Bernard Hunt, longtime Ryder Cup figure, dies at 83

1973 Great Britain Ryder Cup team
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Bernard Hunt, far right, captained the 1973 Great Britain Ryder Cup, which played the United States tight before finally succumbing.
By John Holmes

Series: Golf Buzz

Published: Monday, June 24, 2013 | 2:38 a.m.

Bernard Hunt, who made history as both a player and a captain for Great Britain and Ireland in the Ryder Cup, died over the weekend at age 83.

Hunt served as either a player or captain in every Ryder Cup but one between 1953 and 1969, including the 1957 match in which Britain famously upset the United States at Lindrick. He managed only a 6-16-6 overall record as a player, but was an impressive 4-3-3 in singles. 

Hunt didn't play a foursomes match in the 1957 Ryder Cup, but his 6&5 thumping of Doug Ford in singles helped propel Britain to a 7 1/2 - 4 1/2 victory – giving Britain the Ryder Cup for the first time since 1933. In 1963 Hunt and his brother Geoff became the first brothers to play on the same Ryder Cup team.

Hunt went on to serve as captain in the 1973 and 1975 Ryder Cups. The United States won in 1973, but for the first time the British squad was officially referred to as Great Britain-Ireland (even though Northern Irish players had played as far back as 1947 and Irish players had participated since 1953). Hunt's 1975 team was the last before the inclusion of players from continental Europe.

Hunt turned professional in 1946, and assembled a prominent career on the European circuit in the 1950s and 1960s. He won the Order of Merit in 1958, 1960 and 1965, compiling 30 victories. He was a founding member of the European Senior Tour in the early 1990s, even though he was in his early 60s at the time.

Hunt played out of Hartsbourne Country Club in southeast England, eventually following in his father John's footsteps as head professional there, and its 9-hole course is known as "the Hunt Course." He later became the first head professional at Foxhills Golf Club near London, where he served for 25 years. One of the courses there is named "the Bernard Hunt Course."

"Bernard Hunt was one of Britain's truly great champions and has been a steadfast ally to all of us involved in the growth of the European Tour," said European Tour Chief Executive George O'Grady. "He was enormously respected by all of his fellow players, as was evidenced when he was appointed Ryder Cup captain in 1973 and 1975 and captain of the PGA in 1966 and again from 1995 to 1997."

Hunt was born in Atherstone, Warwickshire, England, on Feb. 2, 1930. He is survived by his wife, Meg Hunt, and three children.