In the early 1960s, the American circuit was still made up of pros who divided their time between teaching and tournaments. There were even some for whom the local competitions were enough to make them happy as long as you didn’t stray too often from the family cocoon.
John Barnu, history
Born in 1911, the obscure John Barnum belongs to this category endowed with enough talent to obtain the right to participate in major events, but preferring a more comfortable and more secure teaching salary, in this case in his club in Blythefield, near the town of Grand Rapids in Michigan.
Tall and burly, “Big Jim” began his career in the early 1940s, never managing to win major tournaments. Well, it’s true that he didn’t play in it often… In his 25-year career, he took part in 179 tournaments, including only 11 Majors, with his best result being 16th place at the 1958 PGA Championship.
But when the mood took him, he could take his car, swallow the kilometers to go at top speed to the place of competition. One day, according to the anecdote reported by the writer Herbert Warren Wind, the police were waiting for him on the starting tees to hand him a speeding ticket!
Holy Barnum… It was with much less speed that he won his first and only official PGA Tour tournament in 1962 at the Cajun Classic in Louisiana… at the age of 51! Multiple winner of the main tournaments in his state, the Michigan Open (4 times) and the Michigan Open PGA Championship (3 times), he took advantage of the limited field of very good players at the end of the season to win with a 6 -stroke lead.
on Gay Brewer. On this Armistice Day, November 11, 1962, he signed a first in the history of golf: winning his first PGA tournament at over 50 years old. At the time, the feat made the headlines by also joining the then very closed circle of victorious fifties.
And for good reason: there was only one, the legendary Jim Barnes, 4 times titled in Majors. Today, this “Over 50 Club” has only 8 members: there are also Sam Snead, Art Wall Jr., Craig Stadler, Fred Funk, Davis Love III and Phil Mickelson.
John Barnum’s winning putt received little press coverage as his putter went down in history and, a few years later, into the vault of a well-known brand. The guy is quite simply the first professional player to win a tournament with a Ping putter.
For founder Karsten Solheim, the lean years are finally over. With Barnum’s victory, he proves that his designs are winning and the sequel will confirm it so well that, in the 1970s, he had the idea of paying homage to his champions by manufacturing two gold-plated replicas with in particular the name of the winner engraved on the face. One is given to the latter, the other deposited in a room at the head office.