American Golfer Lanny Wadkins

Lanny Wadkins of the USA watches his chip on the 17th during the 1989 Ryder Cup at The Belfry in Sutton Coldfield, England
David Cannon/Getty Images

Lanny Wadkins was a force on the PGA Tour from the early 1970s into the 1990s, and starred on numerous American Ryder Cup teams.

Wadkins won more than 20 times on the PGA Tour, including a major championship. He was known as a great iron player and a golfer who never lacked for confidence. He later captained the U.S. Ryder Cup team, and after his competitive career ended entered a broadcasting career.


Date of birth: December 5, 1949
Place of birth: Richmond, Virginia
Nickname: Lanny is a nickname based on his middle name. His full name is Jerry Lanston Wadkins.

Tour Victories:

  • PGA Tour: 21
  • Champions Tour: 1

(List of tournament wins appears below.)

Major Championships:

Professional: 1

Amateur: 1

  • U.S. Amateur: 1970

Awards and Honors:

  • Member, World Golf Hall of Fame
  • PGA Player of the Year, 1985
  • Captain, U.S. Ryder Cup team, 1995
  • Member, U.S. Ryder Cup team, 1977, 1979, 1983, 1985, 1987, 1989, 1991, 1993
  • Member, U.S. Walker Cup team, 1969, 1971

Quote, Unquote

Lanny Wadkins: "Playing is so much more important than practicing. Young players today all hit the ball great, but they're missing an edge when it comes to scoring and course management. This devotion to the range is like a disease."

Lanny Wadkins Trivia

  • Lanny Wadkins' brother, Bobby Wadkins, was a full-time PGA Tour player himself from 1975-98, and later a winner on the Champions Tour.
  • Wadkins' PGA Championship win came in the first sudden-death playoff in that tournament's history (he beat Gene Littler).
  • Wadkins and fellow Masters rookie Tom Watson roomed together in the "Crow's Nest," a room atop the Augusta National clubhouse, at their first Masters in 1970.
  • Wadkins was a frequent playing partner of Ben Hogan at Shady Oaks Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas, in the late 1970s and into the 1980s.

Lanny Wadkins Biography

Known as a confident - many would say cocky - competitor and as one of the best iron players on tour, Lanny Wadkins compiled an impressive career record topped off by his play in the Ryder Cup.

Wadkins first gained notice by winning the prestigious Southern Amateur in 1968, a feat he repeated in 1970. He attended Wake Forest University on a scholarship acquired for him by Arnold Palmer, a Wake Forest alum.

He was a collegiate All-American in 1970 and 1971, and Wadkins won the U.S. Amateur Championship in 1970.

Wadkins turned pro in 1971, and his first full year on the PGA Tour was 1972. That was also the year of his first victory, which came at the Sahara Invitational in Las Vegas.

He won multiple times in 1973, and his last season of multiple wins was 1988. Wadkins was co-leader in victories on the PGA Tour in 1983 with two and 1985 with three. He finished second on the money list in 1985, his best showing, and was third on the money list two other times.

Wadkins' final win on the PGA Tour was the 1992 Greater Hartford Open. He won his debut on the Champions Tour in 2000, but did not win again on the senior circuit. His play there was curtailed first by nagging injuries, then by his duties as the lead analyst on CBS' golf broadcasts from 2002-06.

Wadkins' lone major trophy was earned at the 1977 PGA Championship, where he defeated Gene Littler in the first-ever sudden death playoff at that event. He also won the 1979 Players Championship.

Wadkins was a Ryder Cup stalwart for the U.S. side throughout his career. He played on eight teams, tied for the American record, winning 20 matches and 21.5 points, both among the highest totals for Americans. His overall Ryder Cup record was 20-11-3, and he ranks among the greatest Ryder Cup players ever.

Wadkins left CBS' golf telecasts at the end of 2006, but later returned to TV on Golf Channel's Champions Tour telecasts. He designs golf courses through his company, Lanny Wadkins Design Group.

He was elected to the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2009.

Tournament Wins

PGA Tour (21)

  • 1972 Sahara Invitational
  • 1973 Byron Nelson Golf Classic
  • 1973 USI Classic
  • 1977 PGA Championship
  • 1977 World Series of Golf
  • 1979 Glen Campbell Los Angeles Open
  • 1979 Players Championship
  • 1982 Phoenix Open
  • 1982 Tournament of Champions
  • 1982 Buick Open
  • 1983 Greater Greensboro Open
  • 1983 Tournament of Champions
  • 1985 Bob Hope Classic
  • 1985 Los Angeles Open
  • 1985 Walt Disney World-Oldsmobile Classic
  • 1987 Doral-Ryder Open
  • 1988 Hawaiian Open
  • 1988 Colonial National Invitation
  • 1990 Anheuser Busch Golf Classic
  • 1991 Hawaiian Open
  • 1992 Greater Hartford Open

Champions Tour (1)

  • 2000 ACE Group Classic