When Was Golf First Televised?

Golfers Frank Stranahan, Lew Worsham, Petty Berg and Wiffi Smith
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The first television broadcast of golf happened at a tournament in 1947 that was aired locally. The first national broadcast of a golf tournament was in 1953. And the same golfer won both tournaments!

First Tournament on TV: 1947 US Open

In 1947, St. Louis television station KSD-TV broadcast the U.S. Open, played at St. Louis Country Club. But the broadcast was only within the station's local area. The tournament winner was Lew Worsham, who defeated Sam Snead in a playoff.

First National Golf Broadcast: 1953 World Championship of Golf

It took until 1953 before any golf tournament was broadcast nationally. That tournament was the World Championship of Golf (sometimes referred to as the Tam O'Shanter World Championship).

The event was played just outside Chicago and televised for one hour per day by the ABC Network.

The owner of Tam O'Shanter Country Club was a fellow named George S. May. May was quite a golf lover, and also a lover of making the news. He was also quite willing to part with his money. Because, while he started hosting pro tournaments in the 1940s, by 1953 he was putting on four tournaments simultaneously (men's, women's and amateur events) at Tam O'Shanter.

In 1953 his purse included a winner's share of $25,000, which by itself exceeded the total purse of every other event on the PGA Tour that year.

The hullabaloo over the (for the time) outrageous money involved prompted the network to dive in with the first national golf broadcast.

And the tournament wound up producing a shot worthy of the event's place in golf broadcast history.

Lew Worsham - yes, him again - was trailing the leader in the clubhouse, Chandler Harper, by one stroke as he teed off No. 18 in the final round. His drive left Worsham 115 yards to the green. He hit a wedge onto the putting surface and watched it roll 45 feet right into the hole - an eagle 2, and a one-shot victory.

In many respects, that shot - in the first nationally televised golf tournament - helped launch golf into the American broadcasting mainstream.