Biography of Golfer Ben Arda

Ben Arda was a Filipino pro golfer whose biggest successes were in the 1960s and 1970s. He played on the Japan Tour and on the precursor to the Asian Tour. Along the way, he became the first golfer from the Philippines to play in two of the majors.

Date of birth: June 13, 1929

Place of birth: Cebu, Philippines

Date and place of death: December 20, 2006 in Muntinlupa, Philippines

Nicknames: "Bantam Ben," "Toy Tiger," "Mightly Mite" — although his height is sometimes listed in online encyclopedias or old media guides as 5-foot-7 or 5-8, he was actually 5-foot-5.

Arda's Pro Tournament Wins

Arda's biggest wins were the four tournaments he claimed on the Japan Golf Tour:
  • 1973 Dunlop Tournament
  • 1973 Japan Open Golf Championship
  • 1976 Sobu International
  • 1977 Dunlop International
Arda won many other times around Asia; those tournaments on the following list that are noted with an asterisk were events on the Asia Golf Circuit, a predecessor to today's Asian Tour.
  • 1961 Philippine Open
  • 1963 Philippine Open*
  • 1967 Singapore Open*
  • 1969 Indian Open
  • 1970 Malaysian Open*
  • 1973 Singapore Open*
  • 1974 Indonesia Open*
  • 1976 Thailand Open*
  • 1976 Philippine Masters
  • 1977 Philippine Masters
  • 1979 Philippine Open*

In the Majors

Ben Arda played in only two major championships, the 1962 Masters and the 1972 British Open. He missed the cut in the Masters and missed the secondary cut in the Open.

Still, Arda has a place in his country's golf history because of those missed cuts. He was the first Filipino golfer to qualify for either the Masters or the British Open.

More About Ben Arda

Ben Arda started playing golf after becoming a caddie, at age 12, at Club Filipino in Cebu, Philippines. During his loops, he would collect balls lost by other golfers and, at the end of his day, hit them on the driving range. He was self-taught at the beginning of his golf career, and throughout.

Arda began playing golf competitively at age 16 and by 19 was posting high finishes in top pro tournaments in the Philippines. Arda turned pro at age 23 in 1952. Soon he was the head pro at Wack Wack Golf and Country Club near Manila.

Arda's earliest wins in big tournaments were in the Philippine Opens of 1961 (before it was an Asia Circuit event) and 1963 (after it had become an Asia Circuit stop).

Most of the rest of Arda's wins happened in the 1970s, during which he played on the Asia Golf Circuit and for several years on the Japan Golf Tour. Arda won the Asia Circuit order of merit in 1970, beating out runner-up David Graham; and he finished second in 1973 and 1976.

His biggest win was the 1973 Japan Open, a tournament that is one of the JGTO's majors. Arda bested Isao Aoki in a final-round, head-to-head battle that wasn't settled until the final hole. Arda got his biggest paycheck ($25,000) for the win, and also a Nissan sports car that he drove for the next 15 years.

His two wins in the Singapore Open (1967, 1973) were also big ones, and Arda was runner-up in Singapore in 1976 and 1977.

Although Arda never played in America outside of his lone Masters appearance, he was known to American golf fans who watched Shell's Wonderful World of Golf (affiliate link). Arda was featured four times in that series — first in 1966 vs. Dow Finsterwald, and three times in 1969: vs. Frank Beard; vs. Roberto De Vicenzo and Dan Sikes; and vs. Billy Casper and Gene Littler.

Arda also represented the Philippines in the World Cup 16 times, first in 1956 and last in 1977. In the 1975 World Cup Arda led the Philippines to what was then its best showing, third place, and finished tied for second (behind Johnny Miller) in the individual standings. In 1977, Arda helped push his country to its best-ever World Cup finish, second place, behind Seve Ballesteros-led Spain.

When his tournament playing career ended, Arda became a golf instructor. He suffered a stroke in 1990 but continued working at Philippines golf clubs despite ongoing issues related to the stroke. He last worked at Alabang Golf and Country Club in Muntinlupa. Arda was 77 years old when he died in 2006.

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