Dow Finsterwald

Dow Finsterwald
Dow Finsterwald displays his form prior to the 1961 Ryder Cup. Reg Speller/Fox Photos/Getty Images

Dow Finsterwald's period of success, mostly in the 1950s, was brief. But it was very productive, and included one major championship win.

Date of birth: Sept 6, 1929
Place of birth: Athens, Ohio

Dow Finsterwald is often referred to these days as Dow Finsterwald Sr. to differentiate him from one of his four children. Dow Finsterwald Jr. is a PGA Professional who is head pro at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas, site of the PGA Tour Colonial.

Tour Victories:


Major Championships:

• PGA Championship: 1958

Awards and Honors:

• PGA Player of the Year, 1958
• Vardon Trophy (low scoring average) winner, 1957
• Member, U.S. Ryder Cup team, 1957, 1959, 1961, 1963
• Captain, U.S. Ryder Cup team, 1977


Dow Finsterwald was the runner-up in the last PGA Championship (1957) played at match play, and the winner of the first PGA Championship (1958) played at stroke play.

Dow Finsterwald Biography:

His time as a winner on the PGA Tour was brief, but during that time Dow Finsterwald was one of the most consistent players on Tour. He was known for his terrific short game, and his demeanor on the course was often described as low-key or "poker-faced."

Finsterwald is a native Ohioan who attended college at Ohio University. He turned pro in 1951, while still in college, and joined the PGA Tour in 1952.

His first win arrived in 1955 at the Fort Wayne Invitational, and his final win came just eight years later at the 1963 "500" Festival Open invitational.

But in those intervening years, particularly 1955-60, Finsterwald was a very consistent performer and among the top handful of golfers in the world.

For example:

  • From 1956 through 1960, Finsterwald finished second or third on the money list every year.
  • He won at least once every year during the 1955-60 period, including three times in 1959.
  • He led the Tour in scoring average in 1957 and was named PGA Player of the Year in 1958.
  • He had 50 career Top 5 finishes, most of them coming during this time period.
  • He was on every U.S. Ryder Cup team from 1957 through 1963.

And between Byron Nelson's streak of 113 consecutive cuts made in the 1940s, and Jack Nicklaus' streak of 105 consecutive cuts made in the early to mid-1970s, Finsterwald had the longest such streak and it happened during this time period. From the 1955 Carling Golf Classic through the 1958 Houston Invitational, Finsterwald made 72 consecutive cuts.

Finsterwald won one major in his career, the 1958 PGA Championship (the first stroke-play PGA). He came close two other times, losing in the championship match of the 1957 PGA, and losing a 3-man, 18-hole playoff to Arnold Palmer at the 1962 Masters (Gary Player was also in that playoff).

Finsterwald's game dropped off quickly in the early 1960s. He later played on the Champions Tour in its early years, but without much success.

Finsterwald served as the Director of Golf at The Broadmoor resort in Colorado Springs, Colo., for 28 years. From 1976-78 he was Vice President of the PGA of America, and captained the U.S. Ryder Cup team in 1977; he was a member of the USGA Rules Committee in 1979-81, and later served on the Masters Tournament Board.