Golfing Legend – 2018
“50th Anniversary of Masters Victory”
Fifty years may seem like a lot of years for some people. After all five decades is a long time … that is unless your name is Bob Goalby. It was 50 years ago that Goalby won his Green Jacket by winning the 1968 Maters golf tournament in Augusta, Georgia, something the Belleville, Ill., native remembers as if it were yesterday. It was probably the biggest victory of Goalby’s long and illustrious professional golfing career.
Goalby, who was born in Belleville, Ill., and attended the University of Illinois, became a professional golfer in 1952, fired 6-under par 66 on the last day of the tournament. That last round included two birdies and an eagle on his final six holes, giving him his final-round 66 to win the Masters’
Before then, Goalby might have been used to unearned anonymity. Seven years earlier, he had won the Los Angeles (now the Nissan) Open at Rancho Park, only to be overshadowed by Arnold Palmer, the exciting young star who would go on to win three of the next six Los Angeles Opens. But Goalby didn’t mind the anonymity — winning the Masters was icing on his cake.
Goalby’s victory in the ’61 L.A. Open was accomplished with opening and closing 67s at Rancho Park, where he held second place after each of the first three rounds before pulling away to a three-stroke victory in a field that included past and future Masters champions Art Wall, Gary Player, Billy Casper and Tommy Aaron.
The early 12 by Palmer may have overshadowed Goalby’s accomplishment that week, but he had other contributions that proved of more lasting fame, including helping found the Senior PGA Tour. “It has been a lot of fun,’’ he said of his career as a golfer.
Goalby played on the Ryder Cup team in 1963 and retired from the PGA Tour after winning 11 tournaments. He joined the Senior PGA Tour (now the Champions Tour) in 1979, winning twice, and contributed key ideas to the formation and structure of that new Tour, before retiring to a home in his native Belleville, where he has designed several nearby golf courses. He also served as a golf commentator for NBC television in the 1970s and ’80s.
Goalby’s nephew, Jay Haas, (who is joining his uncle as an inductee into the St. Louis Sports Hall of Fame tonight) also found success playing on the PGA Tour and currently is having success on the Champions Tour. Keeping golf in the family, Jay’s brother, Jerry, also played on the tour and is currently coaching Wake Forest University’s golf team. His great-nephew, Bill Haas, plays on the PGA Tour, and won the Tour Championship tournament and FedEx Cup in 2011.
Goalby has lent his name each year since 1982 to a charity golf tournament, the Bob Goalby Golf Open, for the benefit of Maur Hill – Mount Academy, a Catholic, international, college preparatory school in Atchison, Kansas. The football stadium at Belleville West High School was dedicated to him on October 13, 2017.