Sam Snead

For the rapper, see Sam Sneed.
Sam Snead

Snead in 1967
Personal information
Full name Samuel Jackson Snead
Nickname Slammin' Sammy
Born (1912-05-27)May 27, 1912
Ashwood, Virginia, U.S.
Died May 23, 2002(2002-05-23) (aged 89)
Hot Springs, Virginia, U.S.
Height 5 ft 11 in (180 cm)
Weight 185 lb (84 kg)
Nationality  United States
Spouse Audrey Karnes Snead
(m. 1940–90, her death)
Children Sam Jr., Terrence
Turned professional 1931
Retired 1987
Former tour(s) PGA Tour
Champions Tour
Professional wins 165
Number of wins by tour
PGA Tour 82 (1st all time)
LPGA Tour 1
Other 69 (regular)
14 (senior)
Best results in major championships
(wins: 7)
Masters Tournament Won: 1949, 1952, 1954
U.S. Open 2nd/T2: 1937, 1947, 1949, 1953
The Open Championship Won: 1946
PGA Championship Won: 1942, 1949, 1951
Achievements and awards
World Golf Hall of Fame 1974 (member page)
PGA Tour
leading money winner
1938, 1949, 1950
PGA Player of the Year 1949
Vardon Trophy 1938, 1949, 1950, 1955
PGA Tour Lifetime
Achievement Award

Samuel Jackson Snead (May 27, 1912 – May 23, 2002) was an American professional golfer who was one of the top players in the world for most of four decades. Snead won a record 82 PGA Tour events, including seven majors. He never won the U.S. Open, though he was runner-up four times.

Snead's nickname was "Slammin' Sammy", and he was admired by many for having the so-called "perfect swing," which generated many imitators. Snead was famed for his folksy image, wearing a straw hat, and making such statements as "Keep close count of your nickels and dimes, stay away from whiskey, and never concede a putt."[1] He was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1974, and received the PGA Tour Lifetime Achievement Award in 1998.

Personal life

Born in Ashwood, Virginia, near Hot Springs, Snead began caddying at age seven at The Homestead in Hot Springs. He worked as an assistant pro at The Homestead at 19 and turned professional in 1934. Snead joined the PGA Tour in 1936, and achieved immediate success by winning the West Virginia Closed Pro tournament.

In 1936 he won two matches at the Meadow Brook Club, earning a $10,000 fee. This gave him the money he needed to start playing professionally full-time.[2] In 1944 he became head pro at The Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, and maintained ties to Hot Springs and The Homestead all of his life.

Snead served in the U.S. Navy during World War II from 1942 to 1944.[3] He was an athletic specialist in Cmdr. Gene Tunney's program in San Diego, and was given a medical discharge for a back injury in September 1944.[4]


In 1936, Snead won his first tournament, the West Virginia Closed Pro, contested at The Greenbrier's Championship Course and Old White Course. He shot rounds of 70-61 to rout Logan, West Virginia, pro Clem Weichman by 16 strokes (74-73).[5] Later that summer, he won the first of 17 West Virginia Open championships by beating Art Clark by five strokes at Guyan Country Club in Huntington, West Virginia.

In 1937, Snead's first full year on the Tour, he won five events, including the Oakland Open at Claremont Country Club in California.

In 1938, Snead first won the Greater Greensboro Open, the first of eight times, the Tour record for victories of a single tournament event. (The record was tied by Tiger Woods in 2013 when Woods won his eighth Arnold Palmer Invitational.) Snead's last win at Greensboro was in 1965, at the age of 52 years, 311 days, making him the oldest player to win a PGA Tour event.[6][7]

Also in 1937, while working at The Greenbrier, Snead played in the U.S. Pro Tennis Championships. In the first round he faced eventual winner Karel Kozeluh, losing to Kozeluh by scores of 6-1, 6-1, and 6-1.

The year 1939 was the first of several times where Snead failed at crucial moments of the U.S. Open, the only major event he never won. Needing par to win, but not knowing that, since on-course scoreboards did not exist at that time, Snead posted a triple-bogey 8 on the par-5 72nd hole. Snead had been told on the 18th tee by a spectator that he needed a birdie to win.[3]

At the U.S. Open in 1947, Snead missed a 30-inch (76 cm) putt on the final playoff hole to lose to Lew Worsham.

In 1950, he won 11 events, placing him third in that category behind Byron Nelson (18, in 1945) and Ben Hogan (13, in 1946).[8] His scoring average of 69.23 was a PGA Tour record that stood for 50 years until broken by Tiger Woods in 2000.[7][9]

Snead won the Vardon Trophy, for lowest scoring average, four times: 1938, 1949, 1950, and 1955.

At the 1952 Jacksonville Open, Snead forfeited rather than play an 18-hole playoff against Doug Ford after the two golfers finished in a tie at the end of regulation play. The forfeit stemmed from a ruling Snead received during the tournament's second round of play. On the 10th hole, Snead's drive landed behind an out of bounds stake. While Chick Harbert, who was playing with Snead, thought the ball was out of bounds,[10] a rules official ruled differently due to the starter not telling players the stakes had been moved after the previous day's play had ended. Afterwards, Snead explained why he forfeited even though Ford suggested they play sudden death for the title. "I want to be fair about it. I don't want anyone to think I took advantage of the ruling."[11]

In December 1959, Snead took part in a controversial match against Mason Rudolph, at the Mid Ocean Club in Bermuda. Snead decided to deliberately lose the televised match, played under the "World Championship Golf" series, during its final holes, after he discovered on the 12th hole that he had too many golf clubs in his bag. (A player is limited to 14 clubs during competitive rounds.) The match was tied at that stage. The extra club in his bag, a fairway wood Snead had been experimenting with in practice, would have caused him to be immediately disqualified according to the Rules of Golf, even though he did not use it during the round. After the match was over, Snead explained the matter, and said he did not disqualify himself in order not to spoil the show. The problem did not become known outside a small circle until the show was televised four months later. After the incident came to light, the sponsor cancelled further participation in the series.[12]

Beginning in 1960, Snead hosted television's Celebrity Golf program, emceed by Harry von Zell, competing for charity in nine-hole contests against Hollywood celebrities like Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis and Bob Hope. Snead had appeared with Martin and Lewis in their 1953 comedy film, The Caddy.

On February 7, 1962, at age 49, Snead won[13] the Royal Poinciana Plaza Invitational. He is the only man to ever win an official LPGA Tour event.[14]

He played on seven Ryder Cup teams: 1937, 1947, 1949, 1951, 1953, 1955, and 1959. He captained the team in 1951, 1959, and 1969.

In 1971, he won the PGA Club Professional Championship at Pinehurst Resort.

He was inducted into the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame in 1973[15]

In 1973, Snead became the oldest player to make a cut in a U.S. Open at age 61.

He shot a final round 68 at the 1974 PGA Championship to finish tied for third, three strokes behind winner Lee Trevino. At age 62, it was Snead's third consecutive top-10 finish at the PGA Championship, but his last time in contention at a major.

In 1978, he won the first Legends of Golf event, which was the impetus for the creation, two years later, of the Senior PGA Tour, now the Champions Tour.

In 1979, he was the youngest PGA Tour golfer to shoot his age (67) in the second round of the 1979 Quad Cities Open. He shot under his age (66) in the final round.

In 1983, at age 71, he shot a round of 60 (12-under-par) at The Homestead in Hot Springs, Virginia.

In 1997, at age 85, he shot a round of 78 at the Old White course of The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia.

In 1998, he received the PGA Tour Lifetime Achievement Award, the fourth person to be so honored.

From 1984 to 2002, he hit the honorary starting tee shot at The Masters. Until 1999, he was joined by Gene Sarazen, and until 2001, by Byron Nelson.

Snead wrote several golf instructional books, and frequently wrote instructional columns in golf magazines. His 1962 autobiography was titled The Education of a Golfer.

In 2000, Snead was ranked the third greatest golfer of all time, in Golf Digest magazine's rankings, behind only Jack Nicklaus and Ben Hogan.[16]

Snead held the record for most PGA Tour wins after reaching age 40, with 17, until the record was broken at the 2007 Mercedes-Benz Championship by Vijay Singh.

In 2009, Snead was inducted into the West Virginia Golf Hall of Fame.[17]


Snead died in Hot Springs, Virginia, in 2002 following complications from a stroke, four days before his 90th birthday. He was survived by two sons: Sam Jr. of Hot Springs, and Terry, of Mountain Grove, Virginia, and a brother, Pete, of Pittsburgh, as well as two grandchildren. His wife Audrey died in 1990. His nephew J. C. Snead was also a PGA Tour golfer.

Playing style

During his peak years, Snead was an exceptionally long driver, particularly into the wind, with very good accuracy as well. He was a superb player with the long irons. Snead was also known for a very creative short game, pioneering use of the sand wedge for short shots from grass. As he aged, he began to experiment with different putting styles. Snead pioneered croquet-style putting in the 1960s, where he straddled the ball with one leg on each side. The United States Golf Association banned this technique in 1968 by amending the old Rule 35–1,[18] since until that time, golfers had always faced the ball when striking. Snead then went to side-saddle putting, where he crouched and angled his feet towards the hole, and held the club with a split grip. He used that style for the rest of his career.


Snead holds the following records:[8]

Professional wins (165)

PGA Tour wins (82)

Major championships are shown in bold.

LPGA Tour wins (1)

Other wins

Note: this list is incomplete.

Senior wins (14)

Major championships

Wins (7)

YearChampionship54 holesWinning scoreMarginRunner(s)-up
1942 PGA Championship n/a 2 & 1 United States Jim Turnesa
1946 The Open Championship Tied for lead −2 (71-70-74-75=290) 4 strokes United States Johnny Bulla, South Africa Bobby Locke
1949 Masters Tournament 1 shot deficit −6 (73-75-67-67=282) 3 strokes United States Johnny Bulla, United States Lloyd Mangrum
1949 PGA Championship (2) n/a 3 & 2 United States Johnny Palmer
1951 PGA Championship (3) n/a 7 & 6 United States Walter Burkemo
1952 Masters Tournament (2) Tied for lead −2 (70-67-77-72=286) 4 strokes United States Jack Burke, Jr.
1954 Masters Tournament (3) 3 shot deficit +1 (74-73-70-72=289) Playoff 1 United States Ben Hogan

Note: The PGA Championship was match play until 1958.
1 Defeated Ben Hogan in 18-hole playoff – Snead 70 (−2), Hogan 71 (−1)

Results timeline

Tournament 1937 1938 1939
Masters Tournament 18 T31 2
U.S. Open 2 T38 5
The Open Championship T11 DNP DNP
PGA Championship R16 2 DNP
Tournament 1940 1941 1942 1943 1944 1945 1946 1947 1948 1949
Masters Tournament T7 T6 T7 NT NT NT T7 T22 T16 1
U.S. Open T16 T13 NT NT NT NT T19 2 5 T2
The Open Championship NT NT NT NT NT NT 1 DNP DNP DNP
PGA Championship 2 QF 1 NT DNP DNP R32 R32 QF 1
Tournament 1950 1951 1952 1953 1954 1955 1956 1957 1958 1959
Masters Tournament 3 T8 1 T15 1 3 T4 2 13 T22
U.S. Open T12 T10 T10 2 T11 T3 T24 T8 CUT T8
PGA Championship R32 1 R64 R32 QF R32 QF R16 3 T8
Tournament 1960 1961 1962 1963 1964 1965 1966 1967 1968 1969
Masters Tournament T11 T15 T15 T3 CUT CUT T42 T10 42 CUT
U.S. Open T19 T17 T38 T42 T34 T24 DNP DNP T9 T38
PGA Championship T3 T27 T17 T27 DNP T6 T6 DNP T34 T63
Tournament 1970 1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979
Masters Tournament T23 CUT T27 T29 T20 WD CUT WD CUT CUT
PGA Championship T12 T34 T4 T9 T3 CUT CUT T54 DNP T42
Tournament 1980 1981 1982 1983
Masters Tournament CUT CUT WD WD
The Open Championship DNP DNP DNP DNP
PGA Championship WD WD DNP DNP

NT = No tournament
DNP = Did not play
WD = Withdrew
CUT = missed the half-way cut
"T" indicates a tie for a place
R64, R32, R16, QF, SF = Round in which player lost in PGA Championship match play
Green background for wins. Yellow background for top-10.


Tournament Wins 2nd 3rd Top-5 Top-10 Top-25 Events Cuts made
Masters Tournament 3 2 3 9 15 26 44 31
U.S. Open 0 4 1 7 12 21 31 27
The Open Championship 1 0 0 1 2 3 5 3
PGA Championship 3 2 3 13 19 26 38 34
Totals 7 8 7 30 48 76 118 95

U.S. national team appearances


See also


  1. Apfelbaum, Jim, ed. (2007). The Gigantic Book of Golf Quotations. New York: Skyhorse Publishing. ISBN 978-1-60239-014-0.
  2. Moss, Richard J. (June 1, 2013). The Kingdom of Golf in America. U of Nebraska Press. p. 188. ISBN 978-0-8032-4680-5. Retrieved October 31, 2013.
  3. 1 2 Barkow, Al (1986). Gettin' to the Dance Floor: An Oral History of American Golf. New York: Atheneum. ISBN 978-0-689-11517-2.
  4. "Sam Snead discharged from navy". St. Petersburg Times. Associated Press. September 13, 1944. p. 6.
  5. Kelley, Brent. "Largest Margin of Victory on the PGA Tour". Retrieved January 16, 2015.
  6. Kelley, Brent. "Oldest PGA Tour Winners". Retrieved March 20, 2013.
  7. 1 2 3 4 5 Ray, Justin. "Sam Snead's legacy all over record books". ESPN. Retrieved March 20, 2013.
  8. 1 2 "Victory Records". PGA Tour. June 3, 2006. Archived from the original on January 3, 2006. Retrieved June 5, 2012.
  9. Kelley, Brent. "Lowest PGA Tour Vardon Trophy Scoring Averages". Retrieved March 20, 2013.
  10. "Ford Gets First Major Golf Win". Reading Eagle. Reading, Pennsylvania. United Press. March 25, 1952. p. 17. Retrieved March 20, 2013.
  11. "Sam Snead Forfeits First in Jacksonville Open". The Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. Associated Press. March 25, 1952. p. 12. Retrieved March 20, 2013.
  12. "Sponsor Cancels After Snead TV Golf Incident". The Victoria Advocate. Victoria, Texas. Associated Press. April 9, 1960. p. 9. Retrieved March 20, 2013.
  13. Taylor, Dick (February 8, 1962). "It's Sam In Rally By Five". The Palm Beach Post. West Palm Beach, Florida. p. 13. Retrieved March 20, 2013.
  14. Sobel, Jason (February 7, 2015). "Slammin' Sam the only man with LPGA victory". Golf Channel. Retrieved September 26, 2016.
  15. "Virginia Sports Hall of Fame & Museum – Sam Snead". Retrieved July 31, 2013.
  16. Yocom, Guy (July 2000). "50 Greatest Golfers of All Time: And What They Taught Us". Golf Digest. Retrieved December 5, 2007.
  17. "Snead, Campbell inducted into W.Va. Golf Hall". USA Today. August 3, 2009.
  18. "Historical Rules of Golf, 1968". January 1, 1968. Retrieved October 19, 2013.
  19. "1946 Sam Snead". The Open. Retrieved October 17, 2013.
  20. Barkow, Al (November 1989). The History of the PGA TOUR. Doubleday. pp. 259–60. ISBN 0-385-26145-4.
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