
U.S. Open 00017122116
The Open Championship 00000131
PGA Championship 2006891612

See also

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  1. 1 2 3 Barkow, Al (1986). Gettin' to the Dance Floor: An Oral History of American Golf. Atheneum Books. ISBN   978-0-689-11517-2.
  2. "Paul Runyan, 93, Winner Of 29 Events on PGA Tour". The New York Times . March 19, 2002. Retrieved December 24, 2010.