Ernie Vossler: Bio of the PGA Tour-Winning Golfer

Golf pro Ernie Vossler in the 1960s
Ernie Vossler was a PGA Tour golfer who won several times in the late 1950s/early 1960s. His impact on the game was greater as a club pro, however, as he developed multiple famous golf courses.

Full name: Ernest Orville Vossler

Date of birth: November 29, 1928

Place of birth: Fort Worth, Texas

Date and place of death: February 16, 2013 in La Quinta, California

Vossler's Biggest Wins

Vossler is credited with three victories on the PGA Tour: He also won the Panama Open, not a PGA Tour event, in 1960. As an amateur, Vossler won the 1954 Texas State Amateur.

In the Majors

Vossler's best finish in a major was a tie (with Arnold Palmer and Doug Ford) for fifth place in the 1959 U.S. Open. He finished four strokes behind the winner, Billy Casper. That was his only Top 10 finish in a major, but he did have two other Top 20s: tied for 15th in the 1961 PGA Championship and tied for 18th in the 1966 PGA Championship.

Vossler's first appearance in a major was in the 1955 U.S. Open, where he finished 21st. His final appearance in a major was in the 1969 PGA Championship, where he missed the cut.

More About Ernie Vossler

Ernie Vossler's game as a youth was tennis, and he envisioned a future playing that sport. But in his senior year at Paschal High School in Fort Worth, Texas, the school's golf team was down to just three players. The golf coach pressed Vossler into service. By the end of that summer, Ernie was shooting in the 70s.

By the following summer, Vossler was winning the Fort Worth Amateur title. His biggest win as an amateur was the Texas State Am in 1954. Vossler turned pro that year and made the cut in all three PGA Tour tournaments he got into, but wasn't yet settled on a career path: He was also apprenticing in his father's plumbing business. But in 1955, he made his choice, and it was golf.

He played in the 1955 U.S. Open and nearly cracked the Top 20. And Vossler joined the PGA Tour in 1955, recording two Top 20 finishes in his last three starts.

In 1956, Vossler earned an endorsement contract with Wilson Sporting Goods on the strength of two runner-up finishes (Texas Open, Arlington Hotel Open) and four other Top 6 finishes.

But Vossler struggled in 1957 with no Top 10 finishes. There was also an incident during the Kentucky Derby Open in which Vossler and three other golfers, after a dispute with the tour, deliberately played poorly in order to miss the cut. Vossler was suspended for 30 days by the PGA Tour, but after promising good behavior, that punishment was replaced by a fine and 90 days probation.

But Vossler bounced back with his career year in 1958. He posted his first tour victory at the Kansas City Open, where he beat runner-up Billy Maxwell by two strokes. He also recorded multiple second-place finishes — including at that same Kentucky Derby Open, where he was runner-up to Gary Player in Player's first career PGA Tour win — and finished a career-best 19th on the money list.

In addition to the second-place finishes already mentioned, Vossler was runner-up in the 1958 Denver Open, 1959 Valencia Open and 1959 El Paso Open. He also finished second in several non-tour events, such as the 1958 Puerto Rico Open and the Panama Opens of 1961 and 1963.

The Panama Open of 1960 was another victory, albeit not a PGA Tour win. Vossler did win once on the PGA Tour in each of 1959 and 1960, though, at the Tijuana Open and Carling Open, respectively.

Vossler cut back to 12 tournaments in 1961, then played just six PGA Tour events in 1962 and played only a handful per year the rest of the years of the 1960s. His final PGA Tour appearance was in 1973. For his career, the PGA Tour credits Vossler with 173 tournaments played, 159 cuts made and 25 Top 10 finishes.

During his tour career, Vossler also spent time as a pro on the staff at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, a course that has hosted many majors and big tournaments. It was the beginning of a long, fruitful career in golf outside of tournament play.

After the 1961 PGA Tour season, Vossler took the job of head pro at Quail Creek in Oklahoma City. While at Quail Creek in 1968, Vossler spearheaded it becoming one of the earliest golf courses in the U.S. to add purpose-built, concrete pathways for golf carts. And Quail Creek was the site of the PGA Tour's Oklahoma City Invitational from 1962-67. In 1967, Vossler was named PGA Golf Professional of the Year.

In 1974, Vossler and fellow former PGA Tour pro Joe Walser Jr. founded Oak Tree Golf Club in Edmond, Oklahoma, a course that went on to host major championships.

In the early 1970s, Vossler, Walser and PGA Tour winner Johnny Pott started a golf course development business, first in Oklahoma. By 1980, Vossler and Walser were serving as vice presidents of Landmark Land Company, a golf course and real estate development company, and Vossler moved to the Coachella Valley in California. Big-name golf courses already existed around Palm Springs and Palm Desert there, but in his role at Landmark Vossler began shepherding many major development projects that combined high-end golf clubs with surrounding housing developments.

A news obituary of Vossler in The Desert Sun newspaper of the Coachella Valley, by golf writer Larry Bohannan, stated that Vossler, in his role at Landmark, "helped reshape the Coachella Valley in the 1980s and 1990s." Among the courses built under Vossler's vision were "the first four courses at PGA West in La Quinta, all three courses at La Quinta Resort, two courses at Westin Mission Hills Resort in Rancho Mirage and one of the three courses at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage."

After moving to California, Vossler met LPGA founder and World Golf Hall of Fame member Marlene (Bauer) Hagge. They got married in 1995 and lived in La Quinta, California, together until Vossler's death at age 84 in 2013.

Vossler was inducted into the PGA Golf Professional Hall of Fame in 2005 and the Oklahoma Golf Hall of Fame in 2007.

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