Ted Kroll, Biography of the Pro Golfer

Golfer Ted Kroll
Ted Kroll's best years on the PGA Tour were in the early to mid-1950s, and they were pretty good years — he led the tour in money once. He also made multiple appearances as part of Team USA in the Ryder Cup. He was known as a friendly man always willing to help his fellow pros talk through (or work through) issues with their game, and also for being a very straight hitter of the golf ball.

Date of birth: August 4, 1919

Place of birth: New Hartford, New York

Date and place of death: April 23, 2002 in Boca Raton, Florida

Nickname: "Lippy," because he was a very friendly, talkative player.

Ted Kroll's PGA Tour Wins

Kroll is credited with eight wins on the PGA Tour: In addition, he had several other pro wins in events that were not PGA Tour tournaments. Those include the 1952 Miami Beach International Four-Ball (partnered with Lew Worsham), which, most years, was an official PGA Tour stop but not in 1952. Kroll also won the 1964 Michigan PGA Championship and, at age 53, the 1972 Florida Open.

In the Majors

Kroll never won a major championship, but had eight Top 10s. His closest call was reaching the championship match in the 1956 PGA Championship, where he lost to Jack Burke Jr., 3-and-2.

He tied for third at the 1960 U.S. Open, was solo fourth in the 1961 PGA Championship, and tied for fourth in the 1956 U.S. Open. Kroll first played in a major at the 1941 U.S. Open, and last in the 1967 U.S. Open.

More About Ted Kroll

Ted Kroll built himself into a golfer, literally: He learned the game playing with clubs that he built himself, using hickory shafts. He turned professional in 1937, but his golf career began in earnest following World War II (he served in the Army, was wounded four times and was awarded three Purple Hearts). Upon returning home, Kroll began working as a club professional at Philmont Country Club in Huntingdon Valley, Pennsylvania.

In 1949, he ventured out on the PGA Tour, and by 1950 he was playing a full schedule. In 1952, Kroll earned his initial victory, beating Jimmy Demaret by three strokes in the San Diego Open. That year he had two wins, two runner-up finishes, three third-place finishes, and 15 overall Top 10 finishes.

In 1953 Kroll won once on the PGA Tour, was second five time, third once, and had 14 Top 10s. That is also the first of three years in which Kroll played on the American Ryder Cup team. He also played in 1955 and 1957.

Kroll lost his only Ryder Cup singles match (in the 1953 Ryder Cup) to Fred Daly by a score of 9-and-7, the fourth-worst singles defeat in Ryder Cup history. But he won all three foursomes matches in which he played.

In fact, Kroll was well-known among his PGA Tour peers as a golfer you wanted on your side in a match. In his book, It's Only a Game: Words of Wisdom from a Lifetime in Golf (affiliate link), Jack Burke Jr. (who defeated Kroll in that 1956 PGA Championship final), said of Kroll:

"I want to emphasize that the best four-ball partner in history was Ted Kroll. On his own Ted was slightly better than ordinary, but as a partner I'd take him over Ben Hogan, Sam Snead or anybody else. ... When he was your teammate, he fought like he was sharing a foxhole with you. His game was transformed. He never missed a fairway or a green and very rarely made a bogey. He never complained when you played poorly; he saw it as his mission to carry you. He was outstanding under pressure."
In 1954, Kroll became the third golfer in PGA Tour history to record a tournament round of 60, doing so in the Texas Open. In 1955, he had one win, two seconds, three thirds and 17 Top 10s, and finished sixth on the money list.

But Kroll's best year was 1956: He posted three wins, was second two other times, and led the tour money list with $72,836. That was nearly three times more than he made in any other year. How is that possible? One of his wins was the World Championship of Golf, which paid $50,000 to its winner — far more than any other tournament. (In fact, the World Championship of Golf winner led the PGA Tour money list every year from 1952-57.)

In addition to that enormous (for its time) first-place check, Kroll earned another $50,000 from World Championship of Golf founder and promoter George May by accepting the offer May made to every winner: Play 50 single-day exhibitions around the world, all expenses paid, $1,000 per exhibition.

Kroll won only once more on the PGA Tour after that, and not until 1962. But he had a very good peak from 1952-56, during which time he won seven times, was second 13 times, third nine times and had 68 Top 10s. During his heyday, his named appeared on many golf clubs and balls made by MacGregor.

And Kroll probably should have won more, but he had a terrible playoff record: 1-7. Of eight playoffs, the only one he won was over Doug Ford in the 1955 Philadelphia Daily News Open. Two of his seven losses were in the Insurance City Open, a tournament he won in 1952. But in 1956 he lost on the second extra hole to Arnold Palmer. In 1961, he and Billy Maxwell needed seven holes of sudden death before Maxwell won it.

The last year in which Kroll made more than 20 starts on tour was 1963, but his final PGA Tour appearance was in 1983 at the age of 64.

In addition to his Ryder Cup appearances, Kroll also played for Team USA in the USA-vs.-Canada matches called the Hopkins Cup that took place in 1952, 1953, 1954 and 1956.

Following his retirement from the PGA Tour, Kroll worked as a club pro in Florida. When the Legends of Golf tournament, which inspired the creation of the Champions Tour, was first played in 1978, Kroll was one of the golfers playing. He continued teaching golf as an instructor until a year before his death, despite battling cancer.

Popular posts from this blog

Ryder Cup Captains: The Full List