Ken Venturi played his first round of golf at Harding Park at the age of 12. By the time he was 18, he had won the San Francisco City Championship. After graduating from Lincoln High in 1949, Venturi attended San Jose State College. He played on the golf team and twice won the Northern California Intercollegiate Championship (1951 and 1953), and in 1951 and 1956, he won the California State Amateur Championship. As an amateur in the 1956 Masters, he finished second, after taking a lead in the first round of play. In 1957, he turned professional, joining the PGA tour. Venturi immediately began winning tournaments as he rapidly became one of professional golf’s best performers, with 14 tour victories in all. Ken Venturi is best known for his dramatic win of the 1964 U.S. Open. On the grueling 36-hole final day, temperatures soared above the 100ºF mark and threatened players with heat exhaustion. Venturi refused to give in to the brutal heat and humidity. His determination and talent pulled him through the day, allowing him to achieve his childhood dream of winning the U.S. Open. Later that year, Venturi was named PGA Player of the Year and Sports Illustrated’s Sportsman of the Year. In 1965, he was also selected as a member of the United States Ryder Cup Team. Ken Venturi retired at age 33 and found a new career as a golf analyst for CBS Sports for the next 35 years. He established a new record as the longest running lead analyst in the history of televised sports. The PGA of America recognized his outstanding career with CBS in 1999 by presenting him with the Lifetime Achievement in Journalism Award. He continues to express his lifelong loyalty and respect for the tradition of golf by speaking at corporate outings and charity events throughout the country. He hosts a popular golf clinic at the Bay Area Sports Hall Golf Classic at The Olympic Club in October.
Inducted into the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame in 1984.
Plaque location: Harding Park Golf Course