|Harold "Jug" McSpaden|
McSpaden in 1938
|Full name||Harold Lee McSpaden|
July 21, 1908|
April 22, 1996 (aged 87)|
Kansas City, Kansas
Elizabeth Celeste "Betty" Proctor McSpaden|
|Former tour(s)||PGA Tour|
|Number of wins by tour|
|Best results in major championships|
|Masters Tournament||T4: 1947|
|U.S. Open||T7: 1931|
|The Open Championship||DNP|
|PGA Championship||2nd: 1937|
Born in Monticello, Kansas, McSpaden became interested in golf at the age of ten, after seeing Harry Vardon play in Kansas City, Kansas. McSpaden worked as a caddie, then was elected to PGA Membership at age 18 on November 11, 1926. He played in the first Masters in 1934 and won the Pasadena Open in 1935; the Canadian Open in 1939; and both the Los Angeles Open and the Phoenix Open in 1944 (his only head-to-head win against Byron Nelson). In the late 1930s and early 40s McSpaden was the club pro at Winchester Country Club outside Boston.
Ryder Cup teams during World War II
McSpaden was named to the U.S. Ryder Cup team in 1939, but the event was cancelled that year due to the outbreak of World War II. Other members of the Ryder Cup team that year included: Byron Nelson, Ralph Guldahl, Paul Runyan, Dick Metz, Craig Wood, Horton Smith, Walter Hagen, Sam Snead, and honorary captain Vic Ghezzi. McSpaden was also a member of the Ryder Cup team in 1941, 1942, and 1943; but during those years only exhibition matches were played as fundraisers for the war effort. Between 1942 and 1944 McSpaden and Byron Nelson, both of whom were rejected from the military for health reasons, made 110 exhibition fundraising appearances for the Red Cross and USO.
Because of their consistent one-two finishes at these charity events, Nelson and McSpaden were together referred to as the "Gold Dust Twins". In 1944, when winners were paid in war bonds, McSpaden won $23,855. He claimed to have cleared less than $150 when he cashed them in. McSpaden's winnings that year were second only to Nelson's record-breaking $37,967 worth of bonds.
In 1938, McSpaden and Byron Nelson complained to and then worked with a shoe manufacturer, Field and Flint, to improve the comfort and grip of golf shoes. For a time, they each received a 25 cent royalty for each pair of shoes sold.
Retirement and records
In 1947, McSpaden became vice president of a sportswear company, the Palm Beach Company, and left the professional golf tour; he did compete periodically in Tour events for some time after this.
McSpaden was elected to the Professional Golfers' Association Hall of Fame, and the Kansas Golf Hall of Fame on September 30, 1991. He was the course architect for the Dub's Dread Golf Club in Kansas City, Kansas. He competed in the Senior PGA Championship until the age of 85.
While McSpaden had 17 PGA Tour wins in all, he holds a PGA record for coming in second: 13 times in one year, 1945. That same year, he set a PGA record of 31 top-10 finishes in one season. He finished 12 times in the top-10 at major championships. His best finish was runner-up to Denny Shute at the 1937 PGA Championship.
McSpaden was the first pro golfer to shoot a 59 on a par 71 course (Brackenridge Park Golf Club, San Antonio, Texas) in 1939. His playing partners that day were Byron Nelson, Paul Runyan, and Ben Hogan.
According to Byron Nelson, McSpaden was "a better player than most people know". He was "honest, forthright, kind of rough and gruff", and because of his "exceptionally long arms" only used a 42-inch driver for most of his career.
McSpaden was named the 1994 Nissan Open Tournament Honoree, having won there (then the Los Angeles Open), in 1944.
In 1995, McSpaden said to Byron Nelson, "If you wouldn't have been born, I'd have been known as a pretty good player."
Death and legacy
In Kansas City, Kansas, on April 22, 1996, McSpaden and his wife Betty (b.1922, m.1949) were found dead in their home located on Painted Hills Golf Course, named Victory Hills at the time. Their car had been left running in the attached garage and the police ruled the deaths accidental carbon monoxide poisonings.
McSpaden was on the ballot for the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2004 and 2005, but did not receive enough support for induction.
Dub's Dread, the course McSpaden designed, was once listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world's longest golf course.
PGA Tour wins (17)
- 1933 (1) Santa Monica Amateur-Pro
- 1934 (1) Pasadena Open
- 1935 (2) Sacramento Open, San Francisco Match Play
- 1936 (1) Massachusetts Open
- 1937 (1) Massachusetts Open
- 1938 (2) Miami Open, Houston Open
- 1939 (1) Canadian Open
- 1941 (1) Thomasville Open
- 1943 (1) All American Open
- 1944 (5) Los Angeles Open, Phoenix Open, Gulfport Open-Mississippi, Chicago Victory Open, Minneapolis Four-Ball (with Byron Nelson)
- 1945 (1) Miami International Four-Ball (with Byron Nelson)
Other wins (11)
- 1931 Oklahoma Open
- 1934 Oklahoma Open, Iowa Open
- 1938 Massachusetts Open, New England PGA Championship
- 1939 New England PGA Championship
- 1940 Philippine Open
- 1941 Massachusetts Open, New England PGA Championship
- 1942 Miami Open
- 1944 Utah Open
Results in major championships
Note: McSpaden never played in The Open Championship.
NYF = tournament not yet founded
NT = no tournament
WD = withdrew
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
|The Open Championship||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
- Most consecutive cuts made – 29 (1936 Masters – 1948 U.S. Open)
- Longest streak of top-10s – 4 (1940 PGA – 1941 PGA)
- Litsky, Frank (April 26, 1996). "Jug McSpaden, 87, a top golfer known for finishing in second". New York Times. Retrieved August 1, 2016.
- "Jug McSpaden rejected; suggests revision of prize system for pros". Lewiston Daily Sun. (Maine). Associated Press. February 23, 1944. p. 6.
- Echlin, Greg (1999). Sacred Records. Taylor Trade Publishing. ISBN 1-886110-74-3.
- Gibson, Nevin H. (1958). The Encyclopedia of Golf. A.S. Barnes & Company. ASIN B0012G99ZI.
- Grimsley, Will (1966). Golf: Its History, People & Events. Prentice-Hall. ASIN B0000CNL4M.
- McCord, Robert (2002). The Golf Book Of Days. Citadel Press. ISBN 0-8065-2308-5.
- Nelson, Byron (1993). How I Played the Game. Taylor Trade Publishing. ISBN 0-87833-819-5.
- Peper, George (1988). Golf in America: The First One Hundred Years. Harry N. Abrams. ISBN 0-8109-1032-2.