Golfer Henry Picard: Major Champion, Hogan's Hero

Pro golfer Henry Picard
Henry Picard was a quiet but highly respected pro — both as a touring pro and as a club professional — who won a pair of major championships and 26 PGA Tour tournaments total, most of them in the 1930s. He was a major influence on golfers across multiple generations, from Sam Snead and Ben Hogan to Beth Daniel.

Full name: Henry Gilford Picard

Date of birth: November 28, 1906

Place of birth: Plymouth, Massachusetts

Date and place of death: April 30, 1997, in Charleston, South Carolina

Nickname: Pic (pronounced "pick")

Picard's PGA Tour Wins

Henry Picard is credited with 26 official PGA Tour wins, the first in 1932, the last in 1945:
  • 1932 Mid-South Open (tie for first place — no playoff — with Al Watrous and Al Houghton)
  • 1934 North and South Open
  • 1935 Agua Caliente Open
  • 1935 Tournament of the Gardens Open
  • 1935 Atlanta Open
  • 1935 Metropolitan Open
  • 1935 Inverness Invitational Four-Ball (partnered by Johnny Revolta)
  • 1936 Tournament of the Gardens Open
  • 1936 North and South Open
  • 1936 Hershey Open
  • 1937 Tournament of the Gardens Open
  • 1937 Hershey Open
  • 1937 St. Augustine Pro-Amateur
  • 1937 Miami International Four-Ball (partnered by Johnny Revolta)
  • 1938 Pasadena Open
  • 1938 Masters Tournament
  • 1939 New Orleans Open
  • 1939 Thomasville Open
  • 1939 Metropolitan Open
  • 1939 Anthracite Open
  • 1939 PGA Championship
  • 1939 Inverness Invitational Four-Ball (partnered by Johnny Revolta)
  • 1941 New Orleans Open
  • 1941 Harlingen Open
  • 1945 Miami Open

In the Majors

Picard won two major championships, the 1938 Masters and the 1939 PGA Championship. In his first major win, weather delays pushed his victory at the 1938 Masters to a Monday. Picard was tied for fourth place after the first round, moved up to second following Round 2, and took a one-stroke lead after the third round. In the final round, he scored 70 (nobody who finished in the Top 10 broke 70) and won by two strokes over runners-up Harry Cooper and Ralph Guldahl.

At the 1939 PGA Championship, Picard reached the final by beating Earl Martin, Joe Zorhordt, Al Watrous, Rod Munday and Dick Metz. A much bigger name awaited Picard in the championship match: Byron Nelson. Picard was 1-down going to the 36th hole, where, after Nelson missed a 10-foot birdie putt, Picard sank his own birdie to even the match. On the first extra hole, Picard again made his birdie putt while Nelson missed his, giving Picard the win.

Picard's best finish in a U.S. Open was a tie for fifth in 1936, and his best finish in a British Open was sixth place in 1935. In all, Picard had 15 Top 10 finishes in majors.

His other best finishes were fourth at the 1935 Masters, and reaching the semifinals of the PGA Championship in 1938 and 1950. In the 1938 semis, Picard went out to Paul Runyan, 4-and-3. In the 1950 semis, at age 43, Picard fell to Henry Williams Jr. on the 38th hole.

How Picard Helped Hogan, Snead, Daniel

Henry Picard helped hundreds of golfers over the years, maybe even thousands through his positions at various clubs. And he helped many more pros (or future pros) than just Ben Hogan, Sam Snead and Beth Daniel, although those are his best-known "students." Picard often spent time on driving ranges prior to PGA Tour tournaments in the 1930s and 1940s handing out advice and doing swing checks for any fellow pros who asked.

Snead was an inconsistent driver before he sought help from Picard, and one of the all-time great drivers after he got that help. But Picard's fixes for Snead were simple tweaks. One was a minor change to Snead's club position at the top of his swing, according to the World Golf Hall of Fame. The other was urging Snead to change drivers, Picard believing that Snead's driver was too light and too whippy. Snead won on tour the week after Picard gave him a heavier driver with a stiffer shaft, and later called the change, "the single greatest discovery I ever made in golf."

Picard's relationship with Hogan is best-known. He offered to bankroll Hogan to help him stay on tour during Hogan's lean years (Hogan won only once in his first 10 years playing PGA Tour events). And Picard helped get Hogan into the field at Hogan's first win, the 1938 Hershey Four-Ball.

In 1940, his hook getting the better of him, Hogan sought out Picard's help during an instruction session in Miami. Again, Picard offered some relatively simple advide: He weakened Hogan's then-very-strong grip, and, according to the World Golf Hall of Fame, told Hogan that he "needed to hit the ball with more power to close the club face."

Hogan won four times that year, and the rest is history. Hogan, who called Picard "the greatest teacher I ever knew," dedicated his book Ben Hogan's Power Golf (affiliate link) to Picard.

When Picard left his club pro job at Hershey (Pa.) Country Club, he arranged for Hogan to get the position. It provided the financial support Hogan needed in those early days of his tour success to keep playing.

Decades later, in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Picard was a huge influence on future LPGA Hall of Famer Beth Daniel. Hanging out at the Country Club of Charleston (South Carolina), Picard spied the 12-year-old Daniel playing with cheap golf balls. He began helping her surreptitiously, by putting high quality golf balls in her bag when she wasn't around. Then he began helping her directly with hands-on instruction.

In an article published on GolfChannel.com in 2020, Randall Mell talked to Daniel about Picard's teaching. This is an excerpt:

"Daniel remembers his clever, highly effective teaching style. Picard regularly challenged her to try to figure out things for herself, before he would step in to help.

" 'In the mornings, he would find me and ask me a question,' Daniel said. 'He would say something like, 'How do you hit it low?’ Or, 'How do you hit a fade'?”

Daniel would head out to the range or the course, and work on finding the answers, then find Picard at the end of the day and tell him what she had learned. “That was his way of making me work on my game," Daniel told Mell. "It used to scare me to death, putting all this pressure on me. I’m 10, 11, 12 years old, and I’d spend all day working on hitting it low, or hitting a fade."

From Mell's article:

" 'If I was wrong, he would show me, and then tell me I could go work on it,' Daniel said. 'If my answer was correct, he would just say, 'Thank you.' And he would walk away. Everyone at the club knew, that was his way of saying you got it right'."
Another one of the golfers who got instruction from Picard was Jack Grout, who became a famous golf instructor himself as Jack Nicklaus' teacher.

More About Henry Picard

Picard got into the game, as so many great golfers of his day did, through caddying. He worked at Plymouth Country Club in his Massachusetts hometown. By age 17, he had gotten so good at playing that he turned pro.

Within a few years, Picard was the head pro at the Country Club of Charleston, the first of many clubs he worked at over his professional life. Others included Hershey Country Club in Hershey, Pennsylvania; Twin Hills Golf & Country Club in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; the Country Club of Harrisburg (Pa.); Canterbury Golf Club in Cleveland, Ohio; and Seminole Golf Club in Palm Beach, Florida. Picard was at Hershey Country Club for many of his pro wins and both his majors, and was sometimes called in the press "the Hershey Hurricane."

His first victory on the PGA Tour was in 1932. Starting in 1935 and continuing through 1939, Picard won at least twice each year. He won five times in 1935, four times in 1937 and six times in 1939, when he was the PGA Tour's leading money winner. Picard's 26 career wins, as of this writing, are 22nd-best in PGA Tour history, and he won 21 of those 26 in that period from 1935-39.

Both his major championship wins, in 1938 and 1939, came after Picard switched from an overlapping grip to an interlocking grip. And that was something he only did following a thumb injury.

"I had my day. Don't kid yourself. I knew who could beat me, but once in a while I beat them." — Henry Picard
In addition to Picard's 26 official PGA Tour wins, he won multiple other pro tournaments, too. Those included the Carolinas Open four times (1925-26, 1932-33), and the Argentine Open in 1937.

Two other tournament wins for Picard were the Miami International Four-Balls in 1935 and 1936. That event was a PGA Tour event in some years, but not in 1935-36. Picard's partner in these two wins was Johnny Revolta, with whom he also partnered for three of his PGA Tour victories.

Picard and Revolta also partnered on Team USA in the 1935 Ryder Cup to win a foursomes match, but lost their foursomes in the 1937 Ryder Cup. In his two Ryder Cup appearances, Picard also won twice in singles, beating Ernest Whitcombe in 1935 and Arthur Lacey in 1937.

Picard's final tour victory was in 1945, although he continued playing The Masters until 1970. He retired from his last club pro position (at Seminole, where Hogan was a member and often played) in 1973. Although he wasn't officially on the staff at Country Club of Charleston after that, he spent a lot of time at the club in his 70s and 80s. Picard was 90 years old when he died in 1997.

Picard is a member of the South Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame, Ohio Golf Hall of Fame, the PGA of America Hall of Fame, and the World Golf Hall of Fame. Beth Daniel gave the introductory speed when he was inducted in the WGHOF in 2006:

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