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1956: The Year in Golf

By

Babe Didrikson Zaharias

Babe Didrikson Zaharias dies in 1956, succumbing to cancer.

Photo courtesy of the World Golf Hall of Fame; used with permission
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Jack Burke Jr. wins The Masters and the PGA Championship. His Masters win comes after amateur Ken Venturi, who'd led each of the first three rounds, shoots an 80 on the final day.

The Masters is televised for the first time.

Peter Thomson, one of the many great Australian golfers, wins his third straight British Open.

Billy Casper, who would win 51 times on the PGA Tour, gets his first Tour victory at the Labatt Open.

The USGA adjusts the yardage guides used to determine par thusly: par-3, up to 250 yards; par-4, 251 to 470 yards; par-5, 471 yards and over.

Mike Souchak birdies the final six holes in a row at the St. Paul Open for the win - the record for most consecutive birdies to win a tournament.

Patty Berg is named Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year for her play in 1955.

Mickey Wright gets the first of her 82 LPGA Tour victories with a win in the Jacksonville Women's Open.

Club pro Jim Russell, managing a tournament at Walla Walla (Wash.) Country Club, disperses players around the course to start play simultaneously from different tees. He fires off a shotgun to signal the start of play, giving rise to the term "shotgun start."

Born This Year:

Amy Alcott, LPGA Hall of Famer
Beth Daniel, LPGA Hall of Famer
• Fred Funk, PGA Tour
Patty Sheehan, 6-time LPGA major winner
• Joe Ozaki, Japanese Tour, PGA Tour
• Jack Renner, PGA Tour
• Kenny Knox, PGA Tour
• Colleen Walker, LPGA Tour (1 major)
• Chip Beck, PGA Tour
• Constantino Rocca, European Tour

Died This Year:

Babe Didrikson Zaharias, 3-time U.S. Women's Open winner, 2-time Olympic gold medalist in track and field
• Robert Gardner, 2-time U.S. Amateur champ, 4-time Walker Cupper

Money Leaders:

PGA: Ted Kroll, $72,835.83
LPGA: Marlene Hagge, $20,235

Scoring Leaders:

PGA (Vardon Trophy): Cary Middlecoff, 70.35
LPGA (Vare Trophy): Patty Berg, 74.57

Men's Major Championship Winners:

The Masters: Jack Burke Jr.
U.S. Open: Cary Middlecoff
British Open: Peter Thomson
PGA Championship: Jack Burke Jr.

Women's Major Championship Winners:

LPGA: Marlene Hagge
U.S. Open: Kathy Cornelius
Titleholders: Louise Suggs
Western Open: Beverly Hanson

Amateur Champions:

U.S.: Harvie Ward Jr.
British: John Beharrell
U.S. Women's: Marlene Stewart
British Women's: Wiffi Smith

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