Dave Hill (3 Ryder Cup's.)
1937 - 2011
Hill was born in Jackson, Michigan. He attended the University of Detroit, where he played on the golf team. Hill won 13 times on the PGA Tour, three of which came during his career year of 1969, when he also won the Vardon Trophy for lowest scoring average. He was a member of the United States Ryder Cup team in 1969, 1973, and 1977.
Hill was known for his quick wit and biting sarcasm, and was sometimes referred to as "the Don Rickles of the golf tour". He frequently led the tour in fines and was once suspended for two months after he deliberately broke his putter on national television. At the 1966 PGA Championship, Hill signed his second round scorecard that included a score of 108 on the 18th hole. Hill played in the acrimonious 1969 Ryder Cup that ended in a 16-16 tie when Jack Nicklaus made his famous "concession" of a short but missable putt to Tony Jacklin on the 18th green in the final match.
In 1970, Hill had his best finish in a major championship, placing second at the U.S. Open played at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, Minnesota. What gained him the most notoriety, though, was not his excellent play but his criticisms of the golf course. In the middle of the championship, before the third round, Hill was fined $150 by Joe Dey Jr., commissioner of the Tournament Players Division of the PGA of America, for "criticism that tends to ridicule and demean the club".
When first asked what he thought of the golf course, he said "I'm still looking for it". When asked what Hazeltine needed, he retorted, "Hazeltine really did lack only 80 acres of corn and a few cows. They ruined a good farm when they built this course". Hill was far from alone among the pros in his criticism of Hazeltine, which had to be extensively redesigned before getting a chance to host another men's major, again the U.S. Open, in 1991. Afterward, Hill claimed to have paid a farmer cash to borrow his tractor. If he had won the 1970 U.S. Open, Hill planned to ride the tractor out onto the golf course as he hoisted the trophy.
Another controversy involving Hill started in 1971. At the 1971 Colonial National Invitation, Hill shot rounds of 77-85 to miss the cut. On his last hole, Hill threw a ball out of a sand trap. Hill was disqualified but it was for his signing a scorecard with an incorrect score on it. When Hill went to play in his next tournament, the Danny Thomas Memphis Classic, Hill was told he was being fined $500 for conduct unbecoming a professional golfer. Hill was required to pay the fine before teeing it up in the tournament. He did so but less than a week later, Hill filed a one-million dollar anti-trust suit against the PGA Tour. In response, the tour put Hill on probation for one year. Hill then increased the amount of damages he was seeking to three-million dollars. The litigation was resolved out of court in less than a year and Hill was taken off probation.
At the 1991 Transamerica Senior Golf Championship, Hill got into a fight on the driving range with J. C. Snead. Snead was hitting shots across the range, the balls rolling near a spot where Hill was practicing. Hill yelled at Snead, then grabbed a club and came after his much bigger adversary. After punching and wrestling their way to the ground, they were separated by other players and caddies.