Ken Venturi

Ken Venturi

Ken Venturi
— Golfer —
Personal information
Full name Kenneth Paul Venturi[1]
Born (1931-05-15)May 15, 1931
San Francisco, California
Died May 17, 2013(2013-05-17) (aged 82)
Rancho Mirage, California
Height 6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)
Weight 170 lb (77 kg; 12 st)
Nationality  United States
Spouse Kathleen Venturi
(m. 2003–2013, his death)
Beau Wheat Venturi
(m. 1972–1997, her death)[2]
Conni Venturi
(m. 1954–1970, divorced)[3][4]
Children Matthew, Tim
College San Jose State College
Turned professional 1956
Retired 1967
Former tour(s) PGA Tour
Professional wins 15
Number of wins by tour
PGA Tour 14
Other 1
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, Venturi was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2013.[5]


  • Early years and amateur career 1
  • Professional career 2
  • Broadcasting career 3
  • Other ventures 4
    • Acting 4.1
    • Course design and instruction 4.2
  • Honors 5
  • Death 6
  • Amateur wins (5) 7
  • Professional wins (15) 8
    • PGA Tour wins (14) 8.1
    • Other wins (1) 8.2
  • Major championships 9
    • Wins (1) 9.1
    • Results timeline 9.2
    • Summary 9.3
  • U.S. national team appearances 10
  • See also 11
  • References 12
  • External links 13

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. 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.[6]

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.[7] Through 2015, no amateur has won the Masters.

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.

After suffering minor injuries in an automobile accident in 1961, Venturi's swing, and thus his career, began to slide. 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. (The format was changed the next year in 1965.) He received that year's Sports Illustrated magazine's "Sportsman of the Year" award[3] and PGA Player of the Year award. He played on the Ryder Cup team in 1965,[7] and received the 1998 Old Tom Morris Award from the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America, GCSAA's highest honor.

Broadcasting career

After 1964, Venturi's career again took a blow when he was diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome in both wrists. After several surgeries his condition was reversed, but he was never able to regain his past form. 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,[7] made remarkable by the fact that he suffered from severe stuttering early in life. He retired from broadcasting in June 2002.[6][8]

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.[7][8]

Course design and instruction

In 1990, Venturi redesigned and renovated the Eagle Creek Golf & Country Club course near Naples, Florida.[9] He also lent his name to a series of instructional schools.[7]


In 2004, after some controversy,[10] a Golden Palm Star on the Palm Springs, California, Walk of Stars was dedicated to Venturi.[11] In 2013, he was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in the lifetime achievement category.


Venturi died at age 82 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.[12][13] He was buried at the Forest Lawn Cemetery in Cathedral City, California.

Amateur wins (5)

Professional wins (15)

PGA Tour wins (14)

No. Date Tournament Winning score Margin of victory Runner(s)-up
1 Aug 18, 1957 St. Paul Open Invitational −22 (66-67-65-68=266) 2 strokes Bob Rosburg
2 Aug 25, 1957 Miller High Life Open −13 (68-66-65-68=267) 5 strokes Al Balding, Sam Snead
3 Jan 26, 1958 Thunderbird Invitational −15 (70-63-66-70=269) 4 strokes Jimmy Demaret, Gene Littler
4 Feb 2, 1958 Phoenix Open Invitational −10 (70-68-66-70=269) 1 stroke Walter Burkemo, Jay Hebert
5 Mar 2, 1958 Baton Rouge Open Invitational −12 (69-69-69-69=276) 4 strokes Lionel Hebert, Arnold Palmer
6 Aug 4, 1958 Gleneagles-Chicago Open Invitational −8 (65-67-68-72=272) 1 stroke Julius Boros, Jack Burke, Jr.
7 Jan 5, 1959 Los Angeles Open −6 (72-71-72-63=278) 2 strokes Art Wall, Jr.
8 Jun 28, 1959 Gleneagles-Chicago Open Invitational −8 (64-75-68-66=273) 1 stroke Johnny Pott
9 Jan 24, 1960 Bing Crosby National Pro-Am −2 (70-71-68-77=286) 3 strokes Julius Boros, Tommy Jacobs
10 Aug 28, 1960 Milwaukee Open Invitational −9 (65-69-68-69=271) 2 strokes Billy Casper
11 Jun 20, 1964 U.S. Open −2 (72-70-66-70=278) 4 strokes Tommy Jacobs
12 Jul 26, 1964 Insurance City Open Invitational −11 (70-63-69-71=273) 1 stroke Al Besselink, Paul Bondeson
Sam Carmichal, Jim Grant
13 Aug 23, 1964 American Golf Classic −5 (71-66-69-69=275) 5 strokes Mason Rudolph
14 Jan 31, 1966 Lucky International Open −11 (68-68-71-66=273) 1 stroke Frank Beard

Other wins (1)

Major championships

Wins (1)

Year Championship 54 holes Winning score Margin Runner-up
1964 U.S. Open 2 shot deficit –2 (72-70-66-70=278) 4 strokes Tommy Jacobs

Results timeline

Tournament 1953 1954 1955 1956
Masters Tournament DNP T16 DNP 2 LA
The Open Championship DNP DNP DNP DNP
The Amateur Championship DNP DNP R64 DNP
Tournament 1957 1958 1959
Masters Tournament T13 T4 CUT
U.S. Open T6 T35 T38
The Open Championship DNP DNP DNP
PGA Championship DNP T20 T5
Tournament 1960 1961 1962 1963 1964 1965 1966 1967 1968 1969
Masters Tournament 2 T11 T9 34 DNP CUT 16 T21 T50 CUT
PGA Championship 9 T37 T51 DNP T5 DNP T15 T11 T48 DNP
Tournament 1970 1971 1972 1973 1974
Masters Tournament DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
The Open Championship DNP DNP DNP CUT DNP

LA = Low amateur
NT = No tournament
DNP = Did not play
WD = Withdrew
CUT = missed the half-way cut
DNQ = Did not qualify for match play portion of U.S. Amateur
R64, R32, R16, QF, SF = Round in which player lost in match play
"T" indicates a tie for a place
Green background for wins. Yellow background for top-10

Sources: Masters,[14] U.S. Open,[15] Open Championship,[16] PGA Championship,[17] 1955 British Amateur[18]


Tournament Wins 2nd 3rd Top-5 Top-10 Top-25 Events Cuts made
Masters Tournament 0 2 0 3 4 9 14 11
U.S. Open 1 0 0 1 3 5 13 8
The Open Championship 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0
PGA Championship 0 0 0 2 3 6 9 9
Totals 1 2 0 6 10 20 37 28
  • Most consecutive cuts made – 12 (1959 U.S. Open – 1964 PGA)
  • Longest streak of top-10s – 2 (four times)

U.S. national team appearances



See also


  1. ^ Klein, Gary (May 17, 2013). "Ken Venturi, golfer and broadcaster, dies at 82". Los Angeles Times. 
  2. ^ Bamberger, Michael (June 10, 2002). "So long, Kenny". Sports Illustrated. 
  3. ^ a b c Wright, Alfred (December 21, 1964). "Sportsman of the Year: Ken Venturi". Sports Illustrated: 30. 
  4. ^ a b Bamberger, Michael (June 9, 1997). "Proud Words". Sports Illustrated: G32. 
  5. ^ "World Golf Hall of Fame adds Venturi to 2013 class". PGA Tour. October 8, 2012. 
  6. ^ a b Mackin, Tom (June 13, 2011). "Ken Venturi, the '64 Open champ, says golf was a different game in his era". Golf Magazine. 
  7. ^ a b c d e Kelley, Brent. "Ken Venturi biography". Retrieved August 9, 2011. 
  8. ^ a b Terrill, Joey (December 2004). "My shot: Ken Venturi". Golf Digest. 
  9. ^ "Course Information". Eagle Creek Golf & Country Club. Retrieved August 17, 2011. 
  10. ^ The controversy arose between Gerhard Frenzel, the founder of the Walk of Stars, and the City of Palm Springs over whether Venturi qualified for a Star under the Palm Springs Walk of Stars Foundation's contract with the city. See: "Palm Springs Walk of Stars Under Dispute." AP Online. Press Association, Inc. 2004. Retrieved January 13, 2013 from HighBeam Research
  11. ^ Palm Springs Walk of Stars by date dedicated
  12. ^ Golfstein, Richard (May 17, 2013). "Ken Venturi, U.S. Open Golf Champion and Broadcaster, Dies at 82". The New York Times. 
  13. ^ Ferguson, Doug (May 17, 2013). "Ken Venturi, 1964 U.S. Open champion and CBS golf analyst, dies at age 82". PGA of America. Associated Press. 
  14. ^
  15. ^ USGA Championship Database
  16. ^
  17. ^ PGA Championship Media Guide
  18. ^ "Contrast In British And American Players". Glasgow Herald. June 2, 1955. p. 4. 

External links