About Sam Snead

First and foremost, Sam Snead was an athlete. A journey through the USGA digital archive shows not only Snead playing golf, but Snead on the tennis court. At Valley High School, Snead was a halfback on the football team, a pitcher and outfielder on the baseball team and a center on the basketball team. That sweet swing, thought to be one of the most natural in the history of the game? It was self taught.

“I try to feel oily,” Snead once said, describing his swing. “When I swing at a golf ball right, my mind is blank and my body is loose as a goose.”

Snead got his start in golf as a 7-year-old caddie at the Homestead Resort, and his impact on the Bath County community was profound. Don Ryder, the retired head professional at the Homestead, played with Snead often. Ryder was quick to point out how many golf professionals (nearly three dozen) got their start in Bath County, which by population is the second smallest of Virginia’s 95 counties.

Though his contributions to the game went beyond his playing career, his accomplishments on the golf course are the stuff of legend. He participated in 585 PGA Tour events. His 82 official victories still stand as a record. Only Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus have reached the 70-win mark in PGA events. Snead finished in the top 10 in 358 of those 585 starts, an astonishing rate of 62 percent. He won seven majors and played on seven Ryder Cup teams. In 1946, after the end of World War II, Snead pulled the rare double of winning both the Virginia Open and The Open Championship across the pond at St. Andrews’ Old Course.

Longevity was another benchmark of the career of “Slammin’ Sammy.” He was nearly 53 years old when he claimed the title at the 1965 Greater Greensboro Open. He finished in a tie for third at the PGA Championship nine years later at age 62. “Desire is the most important thing in sport,” he once said. “I have it. Jeez, no one has more than I’ve got.”

Snead, who died at age 90 following complications from a stroke, was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1974, a year after his induction into the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame. In 1986, he was inducted into the Middle Atlantic PGA Hall of Fame. Not surprisingly, he was the unanimous top choice for inclusion in the Virginia Golf Hall of Fame’s Inaugural Class.

He Said It…

“Sam was such a supporter of this area, this county and The Homestead.  As far as what he did for the PGA, he promoted so many golf professionals around this small county.  There are about 36 golf professionals today out of Bath County, and Sam was a big part of that.  When we had the U.S. Senior Amateur here at The Homestead, he set the driving range up on his property because we didn’t have a driving range at The Cascades Course at the time.  He’s always been a promoter of golf and a great friend of mine.  I was really fortunate to play golf with him, hunt turkey with him, fish with him.  He just loved the outdoors.”

-Don Ryder, Hall of Fame Committee Member and former head pro at The Omni Homestead


Year Turning Pro (Age 22)


Official Victories (Record)


Career Earnings (PGA & Champions Tours)


Ryder Cup Appearances

Achievements & Media

Special thanks to the USGA, PGA Tour, VSGA, MAPGA, WVGA and inductee family members for contributing photos and videos to this project.

585 PGA Tour events, 82 official victories, 57 runner-up finishes, 358 top-10 finishes, $699,101 career earnings, 8 top-10 finishes in 55 Champions Tour starts, $107,575 Champions earnings.  Eight Ryder Cup appearances, seven as a player, including one as a playing captain, and one as a non-playing captain. Eight Canada Cup appearances.

Date of birth: May 27, 1912 (Ashwood, Va.); died May 27, 2002
Year turning pro: 1934 (age 22)

Tournaments Won
1936 (PGA: West Virginia Closed Pro, West Virginia Open)
1937 (PGA: Oakland Open, Bing Crosby Pro-Am, St. Paul Open, Nassau Open, Miami Open. Other: West Virginia Open)
1938 (PGA: Bing Crosby Pro-Am, Greater Greensboro Open, Chicago Open, Canadian Open, Westchester 108 Hole Open, White Sulphur Springs Open, Inverness Invitational Four-Ball (w/Vic Ghezzi), Palm Beach Round Robin. Other: West Virginia Open)
1939 (PGA: St. Petersburg Open, Miami Open, Miami Biltmore International Four-Ball (w/Ralph Guldhal))
1940 (PGA: Canadian Open, Anthracite Open, Inverness International Four-Ball (w/Ralph Guldahl). Other: Ontario Open (Canada))
1941 (PGA: Bing Crosby Pro-Am, St. Petersburg Open, North and South Open, Canadian Open, Rochester Times Union Open, Henry Hurst Invitational. Other: Center Open (Argentina))
1942 (PGA: St. Petersburg Open, PGA Championship)
1944 (PGA: Portland Open, Richmond Open)
1945 (PGA: Los Angeles Open, Gulfport Open, Pensacola Open, Jacksonville Open, Dallas Open, Tulsa Open)
1946 (PGA: Jacksonville Open, Greater Greensboro Open, The Open Championship, World Championship of Golf, Miami Open, Virginia Open)
1948 (PGA: Texas Open. Other: West Virginia Open)
1949 (PGA: Greater Greensboro Open, Masters, Washington Star Open, Dapper Dan Open, Western Open, PGA Championship, Other: North and South Open, West Virginia Open)
1950 (PGA: Los Angeles Open, Bing Crosby Pro-Am, tie, Texas Open, Miami Beach Open, Greater Greensboro Open, Western Open, Colonial National Invitation, Inverness Invitational Four-Ball (w/ Jim Ferrier), Reading Open, North and South Open, Miami Open)
1951 (PGA: PGA Championship, Miami Open)
1952 (PGA: Masters, Palm Beach Round Robin, Inverness Invitational Four-Ball (w/ Jim Ferrier), All-American Open, Eastern Open. Other: West Virginia Open, Brazil Open, Greenbrier Pro-Am)
1953 (PGA: Baton Rouge Open. Other: Greenbrier Pro-Am)
1954 (PGA: Masters, Palm Beach Round Robin. Other: Panama Open)
1955 (PGA: Greater Greensboro Open, Palm Beach Round Robin, Insurance City Open, Miami Open)
1956 (PGA: Greater Greensboro Open)
1957 (PGA: Dallas Open Invitational, Palm Beach Round Robin. Other: West Virginia Open)
1958 (PGA: Dallas Open Invitational. Other: West Virginia Open, Greenbrier Invitational)
1959 (Other: Sam Snead Festival)
1960 (PGA: De Soto Open Invitational, Greater Greensboro Open. Other: West Virginia Open)
1961 (PGA: Tournament of Champions. Other: West Virginia Open, Sam Snead Festival)
1962 (LPGA: Roy Poinciana Plaza Invitational)
1964 (Other: Senior PGA Championship, World Seniors, Haig & Haig Scotch Foursome (w/Shirley Englehorn))
1965 (PGA: Greater Greensboro Open. Other: Senior PGA Championship, World Seniors)
1966 (Other: West Virginia Open)
1967 (Other: Senior PGA Championship, West Virginia Open)
1968 (Other: West Virginia Open)
1970 (Other: Senior PGA Championship, World Seniors, West Virginia Open)
1971 (Other: PGA Club Professional Championship, West Virginia Open)
1972 (Other: Senior PGA Championship, World Seniors, West Virginia Open)
1973 (Other: Senior PGA Championship, World Seniors, West Virginia Open)
1978 (Other: Legends of Golf)
1980 (Other: Golf Digest Commemorative Pro-Am)
1982 (Other: Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf)