Henry Ciuci: Golfer Won on PGA Tour in 1920s, 1930s

Henri Ciuci was a professional golfer from his teens, both a touring pro and a club pro. Always associated with New York, Ciuci won several tournaments on the PGA Tour in the late 1920s and early 1930s.

Date of birth: April 25, 1903

Place of birth: Rye, New York

Date and place of death: January 31, 1986

Ciuci's Biggest Wins

  • 1928 Florida Open
  • 1928 Norfolk Open
  • 1929 New England Pro Golfers Tournament
  • 1931 Fort Lauderdale Open
  • 1931 Coral Gables Open
  • 1931 Connecticut Open (tie with Walter Hagen, no playoff)

In the Majors

Ciuci played in 17 major championships, including the inaugural Masters in 1934. His first appearance was in the 1923 U.S. Open, and last in the 1940 U.S. Open.

Ciuci's best shot at a win was in the 1928 U.S. Open. He shared the first-round lead there, and after 54 holes was tied for second, two strokes behind Bobby Jones. But Ciuci shot 80 in the final round and dropped to a tie for sixth place. (Jones had a 77 in the final round, was tied by Johnny Farrell, then Farrell won the playoff.)

That was one of two Top 10 finishes in the stroke-play majors for Ciuci. A year later in the 1929 U.S. Open, he finished solo seventh.

He reached the quarterfinals before losing in the 1924 PGA Championship, and went out in the Round of 16 at the 1929 PGA Championship. Ciuci also had Top 20 finishes in the U.S. Opens of 1932, 1933 and 1934.

More About Henry Ciuci

The son of Italian immigrants, Henry Ciuci left high school after two years to turn pro. By age 17 he was listed as a golf instructor in the 1920 census.

Henry and his older brother, Al Ciuci, were both tutored early by George Hughes, the pro at Apawamis Club in their hometown of Rye, New York. Al Ciuci played sporadically in some tour events, too, but became known as a club pro. Al helped Gene Sarazen get started in golf, and was the pro at Fresh Meadow Country Club on Long Island for more than 40 years.

Henry's first brush with tour success was finishing runner-up to Al Watrous at the 1925 Corpus Christi Open. Three years later, when Ciuci won his first tour event at the 1928 Florida Open, it was by two strokes over runner-up Watrous.

And something happened at that 1928 Florida Open that has Henry Ciuci's name in the PGA Tour record book still today. Ciuci began the final round trailing the third-round leader, Bobby Cruickshank, by six strokes. But Cruickshank shot 80 in that final round, Ciuci 70, and Ciuci won at 285. Cruickshank dropped to third place at 289. Cruickshank today still shares the PGA Tour record for largest 54-hole lead lost. It was Ciuci who caught and beat him.

Ciuci won twice on the PGA Tour in 1928, once in 1929 and three times in 1931. His win at the 1931 Fort Lauderdale Open was by one stroke over Johnny Farrell and Willie Klein. He also won the inaugural Connecticut Open in 1931.

Ciuci had multiple other close calls during the 1928-32 period. He was runner-up in the 1928 Massachusetts Open, the 1928 Mid-South Open, the 1931 Miami Open (by one stroke to Joe Turnesa), the 1932 Long Island Open and the 1932 Mid-South Open.

In preparation for the 1930 U.S. Open at Interlachen in Minnesota, Ciuci carded a 69 in a practice round on the course. That established a new course record at the time, but it last only a few days until Bobby Jones carded a 68 in the third round of the tournament..

Nearing age 40, he enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1942 after the United States entered World War II, and served for one year. On his enlistment card, Henry listed Fresh Meadow as his place of residence.

He worked at Fresh Meadow for decades as assistant to his brother. In 1937, at Fresh Meadow, Henry was partner to Babe Ruth in a 9-hole charity exhibition match against the team of Al Ciuci and John "the Mysterious" Montague. Henry and the Babe lost, 1-down.

For years after his PGA Tour days ended, Ciuci continued to play in Long Island PGA chapter tournaments, winning into the 1950s.

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