Timeline of golf history 1945-1999

From Academic Kids

See also Timeline of golf history 1353-1850, Timeline of golf history 1851-1945 and Timeline of golf 2000-present.




Byron Nelson wins 18 tournaments in a calendar year to set an all-time PGA TOUR record-including a record 11 in a row and a record 19 consecutive rounds under 70. His total prize earnings during his 11-win streak, $30,000, is less than last place money for the PGA TOUR Championship by 1992.

The Tam O'Shanter Open offers a then-record purse of $60,000.


The U.S. Women's Open is instituted. Patty Berg is the first winner.


Mildred "Babe" Zaharias becomes the first American to win the British Women's Open, at Gullane.

Golf is televised for the first time, in a local St. Louis telecast of the U.S. Open.

"Golf World" magazine is founded.


Bobby Locke becomes the first South African to win the British Open.

Bobby Locke sets a PGA TOUR record with a 16-stroke winning margin in the Chicago Victory National Championship.

Herbert Warren Wind's authoritative "The Story of American Golf" is published.

The U.S. Junior Amateur is instituted. Ken Venturi loses to Dean Lind in the first final.

The "USGA Golf Journal" is founded.


Louise Suggs wins the U.S. Women's Open by a record margin of 14 strokes.

Marie Roke of Wollaston, MA aces a 393 yard (359 m) hole—the longest ace ever recorded by a woman.


The LPGA is founded, replacing the ailing Women's Professional Golf Association.

Ben Hogan, only weeks after returning to the PGA TOUR following a near-fatal auto accident, wins the U.S. Open at Oakland Hills.


Francis Ouimet becomes the first American Captain of the R & A.

The USGA and the R & A, in a conference, complete a newly revised Rules of Golf. Although in 1951 the R & A and the USGA continue to differ over the size of the golf ball, all other conflicts are resolved in this momentous conference. The center-shafted putter is legalized world-wide. The out-of-bounds penalty is standardized at stroke-and-distance, and the stymie is finally and forever abolished.

"Golf Digest" is founded, with Bill Davis as editor.

Al Brosch shoots 60 in the Texas Open to set an 18-hole PGA TOUR record.


Marlene Hagge wins the Sarasota Open when she is 18 years 14 days old—an LPGA record.

Patty Berg shoots an LPGA-record of 64 for an 18-hole round.

The National Hole-in-One Clearing House is established by Golf Digest.


Tommy Armour's "How to Play Your Best Golf All the Time" is published and becomes the first golf book ever to hit the best-seller lists.

Ben Hogan wins the first three legs of the modern Grand Slam (The Masters, U.S. Open, and British Open), but does not compete in the final leg, the PGA Championship.

The Tam O'Shanter World Championship becomes the first tournament to be nationally televised. Lew Worsham holes a 104 yard (95 m) wedge shot on the final hole for eagle and victory in one of the most dramatic finishes ever.

The Canada Cup is instituted, the first event that brings together teams from all over the world. After 1966 the tournament is known as the World Cup.


Peter Thomson becomes the first Australian to win a major tournament with a victory in the British Open.

Architect Robert Trent Jones, upon receiving complaints that he has made the par-3 fourth hole at Baltusrol too hard for the upcoming U.S. Open, plays the hole to see for himself and records a hole-in-one.

The U.S. Open is nationally televised for the first time.

The Tam O'Shanter World Championship offers the first $100,000 purse for a golf tournament.

"All-Star Golf," a filmed series of matches, debuts on network television.

Babe Zaharias returns to the LPGA Tour following cancer surgery and wins the U.S. Women's Open.

The first PGA Merchandise Show is held in a parking lot in Dunedin, Florida, outside the PGA National Golf Club. Salesmen work the show out of the trunks of their cars. The Show goes on to become one of the main events on the golfing calendar - by 1994 it grows to over 30,000 attendees, four days, and has become the single largest tenant of the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, spilling over 220,000 square feet (20,000 m²) of exhibit space.


Mike Souchak shoots 60-68-64-65 for a PGA TOUR record 27-under-par 257 for 72 holes, at Brackenridge Park GC in the Texas Open. The record still stands.


The current yardage guides for par are adopted by the USGA.


The Great Britain and Ireland team wins the Ryder Cup Matches at Lindrick, ending a drought that dates back to 1935.

E. Harvie Ward loses his amateur status for accepting expenses from sponsors for golf tournaments. The ruling is reversed in 1958.

Ben Hogan's Five Lessons is published.


Arnold Palmer is allowed a controversial free drop to save par in the final round of The Masters, and he goes on to defeat Ken Venturi.


Bill Wright, in winning the U.S. Amateur Public Links, becomes the first African-American to win a national championship.

"Golf Magazine" is founded, with Charles Price as the first editor.


Arnold Palmer comes back from six shots down in the final round to win the US Open. With his victory, he completes the first two legs of the modern Grand Slam after winning The Masters in April, the first to do so since Ben Hogan in 1953. He finishes second to Kel Nagle in the British Open to end his bid. Palmer's entry in the British Open is credited with reviving world-wide interest in the championship. Palmer went on to win the British Open in both 1961 and 1962.

Lifting, cleaning, and repairing ballmarks is allowed on the putting green for the first time.


Gary Player becomes the first foreign player to win The Masters.

Caucasians-only clause stricken from the PGA constitution, and at the Greater Greensboro Open Charlie Sifford becomes the first black golfer to play in a PGA co-sponsored tournament in the South.


Dr. Joseph Boydstone records 11 aces in one calendar year. Three were recorded in one round, at Bakersfield C.C., Calif.

Jack Nicklaus wins his first professional tournament, the U.S. Open, the last player to win the U.S. Open as his first pro victory.

Painted lines are first utilized to mark water hazards at the U.S. Open.


Arnold Palmer becomes the first professional to earn over $100,000 in official prize money in one calendar year.

Mickey Wright wins a record 13 events on the LPGA Tour in one year.

The casting method for irons is first employed.


PGA National opens, in Palm Beach, Fla.

Mickey Wright sets the LPGA 18-hole record with a 62 at Hogan Park GC in the Tall City Open.

Norman Manley, an amateur from Long Beach, Calif., scores holes-in-one on two successive par-4s at Del Valley CC, Calif. It is the first and only time this feat has been accomplished.


Sam Snead wins the Greater Greensboro Open, his 81st TOUR victory, a record (the total was later revised to 82). His victory is the eighth in the Greensboro event, also a record. Finally, he wins at the age of 52, also a PGA TOUR record.

Jack Nicklaus sets a tournament record of 271 in winning The Masters.

Mrs. William Jenkins Sr. of Baltimore, Md., double-eagles the par-five 12th hole at Longview GC, the longest ever recorded by a woman.

PGA TOUR Qualifying School is inaugurated at PGA National, with 17 golfers of the 49 applicants winning their playing cards.


Arnold Palmer blows a six-shot lead in the final round of the US Open, losing to a surging Billy Casper at Olympic.


Charlie Sifford, by winning the Greater Hartford Open, becomes the first African-American to win a PGA TOUR event.

Catherine Lacoste becomes the first amateur to win the U.S. Women's Open.

The Canada Cup changes its name to the World Cup.


Arnold Palmer passes the $1 million mark in career PGA earnings.

The PGA of America and the PGA TOUR officially split, with the tournament professionals forming a breakaway group known as the Association of Professional Golfers. The breach is eventually healed, and a Tournament Players Division of the PGA is formed. Joe Dey is elected the next year as the first PGA TOUR commissioner.

Tommy Moore, age 6 years 1 month, 1 week, becomes the youngest player to score a hole-in-one. Moore also becomes, in 1975, the youngest player ever to score a double-eagle.

Roberto DeVicenzo ties Bob Goalby after regulation play in The Masters, but signs an incorrect scorecard and loses the event.


Ollie Bowers of Gaffney, S.C. completes a record 542 rounds (9,756 holes) in one calendar year.

Jack Nicklaus concedes Tony Jacklin's final putt and Britain ties the U.S. in the Ryder Cup Matches, after five consecutive defeats. The gesture is often hailed as "the greatest act of sportsmanship in history."

The trendsetting Harbour Town Golf Links opens on Hilton Head Island, S.C., designed by Pete Dye with assistance from Jack Nicklaus.


Bill Burke, with a 57 at Normandie C.C., sets the all-time official record for low 18-hole score.

Thad Doker of Durham, N.C., records a record two-under par 70 in the World One Club Championship at Lochmere CC.


Laura Baugh wins the US Amateur at 16 years 2 months of age.

Alan Shepard hits a six-iron at "Fra Mauro Country Club" on the moon.


Carolyn Gidone wins the US Senior Women's Amateur for a record fifth consecutive time.

Dick Kimbrough completes 364 holes in 24 hours at the 6,068 North Platte CC in Nebraska.

Tom Doty records 10-under-par in four holes at Brookwood CC, Illinois. His streak includes a double-eagle, two holes-in-one, and an eagle.

Spalding introduces the first two-piece ball, the Top-Flite.

Jack Nicklaus completes the first two legs of the modern Grand Slam winning the Masters and the US Open (at Pebble Beach), but like Arnold Palmer in 1960, falters in the British Open by finishing second (to Lee Trevino).


Ben Crenshaw wins the NCAA title for a record 3rd consecutive time. Later in the year, after earning his PGA TOUR card, he wins the first event he plays as a PGA TOUR member, the San Antonio Open.

Johnny Miller fires a record 63 in the final round to win the US Open at Oakmont.

The graphite shaft is invented.

The classic golf book "Golf in the Kingdom", by Michael Murphy, is published.

Jack Nicklaus wins the PGA Championship and breaks Bobby Jones' record for most major victories with his 14th.


Deane Beman is elected as the second PGA TOUR commissioner.

Roberto DeVicenzo scores six birdies, an eagle, and three more birdies for a record 11-under par for ten holes, at Valla Allende GC, Argentina.

The World Golf Hall of Fame is opened in Pinehurst, North Carolina.

Mike Austin hits a 515 yard (471 m) drive at the 1974 National Seniors Open in Las Vegas, Nev., the longest drive ever recorded in competition.

Jack Nicklaus' "Golf My Way" is published.

Tom Weiskopf strikes a 420 yard (384 m) drive in the greenside bunker on the 10th hole at Augusta National—the longest drive in Masters history.

Muirfield Village Golf Club opens from a Desmond Muirhead/Jack Nicklaus design.

The Tournament Players Championship is inaugurated.


Lee Elder becomes the first black golfer to play in The Masters.

Lee Trevino, Jerry Heard and Bobby Nichols are struck by lightning during the 1975 Western Open. The incident prompts new safety standards in weather preparedness at PGA events, but one spectator is killed when struck by lightning during the 1991 U.S. Open at Hazeltine National, and one at the PGA Championship at Crooked Stick later that summer.


Judy Rankin becomes the first LPGA professional to earn more than $100,000 in a season.

Richard Stanwood sets the record for fewest putts in one round—15—at Riverside GC in Pocatello, ID.

The USGA institutes the Overall Distance Standard—golf balls that fly more than 280 yards (256 m) during a standard test are banned.


Al Geiberger shoots 59 at Colonial CC in the second round of the Memphis Classic, to set a new PGA TOUR 18-hole record.

Bing Crosby dies after completing a round of golf in Spain. His Bing Crosby National Pro-Am continues for several years, but after relations sour between the PGA TOUR and the Crosby family, AT&T takes over sponsorship of the event.

The "sudden-death" playoff is used for the first time in a major championship, when Lanny Wadkins defeats Gene Littler for the PGA Championship played at Pebble Beach.

In what has been described as the most exciting tournament in history, Tom Watson defeats Jack Nicklaus by one stroke in the British Open, at Turnberry. They were tied after the second and third rounds, and were paired with each other during the final 36 holes.


The Legends of Golf is inaugurated at Onion Creek C.C. in Austin, Texas. Its popularity leads to the formation of the Senior PGA TOUR two years later.


The Ryder Cup is reformatted to add European continent players to the British-Scottish-Irish side, making the event far more competitive.

Taylor Made introduces the first metal woods.


Tom Watson is the first golfer to earn $500,000 in prize money in a single season.

The Senior PGA TOUR is born, with four official events.

The U.S. Senior Open is instituted. Roberto DeVicenzo is the first winner.

Jack Nicklaus sets a record of 272 in the U.S. Open at Baltusrol. His mark is equalled in the 1993 U.S. Open by Lee Janzen, also at Baltusrol, and later by Tiger Woods in 2000 at Pebble Beach.

The USGA introduces the Symmetry Standard, banning balls such as the Polaris which correct themselves in flight.

Gary Wright completes 18 holes in a record 28 minutes 9 seconds at Twantin Noosa GC, Australia 6,039 yards (5,522 m).


The Tournament Players Club at Sawgrass opens, with its controversial island green 17th hole, and immediately becomes the permanent host of the Tournament Players Championship. The TPC at Sawgrass becomes the prototype for a dozen "stadium" TPC courses around the United States, built specifically to host PGA TOUR co-sponsored events and affording better viewing for spectators.

The USGA institutes the U.S. Mid-Amateur for male amateur golfers 25 and older.

Kathy Whitworth becomes the first woman to earn $1 million in career prize money.


Kevin Murray double-eagles the 647 yard (592 m) second hole at the Guam Navy GC, the longest double-eagle ever recorded.


The PGA TOUR introduces the all-exempt Tour, with the top 125 players exempt from qualifying tournaments.


Desert Highlands opens in Phoenix from a design by Jack Nicklaus utilizing only 80 irrigated acres for 18 holes, instead of the typical 100-150 for a major course. The success of Nicklaus' concept of "target golf" ushers in the era of environmentally-sensitive desert design.


Nancy Lopez sets the LPGA 72-hole record with 268 in the Henredon Classic.

The United States loses the Ryder Cup Matches for the first time since 1957, to the expanded European team.

The USGA introduces the Slope System to allow golfers to adjust their handicaps to allow for the relative difficulty of a golf course compared to players of their own ability.


Bob Tway sinks a miracle bunker shot to beat a stunned Greg Norman in the PGA Championship. Norman had held the lead on Sunday morning in each of the four major championships of 1986, but was able to win only in the British Open. Only Bobby Jones had previously held the Sunday morning lead in each Grand Slam event. Tway's stroke inaugurated a celebrated series of miracle shots holed by various golfers to defeat Norman.

The Pete Dye-designed PGA West opens amid great controversy concerning the difficulty of the course.

The Panasonic Las Vegas Invitational offers the first $1 million purse.

The PGA TOUR Team Charity Competition debuts. By 1987, TOUR-related contributions to charity exceed $100,000,000, and by 1992 they reach a total of $200,000,000.


The Links at Spanish Bay opens, the first true links course in the Western United States. It is a co-design by Robert Trent Jones, Jr., Tom Watson, and former USGA President Frank "Sandy" Tatum.

Judy Bell becomes the first woman elected to the USGA Executive Committee.

The Nabisco Championships (later the TOUR Championship) debuts as a season-ending event for the top 30 money winners. The first winner is Tom Watson, breaking a three year victory drought.

Walter Dietz, a blind golfer, aces the 155 yard (142 m) seventh hole at Manakiki G.C., California.


Links Magazine is founded (originally Southern Links), with Mark Brown as editor-in-chief.

Lori Garbacz orders a pizza between holes at the U.S. Women's Open to protest slow play.

Square-grooved clubs such as the PING Eye2 irons are banned by the USGA, which claims that tests show the clubs give an unfair competitive advantage to PING customers. The PGA TOUR also bans the clubs in 1989. Karsten Manufacturing, maker of the clubs, fights a costly two-year battle with both the USGA and the PGA TOUR to have the ban rescinded after winning a temporary injunction. Eventually both organizations drop the ban, while Karsten acknowledges the right of the organizations to regulate equipment and pledges to make modifications to future designs.

Curtis Strange wins the season-ending Nabisco Championships at Pebble Beach, and his $360,000 paycheck lifts his official 1988 TOUR earnings to $1,147,644, and thus he becomes the first player to win over $1,000,000 in a single season.


Four golfers, Doug Weaver, Mark Wiebe, Jerry Pate and Nick Price, hit aces on the par-three sixth hole on the same day in the U.S. Open at Oak Hill.

Nick Faldo sinks a 100 foot (30 m) birdie putt on the second hole at Augusta National in The Masters, the longest putt holed to date in a major tournament. Faldo goes on to win The Masters.


Hall Thompson of Shoal Creek GC, on the eve of the PGA Championship at Shoal Creek, defends his club's policy of not admitting black members. Amidst a public outcry, Shoal Creek 1990 is forced to change its policy and the PGA TOUR and the USGA insist that in future all clubs submit to a standard set of guidelines on membership policies. Cypress Point Club and Aronimink, among others, decide they are unable to comply and withdraw from the professional tournament arena.

Bill Blue resigns after a short reign as LPGA Commissioner. Charles Mecham is selected as his successor.

Construction begins on Shadow Creek Golf Club, the most expensive golf course ever built, with cost estimates ranging from $35 to $60 million as Tom Fazio creates an oasis in the Las Vegas desert. The club in 1994 vaults into eighth place on the Golf Digest top-100 course rankings, sparking controversy.

The R & A, after 38 years, adopts the 1.68 inch diameter ball, and for the first time since 1910 The Rules of Golf are standardized throughout the world.

The initial Solheim Cup is played at Lake Nona G.C., Orlando, commencing a biennial USA vs. Europe competition for women, a recognition of the growing strength of women's golf on both sides of the Atlantic.

The Ben Hogan Tour is launched as a minor league for the PGA TOUR, following the increased success of mini-tours such as the U.S. Golf Tour in 1989.


The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island, S.C., the first course to be awarded the Ryder Cup Matches before the course has been completed, is the scene of the United States' first victory in the event since 1983. The competition comes down to a twisting distance of seven feet (2 m) on the 18th hole missed by Bernhard Langer in the final match (against Hale Irwin).

John Daly wins the PGA Championship at Crooked Stick when, as ninth alternate, a slot in the tournament opens up for him on the night before the Championship began. The golfer who withdrew and gave Daly his place, Nick Price, wins the PGA Championship in 1992 at Bellerive.

Phil Mickelson, an amateur, wins the PGA TOUR's Northern Telecom Open.

Oversized metal woods are introduced, with Callaway Golf's Big Bertha quickly establishing itself as the dominant brand, the Big Bertha driver becomes one of the biggest-selling clubs of all time.

Harvey Penick's Little Red Book becomes the all-time best selling golf book.


Simon Clough and Boris Janic complete 18-hole rounds in five countries in one day, walking each course. They played rounds in France, Luxembourg, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany, and completed their journey in 16 hours, 35 minutes.

Brittany Andres, age 6 years 19 days, scores an ace at the 85 yard (78 m) second hole at the Jimmy Clay G.C. in Austin, Texas.


An ownership group led by Joe Gibbs and Arnold Palmer announce plans for The Golf Channel, a 24-hour, 365-day cable service.

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  • Tiger Woods became the first golfer to win three consecutive U.S. Amateur titles. This was the sixth consecutive year in which he won a USGA championship, one short of Bobby Jones' record of seven. In September, he turned professional. In the last five regular tournaments of the year on the PGA TOUR, his finishes were 5-3-1-3-1, placing him among the tour's top 30 money-winners for the year and thereby qualifying him for the season-ending TOUR Championship. Woods was named the PGA TOUR's Rookie of the Year.

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