Welcome to the Devil Ball 100, our ranking of the 100 most important people in the history of golf. Over the next couple weeks, we'll be rolling them out, 10 at a time. Our list includes everyone from golfers to politicians to actors, and each one had a dramatic impact on the game as we know it today. Some names you'll recognize, some you won't. Some positions you'll agree with, and some will have you wondering if we've gone insane. Enjoy the rollout, and see where your favorites made the list! We begin at the end...
100. Dick Taylor: The smaller the ball, the saying goes, the better the writing. Over the course of his distinguished career, Taylor wrote for Golfweek, Links, Senior Golfer and Golfworld, where he worked from 1965 to 1989. His pen helped define golf's rise from niche sport to national obsession.
99. Jack Tuthill: A onetime FBI agent and course designer, Tuthill served as the PGA's tournament director while Nicklaus, Palmer and Player were at their peak. He had to juggle responsibilities of promotion, enforcement and mediation, and did so with grace and class.
98. Michael Murphy: Author of the landmark book "Golf In The Kingdom," he helped change the perception of golf from mere sport to potentially transcendent activity. (He was writing in 1971, so bear that in mind.) Still, the book is a classic, with a motion picture adaptation now in development.
97. Betsy Rawls: One of the LPGA's earliest players, she won eight majors between 1951 and 1969, and later became the tour's tournament director. All told, she amassed an astounding 55 wins on the LPGA Tour.
96. Herb Graffis: Graffis, a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame, was one of the Greatest Generation of golf writers, many of whom show up later on this list. Graffis tirelessly promoted the sport by creating magazines, developing foundations, and collaborating with Tommy Armour on bestselling instructional books. More on Graffis here.
95. Joyce Wethered: Perhaps the finest British female golfer in history, Wethered won the British Amateur four times between 1922 and 1929, and stood as the English Ladies' champion from 1920 to 1924. Upon marrying Sir John Heathcoat-Amory, she became known as Lady Heathcoat-Amory, which simply cannot be spoken aloud without an upper-crust accent. Read more about her here.
94. Tom Weiskopf: One of the major figures in golf in the post-Palmer era, he won one British Open, in 1973, but is just as known for his four runner-up finishes at Augusta. Remains active in golf as broadcaster and course designer.
93. Glenna Collett Vare: One of the best golfers in the world in the 1920s, she won six straight U.S. Women's Amateur Championships from 1922-1927. In 1924, she won 59 of the 60 matches in which she played, losing one only when the winner's ball caromed off hers and into the hole on the first playoff hole. The Vare Trophy, the LPGA's award for the lowest scoring average in a year, is named in her honor.
92. Ken Venturi: One of the most notable golfers in the 1950s and 1960s, Venturi very nearly won the Masters in 1956 as an amateur. He surrendered a four-shot lead with a final-round 80. However, eight years later, after recovering from an auto accident, he would win the U.S. Open at Congressional. Listen to a podcast we did with him right here.
91. JoAnne Carner: She won the U.S. Girls' Junior, the U.S. Women's Amateur, and the U.S. Women's Open titles over a period from 1956 to 1971. The only other person to pull off that trifecta? Tiger Woods. Carner won 43 times on the LPGA Tour, including two majors, and captured six women's amateur titles. She was the oldest player to make a cut on the LPGA Tour, accomplishing the feat in 2004 at age 65.
More to come very soon.