Jimmy Demaret: Colorful Golfer, 3-Time Masters Champ

Golfer Jimmy Demaret
Golfer Jimmy Demaret. World Golf Hall of Fame

Jimmy Demaret was a colorful player on and off the golf course from the 1930s into the 1950s, a 3-time major championship winner. He was a Texan known for his storytelling ability, and a friend to some of the other great Texas golfers of the period.

Date of birth: May 10, 1910
Place of birth: Houston, Texas
Date of death: Dec. 28, 1983 (Demaret suffered a heart attack as he was getting into a golf cart.)
Nickname: The Wardrobe

PGA Tour Victories

31 (view list)

Major Championships

3

Awards and Honors for Jimmy Demaret

Quote, Unquote

  • Jimmy Demaret: "Golf and sex are about the only things you can enjoy without being good at."
  • Arnold Palmer on Jimmy Demaret: "He could play the piano all night and shoot 65 the next day."
  • Dai Rees: "I regard him as the greatest sand player I have ever seen."
  • Jack Burke Jr.: "There was never a guy who was more fun to be around, or a guy who enjoyed being who he was more than Jimmy."

Jimmy Demaret Trivia

  • As a television announcer, Jimmy Demaret introduced many colloquialisms into the broader golf lexicon. Among the words Demaret helped popularized are "frog hair," "worm burners" and "white knucklers."
  • Demaret's career 6-0-0 Ryder Cup win-loss ledger is the Ryder Cup record for most wins without a loss.
  • As a young club pro in Houston, Demaret sometimes served as babysitter for future Hall of Famer Jack Burke Jr.
  • Demaret appeared twice as a guest on Lucille Ball television series, first on I Love Lucy in 1954, then on The Lucy Show in 1964.

Jimmy Demaret Biography

Jimmy Demaret was one of the most colorful - literally - great players in the history of golf.

On Tour, Demaret was known for his wild clothing. "Demaret opted for the peacock-meets-plus-fours look," the Houston Chronicle wrote. Demaret shopped for clothes on trips to New York, often having to buy fabrics for women's clothing to find the colors he wanted. Demaret described his tastes as "partial to brick red, mulberry, royal crimson, pale pink, purple, hunter green, Nile green, heather green and flaming scarlet."

As flashy a dresser as he was, he was just as flashy with his wit, which was known to give even dour Ben Hogan (a friend and frequent practice partner) a chuckle.

Demaret grew up in Houston, caddying at several clubs before landing at River Oaks Country Club where the pro was Jack Burke Sr. One of Demaret's jobs at River Oaks was to babysit Jack Burke Jr., and Demaret and Jackie became lifelong friends.

Demaret's first win as a professional golfer was the 1934 Texas PGA. He first found fame on the PGA Tour in 1940, when he won six tournaments, including the 1940 Masters. He was winless from 1942-1946 because he spent most of that time serving in the U.S. Navy during World War II (stationed in Corpus Christi, Texas, where he spent a lot of time entertaining military bigwigs on the golf course).

Demaret went on to win the 1947 Masters and 1950 Masters, becoming the first three-time champion in that event. Those were his only major championship wins. In 1948, he was runner-up to Hogan at two majors. Demaret posted a U.S. Open scoring record that year, only to see Hogan break it - and steal away the title - an hour later.

Demaret won 31 PGA Tour titles in his career (listed on Page 2), the last three coming in 1957 at the age of 47. Six of those wins were in team events in which he partnered Hogan. In 1950, the Phoenix Open was known as the Ben Hogan Open - the only year it had that name - and, fittingly, Demaret won it.

Following the end of his PGA Tour career in the mid-1950s, Demaret became one of golf's first "color commentators," where his commentary was just as colorful as his outfits (see Trivia category above).

Perhaps Demaret's most lasting contribution to golf is the little tournament he organized among stars of the past in 1979. That tournament, the Legends of Golf, launched what we now know as the Champions Tour.

Demaret also founded, along with Jack Burke Jr., Champions Golf Club in Houston, where he became famous for telling great stories at the bar in the men's locker room ... sometimes while in the nude.

Demaret was elected to the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1983.

Here is the list of PGA Tour tournaments won by Jimmy Demaret, listed in chronological order:

1938
1. San Francisco Match Play

1939
2. Los Angeles Open

1940
3. Oakland Open
4. Western Open
5. New Orleans Open
6. St. Petersburg Open
7. Masters Tournament
8. San Francisco Match Play

1941
9. Inverness Invitational Four-Ball

1946
10. Tucson Open
11. Miami International Four-Ball
12. Inverness Invitational Four-Ball

1947
13.

Tucson Open
14. St. Petersburg Open
15. Masters Tournament
16. Miami Open
17. Miami International Four-Ball
18. Inverness Invitational Four-Ball

1948
19. Albuquerque Open
20. St. Paul Open
21. Inverness Invitational Four-Ball

1949
22. Phoenix Open

1950
23. Ben Hogan Open
24. Masters Tournament
25. North Fulton Open

1952
26. Bing Crosby Pro-Am
27. National Celebrities Open

1956
28. Thunderbird Invitational

1957
29. Thunderbird Invitational
30. Baton Rouge Open Invitational
31. Arlington Hotel Open

Demaret's three major championship victories were all in The Masters (1940, 1957, 1950). Six of his tournament wins were in team events as partner to Ben Hogan: The Inverness Invitational Four-Ball in 1941, 1946, 1947 and 1948; and the Miami International Four-Ball in 1946 and 1947.