Wiffy Cox, Prominent 1930s PGA Tour Golfer

Wiffy Cox was a golfer who earned all his wins on the PGA Tour in the 1930s. He had one great year in which he led the tour in wins, followed by a long, great career as a club pro at one of America's top clubs.

Full name: Wilfred Hiram Cox

Date of birth: October 27, 1896

Place of birth: Brooklyn, New York

Date and place of death: February 20, 1969 in Washington, D.C.

Nickname: Wiffy

Cox's Biggest Wins

Cox is credited today with nine official PGA Tour victories: The 1930 Mid-South Open Bestball and 1931 Miami International Four-Ball were team tournaments. In both cases, Cox's partner was Willie Macfarlane. In addition, Cox also won non-Tour events, including the 1931 Florida Open, 1942 Maryland Open and 1943 Long Island PGA Championship.

In the Majors

Wiffy Cox's best finish in a major was a tie for third place in the 1934 U.S. Open, where a bit of bad luck might have cost him a shot at the title. On the 12th hole in the final round, Cox's drive landed on a spectator's coat, which was laid out on the ground. The spectator reacted by grabbing the coat up, which sent Cox's ball rolling out of bounds. Under the rules at the time, Cox was given a 2-stroke penalty. He wound up finishing two strokes behind the winner, Olin Dutra.

Cox first played in a major at the 1923 PGA Championship, and last played in on at the 1939 U.S. Open. He had four Top 10 finishes — in fact, they were all Top 5 finishes — in U.S. Opens. They happened in the six-year period from 1931-36: He tied for fourth in the 1931 U.S. Open, was fifth in 1932, tied for third in 1934 and tied for fifth in 1936.

He never advanced beyond the round of 32 in the match-play PGA Championship, and Cox's best finish in The Masters was 12th in 1937. He never played the British Open.

More About Wiffy Cox

Wiffy Cox grew up in a tough neighborhood in Brooklyn, but got his start in golf at an early age through caddying at various Westchester County (New York) golf courses.

As a golfer, he developed a wide stance and three-quarter backswing. He also acquired the nickname "Wiffy," which you might surmise was related to his given first name, Wilfred. But as the story goes, he had a bit of a wild swing in his earliest days as a golfer, sometimes even missing the ball. A golf pro working with him at that time supposedly once told him that he could be a great golfer if he could just make contact every time he swung the club. "Whiffing" became the nickname "Wiffy."

But the youngster prone to whiffing grew up to be a formidable PGA Tour player, one who had one truly great year.

After his first win at the Mid-South Open Bestball in 1930, Cox put together a memorable 1931 season. He won four times on the PGA Tour (including the prestigious North and South Open), a total that led the tour in wins that year. He added another win in the non-Tour Florida Open, and recorded the first of his Top 5 U.S. Open finishes. Cox also earned a place on Team USA in the 1931 Ryder Cup, where he went 2-0 including a singles win over Abe Mitchell.

Cox won twice more in 1934 on the PGA Tour, and in 1936 defeated Wild Bill Mehlhorn in a playoff to claim the Sacramento Open. Cox's final win credited as a PGA Tour victory was the 1937 District Open, a home win for him in the District of Columbia as he was then the head pro at Kenwood Country Club in Bethesda, Maryland.

Like virtually all tour players of his era, Cox also worked club pro jobs along the way. From 1921 through 1935, Cox was head pro at Dyker Beach Golf Course in Brooklyn. During that time period, he helped establish the Long Island Chapter of the PGA of America. He was famous enough in his native New York stomping grounds that in 1931 a game company based in Long Island created the Wiffy Cox Shawnee Ridge Golf Course board game, a collector's item today.

He moved to Kenwood CC in 1935, then, after the 1937 PGA Tour season, Cox left the tour when he took over one of the plum positions in American golf: head pro at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda. It's a position Cox held until his death 31 years later, a time during which he got to play golf with, and teach, United States Senators and Congressmen and Presidents.

Cox did have one break from Congressional CC. During World War II, the OSS, a precursor to the CIA, occupied the golf club as its headquarters. Cox spent part of the war serving as head pro at a Long Island club, Hempstead Country Club, but also spent part of the war in the Navy as a fireman on board a battleship.

When the war ended, Congressional CC went back to being a golf course, and Cox went back to being its head pro (one of his assistants at that point was Lew Worsham, another PGA Tour winner).

Cox served a stint as president of the PGA Middle-Atlantic Chapter, and was named the chapter's Pro of the Year for 1963. As a club pro, his motto was, "Remember that other people's pleasure is your business and take care of it well at all times."

He was also in demand as an after-dinner speaker, and as a golf instructor. As a teacher he Cox often preached slowing down, both one's decision-making on the golf course and also one's swing, saying that "only the champions can hit a golf ball slow enough."

Cox was 72 years old when he died in 1969. He had played his last round of golf only three weeks earlier, shooting even par over nine holes.

Cox is a member of the Metropolitan PGA and Middle-Atlantic PGA chapters halls of fame.

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