Harold 'Jug' McSpaden: The man who once recorded 31 top-10 finishes in a single season

By T.J. Auclair
Published on
Harold 'Jug' McSpaden: The man who once recorded 31 top-10 finishes in a single season

There are so many incredible records in the annals of golf history.
The record 18 major wins by Jack Nicklaus. The 142 consecutive cuts made by Tiger Woods. The five men -- Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods -- who have completed a modern-day, career grand slam. Byron Nelson's 18 wins in one season. Nelson's 11 consecutive wins. Sam Snead's record 82 career wins. 
And here's another one to add to the list that jumped out at us: Harold "Jug" McSpaden's record 31 top-10 finishes in 1945.
Unfortunately for McSpaden, that impressive feat is overshadowed because it happened in 1945 -- the same season in which Nelson ran off those 11 straight wins and won 18 times overall in 35 starts.
Here's a little more about McSpaden.
- How did he get the nickname "Jug?" Even he isn't quite sure. Long ago he stated that he couldn't recall when or why he was first called "Jug."
- He was a 17-time PGA Tour winner, but was most well-known for finishing second. 
- He had 13 runner-up finishes in 1945. Naturally, most of those were to Nelson. The duo finished 1-2 so many times, they were known as "The Gold Dust Twins."
- McSpaden finished 12 times in the top-10 at major championships. His best finish was runner-up to Denny Shute at the 1937 PGA Championship.
- McSpaden was the first pro golfer to shoot a 59 on a par-71 course (Brackenridge Park Golf Club, San Antonio, Texas) in 1939. His playing partners that day were Byron Nelson, Paul Runyan, and Ben Hogan. It was a practice round, therefore not officially on the PGA Tour books.
- McSpaden was named to the U.S. Ryder Cup team in 1939, but the event was cancelled that year due to World War II.
- McSpaden is the oldest golfer to better his age in an event. Playing a Champions Tour event at the age of 85 in 1994, McSpaden shot an 81 (his final competitive appearance).
- One year before his death in 1996, McSpaden told his good friend Nelson, "If you wouldn't have been born, I'd have been known as a pretty good player."
- McSpaden is in the PGA of America Hall of Fame. He was on the ballot for the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2004 and 2005, but did not receive enough votes for induction. 
- McSpaden and Nelson each signed up for military service, but were both rejected due to health -- McSpaden with a severe sinus condition and Nelson with hemophilia. However, the pair played exhibition matches to raise money for the war efforts and made 110 Red Cross and USO appearances, many times joining celebrities Bob Hope and Bing Crosby at those outings.
- Sadly, on April 22, 1996, McSpaden and his wife died from accidental carbon monoxide poisonings. It's believed that a car was left running in their attached garage while the couple were in the house.