Dow Finsterwald (1 USPGA, 4 Ryder Cup's, 1 Ryder Cup Captain)
ow Henry Finsterwald, Sr. (born September 6, 1929) is an American professional golfer who is best known for winning the 1958 PGA Championship. He won 11 Tour titles between 1955 and 1963, played on four Ryder Cup teams, and served as non-playing captain for the 1977 U.S. Ryder Cup team.
Finsterwald was born and raised in Athens, Ohio. He attended Ohio University in his hometown, where he played on the golf team, and graduated in the Class of 1952. In 1969, he was inducted into the Ohio University Athletics Hall of Fame joining his father, Russ Finsterwald, who was in the first class of inductees as a football player, and later basketball and football head coach. He turned professional in 1951.
Finsterwald won 11 times on the PGA Tour during his career. He was known for his superb short game. He was one of the most consistent players on the Tour in the late 1950s and early 1960s. He finished fifth or better more than 50 times in his career. Finsterwald was a close friend of Arnold Palmer, who was also one of the dominant players on the Tour during this same time period.
Finsterwald played on four Ryder Cup Teams (1957, 1959, 1961, 1963) and was the non-playing captain of the 1977 team. He won the Vardon Trophy in 1957, which is awarded to the tour professional with the lowest scoring average. In 1958, he was honored as PGA Player of the Year. Finsterwald finished in the money in 72 consecutive tournaments – second only to Byron Nelson's 113 consecutive cuts. This record stood for many years until eclipsed by Jack Nicklaus, Hale Irwin and Tiger Woods; however, he is still fifth on the list today.
The 1958 PGA Championship was held at Llanerch Country Club in Havertown, Pennsylvania. This was the first PGA Championship held after the format was switched from match play to stroke play. Finsterwald finished the tournament with a two-stroke victory over Billy Casper. Three and one-half years later, Finsterwald and Gary Player lost one of the most epic battles in golf history – the 1962 Masters – in a playoff to Arnold Palmer.
Finsterwald was once involved in litigation in which a plaintiff claimed she lost the sight in her right eye as a result of an errant tee shot he hit at the 18th hole at the 1973 Western Open. A jury found Finsterwald not liable; however, Midlothian (Illinois) Country Club's insurers had to pay the woman about $450,000.
Finsterwald served as director of golf at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colorado for 28 years. He simultaneously served as PGA of America vice-president from 1976–1978; and on the USGA Rules of Golf committee from 1979-1981. He is also the Pro Emeritus of the Pikewood National Golf Club, based in Morgantown, West Virginia.
Finsterwald lives in Orlando, Florida during the winter and Colorado Springs during the summer. His wife Linda died on June 15, 2015. They have three sons and a daughter. His middle son, Dow Jr., is head pro at the Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas, site of the Dean & DeLuca Invitational.