Nicknamed as “Gentle Ben,” Ben Crenshaw is a golf legend born on January 11, 1952. The Austin native has won 19 events on the PGA Tour, two major Master Tournament championships in 1984 and 1995, alongside many more accolades. Throughout his career, he was renowned as the “golden boy” and as one of the best putters in his era. In this article, let’s know more about Ben Crenshaw and his journey in the sports of golf.
Crenshaw’s Start in Golf
Ben Daniel Crenshaw was born to Pearn Johnson Crenshaw, an elementary school teacher, and Charles Edward Crenshaw IV, an attorney who served as State Attorney General Price Daniel, who became a U.S. senator and Texas governor, and Ben’s parents gave him his middle name in honor of the respected statesman. The family had two more children, the eldest is Bonnie, ten years older than Ben, and Charles Edward V, a year older.
Ben discovered golf through his father, who was a scratch golfer, and introduced him to the game early in his childhood. He had shown potential as a kid, winning his first-ever tournament in fourth grade. It was a significant help that Harvey Penick, the American professional golfer, and coach, was the instructor in the country club where the family was registered. Moving forward, Ben went and played his beloved sport at Austin High School and the University of Texas at Austin. From 1971 to 1973, he won three straight consecutive NCAA Championships.
In 1973, Ben turned professional and won his first tournament, making him the second player to win the first competition of their professional career, first achieved by Marty Fleckman in 1967. The feat was soon duplicated by other golfers, such as Jim Benepe in 1988, Robbery Gamez in 1990, and Garrett Willis in 2001.
It was only the start of a remarkable career for Ben as he was set to win many PGA Tours. His most fruitful career happened in 1976, where he won three times, namely in the Bing Crosby National Pro-Am, Hawaiian Open, and the Ohio Kings Island Open. Ben also added three runner-up finishes and 14 Top 10 finishes in the same year.
The 1970s, indeed, became a fruitful decade for Ben, and transitioned quite well to the beginning of the 1980s, registering wins in the Colonial National Invitation (1977),
Phoenix Open (1979), Walt Disney World National Team Championship with George Burns (1979), and the Anheuser-Busch Golf Classic (1980). However, he was struck by Graves’ disease, a thyroid illness in the mid-1980s, which has affected his level of play.
Ben Crenshaw had to injure five straight runner-up finishes in major tournaments, before finally winning another major championship in 1984 at the Masters. Despite his condition, he continued to rake in more wins, accumulating a total of 19 victories on the PGA Tour.
In the 1990s, Ben’s professional PGA career started to dwindle, with him only participating in three competitions from July 1992 to April 1994, specifically in the Centel Western Open, Nestle Invitational, and the Freeport-McMoRan Classic. Nevertheless, he won each of the said tournaments.
He made his last on tour in 1995 yet it became one of the most emotional triumphs in the major’s rich history, as the event took place only a few days after the death of his mentor and longtime friend, Harvey Penick. After Ben’s last put that gave him his second Masters championship, he burst into tears in the arms of his caddie.
Into his 50s, he cemented himself as one of the sport’s senior statesmen, having an innate passion for the game’s history and never failing to safeguard its traditions. In 2002, Ben Crenshaw was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame. By 2016, Ben was mostly gone from active play.
On the Sidelines
While a renowned and established golfer, Ben also gained popularity as a golf course designer and architect. In 1986, he established the design firm “Coore & Crenshaw,” which produces some of the most fascinating golf courses we have today. Among these most famous golf courses the firm has made are the Colorado Golf Club, Sand Hills Golf Club (Nebraska), Old Sandwich Golf Club (Massachusetts), and Cabot Cliffs in Nova Scotia, Canada.