Golfer Ken Still: 1960s-70s PGA Tour Winner

Ken Still was a professional golfer on the PGA Tour in the 1960s and 1970s. All of his PGA Tour wins, though, happened in the two-year stretch of 1969 and 1970. He also made the American Ryder Cup team during that time.

Full name: Kenneth Allan Still

Date of birth: February 12, 1935

Place of birth: Tacoma, Washington

Date and place of death: March 19, 2017, in Tacoma, Washington

Nicknames: "The Stick," or, his own self-deprecating nicknamed for himself, "The Hotdog Pro." Still explained that when he reached a hole during a tournament, the fans on that hole decided it was a good time to go buy a hot dog.

His Biggest Wins

Still won three times on the PGA Tour:
  • 1969 Florida Citrus Open Invitational
  • 1969 Greater Milwaukee Open
  • 1970 Kaiser International Open Invitational
He also won several Pacific Northwest tournaments that were not part of the PGA Tour: the 1964 British Columbia Open, 1966 Washington Open and 1980 Washington PGA Match Play.

In the Majors

Ken Still played in 20 major championships. His first was the 1958 U.S. Open and last the 1983 U.S. Open, but most of those appearances happened in the years from 1967 through 1973. Still's best finish in a major was solo fifth in the 1970 U.S. Open. In the next major he played, the 1971 Masters, Still tied for sixth. But those were his only two Top 10 finishes in majors. He had Top 20 finishes at the U.S. Open in 1963 and 1971.

More About Ken Still

Ken Still was focused on baseball as a youth until becoming a caddie at Fircrest Golf Club in a Tacoma suburb in 1950. He was 15 when he seriously took up golf, and in his second year on the high school golf team his handicap dropped from 17 to zero in one year. "I did that by hitting about 600 balls a day," Still explained later, "and playing 36 holes a day."

Still was only 18 when he turned pro in 1953, going to work at Fircrest. He made his first appearance in a PGA Tour tournament in 1958.

In 1960, Still made eight starts on the PGA Tour, and 1961 (24 starts) was his first full-time season as a tour player. From the time he turned pro to when he joined the tour was seven years; from the time he joined the tour to his first tour win was nine years.

But he had some close calls before that first win. He was runner-up in the 1961 Cajun Classic and the 1966 Texas Open. The 1966 season was the first one in which Still finished in the Top 60 of the money list, the cut-off at the time to avoid weekly qualifying. He stayed in the Top 60 through 1973.

Still finished second by one stroke to Julius Boros in the 1967 Phoenix Open, and second by one to Dan Sikes in the 1968 St. Paul Open Invitational. Another highlight for Still, of a different type: In the 1965 Houston Open, Still aced the 17th hole to win a Plymouth Barracuda sports car.

In 1969, he finally got that first PGA Tour win. In fact, all three of his tour wins happened in the 18-month period from March 1969 through October 1970.

For win No. 1, Still topped second-place Miller Barber by one to claim the 1969 Florida Citrus Open (the tournament later known as the Bay Hill Invitational and Arnold Palmer Invitational). For win No. 2, Still shot 65 in the final round of the 1969 Greater Milwaukee Open to beat runner-up Gary Player by two strokes. And for his third and final tour win, Still birdied the first playoff hole to beat Lee Trevino and Bert Yancey at the 1970 Kaiser International Open.

His best finish on the PGA Tour money list was 25th in 1969. That was also the year he earned his one trip to the Ryder Cup as part of Team USA.

The 1969 Ryder Cup is remembered today for Jack Nicklaus' final-hole concession of a Tony Jacklin putt that ensured the competition ended in a tie. But prior to that, the tournament was the scene of real or alleged gamesmanship and ill-feelings. Some of that was within the American team room, where most of the U.S. players couldn't stand their captain, Sam Snead. But Still was involved in a couple on-course incidents. (It should be noted here that Still was regarded as "one of the nice guys" throughout his golf career.)

In a first-round fourball, Still was accused of repeatedly standing too close to Maurice Bembridge during Bembridge's putts. In a second-round fourball, the GB&I team of Brian Huggett and Bernard Gallacher accused Still and partner Dave Hill of putting out of turn on one hole, and the hole was awarded to the British pair. That was in error, it was later decided, but Still/Hill won the match to render the incident moot, although it did cause some hard feelings.

It was within that context that Nicklaus decided on his magnanimous gesture to Jacklin — a concession that some of his teammates and especially Captain Snead were angry about at the time.

As for Still, his record in that 1969 Ryder Cup was 1-2-0. His two losses were in that Day 1 foursomes, partnered with Trevino, to Bembridge/Gallacher; and, in singles, to Bembridge by a 1-down score.

Still had another second-place finish (to Chi Chi Rodriguez) in the 1973 Greater Greensboro Open, but by 1974 he fell out of the Top 60 money leaders and never got back in.

He made his final appearance in a PGA Tour tournament in 1985. For his career, Still played in 489 PGA Tour events with the three wins and five seconds, plus three thirds and 42 total Top 10 finishes.

Beginning in 1985, Still played a full schedule for many years on the Champions Tour, but in 307 starts never won. His last start on the senior circuit was in 2004. Still had one runner-up finish, at the 1985 Quadel Seniors Classic, and 24 total Top 10 finishes. His best finish on the senior money list was 14th in 1985.

Still was 82 years old when he died of kidney failure in 2017.

"He was known as much for his gregarious, outgoing personality as his golf accomplishments," the Seattle Times obituary reported, an obit that also called Still a "gregarious local golf legend" and "one of the biggest personalities in Northwest golf history." The Times' obit noted that Still earlier declined a chance to get himself on a waiting list for a kidney transplant. A year before his death, Still told the newspaper, "I'm 81. What if someone 25 years old or younger needs a kidney? I'm not going to take it from them."

Still is a member of the Pacific Northwest PGA Hall of Fame.

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