Waco Turner Open (PGA Tour Tournament)

The Waco Turner Open was a golf tournament on the PGA Tour in the early 1960s, played in Oklahoma. It is famous in tour history as the place were, in 1964, an African-American golfer first won an official PGA Tour event.

First played: 1961

Last played: 1964

This tournament did not, as it name suggests to many, take place in Waco, Texas. Waco Turner was the name of the flashy Oklahoma oilman who put on the event. Turner was prone to roaming the grounds of his golf course wearing pearl-handled revolvers on his hips, among other notable quirks. He also paid out bonus money to golfers for things such as birdies and eagles.

The Waco Turner Open was played in early May all four times it took place, and was an opposite-field tournament. One of tour's then-biggest events, the Tournament of Champions, concluded on the same day and always overshadowed the Waco Turner Open.

That was mostly true even in 1964, when Pete Brown, with a one-stroke victory over Dan Sikes, became the first Black golfer to win an official PGA Tour tournament. (Charlie Sifford won the 1957 Long Beach Open, but that tournament was an unofficial-money event that year.) Brown had to get up-and-down from rocks on the final hole to secure the win, but he chipped to within 30 inches then made the putt. But since Jack Nicklaus was winning the Tournament of Champions the same day, most newspapers gave Nicklaus the bigger coverage.

Butch Baird won twice on the PGA Tour, first at the Waco Turner Open in 1961 and then at the Texas Open in 1976. That span of 15 1/2 years between wins was, at the time, the all-time PGA Tour record for longest gap between wins. That record wasn't broken until 2005.

Also known as: Waco Turner Open Invitational

Winners of the Waco Turner Open

1961 — Butch Baird, 281
1962 — Johnny Pott, 276
1963 — Gay Brewer, 280
1964 — Pete Brown, 280

Golf course: The tournament was played at Waco Turner's place, called Turner Lodge and Country Club, in Burneyville, Oklahoma.

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