Kathy Whitworth

I love the history of golf. I have been following the game for more than 60 years. After the recent passing of Kathy Whitworth, the winningest player of all time, in December, and knowing she was from Texas, I started to notice the the state of Texas had and still has some of the greatest golfers of all time. 

Here are some of them:

Kathy Whitworth, the winningest player, male or female, of all time passed away on Dec. 24, 2022. She won 88 LPGA tournaments and was a runner-up 93 times, giving her 181 top-two finishes. 

In 1981, she became the first woman to reach career earnings of $1 million on the LPGA Tour. She is a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame. 

Harvey Penick coached many Hall of Fame players. He was the coach at University of Texas for 33 years. Some of his most famous players were Kathy Whitworth, Sandra Palmer, Ben Crenshaw and Tom Kite. 

Penick is also famous for authoring one of the most popular golf books of all time, “Little Red Book.” Penick advocated that “once you address the ball, hitting to a desired target must be the only thing in your life. Allow no negative thoughts.” 

Sandra Palmer was born in Fort Worth and attended North Texas State University. She was a 19-time winner on the LPGA Tour. She won two major tournaments. Palmer was the top money winner in 1975 and was awarded LPGA Player of the Year. 

“Gentle Ben” Crenshaw is one of the most popular players of all time. He attended the University of Texas, where he won three NCAA Championships. In 1973, he won his first event after earning his tour card. 

He won the Masters in 1984 and 1995. That win came a week after the death of his teacher, Harvey Penick, when he attended the funeral and then came to Augusta very emotional. 

Crenshaw won a total of 19 tour events. In 1999, he captained the winning Ryder Cup Team. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2002.

Tom Kite was a teammate of Crenshaw at the University of Texas. Kite won 19 times on the PGA tour including the 1992 U.S. Open. He also has 10 victories on the Champions Senior Tour with one Senior Major. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2004.

Jordan Spieth also attended the University of Texas, where he helped his team win the NCAA Championship. In 2013, two weeks before his 20th birthday, he won the John Deere Classic. In April 2015 he won the Masters and the U.S. Open. He won the Tour Championship and was the No. 1 player on the PGA Tour. 

In 2017 he won the Open Championship at Royal Birkdale, giving him his third Major Championship. After a few years with no wins, Spieth won the 2022 RBC Heritage on Hilton Head Island. He has won nine PGA Tour events, one FedEx playoff event and three major championships.

Scottie Scheffler is the latest University of Texas player to make it big on the PGA Tour. In 2022, he won four tournaments – including the Masters. He began the year as No. 13 in the World Golf Ranking and, after his Masters win, became the No. 1 player in the world and held that ranking for 30 weeks. He has played in both the Presidents Cup and Ryder Cup for the United States.

Dr. Jean Harris is an LPGA Master Professional and teaches at local golf courses. jean.golfdoctor.harris@gmail.com; golfdoctorjean.com