Mike Turnesa: Profile of the PGA Tour Winner

Mike Turnesa was a club pro for his entire adult life and a touring pro, playing on the PGA Tour, from the 1920s into the 1950s. A member of a famous set of golfing brothers, his grandson won on the PGA Tour in the 2000s. Mike himself won multiple times on the PGA Tour, but is most-famous today as the loser of a major championship to Ben Hogan.

Full name: Michael C. Turnesa Sr.

Date of birth: June 9, 1907

Place of birth: Elmsford, New York

Date and place of death: October 31, 2000 in Sleepy Hollow, New York

Turnesa's Biggest Wins

The PGA Tour today credits Mike Turnesa with six official tour wins:
  • 1931 Mid-South Open
  • 1932 Metropolitan PGA Pro-Pro (partnered by Phil Turnesa)
  • 1932 Metropolitan PGA Championship
  • 1932 Grassy Sprain Course Tournament
  • 1933 Westchester Open
  • 1934 Miami Biltmore Open*
(*Olin Dutra won what was called the "Bomber Division" in the 1934 Miami Biltmore Open, while Turnesa won what was called the "Pursuit Division." The PGA Tour credits both golfers with official tour wins.)

Other wins by Turnesa, outside of the PGA Tour, included the 1941 Westchester Open, the Westchester PGA Championships of 1942 and 1947, plus the 1949 Metropolitan PGA Championship.

In the Majors

If not for an obstacle named Ben Hogan, Mike Turnesa might well be known as a major championship winner. He reached the championship match of the 1948 PGA Championship, at a time when that major used a match-play format. Unfortunately for Turnesa, there he ran into Hogan. And Hogan won the 36-hole final by a 7-and-6 score, claiming his second PGA Championship title.

Hogan jumped out to a good early lead by shooting 66 in the morning 18. Turnesa rallied at the start of the afternoon 18, but after Hogan won the 28th, 29th and 30th holes, the match was essentially over.

To reach that championship match, Turnesa beat Charlie Sheppard in the first round; Zell Eaton (on the second extra hole) in Round 2; Al Smith in the third round; Johnny Bulla, 6 and 5, in the quarterfinals; and, in a comeback victory, Claude Harmon, 1-up on the 37th hole, in the semifinals.

The 1948 PGA Championship was the last of Turnesa's nine career runner-up finishes in PGA Tour events.

In his career, Mike Turnesa played in 26 majors, first at the 1928 U.S. Open and last at the 1956 PGA Championship. The 1948 PGA Championship was his only Top 10 finish, but he also reached the Round of 16 (which sometimes is classified as finishing tied for 9th place) in the PGA Championships of 1941, 1945 and 1947. Turnesa played in the inaugural Masters in 1934, and his best Masters finish was tied for 25th in 1935. His best U.S. Open finish was tied for 26th in 1946.

Turnesa lost in the second round at the 1945 PGA Championship, but the match against Byron Nelson was quite famous in its time. Mike threw 68-69 at Nelson during Nelson's 18-win miracle year, and held a 2-up lead with four holes to play in the 36-hole match. But Nelson then went birdie-birdie-eagle-par to win the match (and went on to win the championship).

More About Mike Turnesa

Mike Turnesa was part of one of the most-famous golfing families in the sport, and one of the most accomplished. He was one of seven brothers, all of whom became prominent golfers. Two brothers, Doug and Frank, were well-known club pros. Only one, Willie "the Wedge" Turnesa, never turned pro, but Willie won U.S. Amateur and British Amateur championships.

Four of the Turnesa boys became PGA Tour players. Jim won the 1952 PGA Championship; Joe had 14 PGA Tour wins; Mike added six wins and Phil had one official PGA Tour victory.

Mike's first job in the game was working in the pro shop at Metropolis Country Club in White Plains, New York. After that he took an assistant professional job at Inwood Country Club on Long Island.

He began playing on the PGA Tour in the late 1920s, his tour career stretching from 1927 through 1957. In 1931, he took the title of "playing professional" at Fairview Country Club in Greenwich, Connecticut.

That was the same year Mike earned his first PGA Tour win, at the 1931 Mid-South Open. He had finished runner-up in the same event a year earlier, and had two second-place finishes prior to that. In addition to his six tour victories, he finished second nine other times, first in 1929 and last at the 1948 PGA Championship.

His near-misses included some big tournaments, such as the 1942 Hale America (sometimes considered a replacement for the U.S. Open, canceled due to World War II) and the 1942 Canadian Open. He was runner-up to Hogan in the Hale America plus the 1946 North & South Open; and runner-up to Sam Snead in the 1944 Portland Open.

The year 1932 was Mike Turnesa's best on tour, with three victories. In one of those, the Metropolitan PGA Pro-Pro, a team event, he was partnered to victory by his brother Phil.

In 1933 he added the Westchester Open title, probably his biggest (and a tournament he finished second in two other times). His final tour win was in 1934, although he remained a threat for years to come as seen in some of his runner-up showings already mentioned.

Mike had multiple wins in non-Tour events, mostly PGA chapter tournaments. One of those was the Met PGA Amateur-Professional Championship in 1946, in which he was partnered to the win by brother Willie.

In 1942, Turnesa became the head pro at Knollwood Country Club in Elmsford, New York, the place of his birth and the Turnesa clan's home base. He had that job until 1986, then had the title of Director of Golf all the way until the year 2000.

In 1963 he won the Met PGA Professional of the Year award, and in 1986 received the Metropolitan PGA Chapter's Sam Snead Award for contributions to the PGA and to golf in general. Also in 1986, Turnesa was inducted into the Metropolitan PGA Hall of Fame.

Turnesa was 93 years old when he died in the year 2000. But seven years later Mike was back in the news: His grandson, Marc Turnesa, won the 2007 Miccosukee Championship on the Nationwide Tour. That victory helped get Marc onto the PGA Tour, and in 2008 he won the PGA Tour Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. Mike and Marc thus became the first grandfather/grandson pair in PGA Tour history to both record official tour wins.

Popular posts from this blog

Ryder Cup Captains: The Full List