Dow Finsterwald was the first player to win the PGA Championship stroke play and the final American captain of a Ryder Cup Ryder Cup before continental Europe was invited.
He was more than just a Ryder Cup player and major champion, he dedicated his life to golf as a long-term professional at The Broadmoor, Colorado.
Finsterwald, a 12 time winner on the PGA Tour died Friday night at Colorado Springs, Colorado. He was 93. Dow Finsterwald Jr. said his father died peacefully in his sleep.
His son, Colonial Country Clubs head professional in Fort Worth, Texas, said that he did everything he could to win the game. He enjoyed his friends, and they always remembered him. He loved the rules and was passionate about the game. He had a wonderful and fulfilling life.
Finsterwald was a native of Athens in Ohio and played college golf for Ohio University. Finsterwald was born in Athens, Ohio. He played college golf at Ohio University. Finsterwald spent his winters at Palmer’s Bay Hill Club & Lodge.
Finsterwald once stated that He (shot 29) the first round we played jointly, so I didn’t have much luck there.
Palmer arrived at the same time that television was showing golf. That was a major reason that the PGA Championship decided to switch to stroke play from match play in 1958.
Finsterwald lost to Lionel Hebert in the 1957 championship match. Finsterwald finished 2 shots behind Sam Snead in the championship match at Llanerch Country Club in Pennsylvania. He closed with a 67 to win by 2 over Billy Casper.
Finsterwald stated that winning the championship had a significant impact on his life. He spoke at Oakland Hills in 2008, on the 50th anniversary of his win. But as important it was to me — and it has been very important to me — it was a major move for the PGA of America from match play to stutter play.
It was certainly an extra there in that it had been the finals match play. He said that stroke play is something he was a little biased about. But it was the right thing to do and the best time to do it.
Finsterwald won the Vardon trophy for the lowest scoring average in 1957 and was named PGA player-of-the-year in 1958. He was also a member on four Ryder Cup teams and went 9-3-1. He was captain of the 1977 U.S. team, which featured Ryder Cup rookies Tom Watson and Lanny Waddkins.
The U.S. won easily, and it was at that Ryder Cup at Royal Lytham & St. Annes that Jack Nicklaus suggested stronger competition because the Americans were winning with regularity. The Britain & Ireland team was then expanded to include continental Europe.
Finsterwalds last win came at the 500 Festival Open Invitation, Indianapolis. Finsterwald also made 72 consecutive cuts, which is a remarkable feat in his time. It was not measured on a 36 hole cut but was among the top 25 finishers who were paid out from the prize fund.
Finsterwald was appointed head pro at The Broadmoor as a 1963 event and he remained there for 28 years.