Ben Crenshaw

Biography and career facts and trivia about the famous golfer

Ben Crenshaw receives the Green Jacket after winning the 1995 Masters.
Ben Crenshaw (right) slips on the Green Jacket (presented by 1994 winner Jose Maria Olazabal) after winning the 1995 Masters. Steve Munday/Getty Images

Ben Crenshaw was a "golden boy" of golf in the 1970s, then a respected elder statesman and keeper of the game's traditions by the time he reached his 50s. He won two Masters, and later became one of the most-respected golf course designers.

Date of birth: Jan. 11, 1952
Place of birth: Austin, Texas
Nickname: Gentle Ben

Tour Victories:

PGA Tour: 19

Major Championships:

• 1984 Masters
• 1995 Masters

Awards and Honors:

• Member, World Golf Hall of Fame
• Member, U.S. Ryder Cup team, 1981, 1983, 1987, 1995
• Captain, 1999 U.S. Ryder team
• Recipient, USGA Bob Jones Award, 1991

Quote, Unquote:

• Journalist Jim Murray on Ben Crenshaw: "He walked up on a green as if he intended to arrest it."

• Ben Crenshaw on putting: "The ball which arrives at the hole with the proper speed has an infinitely greater chance of falling in the hole from any entrance. Harvey Penick taught me the value of this method at an early age. This is what he meant by 'giving luck a chance.' "


• Crenshaw had occasional bursts of temper on the course early in his career, and his "Gentle Ben" nickname was given to him sarcastically.

• He broke his putter in anger in a singles match at the 1987 Ryder Cup and putted the rest of the match with his 1-iron and sand wedge. Crenshaw lost the match to Eamonn Darcy.

• Crenshaw has one of the worst PGA Tour playoff records at 0-8, including a loss in the 1979 PGA Championship playoff.

Ben Crenshaw Biography:

Ben Crenshaw, one of golf's greatest putters, was involved in two of the most emotional golf course scenes of the 1990s.

First was his victory at the 1995 Masters, just days after the death of his mentor and friend, the legendary golf teacher Harvey Penick. Crenshaw was a pallbearer at Penick's funeral on Wednesday, then teed off in The Masters on Thursday.

Four days later, Crenshaw was Masters champion. After his final putt, he collapsed into the arms of his caddie while the tears flowed.

In 1999, Crenshaw was Ryder Cup captain at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass., where the U.S. team was far behind following Saturday's matches. "I'm a big believer in fate," Crenshaw said that night. "I have a good feeling about tomorrow. That's all I'm gonna say."

The next day, Team USA staged its greatest Ryder Cup comeback ever, culminating in a raucous celebration on the 17th green when Justin Leonard's long putt sealed it for the Americans.

Crenshaw and Tom Kite were childhood friends and rivals in Austin, Texas. While a senior in high school, Crenshaw placed 32nd in the U.S. Open, prompting Lee Trevino to call him "the best eighteen-year-old golfer I've ever seen."

At the University of Texas, Crenshaw shared the 1972 NCAA Championship with teammate Kite, one of three straight years (1971-73) Crenshaw won the college title.

Crenshaw turned pro in 1973 and won his first tournament as a professional, the Texas Open. His "golden boy" image and boyish looks led to a strong following among female fans, whose ranks were dubbed "Ben's Bunnies" or "Ben's Wrens."

Crenshaw went on to win 19 times on the PGA Tour, including two majors. (His first win in a major was at the 1984 Masters.)

After his competitive days on the PGA Tour ended, Crenshaw focused on golf course design, and played part-time on the Champions Tour (he never won on the senior circuit). With partner Bill Coore, Crenshaw designed some of the most acclaimed golf courses of the 1990s and early 21st century, including Kapalua Bay Resort in Hawaii, Sand Hills Golf Club in Nebraska, a couple courses at Oregon's Bandon Dunes complex and Friars Head in New York. Crenshaw and Coore were also selected for a restoration of the No. 2 Course at Pinehurst.

Ben Crenshaw was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2002. In his senior years, Crenshaw, a historian of golf as well, has served as an amabassador for the Hall of Fame.

He also replaced Byron Nelson as the master of ceremonies at the annual Champions Dinner during Masters week once Nelson was no longer able to attend.

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Your Citation
Kelley, Brent. "Ben Crenshaw." ThoughtCo, Jul. 19, 2014, Kelley, Brent. (2014, July 19). Ben Crenshaw. Retrieved from Kelley, Brent. "Ben Crenshaw." ThoughtCo. (accessed December 11, 2017).