Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Ralph Guldahl never really had a tremendous desire to win. So despite being born within a year of Ben Hogan, Byron Nelson and Sam Snead, and being equally talented, he is not a household word in golf circles as the others are.

He joined the PGA Tour in 1932, and nearly won the 1933 U.S. Open. From 1937 to 1939, Guldahl won 3 majors: 2 U.S. Opens ('37 and '38) and the '39 Masters. He won three straight Western Opens (1936-38) at a time when the Western Open was considered by tour players to be a major. In his brief PGA Tour career, Guldahl won 16 tournaments and finished second 19 times.

He quit the Tour in 1942, returning only briefly in 1949. He was not a technician but instead had an unusual swing that really worked for him. He was said to be calm, deliberate, and stoic on the course.

The towering, 6 ' 2" Texan Guldahl focused on his game rather than his showmanship, though many commented on his habit of combing his hair before executing a shot. Ralph simply stated: "it checks my pace and helps me to retain a confident composure."

He wrote the 1937 book "From Tee to Cup: By The Four Masters," bringing in the Masters: "Woods" by Gene Sarazen; "Long Irons" by Denny Shute; "Short Irons" by himself; "Scoring Zone" by Johnny Revolta; and "Putting and Puzzle Shots", with tips from all four.

Having analyzed golf swings in the book, and then never re-entering tournament play again, he caused some fans to speculate a case of "Paralysis by Analysis."

His own explanation is that he was not that much into winning. From 1959 to 1987 is was Director of Golf at Braemar Country Club in Tarzana, California, and his signature sandwich is still on the Guldahl Grill Room menu.

And, for your golf-swing-analyzing friend who has everything, consider a gift of one of the few remaining original 1937 editions of From Tee to Cup, signed by Guldaul himself.

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