From the PGA

PGA Champion Jack Burke Jr., a Legend of the Game, Dies at 100

By Ryan Adams, PGA
Published on

“I always felt that each day was Opening Day."
Words of an icon, and the sentiments of Jack Burke Jr., the 1956 PGA Champion, 1973 Ryder Cup Captain, five-time U.S. Ryder Cup Team member who owned a 7-1-0 record and 1975 PGA Hall of Famer. Burke died at 100 on Jan. 19 in Houston.
The list above were just a few of the many accomplishments Burke will be remembered by, as he was one of the game's most iconic figures for most of the 20th century.
"The PGA of America is saddened by the passing of Jack Burke Jr., a PGA of America Golf Professional who inspired us first as a world-class player, major champion, Ryder Cup team member & Captain, and again later in life as he helped us realize the importance of protecting and growing the game of golf," says PGA of America President John Lindert. "Jack, our 2007 PGA of America Distinguished Service Award Honoree, once said, ‘live your life so that when you die, you fill up the church.’ He achieved that and much more. The world of golf will miss him and will always remember him. We send our heartfelt sympathies to his wife, Robin, and the Burke family.”

"He lived his life to the fullest and earned the respect of all those who knew him."

John Lindert, PGA
Born in Fort Worth, he began playing golf at age seven, and went on to attend Rice University in 1941. A year later, Burke became the PGA Professional at Galveston Country Club, and then spent 1942-46 in the Marine Corps stationed at Air Station Miramar, where he taught combat skills to Marines headed to the Pacific in World War II.
Getty Images
Getty Images
Following the war, Burke resumed his golf career after first considering work in the oil fields of Texas. He earned PGA Membership in 1947, and was a PGA Teaching Professional at Hollywood Golf Club in Deal, New Jersey, followed by an assistant role at Winged Foot where he was mentored by Claude Harmon. In early 1948, he would become the PGA Head Professional at Metropolis Country Club in nearby White Plains, New York.

From Marine to Major Champion: The Life of Jack Burke Jr.

From his early days as a PGA of America Golf Professional to winning two major titles in one year, Jack Burke Jr. left a legendary legacy and plenty of lessons along the way.
Read Now
In addition to Burke's 1956 PGA Championship victory at Blue Hill Country Club outside of Boston, Burke also won the Masters earlier that same year. Overall, he won 19 times in his professional career — 16 titles on the PGA TOUR — and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2000.
In 1957, Burke and fellow major champion Jimmy Demaret built Champions Golf Club in Houston, a facility that today has some 900 members. Although Burke hadn't played golf or hit balls in years, he always made appearances and greeted members on the putting green . . . like it was Opening Day.
Getty Images
Getty Images
"My dad’s got crystal blue eyes and I saw him watching a daughter experience golf for the first time, and now he’s watching his granddaughters,” says Burke's daughter, Meghan Harrison. “It’s a game which teaches goals and boundaries. I hope that my girls can build their own ‘Opening Day’ in their lives. It’s one of the reasons why my dad has lived to 100. He does things like it’s Opening Day.”