Ken Venturi was a highly accomplished amateur and professional golfer who later became one of the best-known faces (and voices) in golf broadcasting.
Date of birth: May 15, 1931
Place of birth: San Fransico, California
Date of death: May 17, 2013
PGA Tour Victories:
U.S. Open: 1964
Awards and Honors:
• Member, World Golf Hall of Fame
• PGA Player of the Year, 1964
• Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year, 1964
• Member, U.S. Ryder Cup team, 1965
• Captain, U.S. Presidents Cup team, 2000
• Member, U.S. Walker Cup team, 1953
• Ken Venturi: "Everybody has a hole, or type of hole, that just doesn't jibe with their imagination. The key is to make it fit your eye, even if it means hitting an iron off the tee and then a fairway wood to the green. Never fight your eye. The hole will win every time."
• Ken Venturi: "In every decision I've considered in my life, the determining question I would ask myself was: 'Would my mother and father be proud?' "
• One of Ken Venturi's best friends was Frank Sinatra, and they were roommates for a time.
• Venturi's 35 years with CBS made him the longest-serving lead analyst in sports broadcasting history at the time of his retirement in 2003.
Ken Venturi Biography:
To anyone born after about 1955, Ken Venturi is best-known as the decades-long lead golf analyst for CBS Television. But before he was a great broadcaster, Venturi was a great golfer, one whose career was cut short by injuries, and was bookended by a famous failure and a famous success.
The famous failure: As an amateur, Venturi took the first-round lead at the 1956 Masters, and held a 4-shot lead going into the final round. But in that final round, Venturi three-putted six times and shot 80, winding up as runner-up to Jack Burke Jr. It's been called by some one of the biggest chokes in golf history, but that round was one of the toughest scoring days ever at the Masters. Venturi's score was only a couple above the field average.
The famous success: As a professional, Venturi battled through severe dehydration and heat exhaustion on a 36-hole, 100-degree final day at the 1964 U.S. Open, nearly collapsing on the course, but hanging on to win his only major championship.
Venturi grew up in California. He had a severe stuttering problem as a youth, and enjoyed spending hours alone on the golf course. As a 13-year-old, Venturi followed Byron Nelson at a tournament and Nelson became his hero - and later, Nelson became his mentor and his Ryder Cup captain at the 1965 matches.
Venturi won the California State Amateur titles in 1951 and '56, and after his near-miss at the '56 Masters he placed 8th at the U.S. Open. Also in 1956, Venturi was one of the participants in a legendary four-ball challenge match that, decades later, was the basis of Mark Frost's book The Match.
Although he didn't win The Masters in 1958, Venturi did lead the PGA Tour with four victories that year. He won at least twice each year from 1957 through 1960, but not again for three years following an auto accident in 1961.
Then Venturi won three more times in 1964, including the U.S. Open. However, by this time Venturi was suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome in both wrists. Surgery improved the condition, and he won once more in 1966, but Venturi's career was essentially over at age 33 following the 1964 season.
He joined CBS in 1967 and remained the network's lead golf analyst until 2002. It was a remarkable career development given his childhood stuttering problems. Venturi was a highly popular broadcaster, especially teaming with play-by-play announcer Pat Summerall.
He ran the Guiding Eyes Golf Classic, an event that raised money for providing guide dogs to the blind, for 27 years, and his name is attached to a series of golf instructional schools.
In late 2012, it was announced that Venturi had been selected for enshrinement into the World Golf Hall of Fame through the Lifetime Achievement category. His death occurred barely a week after the induction ceremony - which Venturi was unable to attend - in May 2013.