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Five-time Ryder Cup member Jack Burke Jr. (right) served as one of captain Hal Sutton's assistant captains for the 2004 matches at Oakland Hills. (Photo: The PGA of America)
Five-time Ryder Cup member Jack Burke Jr. (right) served as one of captain Hal Sutton's assistant captains for the 2004 matches at Oakland Hills. (Photo: The PGA of America)

Burke Jr. honored with PGA Distinguished Service Award

Print News

Jack Burke Jr., a former PGA Champion and five-time Ryder Cup competitor, has been selected to receive the 2007 PGA Distinguished Service Award –- The PGA of America's highest annual individual honor.

Hall of famer Jack Burke Jr., the winner of two major championships, a leader in five Ryder Cup appearances and one of golf's most respected statesmen, is the recipient of the 2007 PGA Distinguished Service Award -- The PGA of America's highest annual individual honor.

Burke, 84, will be honored this week in a ceremony in conjunction with the 89th PGA Championship.

The PGA Distinguished Service Award honors outstanding individuals who display leadership and humanitarian qualities, including integrity, sportsmanship and enthusiasm for the game of golf.

"Jackie Burke is one of the most gifted players and ambassadors of the game, a man whose sage advice continues to inspire both professionals and amateurs everywhere," says PGA of America President Brian Whitcomb.

The winner of the 1956 PGA Championship and Masters, Burke is one of eight children of Jack Burke Sr., a PGA head professional at River Oaks Country Club in Houston, Texas, and winner of the 1941 Senior PGA Championship.

PGA Distinguished Service Award Recipients
1988Herb Graffis
1989Bob Hope
1991Gerald Ford
1992Gene Sarazen
1993Byron Nelson
1994Arnold Palmer
1995Patty Berg
1996Frank Chirkinian
1997George H.W. Bush
1998Paul Runyan
1999Bill Dickey
2000Jack Nicklaus
2001Mark McCormack
2002Tim Finchem
2003Vince Gill
2004Pete Dye
2005Wally Uihlein
2006Fred Ridley

Young Jackie Burke was playing golf at age 4, breaking par by age 12, and winning wagers against grown men. 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 such as Jack Grout, Harvey Penick, John Bredemus, Byron Nelson and Ben Hogan, who gathered regularly to trade stories and advice.

Jack Jr. gave his first golf lesson at age 13, which was the beginning of a lifetime of both teaching and promoting the game.

"I've been in The PGA (of America) for 60 years, and to get acknowledged like this is to me a very good thing in my life and I'm very touched," says Burke, who was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1999. "I was blessed in my life to have learned the game from my father."

After serving three years as a Marine in World War II (1942-44), Burke began working with tour standout Craig Wood, a friend of Jack Sr., who helped Burke get an assistant professional position at Hollywood Golf Club in Deal, N.J. Burke later joined the staff of Claude Harmon at Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck, N.Y.

Burke was elected to PGA membership in 1947, and marked his debut on tour by winning $44 in the Orlando Open. Burke struggled for the next few years with his game, and after becoming PGA head professional at Metropolis Club in White Plains, N.Y., returned to the tour in 1950.

He went on to win 16 tour events, including four consecutive titles (five overall) in 1952, when he won the Vardon Trophy. He won the 1956 Masters by one stroke over Ken Venturi, and three months later captured the PGA Championship at Blue Hill Golf and Country Club in Canton, Mass. Burke was named the 1956 PGA Player of the Year.

Burke was a member of five consecutive U.S. Ryder Cup Teams (1951, '53, '55, '57, '59), posting a 7-1 match record, and served twice as Captain (1957, '73) and as Honorary Captain in 2004.

Burke and his wife, Robin, live in Houston and are the parents of a daughter, Meghan, 18. He also is the father of five other children.

©2007 PGA/Turner Sports Interactive. All Rights Reserved.