Ky Laffoon Biography

Ky Laffoon was a golfer of note after the Great Depression and through the World War II years in US tour history. He was noted for both his temper and much-admired swing, and there are many legends (a few of them even true) about his on- and off-course antics.

Real name: Ky Laffoon (really!)

Date and place of birth: December 23, 1908, in Zinc, Arkansas

Date and place of death: March 17, 1984, in Springfield, Missouri

Significant Wins

Laffoon is credited with these 10 wins by the PGA Tour. (a-partnered by Walter Hagen; b-partnered by Dick Metz)

In the Majors
Ky Laffoon's best finish in a major was third place at the 1937 PGA Championship. He had eight Top 10 finishes in majors.

Notable Notes: Ky Laffoon's nickname was "Chief," he sometimes posed wearing Indian headdresses, and he often was described (both during his lifetime and after) as the best Native American golfer ever. Only problem: Laffoon wasn't Native American.

That's just one of many myths about Laffoon. Such as the one about him tying a putter to the bumper of his car and dragging it cross-country as punishment. Not true. But this is true: He would sometimes hold a wedge or iron out of the car door, dragging it on the road surface to grind the sole and sharpen the leading edge.

And he did have a terrible temper on the golf course. He was famous for breaking clubs, throwing them down the fairway, throwing them up into trees. ... Also, in his younger days, he sometimes teamed with infamous gambler Titanic Thompson to hustle unsuspecting marks. Laffoon would caddie for Thompson, who at some point would start taunting the opponent: "Why, even my caddie could beat you!" Which Laffoon would then do, splitting the winnings with Thompson.

Laffoon was a head pro by age 15 at Miami (Okla.) Country Club. His "assistant pro" was his 11-year-old cousin, Leonard Ott, who also grew up to be a tour golfer. ... Laffoon joined the tour in 1931. ... His best season was 1934: Four wins and second on the money list. ... He played on the USA team in the 1935 Ryder Cup.

Laffoon had a swing much admired by other golfers of his own and later eras and was well-regarded as a teacher. He helped many of his fellow pros, including Ben Hogan and Byron Nelson, although he had a falling out with Nelson after Nelson (in Laffoon's telling) insulted Laffoon's brother/caddie.

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