Jim Ferrier (1 USPGA,)
1915 - 1986
James Bennett Elliott Ferrier (24 February 1915 – 13 June 1986) was an Australian professional golfer from Manly, New South Wales. He won the PGA Championship in 1947. Ferrier became an American citizen in 1944.
Born in Sydney, Ferrier was raised in Manly and was taught golf as a youth by his father, a low handicap player. Ferrier injured a leg playing soccer in his teens, and he had to contend with a severe limp for the rest of his life. Ferrier was playing to a scratch handicap by his mid-teens, when he left school to be able to play more golf. He was runner-up in the 1931 Australian Open at the age of sixteen. He won the Australian Amateur title in 1935, 1936, 1938 and 1939. He was also victorious in the Australian Open as an amateur in 1938 and 1939, and won several other significant Australian events. He was runner-up in The Amateur Championship at St Andrews in 1936. Ferrier worked as a golf reporter and writer for several Australian publications.
In 1940, Ferrier went to the United States as a golf journalist, but was not allowed to qualify for the U.S. Amateur, due to a golf manual published earlier in the year that he was contracted to receive royalties from. He turned professional in March 1941 and joined the PGA Tour as a club pro based in Elmhurst, Illinois. He and his wife Norma worked in defence industry jobs during World War II; this was part of conditions to become American citizens. He served in the U.S. Army from 1944 to 1945, rising to the rank of staff sergeant. While stationed in the artillery at Camp Roberts, California, he gained his first tour victory at the Oakland Open in December 1944, a week after a runner-up finish to Byron Nelson in San Francisco.
Ferrier's most significant win came at the PGA Championship in 1947, one of golf's four major championships. He was the first Australian to win a major, and at the time this gave him a lifetime exemption to PGA Tour events. The previous year, he was the medalist in the stroke play qualifier and set the scoring record.
At the 1950 Masters, Ferrier led Jimmy Demaret by three shots with six holes to play, but finished two strokes back as the runner-up. He scored 16 of his 18 PGA titles between 1947 and 1952, with a peak of five wins in 1951. Ferrier's other significant victories included consecutive Canadian Open titles in 1950 and 1951. He was also runner-up in the 1960 PGA Championship at age 45, and was renowned as an outstanding putter.
On 6 January 1955 (Season 5 Episode 17), Ferrier appeared on the television game show You Bet Your Life hosted by Groucho Marx, of Marx Brothers fame. Paired with Marilyn Pierce, a dog trainer and former model, he showed a conservative betting style and great charm, as evidenced by this short exchange with Groucho:
- Groucho: "I play golf too, you know. What is your handicap, Jim?"
- Ferrier: "Well, as a pro, I don't have a handicap."
- Groucho: "Well congratulations. How is it a tall, handsome man like you isn't married?"
- Ferrier: "I'm married. I have a wife."
- Groucho: "You just said you didn't have a handicap. Haven't you got the same handicap that fifty million other men have?"
- Ferrier: "Well, I don't consider my wife a handicap."
Ferrier died in Burbank, California, in 1986 at the age of 71