Dow Finsterwald

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Dow Finsterwald
Dow Finsterwald 1960.jpg
Finsterwald in 1960
Personal information
Full name Dow Henry Finsterwald
Born (1929-09-06) September 6, 1929 (age 89)
Athens, Ohio
Height 5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)
Weight 160 lb (73 kg; 11 st)
Nationality  United States
Residence Orlando, Florida
Colorado Springs, Colorado
College Ohio University
Turned professional 1951
Former tour(s) PGA Tour
Senior PGA Tour
Professional wins 13
Number of wins by tour
PGA Tour 11
Other 2
Best results in major championships
(wins: 1)
Masters Tournament 3rd: 1960, 1962
U.S. Open T3: 1960
The Open Championship DNP
PGA Championship Won: 1958
Achievements and awards
PGA Player of the Year 1958
Vardon Trophy 1957

Dow Henry Finsterwald, Sr. (born September 6, 1929) is a retired American professional golfer who is best known for winning the 1958 PGA Championship. He won 11 Tour titles between 1955 and 1963, played on four Ryder Cup teams, and served as non-playing captain for the 1977 U.S. Ryder Cup team.

Finsterwald was born and raised in Athens, Ohio. He attended Ohio University in his hometown, where he played on the golf team and graduated in the Class of 1952. In 1969, he was inducted into the Ohio University Athletics Hall of Fame joining his father, Russ Finsterwald, who was in the first class of inductees as a football player, and later basketball and football head coach.[1] He turned professional in 1951.

Finsterwald won 11 times on the PGA Tour during his career. He was known for his superb short game. He was one of the most consistent players on the Tour in the late 1950s and early 1960s. He finished fifth or better more than 50 times in his career. Finsterwald was a close friend of Arnold Palmer, who was also one of the dominant players on the Tour during this same time period.

Finsterwald played on four Ryder Cup Teams (1957, 1959, 1961, 1963) and was the non-playing captain of the 1977 team. He won the Vardon Trophy in 1957, which is awarded to the tour professional with the lowest scoring average. In 1958, he was honored as PGA Player of the Year.[2] Finsterwald finished in the money in 72 consecutive tournaments – second only to Byron Nelson's 113 consecutive cuts. This record stood for many years until eclipsed by Jack Nicklaus, Hale Irwin and Tiger Woods; however, he is still fifth on the list today.

The 1958 PGA Championship was held at Llanerch Country Club in Havertown, Pennsylvania. This was the first PGA Championship held after the format was switched from match play to stroke play. Finsterwald finished the tournament with a two-stroke victory over Billy Casper.[3] Four years later, Finsterwald and Gary Player lost one of the most epic battles in golf history – the 1962 Masters – in a playoff to Arnold Palmer.

Finsterwald was once involved in litigation in which a plaintiff claimed she lost the sight in her right eye as a result of an errant tee shot he hit at the 18th hole at the 1973 Western Open. A jury found Finsterwald not liable; however, Midlothian (Illinois) Country Club's insurers had to pay the woman about $450,000.[4]

Finsterwald served as director of golf at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colorado for 28 years. He simultaneously served as PGA of America vice-president from 1976–1978; and on the USGA Rules of Golf committee from 1979-1981. He is also the Pro Emeritus of the Pikewood National Golf Club, based in Morgantown, West Virginia.

Finsterwald was honored by fellow Ohio native Jack Nicklaus at the 2007 Memorial Tournament in Dublin, Ohio. In 2008, he was inducted into the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame.[2]

Finsterwald lives in Orlando, Florida during the winter and Colorado Springs during the summer.[2] His wife Linda died in 2015. They have three sons and a daughter. His middle son, Dow Jr., is head pro at the Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas, site of the Fort Worth Invitational.

Professional wins (13)[edit]

Finsterwald at the 1959 Buick Open

PGA Tour wins (11)[edit]

No. Date Tournament Winning score Margin of victory Runner(s)-up
1 May 29, 1955 Fort Wayne Invitational −19 (65-66-71-67=269) 3 strokes United States Doug Ford
2 May 13, 1956 Carling Open Invitational −14 (65-71-69-69=274) 3 strokes United States Jack Burke, Jr., United States Billy Casper,
United States Billy Maxwell
3 Feb 11, 1957 Tucson Open Invitational −11 (68-67-66-68=269) Playoff United States Don Whitt
4 Jul 20, 1958 PGA Championship −4 (67-72-70-67=276) 2 strokes United States Billy Casper
5 Sep 8, 1958 Utah Open −17 (69-65-67-66=267) 1 stroke United States Fred Hawkins, United States Arnold Palmer
6 Apr 12, 1959 Greater Greensboro Open −6 (68-68-65-77=278) 2 strokes United States Art Wall, Jr.
7 Aug 9, 1959 Carling Open Invitational −8 (74-68-66-68=276) 1 stroke United States Gene Littler, United States Mike Souchak
8 Sep 7, 1959 Kansas City Open Invitational −5 (68-69-69-69=275) Playoff United States Don Fairfield
9 Jan 11, 1960 Los Angeles Open −4 (70-68-71-71=280) 3 strokes United States Bill Collins, United States Jay Hebert,
United States Dave Ragan
10 Apr 24, 1960 Greater New Orleans Open Invitational −18 (69-66-66-69=270) 6 strokes United States Al Besselink
11 Jun 3, 1963 500 Festival Open Invitation −16 (68-68-64-68=268) 2 strokes United States Tommy Aaron, United States Julius Boros,
United States Tony Lema, United States Bobby Nichols

Major championship is shown in bold.

PGA Tour playoff record (2–4)

No. Year Tournament Opponent(s) Result
1 1956 Canadian Open United States Doug Sanders Lost to par on first extra hole
2 1957 Tucson Open Invitational United States Don Whitt Won 18 hole playoff (Finsterwald:65, Whitt:69)
3 1958 Rubber City Open Invitational United States Art Wall, Jr. Lost to birdie on second extra hole
4 1959 Buick Open Invitational United States Art Wall, Jr. Lost 18 hole playoff (Wall:71, Finsterwald:73)
5 1959 Kansas City Open Invitational United States Don Fairfield Won with birdie on first extra hole
6 1962 Masters Tournament United States Arnold Palmer, South Africa Gary Player Palmer won 18-hole playoff (Palmer:68, Player:71, Finsterwald:77)

Other wins (2)[edit]

this list may be incomplete

Major championships[edit]

Wins (1)[edit]

Year Championship 54 holes Winning score Margin Runner-up
1958 PGA Championship 2 shot deficit −4 (67-72-70-67=276) 2 strokes United States Billy Casper

Results timeline[edit]

Tournament 1950 1951 1952 1953 1954 1955 1956 1957 1958 1959
Masters Tournament T50 T46 T24 T7 T17 T18
U.S. Open CUT CUT T28 T13 T11
PGA Championship 2 1 4
Tournament 1960 1961 1962 1963 1964 1965 1966 1967 1968 1969
Masters Tournament 3 CUT 3 T5 T9 T21 T57 CUT
U.S. Open T3 T6 T12 8 CUT CUT T65
PGA Championship T15 T41 T11 T3 CUT T63 T12 T60 T48 T76
Tournament 1970 1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979
Masters Tournament
PGA Championship CUT CUT T58 CUT CUT T70 70 CUT CUT
Tournament 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984
Masters Tournament
U.S. Open CUT
PGA Championship CUT CUT

Note: Finsterwald never played in The Open Championship.

  Top 10
  Did not play

CUT = missed the halfway cut
"T" indicates a tie for a place.


Tournament Wins 2nd 3rd Top-5 Top-10 Top-25 Events Cuts made
Masters Tournament 0 0 2 3 5 9 14 12
U.S. Open 0 0 1 1 3 6 15 8
The Open Championship 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
PGA Championship 1 1 1 4 4 7 24 15
Totals 1 1 4 8 12 22 53 35
  • Most consecutive cuts made – 13 (1955 U.S. Open – 1960 PGA)
  • Longest streak of top-10s – 3 (twice)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Ohio University Athletics Hall of Fame site". Retrieved November 21, 2013.
  2. ^ a b c Baines, Gary (February 28, 2008). "Dow Getting His Due". Colorado Golf Journal. Archived from the original on July 8, 2011. Retrieved April 7, 2010.
  3. ^ "Year by Year History of the PGA Championship – 1958: Bolt was an angel, Dow was a terror". PGA of America. Retrieved November 21, 2013.
  4. ^ Clifford, Robert A. (May 1, 1996). "Getting Teed off Over Golf Balls". Retrieved November 21, 2013.

External links[edit]