Paul Runyan

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Paul Runyan
Personal information
Full namePaul Scott Runyan
NicknameLittle Poison
Born(1908-07-12)July 12, 1908
Hot Springs, Arkansas
DiedMarch 17, 2002(2002-03-17) (aged 93)
Palm Springs, California
Height5 ft 7 in (1.70 m)
Weight130 lb (59 kg; 9.3 st)
Nationality United States
Turned professional1925
Former tour(s)PGA Tour
Professional wins37
Number of wins by tour
PGA Tour29
Best results in major championships
(wins: 2)
Masters Tournament3rd/T3: 1934, 1942
PGA ChampionshipWon: 1934, 1938
U.S. OpenT5: 1941
The Open ChampionshipT18: 1961
Achievements and awards
World Golf Hall of Fame1990 (member page)
PGA Tour
leading money winner

Paul Scott Runyan (July 12, 1908 – March 17, 2002) was an American professional golfer. Among the world's best players in the mid-1930s, he won two PGA Championships, and is a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame. Runyan was also a golf instructor.

Early life[edit]

Born in Hot Springs, Arkansas, Runyan started out as a caddie and then an apprentice at a golf course in his hometown, before turning pro at age 17. He was head professional at a Little Rock club by age 18.[1] Runyan served as head pro at Metropolis Country Club in White Plains, New York from 1931 to 1943 during which time he won both of his PGA championships.

Tour winner[edit]

Three years later, Runyan defeated Wood in extra holes in the title match of the 1934 PGA Championship, the first of his two PGA Championships. Of Runyan's 29 career PGA Tour wins, 16 of them came in 1933 and 1934, and his nine wins in 1933 make him one of only seven golfers to win nine or more times in one year on the PGA Tour. In the first Masters Tournament in 1934, he was paired for the first 36 holes with tournament host Bobby Jones. Runyan won the tour money title in 1934, and was a member of the U.S. Ryder Cup team in 1933 and 1935.

Runyan was competitive for many years; he won the PGA Championship again in 1938 and led the U.S. Open after three rounds as late as 1951. In the finals of his 1938 PGA, Runyan defeated Sam Snead 8 and 7, the most lopsided title match ever in the event, conducted as match play through 1957. This was despite Snead's vastly greater length off the tee, as much as 75 yards (70 m) per hole.[1]

Fellow golfers nicknamed him "Little Poison" (a take on 1930s baseball player Lloyd Waner, who had the same nickname), primarily because he did not drive the ball very far, but also because he had a terrific short game. Runyan had worked tirelessly on his short game from boyhood, since he realized early on if he were to succeed in golf, he had to compensate for his lack of length. Runyan opined that he is the smallest player in golf history who had significant success,[1] although Fred McLeod had a fine record, too, and stood only 5 ft 4 in (1.63 m) and weighed a paltry 108 lb (49 kg; 7.7 st).

Master teacher[edit]

Runyan's teaching prowess led many top pros to him over his 75 years of teaching, including Gene Littler, Phil Rodgers, Chuck Courtney, Frank Beard, Jim Ferree and Mickey Wright. Golf Magazine wrote: "... since the late 1930s, he has probably been the most influential short game instructor. Untold thousands have been taught his methods for putting and chipping." Runyan wrote an influential book outlining his short-game methods, The Short Way to Lower Scoring. In 2000, he astoundingly completed the annual Par 3 competition held one day before the Masters at the age of 91. He died in Palm Springs, California.[2]


Runyan was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1990. In addition, he is a member of the World Golf Teachers Hall of Fame, the Arkansas Hall of Fame and The Southern California Golf Association Hall of Fame. He received the Harvey Penick Lifetime Teaching Award and the PGA of America Distinguished Service Award.

Professional wins[edit]

PGA Tour wins (29)[edit]

Major championships are shown in bold.

Other wins[edit]

this list is probably incomplete

Senior wins[edit]

Major championships[edit]

Wins (2)[edit]

Year Championship Winning score Runner-up
1934 PGA Championship 38 holes United States Craig Wood
1938 PGA Championship 8 & 7 United States Sam Snead

Note: The PGA Championship was match play through 1957

Results timeline[edit]

Tournament 1928 1929
U.S. Open 63
The Open Championship
PGA Championship
Tournament 1930 1931 1932 1933 1934 1935 1936 1937 1938 1939
Masters Tournament NYF NYF NYF NYF T3 7 T4 T19 4 T16
U.S. Open T12 DQ T28 T10 T8 T14 T7 T9
The Open Championship CUT
PGA Championship R16 R32 QF 1 QF R64 R16 1 QF
Tournament 1940 1941 1942 1943 1944 1945 1946 1947 1948 1949
Masters Tournament T12 T35 3 NT NT NT
U.S. Open 49 T5 NT NT NT NT 21 T6 T53
The Open Championship NT NT NT NT NT NT
PGA Championship QF R64 DNQ NT DNQ
Tournament 1950 1951 1952 1953 1954 1955 1956 1957 1958 1959
Masters Tournament CUT T35
U.S. Open T25 T6 T22 CUT CUT CUT
The Open Championship
PGA Championship R64 DNQ
Tournament 1960 1961 1962 1963 1964 1965 1966 1967 1968 1969
Masters Tournament CUT
U.S. Open CUT
The Open Championship T18 CUT
PGA Championship WD CUT
Tournament 1970 1971 1972 1973 1974
Masters Tournament
U.S. Open
The Open Championship
PGA Championship CUT WD
  Top 10
  Did not play

NYF = tournament not yet founded
NT = no tournament
WD = withdrew
DQ = disqualified
DNQ = did not qualify for match play portion
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


Tournament Wins 2nd 3rd Top-5 Top-10 Top-25 Events Cuts made
Masters Tournament 0 0 2 4 5 8 12 10
U.S. Open 0 0 0 1 7 12 21 16
The Open Championship 0 0 0 0 0 1 3 1
PGA Championship 2 0 0 6 8 9 16 12
Totals 2 0 2 11 20 30 52 39
  • Most consecutive cuts made – 33 (1933 PGA – 1952 U.S. Open)
  • Longest streak of top-10s – 6 (1934 PGA – 1936 U.S. Open)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Barkow, Al (1986). Gettin' to the Dance Floor: An Oral History of American Golf. Atheneum Books. ISBN 978-0-689-11517-2.
  2. ^ "Paul Runyan, 93, Winner Of 29 Events on PGA Tour". The New York Times. March 19, 2002. Retrieved December 24, 2010.

External links[edit]