Claude Harmon Sr. Bio

Profile of the last club pro to win a major

Golfer Claude Harmon Sr.
Claude Harmon Sr. swings during the 1948 Masters Tournament, which he won. Bettman/Getty Images

Claude Harmon Sr. is Butch Harmon's dad, and although Claude Sr. was a club pro and instructor himself he was also a major championship winner.

Date of birth: July 14, 1916
Place of birth: Savannah, Georgia
Date of death: July 23, 1989

PGA Tour Victories

2

Major Championship Wins

1
1948 Masters

Awards and Honors

Member, World Golf Teachers Hall of Fame

Quote, Unquote

Craig Harmon: "Within the first minutes, he could have someone swinging better and hitting beautiful shots.

He had a great eye for what was the one problem that caused six others, and he worked on the one, not all seven."

Trivia

  • Claude Harmon was a golf instructor to four United States presidents: Eisenhower, Kennedy, Nixon and Ford. He also was the instructor for King Hassan II of Morocco.
  • In a publicity stunt by the organizers of the 1937 Chicago Open, Harmon - then an assistant pro at a Chicago golf club - played the tournament in-costume as "The Masked Marvel," a comic-book character.

Claude Harmon Biography

Eugene Claude Harmon Sr. today is best-known as the patriarch of the Harmon family of golf instructors: His four sons - Claude Harmon Jr., better known as Butch; Billy Harmon, Craig and Dick all became very highly regarded teachers, following in Dad's footsteps. But Claude Harmon Sr. holds another distinction: He was the last club professional (as opposed to touring pro) to win a major championship.

When Harmon won the 1948 Masters, it was not a fluke. His prowess as a player was very well-known to his contemporaries, such as his good friend Ben Hogan.

At the time of his Masters win, Harmon was the head professional at Winged Foot. He had that position from 1945 through 1978; along the way, he also served as the winter pro at Seminole Golf Club in Florida and at Thunderbird Country Club in Palm Springs, Calif.

As an instructor, Harmon was known for putting his students at ease and keeping things simple; he was also highly sought for his expertise as a bunker player. His philosophies were influenced by mentors from his younger days, Lighthorse Harry Cooper and Craig Wood.

As a player, Harmon won numerous club and regional titles, but also qualified for many majors (and received invitations to others). At the 1948 Masters, Harmon's 279 was a scoring record for the time, and he beat runner-up Cary Middlecoff by five shots.

Harmon did play in more PGA Tour events following that Masters wins, and recorded a victory at the 2-man team 1950 Miami International Four-Ball (partnering Pete Cooper).

He reached the semifinals at the PGA Championship (in its match play years) three times; had two Top 10 finishes in U.S. Opens, included third at the 1959 U.S. Open; and recorded one more Top 10 finish at The Masters.

But mostly, Harmon stuck to his high-profile club job at Winged Foot. Through the years, some of the "name" golfers who worked as assistant pros to Harmon included Dave Marr, Mike Souchak and Jack Burke Jr.

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