1964 US Open champion and former CBS golf analyst
Interviewed on March 8, 2005 [conducted by telephone by John Godley]
Interview (8 mins)
Ken Venturi was born and raised in California where he was a leading amateur from 1940-50. He worked as a car salesman for Ed Lowery (who had been Francis Ouimet’s caddie when he won 1913 US Open against Ray and Vardon), and he was a friend of Byron Nelson, Ben Hogan, and Gene Sarazen. As an amateur in 1956 he nearly won the Masters. Then he won the 1964 US Open at Congressional Country Club with 36 holes in 102-degree heat, and he has been a CBS TV golf analyst for many years.
Ken has played the Yale course twice. The first time was in 1958 after playing in the Greater Hartford Open (at Wethersfield CC, designed by Robert Pryde, he won the GHO in 1964), when he came for a one day Pro-Am to benefit a kidney foundation. Playing with his partner Senator Jack Westland, they won all the competitions and he set the competitive course record of 67. He donated his winnings to the foundation. Several years later he played the course with some friends. He “was surprised by how great the course was, since not many people knew about it.” He compared the ninth green’s swale to the bunker in the center of the sixth green at Riviera, which the pros are allowed to pitch over in the LA Open but the members are not. He also knew Jess Sweetser well. Sweetser sponsored his membership at Burning Tree 25 years ago, and he remains a member there today (and is the only PGA pro who is a member).