Snead, Sam (1986)

About Snead, Sam (1986)


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1912–2002. Sam Snead’s career ranks him as one of the greatest professional golfers of all time. Born in 1912 in Hot Springs, Virginia, Sam started caddying at the Homestead’s Old Course and accepted a professional position there in 1929. He moved to the Cascades course in 1934. Sometime later he became affiliated with The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. After turning professional in 1934, he played in local and regional tournaments winning the West Virginia Closed Pro in 1936. His first effort on the PGA Tour took place later in 1936 at the Hershey Open where he finished fifth. Sam made his way to California for the opening of the PGA Tour’s 1937 season. He won the Oakland Open and four other titles that season.

Sam eclipsed many records associated with the PGA Tour: 81 titles, three PGA Championship titles, three Masters titles, eight Ryder Cup teams, leading money winner three times, Vardon Trophy winner four times and Tour Player of the Year in 1949. In 1965, the 53 year-old Snead won the Greensboro Open for the eighth time, setting a Tour record for oldest winner and for winning an event the most times. In 1974, the 62-year old Snead finished only three back of Lee Trevino in the PGA Championship. At the 1979 Quad City Open, he shot a second round 67, the first person to shoot his age in a PGA Tour event and followed that with a 66 the next day. The record still stands. He won his only appearance in the British Open in 1946 at St. Andrews. Sam Snead won six PGA Senior Championship and five World Senior titles. He won the PGA Club Professional Championship at age 71.

Sam Snead finished second in the U.S.Open four times. In 1939, thinking that he needed a birdie to win the title at the Philadelphia CC, he ended up missing a playoff after taking a risky shot from a difficult lie in the fairway. He lost a playoff to Lew Worsham in St. Louis in 1947.

Sam Snead made numerous appearances in the Middle Atlantic PGA area. In 1939, he shot 74-65 at Congressional in the US Open Qualifier. In 1941, at the Virginia PGA Open at Ocean View, he finished two strokes behind Chandler Harper. After the War, he defeated Chandler Harper in a playoff for the Virginia PGA Open at Cavalier in 1946. Snead’s last appearance in a Virginia PGA Championship took place the following spring. The young prodigy George Payton won with Chandler Harper and Snead in second and third place. The next week, Sam Snead appeared in his only MAPGA Section Championship. At Hampton CC in 1947 he finished behind Lew Worsham, Jack Isaacs, and Chandler Harper.

As the 1940s ended and the 1950s began, Snead continued to appear in regional events. In 1949, he shot 63-68 at Army Navy to win the Open Division of the National Celebrities and won the National Capital Open at the old Prince George’s CC with a 64 in the third round. In 1950 he won at Chandler Harper’s tournament celebrating Glensheallah Golf Course’s closure. In a 1952 exhibition at the no longer in existence White Flint course he shot an 8 under 62 and followed that with a win in the PGA Tour stop Eastern Open at Mt. Pleasant. One of his last appearances in the Middle Atlantic area occurred at Bowie Golf Club in 1990 to lend his name to a hospice charity event, the Sam Snead Classic.

Sam Snead is a member of The PGA Hall of Fame, the World Golf Hall of Fame, the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame, the West Virginia Hall of Fame, and the Helms Hall of Fame and in 1998, received The PGA’s Lifetime Achievement Award.  (rev. 2004)