New-York Historical Society's Bill Shannon Dictionary of New York Sports

Category Archives: Golf

Ann Probert

(Golf.  Born, West Orange, NJ, Dec. 31, 1938.)   Ann Linen Probert grew up around the game of golf, as she lived just a short distance from the 18th hole of the Rock Springs Country Club in West Orange. While working towards her bachelor’s degree at Smith College, in Northampton, MA, she won the 1956 New Jersey Girls’, and the Metropolitan Girls, golf championships.  Probert won dozens of titles during her career, including the Women’s New Jersey Golf Association’s 36-hole stroke play championship five straight years (1978-82) and the Garden State Women’s golf championship 14 times.  During her career, Probert carded 14 hole-in-ones and served on several committees regarding the involvement of women in golf.  She was also an advocate for women who suffered from domestic violence and abuse.  Probert was awarded the U.S. Golf Association’s Ike Granger Award, recognizing her service and dedication to the USGA, for which she once served as president.  She was married to fellow amateur golfer Edward Probert. – By Erin Knox

Craig Wood

Craig Wood (Golf.  Born, Lake Placid, NY, Nov. 18, 1901; died, Palm Beach, FL, May 8, 1968.)  Head pro at Winged Foot for many years, Craig Ralph Wood was also an outstanding tour golfer who won 34 P.G.A. tournaments.  Wood had his most impressive victories in 1940-42.  He won the Metropolitan Open at Forest Hill Field (Bloomfield, N.J.) in 1940, topping runner-up Ben Hogan by 11 strokes in what was then a P.G.A.-record 264 for 72 holes.  The next year, Wood won both the U.S. Open and the Masters.  In 1942, he won the Met P.G.A. and the Canadian Open.  Wood was a pro in New Jersey before going to Winged Foot and during those years, he won the New Jersey P.G.A. tournament four times (1928, 1930-32) and the New Jersey Open in 1934.  Wood was also a successful Ford dealer for many years.

Willie Turnesa

Willie Turnesa (Golf.  Born, Elmsford, NY, Jan. 29, 1914; died, Sleepy Hollow, NY, June 16, 2001.)  An outstanding golfer from a family of outstanding golfers, William Peter Turnesa had six older brothers who played the game professionally.  He was the only one who never turned pro, but “Willie the Wedge” was an outstanding amateur before and after World War II, and also served as president of the Metropolitan Golf Association.  In 1938, Turnesa won the U.S. Amateur title at the Oakmont Country Club near Pittsburgh, Penna., and ten years later turned the same trick at the Memphis (Tenn.) Country Club.  Turnesa also won the Metropolitan Amateur in 1937 and had a distinguished career representing the United States abroad.  He won the British Amateur in 1947 and was a finalist in 1949.  He was a member of the U.S. Walker Cup team in 1947, 1949, and 1951.  In 1947, the U.S. won, 8-4, in England and two years later won again by a score of 10-2 at Westchester’s Winged Foot Golf Club.  In 1951, Turnesa was the captain of the U.S. squad that defeated the British, 6-3, at Birkdale.  His affiliation with the Metropolitan Golf Association as an officer began in 1951.  In 1955, he was elected president of the Association.  During his long career, Turnesa was involved in virtually every major golf event held in the New York area.  He was known and respected throughout golf not only as a player but for his other contributions, including encouragement to young players and the development of amateur programs in the area.

Jim Turnesa

Jim Turnesa (Golf.  Born, Elmsford, NY, Dec. 9, 1912; died, Elmsford, NY, Aug. 27, 1971.)  Second-youngest of the seven golfing Turnesa brothers, James turned pro in 1931, was runner-up in the 1942 P.G.A. championship, and won the P.G.A. in 1952.  He lost the 1942 P.G.A. final, 2 and 1, to Sam Snead.  Turnesa won in 1952 by defeating Chick Harbert, 1-up.  Turnesa also won several smaller tournaments on tour.  His older brothers were Phil, Frank, Joe, Mike, and Doug.  Only his younger brother, Willie (q.v.), never became a pro, but rather became a star at Holy Cross, winning the New England collegiate title three times (1936, 1937, 1938) and the Westchester Amateur four times (1933, 1936, 1937, 1938) before becoming a U.S. Amateur champion.

Paul Runyon

Paul Runyon (Golf.  Born, Hot Springs, AR, July 12, 1908; died, Palm Springs, CA, Mar. 17, 2002.)  Considered among the best ever with irons and the putter, Paul Scott Runyon became a major golf figure in the 1930s.  Runyon began as a protégé of Craig Wood, turned pro in 1922, and won over 50 tournaments in his career.  He defeated his teacher, 1-up (38), to win the P.G.A. national title in 1934.  Runyon also won the Metropolitan Open that year, edging Walter Hagen (q.v.) and Wiffy Cox (q.v.) by a stroke.  He won the New Jersey Open in 1930, the first of his three Met P.G.A.s, and the Western Open in 1931 before his big year.  Runyon also won the Westchester (which he took six times) in 1934.  Runyon won a second P.G.A. in 1938, 8 and 7, over Sam Snead.  He also won the Met P.G.A. in 1935 and 1936 and the Westchester Open in 1935, 1936, 1939, and 1942.  Runyon later became a noted trick-shot artist.

Bill Richardson

Bill Richardson (Sportswriter.  Born, Milwaukee, WI, Apr. 18, 1885; died, Cornwall, NY, Aug. 8, 1947.)  Joining The New York Times in 1921, William Duncan Richardson began covering golf the next year, the first staff writer at the paper regularly to do so.  Priorly, The Times’ golf coverage was supplied by local clubs, part-time correspondents, or wire services.  Richardson covered Eastern events such as the Metropolitan Open, which subsequently became a major event in the days before the P.G.A. Tour.  He later edited the annual golf guides for American Sports Publishing (the Spalding Guide) and then A.S. Barnes until his death.

Gene Sarazen

Gene Sarazen (Golf.  Born, Harrison, NY, Feb. 27, 1902; died, Naples, FL, May 13, 1999.)  One of the true legends of golf, Eugene Sarazen first hit the scene when, at the age of 20 years and four months, he won the 1922 U.S. Open.  He also captured the P.G.A. title in 1922 and 1923, but then hit a long slump before re-emerging in the 1930s as one of the leading players.  In 1932, Sarazen won the U.S. Open at Fresh Meadows Country Club in Flushing, N.Y., with a spectacular performance.  He shot 74-76-70-66-286, winning by three strokes over Phil Perkins and Bobby Cruickshank.  He shot the last 28 holes in an even 100 strokes and his final-round 66, the best by a champion up to that time, stood until 1960, when Arnold Palmer shot a 65 to win his only Open title.  Sarazen also won the British Open in 1932, the P.G.A. in 1933 and the Masters in 1935, propelled by a double-eagle two in the last round, still considered the most famous shot in golf history.  Overall, he won 37 major tournaments from 1922-51.  He was also a member of the U. S. Ryder Cup team every year from 1927 to 1937 and lost only once in singles.

Harold Sanderson

Harold Sanderson (Golf.  Born, Walton-on-Thames, Eng., Jan. 17, 1903; died, Roanoke, VA, Dec. 31, 2003.)  A one-time touring pro, Harold Sanderson was a long-time club professional in the New York area.  Sanderson was the head pro at Briarwood Lodge and Sleepy Hollow in Westchester in the 1920s, ran the pro shop at the Hollywood Golf Club in Deal, N.J. (1925-30) and was then head pro at Canoe Brook in Summit, N.J. (1930-67) before retiring.   He was also a pro at clubs in Illinois and Pennsylvania, as well as touring briefly but never winning a tournament.  Sanderson finished 49th in the 1932 U.S. Open at Fresh Meadows in Flushing won by Gene Sarazen (q.v.).  He won the 1959 New Jersey P.G.A. title and six state and national senior tournaments in the 1960s.  At the time of his death, Sanderson was the oldest member of the U.S. P.G.A., to which he belonged for 77 years.

Bobby Jones

Bobby Jones (Golf.  Born, Atlanta, GA, Mar. 17, 1902; died, Atlanta, GA, Dec. 18, 1971.)  Robert Tyre Jones, Jr., was the golf equivalent of Babe Ruth, Bill Tilden and Jack Dempsey during America’s “Golden Age of Sports” in the 1920s and 1930s.  Bobby Jones was also the first man ever to win golf s “Grand Slam” when in 1930 he captured the British Amateur, the U.S. Amateur, the British Open and the U.S. Open.  Jones won four U.S. Open titles, including two in the New York area:  the 1923 Open at the Inwood Country Club and the 1929 Open at the Winged Foot  Golf Club in Mamaroneck, N.Y.  He almost didn’t win the 1929 event. After an opening round 69, Jones struggled through 75-71-79 on the last three rounds (the final two of which were played on Saturday) and was forced into a Sunday playoff with Al Espinoza.  The 18-hole playoff ended with Jones at 72-69-141 and Espinoza at 84-80-164.  In 1930, Jones became the first winner of the Sullivan Award as the best amateur athlete in America and during his career, he won five U.S. Amateur titles and three British Opens to go with his four U.S. Opens.   His other U.S. Open wins came in 1926 and 1930.  He retired from the sport after completing the Slam in 1930.

Bill Jennings

Bill Jennings (Hockey, golf.  Born, New York, NY, Dec. 14, 1920; died, Byram, CT, Aug. 17, 1981.)  Distinguished by steel-gray hair and a suave demeanor, William Mitchell Jennings was the legal mastermind behind the acquisition of the controlling interest in Madison Square Garden by Graham-Paige Corp. from James D. Norris in 1960.  Jennings later served as president of the Rangers (1962-81) and as chairman of the N.H.L. Board of Governors (1968-70).  He was also a major force in the N.H.L. expansion of 1967, which doubled the league’s franchises to 12 and made it a national entity in the U.S. and Canada.  Jennings was honored with the prestigious Lester Patrick Award for service to hockey in 1971.  He was also a major figure in metropolitan golf, helping found the Westchester Classic (later the Buick Classic), of which he served as chairman from 1967 until his death.  Under Jennings’ stewardship, the tournament raised over $7 million for seven voluntary Westchester hospitals (including United Hospital in Port Chester, N.Y., of which he was president).  During most of his professional career, he was a partner in the Manhattan law firm of Simpson, Thacher & Bartlett.

About This Dictionary

The Bill Shannon Biographical Dictionary of New York Sports is an open database of sports biographies maintained by Jordan Sprechman and Marty Appel. We welcome public and scholarly contributions and suggestions.

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About Bill Shannon

A prolific author, wire service sports reporter, long time Major League Baseball official scorer, football statistician, sports museum founder, theatrical agency owner and public ... read more

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