Jack Burke Jr. was one of the top players on the PGA Tour of the 1950s, and won two major championships in 1956.
Date of birth: Jan. 29, 1923
Place of birth: Houston, Texas
PGA Tour Victories:
• Masters: 1956
• PGA Championship: 1956
Awards and Honors:
• Member, World Golf Hall of Fame
• PGA Vardon Trophy winner (low scoring average), 1952
• PGA Player of the Year, 1956
• Recipient, PGA Tour Lifetime Achievement Award
• Member, U.S. Ryder Cup team, 1951, 1953, 1955, 1957, 1959
• Captain, U.S. Ryder Cup team, 1957, 1973
• One of Jack Burke Jr.'s cousins was 1965 PGA Championship winner Dave Marr.
• One of Burke's babysitters from childhood was Hall of Famer Jimmy Demaret, who worked as an assistant pro at the club where Burke's father was head pro.
Jack Burke Jr. to the Houston Chronicle: "I don't think what I did as a player is that important. I didn't think playing was a great achievement, because I always felt like I could play. I was playing a game."
Jack Burke Jr. Biography:
Jack Burke Jr. grew up the son of golf professional, and his father instilled in him an appreciation for the rules - for the right way to play - that never left him.
His father was head pro at River Oaks Country Club in Houston, and hired a young fellow named Jimmy Demaret as an assistant pro. Demaret often babysat the young "Jackie." The two formed a lifelong friendship.
Jackie's childhood was filled with great golfers, many of whom sought Jack Burke Sr. for help with their games. A PGA of America article about Burke Jr., upon his being awarded the PGA's Distinguished Service Award in 2007, said this:
Young Jackie Burke was playing golf at age 4, breaking par by age 12, winning wagers against grown men and being challenged by the legendary Babe Zaharias of Port Arthur, Texas, who joined him for occasional rounds at River Oaks.
Burke reaped the benefits of his father's lessons on the practice range and at the dinner table, which was an informal "classroom" for such teaching and Tour legends as Jack Grout, Harvey Penick, John Bredemus, Byron Nelson and Ben Hogan, who gathered regularly to trade stories and advice.
Burke Jr. followed in his father's footsteps, becoming a professional and a teaching pro himself. Before he turned 20, Burke Jr. was working as a pro at Galveston Country Club.
When World War II came along, Burke Jr. joined the Marines and served until 1946. Following his discharge, he returned to golf, and in 1950 he won four times on the PGA Tour.
He won four more times in 1952, but in more spectacular fashion: All four wins came consecutively. Burke's string of four straight victories is tied for the fifth-best such streak in PGA Tour history.
Jack Burke Jr.'s biggest year on tour came in 1956, when he won two majors and earned Player of the Year honors. Despite his success, Burke wasn't making a ton of money and started pulling away from the Tour. In 1957, he and Demaret bought some land in a then-deserted part of Houston and started what would become Champions Golf Club. Champions has hosted a Ryder Cup, a U.S. Open and five Tour Championships.
Demaret and Burke were together at Champions until Demaret's death in 1983. Burke still gives lessons at Champions to this day.
Burke's reputation as a teacher grew after he left the Tour, and along the way he instructed or mentored such players as Phil Mickelson, Hal Sutton and Steve Elkington. In 2004, Burke Jr. served as Sutton's assistant captain at the Ryder Cup.
The Houston Chronicle, in a profile of Burke, wrote: "Golf, he (Burke) preaches, is a game of feel and creativity. He rues the day that the will of the Champions membership prevailed, and they painted yardages on the sprinkler heads as 'the worst day of my life.' "