Ken Venturi: My Life in Pictures

1 of 17 Todd Bigelow
Ken Venturi, who died Friday at age 82, shared his memories from his historic career for a 2010 Golf Magazine feature.During his 35-year tenure as an analyst for CBS Sports, Ken Venturi gave voice to action on the PGA Tour. But before injuries forced Venturi to the tower, his game spoke for itself. For a dazzling stretch, cut short by wrist problems in the 1960s, the California native loomed over the sport, winning 14 titles between 1957 and 1966. As an amateur, he led the 1956 Masters through three rounds before slipping to second-place on a blustery Sunday. Venturi's greatest triumph came in 1964, at the U.S. Open at Congressional, a resilient victory in the sauna of a Maryland summer that underscored both how good Venturi could be and how good he might have been.
2 of 17 AP Photo
"I was considered a great shotmaker in my day.I could call shots. Two bounces, then it'll go left or back up. But I can't do that today because the balls today don't curve like the old ones did."
3 of 17 Golf Magazine
"That's me, Jimmy Demaret and Bing (Crosby) after I won the Crosby at Pebble Beach in 1960. In the final round, we got to the first tee and it was raining and blowing like you've never seen it. ... To show you what kind of day it was, I was leading by two shots going into the round. I shot 77 and won by three."
4 of 17 Contributed by Ken Venturi
"In 1965, I was defending Open champion at Bellerive Country Club, but I had so much pain in my hands I could hardly swing. When I missed the cut, they put me on a plane straight to the Mayo Clinic and I had surgery on Monday. It was carpal tunnel syndrome, which today is an in- and outpatient deal. Not back then. At the Mayo clinic, they cut so deep they cut part of the tendon and my hand started atrophy. I'll tell you something: If I had to choose to be anybody in the world, I'd choose to be me, because I've been very fortunate in the people I've known, the places I've been and the things I've done. The only one thing I ever think of is, I wonder what I could have done if I hadn't lost the use of my hands."
5 of 17 Contributed from Ken Venturi
"That's me with my mother and father in the Harding Park pro shop, which my father managed. He was probably a 5- or 6-handicap, but he didn't play that much. He worked so hard. My mother sold some real estate on the side, but she also gave so much to junior golf. She gave Tony Lema his first pair of golf shoes. He was out at Harding, playing tennis in his sneakers one day, and she said, 'Where are your golf shoes? Get in here.' And she brought him in the shop and gave him shoes."
6 of 17 Augusta National/Getty Images
"That's me an Jackie Burke at Augusta in 1956, the year I lost the Masters as an amateur. I was leading going into Sunday and I shot 80 in the last round. Jackie was the only guy to break par that day. (Note: Sam Snead also broke par.) I don't make excuses. My father always told me that excuses are the crutches of the untalented. I hit 15 greens that day and three-putted six times. To show you what kind of day it was, I shot 80 and still finished second. I was disappointed, but there's a great Jack Whitaker line: 'Fate has a way of bending a twig and fashioning a man to his better instincts.'"
7 of 17 Walter Iooss Jr./SI
"This was after a birdie at the '64 Open, and it's pretty typical of the amount of enthusiasm I showed. I learned from Hogan in that respect. I'd tip my hat. That was about it. I wasn't one for fist-pumping or yelling and screaming."
8 of 17 Timothy Clary/AFP
"I'm with President Clinton here at the opening ceremonies for the Presidents Cup in 2002. I don't recall what we're laughing about. I played golf with a few presidents: Eisenhower, Ford, the first president Bush. Of all of them, Eisenhower was probably the most enthusiastic, but Bush was probably the best. He played quickly and got on with it, which is how I like it. I'd rather play with someone who plays fast and shoots 90 than someone who shoots 70 and takes all day. I never played with President Clinton. But I know that he was known for hitting six or eight balls a hole."
9 of 17 AP Photo
"This was after my first win as a professional, at St. Paul in 1957. In 1956, after I lost the Masters as an amateur, everybody was calling me a choker and this and that. I had won the California State Amateur in September at Pebble Beach and I got tired of people telling me what I couldn't do. At the time, there was no money in golf. In 1958, I won four tournaments and finished in the top-10 15 times. I made $49,500. Someone did an article recently and they calculated that if you took those prices today it would have been $8 million in one year. Someone said to me, 'Well, $49,500 went a long way then.' Not as far as $8 million goes today. I could have made more money if I'd stayed on selling cars in San Francisco. But I loved the competition. I told my dad, 'I'm going to let my clubs do the work.'"
10 of 17 Jim Gund
"In 1968, CBS came up to me and said, 'If you give up golf, we'll give you a full-time contract.' I was getting ready to be operated on to save my hand, and I said to the doctor, 'Doc, will I ever be able to play golf again?' He said, 'Yes, Ken, you will. But never to your standards.' And that's when I quit — 1968. It broke my heart. Golf was my life. When I played, I never wanted to see the 18th hole. I just wanted to keep going and play all day."
11 of 17 AP Photo
"People have said that I accused Arnold Palmer of cheating (at the 1958 Masters, Palmer's tee shot on the 12th plugged on a soggy bank behind the green; after making a 5 with his first ball, Palmer, believing he had a right to a free drop from his embedded lie, played a second ball and made a 3, a controversial score that was later upheld). But I never used that word. I just said, 'You be the judge. I'm not going to be the judge.' Everybody knows you have to declare a provisional before you hit it. In this photo, we're having a discussion about the matter on the 14th tee, with Bobby Jones and Cliff Roberts. Arnold and I never really talked about it in the years after. But as we were going to the 13th tee that day, I said to him, 'If you had chipped (the first ball) in, would you have played the provisional?' Later, everybody thought that I was arguing the point because I wanted to win. They forget that Doug Ford and Fred Hawkins finished tied for second. I was fighting for Doug and Fred. What happened on the 12th, only Palmer and I, our caddies and one rules official saw it. Now, with TV, something like that could never happen."
12 of 17 Augusta National/Getty Images
"This is the '56 Masters. We didn't do a lot of autograph signing in those days, but I'll tell you something — I'm from the old school. I'm one of the few whose signature you can actually read. You look at Ben Hogan, Byron Nelson, Sam Snead. You can read all their signatures. Today, I can show you a signed poster of my team I was captain of the Presidents Cup, and if I didn't have their pictures, I couldn't tell you who it was."
13 of 17 AP Photo
"This was 1966 — I'd just sunk the winning putt at the Lucky International Open at Harding Park (in San Francisco), my last win as a professional on the course where I learned to play. I had a short putt there and I thought I missed it, but it curled into the cup somehow. On the par-3 eighth that day, I hit a 3-iron and knocked it in for a one. Suddenly, this lady runs out of the gallery and grabs the ball out of the hole. The amateur I was playing with said, 'Who is that (expletive) person getting that ball?' I looked closely, and I said, 'If I'm not mistaken, I think that's my mother.' She got a huge round of applause. A bigger reaction than I got for making the ace!"
14 of 17 Sports Illustrated
"Being named Sportsman of the Year by Sports Illustrated was a tremendous honor for me. That was an Olympic year, 1964. Don Schollander (the American swimmer) won four gold medals. Sandy Koufax was pitching. And they gave this to me. That same year, I got PGA Tour Player of the Year and Comeback Player of the Year. It had never been done before in golf. In 1964, I was also on a Wheaties box. But the Sportsman of the Year, when you consider it wasn't just golf, it was all sports, that was something else."
15 of 17 AP Photo
"When I was coming up, my father (Fred Venturi, left) never told me I was any good, because he wanted me to keep going. I'd say, 'How about that, Dad, I won the city championship.' And he'd say, 'You know how many cities there are in this country?' I'd win the state amateur, and he'd say, 'You know how many states there are?' When I won the Open, his response was, 'Now you've got to prove that it wasn't a fluke.' One night at dinner, I was going on about myself, telling my dad how good I thought I was, and I'll never forget this. He said, 'Son, when you're as good as you are, you can tell everybody. When you're really good, they'll tell you.' That was the last time I ever told anyone how good I was."
16 of 17 Bettmann/Corbis
"On the final day of the Open in '64, it was 104 degrees, 95 percent humidity and there were 97 cases of heat prostration in the gallery. They gave me 18 salt tablets that day. Nowadays they'll tell you that kind of thing could kill you. I had a scale next to my locker and I got on it before and after. I lost eight pounds that day. This is a photo of me making the final putt. That's when I looked up and said, 'My God, I've won the Open.' After that week they told me that because of what had happened to me (playing 36 holes in withering heat on Saturday), they were going to change the format to 18 holes. Because of what happened to me? Right. You know how much money they make on Sunday with the television, the gallery, the merchandise sales? We're talking millions. That's why they changed it to 18."
17 of 17 UPI Telephoto
"I don't know where this was but I recognize that man on the far left. His name was Bill Varni and he owned a restaurant in San Francisco. After my car accident (in Cleveland in 1961), I'd messed up my shoulder and my swing just went. I went into a slump. Before the start of the '64 season, Varni says to me, 'I'll give you $50,000 right now, but you've got to give me all your winnings this year.' I turned him down. But just knowing that he had that kind of confidence in me, that motivated me."