The golf world lost some prominent figures in 2021, individuals who have made lasting contributions to the game and community. From tour professionals to business leaders and international golf ambassadors, each has made a unique and significant impact on the sport.
One of the loudest passages from the sport over the past 12 months is that of Lee Elder, a golf pioneer and pioneer. The mainstay of the PGA Tour broke the color barrier of the Masters in 1975 and also became the first black player in the Ryder Cup in 1979. Earlier this year, Elder joined Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player on the first tee of Augusta National, after was named an Honorary Starter. Though he couldn’t get the opening shot, Elder received the loudest ovation, calling it “one of the most emotional experiences” of his life.
Along with Elder, the people mentioned below cared about golf and tried to improve the game we love through hard work, great play and thoughtful analysis.
PGA Tour and PGA of America club pro who eventually broke through to PGA Tour Champions, winning four times. Helped the dominant state of North Texas golf program win four consecutive NCAA titles from 1949-1952.
Member of PGA Tour from 1978-1983 before becoming a two-time Champions Tour winner. The first tour professional to make a significant contribution to the GIVE (Golf for Injured Veterans Everywhere) Foundation. Inducted into the Iowa Golf Hall of Fame in 2010 and the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame in 2018.
Played full-time on the PGA Tour after serving in the military and winning the Orange County Open Invitational (1961) and the Sunset-Camellia Open Invitational (1964). Played for USC golf as an amateur receiving All-American honors from 1956-1958 and became the first player to win the Pac-8 Conference and Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference titles in consecutive years.
The first African American to win a USGA event, the US Amateur Public Links Championship in 1959. Won the individual title of the NAIA Men’s Golf Championship in 1960 while representing the Western Washington College of Education. Played in the 1966 US Open and five US Senior Opens after winning. Served 25 years as a golf professional on The Lakes Golf Course in El Segundo, California.
A touring professional who played in 611 PGA Tour and Senior Tour events before finally winning a title at the MONY Syracuse Senior Classic in 1991. Won two more senior titles and played in more than 500 events on the senior circuit. Served as mayor of Toco, Texas, (population 150) while also playing the Senior Tour in the 1990s.
Technical director of the USGA, who oversaw equipment regulations from 1974 to 2000. Known for crossing the line between golf innovation and protecting game traditions. Inventor of the graphite shaft and was instrumental in creating the slope system for golf course rating.
A two-time PGA Tour winner (1971 Liggett & Myers Open Match Play Championship and 1972 Southern Open), and one-time Champions Tour winner: Bank One Senior Classic (1991). Held club propositions at Sea Palms, Sky Valley and Innsbruck golf clubs and ran a golf consultancy with his children, DeWitt Weaver Golf Solutions. Inducted into the Georgia Golf Hall of Fame and the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame.
Recovered amateur golfer who placed second in the inaugural US Mid-Amateur Championship in 1981 and two other USGA events. Four-time member of the US Walker Cup team before captaining the US squads of 2003 and 2005. Helped the US win the 1982 World Amateur Team Championship title. Inducted into the Ohio Golf Association Hall of Fame.
A four-time PGA Tour winner who was a member of the 1977 American Ryder Cup team. Known for his excellent play around the greens. Took a club pro job at Oak Tree Country Club in Pennsylvania. McGee’s son, Mike, is married to former LPGA Tour star Annika Sorenstam.
Served in the United States Air Force before becoming a professional golfer in 1952. Worked as a club pro under Claude Harmon at Winged Foot and also played on the PGA Tour. Inducted into the Pacific Northwest Golf Association Hall of Fame.
A two-time PGA Tour winner who designed several well-known golf courses in Arizona and Texas, such as the Continental Country Club in Flagstaff, the Legacy Ridge Country Club in Bonham and The Hideout Golf Club in Brownwood. Also a three-time winner of the Arizona Open.
A former landscape contractor who turned his passion for golf into world-renowned course architecture, building over 200 golf courses around the world that touch every segment of the golf market. Notable courses included Half Moon Bay, GC of Georgia, Boyne Highlands, Bighorn GC, Palmetto Dunes, and Palmetto Hall.
Englishman who played in the Ryder Cup in 1965. Competed in every Open Championship from 1961-1977 (Best Finish: T-12 in 1965).
Won the Schweppes PGA Close Championship (now known as the PGA Championship) in 1961 and was selected to England’s Canada Cup team for his great play. Became the pro at the Tavistock Golf Club.
A prominent golf agent and executive vice president of the Wasserman Golf Group for 30 years. Represented John Daly, Roger Maltbie and Scott Verplank over the decades, also collaborated with Matthew Wolff, Rickie Fowler and Viktor Hovland.
PGA of America member who worked as a Golf Director at Pinetree Country Club in Chamblee, Georgia, who was shot along with two others on the course’s 10th hole. Police later stated that he had committed a crime that took place on the course.
Longtime president of Hamilton Tailoring Co., in Avondale, Ohio, which in 1967 struck a deal with Clifford Roberts, president of Augusta National Golf Club, for Hamilton Tailoring to take over production of the green jackets awarded to winners of the Masters (and also worn by club members). Was faithfully discreet about his company’s relationship with the club, rarely admitting it, let alone allowing interviews.
Canadian golfer with a distinguished amateur career prior to competing on the LPGA Tour. Two-time winner of the Canadian Women’s Amateur in 1965 and 1971. Won LPGA Rookie of the Year in 1972 and became the first Canadian to win the Canadian Women’s Open (then called the La Canadienne golf championship). Won the Bobbie Rosenfeld Award for Canada’s Best Female Athlete in 1972 and was eventually inducted into the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame and Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame.
A friend described him as “one of the toughest, meanest men on the planet.” Played in a combined 255 events on the PGA Tour and PGA Tour Champions. He joined the US Army and became a paratrooper three years after his touring career.
Wife of golfing legend Gary Player and co-founder of the Player Foundation and the Gary Player Invitational tournaments, which have raised millions for educational opportunities for underprivileged children.
A self-mockery storyteller who, after a newspaper/magazine career, spent over 20 years as a golf commentator for CBS and made a memorable phone call during the network’s coverage of the Masters. Was taken off the air in 1996 over controversial comments he made about female golfers to a journalist during an interview at the LPGA Championship last May.
Stand-up comedian, host of weekend update ‘Saturday Night Live’ and obsessive golf. Big Tiger Woods fan and prolific golf tweeter and gambler. “Nobody knows golf more than I do. Nobody.”
Seven-time winner of the PGA Tour, known for his killer short game also played on the 1963 Ryder Cup team. Won the 1951 US Amateur and helped the state of North Texas win four consecutive NCAA team championships from 1949-1952.
Former US amateur champion (1968) who won the 1991 New England Classic on the PGA Tour and eventually became a dominant presence on the Champions Tour with 18 wins. Winner of the 2001 US Senior Open, becoming the first player to achieve consecutive wins in his first two Champions Tour events. Was head coach of the USA Open Golf Team at the 1989 Maccabiah Games and 2013 Maccabiah Games in Israel.
Broadcaster/journalist known as “The Voice of the European Tour.” Covered 165 majors, including 58 Open Championships. Became the first non-US journalist to cover 40 consecutive Masters tournaments in 2014. Also served as Secretary of the Association of Golf Writers in the UK
The 2010 BMW Italian Open champion and two-time winner of the Challenge Tour. After playing on the European Tour, he became a golf commentator for Sveriges Television in his native Sweden.
Founder of OB Sports Golf Management, which oversaw the operations of several golf facilities across the country. Was named PGA Professional of the Year twice and named PGA Merchandiser of the Year seven times. Played on the PGA Tour before working at OB Sports.
Four-time PGA Tour winner who broke the Masters color barrier in 1975 after receiving an invite with a win at the 1974 Monsanto Open. Made 448 begins touring, then became the first black player in the Ryder Cup in 1979. Developed a scholarship for low-income students seeking funding for college and served on the board of Goodwill. Served as an honorary starter at the 2021 Masters along with Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player for his contributions to golf.
Longtime golf writer from Columbus, Ohio, who beat Jack Nicklaus as a junior golfer. Went on to cover 56 Masters tournaments. Was president of the Golf Writers of America and was named Ohio Sportswriter of the Year in 1984. He later became director of media and player relations for The International, a now defunct PGA Tour event held at Castle Pines Golf Club in Colorado.
Mother of Ryder Cup winning captain and Hall of Famer Davis Love III and widow of famed swing coach Davis Love Jr. An accomplished golfer in her own right and a fixture within the St. Simons Island community in Georgia.
Peter Andrews, 90, December 20
A former child actor who, after serving in the US military during the Korean War, became a prolific writer with articles in the New York Times, American Heritage, Playboy, Newsweek, and Reader’s Digest. A regular contributor to Golf Digest, with stories appearing in the magazine for over 35 years.