The Golfdom Files: A record-setting purse at the PGA Championship

By |  June 28, 2023 0 Comments

The topic of purses on the PGA Tour has been in the spotlight in recent months.

Back in 1959, Golfdom Founder Herb Graffis reported the PGA Championship’s largest purse ever — $51,000. Last year, at Southern Hills, the PGA Championship’s purse totaled $15 million. Justin Thomas took home a $2.7 million win and Will Zalatoris collected $1.6 million for finishing as the runner-up.

Looking back to the September 1959 edition of Golfdom, Graffis notes the PGA Championship breaking through for future events and also tips his cap to the host superintendent at Minneapolis GC, as well as the Minnesota GCSA chapter.

Photo: Golfdom Staff

Photo: Golfdom Staff

News of the golf world in brief — September 1959

by Herb Graffis

The PGA Championship at Minneapolis GC was the top financial performance in the 41 years of PGA title events. The purse, $51,375, was second only to the Masters: $76,100. Bob Rosburg’s $8,250 for the winning 277 (3 under par) was the biggest top money for a PGA Championship. The crowd for the week (including practice rounds) 49,780, was a record. About 4,000 more than last year at Llanerch (CC in Havertown, Pa.). Approximately $200,000 (gallery, program, TV, concessions, clubhouse revenue) was gross income.

Minneapolis GC officials and members have due them the deep thanks of the PGA and of clubs that will be host to future PGA national championships. In revising the championship financial arrangement so club officials and members have incentives to do the vast amount of work required for a championship, PGA officials got realistic and put their tournament on a businesslike basis. Stewart J. Mcintosh, Minneapolis GC president, Vern Evans, tournament general chairman, and their colleagues have the distinction of showing a tournament profit for their club that possibly exceeds the net to clubs holding the eight previous championships.

The PGA Championship was operated about as nearly possible to perfection. Gunnar Johnson, the club’s veteran pro, had been getting close-ups at tournaments for years and with his teammates, Superintendent Herb Cohrs, Manager Stuart Johns and Caddie-Master Bob Henches worked out a very expert operating program. PGA from July 30 through Aug. 2 is held at the worst time of the playing season for course condition and risk of turf troubles, but Cohrs had the layout almost at the pinnacle. Herb’s teammates in the Minnesota GCSA contributed free and expert aid in supervision and work at each green.

They also deserve a glowing expression of gratitude from the PGA. The tournament program, edited by Otis Dypwick and packed with advertising by Jon Hall, Carroll App Associates, was a job that really had something in it instead of being a sandbagging racket.

The Pinkertons, who do so well at the Masters, were embarrassingly inept at the PGA. One of their comical performances was in giving maximum security to free lunch turkey sandwiches in the press tent to the extent that PGA working press badges weren’t good at the PGA’s own championship.

Another clownish job by the Pinkertons had as its victim a chairman of the 1960 PGA championship who was studying how a tournament should be conducted. The height of silliness was attained by an armed Pinkerton employee annoying guests in the clubhouse in an officious search of credentials.

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