Paul Runyan

Golfer Paul Runyan
Golfer Paul Runyan, pictured in 1936. Bettman/Getty Images

Golfer Paul Runyan was a 2-time major championship winner who later became a top golf instructor, and was known for his prowess at both playing and teaching the short game.

Date of birth: July 12, 1908
Place of birth: Hot Springs, Arkansas
Date of death: March 17, 2002
Nickname: "Little Poison," both for his small size, and for the fact that while his drives where short, his short game was deadly.

Tour Victories:


Major Championships:

• PGA Championship: 1934, 1938

Awards and Honors:

• Member, World Golf Hall of Fame
• Member, World Golf Teachers Hall of Fame
• Member, Arkansas Hall of Fame
• Recipient, Harvey Penick Lifetime Teaching Award
• PGA Tour money leader, 1934
• Member, U.S. Ryder Cup team, 1933, 1935
• Recipient, PGA of America Distinguished Service Award

Quote, Unquote:

• Paul Runyan: "I want to be remembered as one of the best all-around golf professionals in the business who was equally interested in promoting golf. ... I wanted to put something back, and I think I have put something back."

• Paul Runyan: "Don't let the bad shots get to you. Don't let yourself become angry. The true scramblers are thick-skinned. And they always beat the whiners."

Paul Runyan Biography:

Paul Runyan is a member both of the World Golf Hall of Fame and the World Golf Teachers Hall of Fame. Today, he is perhaps best remembered as a short-game guru, having authored a classic instructional book. He continued teaching, giving up to 20 lessons a week, into his 90s.

As a player, Runyan stood 5-foot-7 and was a short hitter, but he made up for a lack of power with one of golf's greatest short games.

Runyan was a caddie and then an apprentice at a golf course in his hometown before turning pro at age 17. He served as an assistant pro to Craig Wood at Forest Hills Golf Course in White Plains, N.Y., in 1921. Thirteen years later, Runyan defeated Wood in a playoff to win the first of his two PGA Championship titles.

Of Runyan's 29 career PGA Tour wins, 16 of them came in 1933 and 1934. His nine wins in 1933 make him one of only six golfers to win nine or more times in one year on the PGA Tour. But Runyan was competitive for many years, winning the PGA Championship again in 1938 and leading the U.S. Open after three rounds as late as 1951.

In the finals of his 1938 PGA Championship, Runyan defeated Sam Snead 8 and 7, the most lopsided title match of the era when the PGA was contested at match play.

Runyan's teaching prowess led many top pros to him over his 75 years of teaching, including Gene Littler, Phil Rodgers, Frank Beard, Jim Ferree and Mickey Wright. Golf Magazine once said of Runyan: "... since the late 1930s, he has probably been the most influential short game instructor. Untold thousands have been taught his methods for putting and chipping."

Runyan's book, The Short Way to Lower Scoring, (compare prices) is a classic of the genre. The out-of-print video version of the book sometimes sells for hundreds of dollars in the secondary market. The book isn't much cheaper.