Jim Ferree: Profile of Stylish Golfer

Jim Ferree was a golfer on the PGA Tour in the 1950s and 1960s, and then on the Senior Tour from its earliest seasons in the 1980s into the 1990s. He won on both tours, and also served as the model for an early version of the Senior Tour's logo.

Full name: Purvis Jennings Ferree

Date of birth: June 10, 1931

Place of birth: Pinebluff, North Carolina

Date and place of death: March 14, 2023, in Hilton Head, South Carolina

Nickname: Jim

Ferree's Pro Wins

Jim Ferree won once on the PGA Tour:
  • 1958 Vancouver Open Invitational
He had two wins on the Champions Tour:
  • 1986 Greater Grand Rapids Open
  • 1991 Bell Atlantic Classic
His other wins in professional tournaments included three on the Caribbean Tour: 1961 Jamaica Open, 1962 Panama Open and 1963 Maracaibo Open. He also won the British Columbia Centennial Open in 1958, the Children's Memorial Hospital Classic in 1964, the 1966 Carolinas PGA Championship and 1967 Georgia PGA Championship; plus the Tri-State PGA Championship in 1978 and 1981.

In the Majors

Ferree played in major championships 14 times during his PGA Tour career, all of them either the U.S. Open or PGA Championship. His first appearance in a major was in the 1957 U.S. Open, in which he tied for 17th. Ferree's final appearance in a major was in the 1979 PGA Championship (m/c). That 17th-place finish in his first major remained his career-best. Ferree had one other Top 20 in a major, tied for 19th at the 1958 U.S. Open.

More About Jim Ferree

Jim Ferree grew up in North Carolina, where his father was the golf pro for many year at Old Town Golf Club in Winston-Salem. With his father's instruction, Jim was good enough to get a scholarship to play on the golf team at the University of North Carolina. He won the Southern Conference championship there in 1953, and graduated later that year.

After college he joined the Army, and after the Army he turned pro. That was late in 1955; the following year was his first playing the PGA Tour.

Two years later, Ferree had his first — and what turned out to be his only — victory on the PGA Tour. It happened at the 1958 Vancouver Open, helped along by an 11-under 61 (still a rare score on tour at the time) in the second round. He won by a stroke over runner-up Billy Casper.

Ferree came close in a couple other tournaments. He was runner-up in the 1959 Kentucky Derby Open (by one stroke to Don Whitt), and also second place in the 1959 Arlington Hotel Open (by one stroke to Gene Littler). Ferree finished 22nd on the PGA Tour money list in 1959, his career-best.

Ferree also played the Caribbean Tour, a loosely organized circuit, loosely affiliated with the PGA Tour and played by many PGA Tour golfers during the winter, in the 1960s. He won three times, including the Maracaibo Open Invitational in 1962. He was runner-up in that tournament in both 1961 and 1963. His win in the 1962 Panama Open was by one stroke over Billy Maxwell.

Ferree played the PGA Tour full time for 11 years, through 1966, then moved on to a club pro career. For his PGA Tour career, Ferree's final totals were 295 tournaments played, one win, two second-place finishes and four third-place showings, 12 Top 5s and 29 Top 10s.

From the 1960s forward, Ferree held a series of club pro positions, including many years at Westmoreland Country Club in Export, Pennsylvania. He was also at clubs in South Carolina, including Long Cove Club in Hilton Head.

His time in Pennsylvania was especially fruitful for his competitive career, which continued in PGA sectional, regional and national tournaments. Ferree won the Tri-State PGA Section Championship and the Tri-State Open Championship twice each. He was the Tri-State PGA Section Player of the Year three times (1976, 1978, 1979), and then its Senior Player of the Year three times (1981, 1982, 1983). And he finished runner-up after losing in a playoff at the 1978 PGA Club Professional Championship.

Ferree turned 50 in 1981 and joined the Champions Tour, then called the Senior PGA Tour and in just its second year of existence. He had a best finish of tied fifth that season, but came 15th on the money list.

Ferree had no wins in his earliest Senior Tour seasons, but he was a prominent player thanks in part to his attire. Ferree liked to play wearing vintage outfits, including knickers and a flat hat (Hogan-style). Several other early Senior Tour golfers dressed similarly. When PGA Tour commissioner Deane Beman decided to redesign one of the tour's early logos, he wanted the figure in the logo to represent that vintage appearance. And Ferree served as the model for the logo.

Despite no wins, Ferree was a consistent contender into the mid-1980s. He was 11th on the money list in 1983, 13th in 1984, and had his only Top 10 money list finish in 1985 with ninth place.

But he finally did win. Ferree's first victory on the senior circuit came in 1986, when he won the Greater Grand Rapids Open in a playoff. Ferree beat Gene Littler and Chi Chi Rodriguez with a birdie on the first extra hole.

Earlier that year, Ferree had lost in a playoff to Don January at the Greenbrier American Express Championship. He also got into playoffs, but lost, at the 1987 Seniors International Golf Championship (to Al Geiberger) and the 1989 GTE Suncoast Classic (to Bob Charles, with Harold Henning and Dave Hill also in the playoff).

He finished 11th on the money list for 1986, but had no more top 20 finishes after that. Ferree did win again, though, at the 1991 Bell Atlantic Classic at age 60. In 1993, at age 62, he posted three runner-up showings and finished 22nd on the money list.

That last Top 25 money list finish, for the 1993 Champions Tour season, came a year after Ferree was treated for prostate cancer. He won the tour's Comeback Player of the Year Award for 1993. The following year Ferree was voted the recipient of the Ben Hogan Award for perseverance.

On the Champions Tour, Ferree totaled 407 career starts, with two victories, 12 runners-up and 10 third-place finishes. He had 47 Top 5s and 81 Top 10s.

During some years of the 1980s and 1990s, the Champions Tour included a separate competition for those 60 years old and over — a tournament within the tournament — called the Georgia-Pacific Grand Champions, or Super Senior, division. Ferree won nine of those 60-and-over titles in 1993, tying Joe Jimenez and Don January for the single-season record.

Those wins were "unofficial" Champions Tour wins, not counted by the tour among Ferree's victory total, and the money not counted toward his season or career totals. Similarly, the age-division titles Ferree won in the Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf (1997 with partner George Bayer; 2002 and 2003 with partner Miller Barber) were unofficial.

Ferree is a member of the Carolinas Golf Hall of Fame, South Carolina Golf Hall of Fame, Low Country Golf Hall of Fame, Western Pennsylvania Golf Hall of Fame, Tri State PGA Section Hall of Fame, and the University of North Carolina Hall of Fame.

Popular posts from this blog

Ryder Cup Captains: The Full List