Ball, c. 2006
Photo courtesy PGA Illinois Section
|Full name||Samuel Henry Ball|
November 14, 1910|
|Died||July 2, 2014
Stuart, Florida, United States
|Height||5 ft 6 in (1.68 m)|
|Weight||145 lb (66 kg; 10.4 st)|
|Spouse||Maxwell "Maxie" Wright|
|Best results in major championships
|Masters Tournament||T38: 1934|
|U.S. Open||T22: 1956|
|The Open Championship||T23: 1936|
|PGA Championship||T9: 1948|
|Achievements and awards|
|PGA Hall of Fame||2011|
|Illinois Golf Hall of Fame||1990|
Samuel Henry "Errie" Ball (November 14, 1910 – July 2, 2014) was a Welsh-American professional golfer who competed at the inaugural Augusta National golf tournament in 1934 (now known as the Masters Tournament). He was the last living person to compete in the first Masters and died at the age of 103.
Ball was born in Bangor, Wales, in 1910. He acquired the nickname "Errie" from his family's French maid who was tasked with caring for him and performing household duties. She had trouble pronouncing "Henry", hence the name Errie. "My father’s name was William Henry Ball. Back in those days, Henry became 'Harry'," said Ball, prior to his 100th birthday party. “My mother, from what they tell me, didn’t like the fact that they would be calling my father Old Harry and me Young Harry. We had a French maid at that time, and she said, ‘Why don’t you call him ‘Errie?’ And I’ve gone by that ever since. I wouldn’t turn around if you called me Sam."
Ball’s connection to Bobby Jones began in 1930, when he met the famed Georgian at the Open Championship in Hoylake, England, where Jones would win one leg of his Grand Slam. The relationship continued the day Ball arrived in America—September 27, 1930—just as Jones clinched the Grand Slam with a victory in the U.S. Amateur.
Ball's first job was serving for his uncle, Frank Ball, then the PGA head professional at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta. Ball later assisted George Sargent, who became PGA of America president. In 1933, Ball received a letter of recommendation from Jones that elevated him to his first head professional post at Mobile (Alabama) Country Club.
Ball was still competitive even into his late 40s. At age 47—in the 1958 PGA Championship at Llanerch Country Club—he carded rounds of 79-72-72-73=296 and finished in a tie for 33rd place with Tom Talkington.
Ball served as the head professional at Oak Park Country Club in Chicago, Illinois, for many years. During the winter months he was the head professional at Tucson Country Club in Tucson, Arizona, where his tenure was 14 years, from 1951 through April 1, 1965. In September 1964, Tucson Country Club president Dr. George Bland stated that, "What we need is a full-time pro. The size of the club (about 700 members) dictates this necessity. We'll have a hard time replacing Errie—we're well aware of that."
Ball was inducted into the Illinois Golf Hall of Fame in 1990. As of 2011, he was giving lessons at the Willoughby Golf Club in Stuart, Florida and he turned 100 on November 14, 2010. Golfweek magazine was on site when he celebrated this event with friends and members at Willoughby Golf Club and posted a story documenting the event. Ball was inducted into the PGA Hall of Fame in 2011.
Death and legacy
Ball, the last of the inaugural Masters field of 1934 and the PGA of America’s oldest and longest-serving member, died July 2, 2014 at Martin Hospital South in Stuart, Florida, surrounded by his family. He was 103.
- Note: This list may be incomplete.
- 1931 Southeastern Section PGA Championship
- 1932 Atlanta Open
- 1949 Illinois PGA Championship
- 1951 Arizona PGA
- 1952 Arizona PGA
- 1953 Illinois Open Championship, Arizona Open
- 1954 Arizona Open
- 1955 Illinois PGA Match Play Championship, Illinois PGA Championship
- 1965 Illinois PGA Championship
- Illinois PGA Senior Championship
Results in major championships
|The Open Championship||DNP||DNP||DNP||T23||DNP||DNP||DNP|
|The Open Championship||NT||NT||NT||NT||NT||NT||DNP||DNP||DNP||DNP|
|The Open Championship||DNP||DNP||DNP||DNP||DNP||DNP||DNP||DNP||DNP||DNP|
|The Open Championship||DNP||DNP||DNP||DNP||DNP||DNP||DNP|
NYF = Tournament not yet founded
NT = No tournament
DNP = Did not play
CUT = missed the half-way cut
R64, R32, R16, QF, SF = Round in which player lost in PGA Championship match play
"T" indicates a tie for a place
Yellow background for top-10
- Sherman, Ed (April 5, 2008). "Errie Ball is Oldest Master". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on April 22, 2008.
- Auclair, T.J. (July 2, 2014). "Errie Ball passes away at age 103". PGA of America.
- Kindred, Dave (April 2006). "The oldest master: Errie Ball, 95 years young, is the last surviving participant of the first Masters". Golf Digest.
- Denney, Bob. "Errie Ball – the PGA of America's Oldest and Longest-Serving Member dies at 103". Illinois PGA. Retrieved July 2, 2014.
- "Player Stats for Errie Ball". PGA of America. Retrieved May 12, 2015.
- Lindblom, John (September 24, 1964). "TCC Terminates Pro Errie Ball's 14 Years Service". Tucson Daily Citizen. p. 45.
- "Members at Willoughby Golf Club Learn From Original Master Errie Ball". May 16, 2009. Archived from the original on June 29, 2009.
- "Ball, the Last Master Standing, celebrates 100th birthday". PGA of America. November 16, 2010. Retrieved November 23, 2010.
- Schupak, Adam (November 15, 2010). "Inside Errie Ball's 100th birthday party". GolfWeek.
- "Errie Ball, Class of 2011". PGA of America.
- "Willoughby name golf director emeritus". Boca Raton News. March 30, 1989. p. 3 (supplement).