Bio of Pro Golfer Marty Furgol

Marty Furgol was a PGA Tour golfer from the late 1940s into the mid-1960s. He won five times on the tour during that span. He was known during his career for his eccentrities and, sometimes, gamesmanship.

Full name: Martin Andrew Furgol

Date of birth: January 5, 1916

Place of birth: New York Mills, New York

Date and place of death: November 23, 2005 in New Port Richey, Florida

Nickname: "Marty" was short for "Martin." Also, "Crazy Marty" because he often talked to himself on the golf course.

His PGA Tour Wins

Marty Furgol is credited with five official victories in PGA Tour tournaments:
  • 1951 Houston Open
  • 1951 Western Open
  • 1954 National Celebrities Open
  • 1959 San Diego Open Invitational
  • 1959 El Paso Open

In the Majors

Furgol never won a major championship and, like many American golfers of his era, never even played in the British Open. But he did have a few Top 10 finishes. Furgol's first start in a major was in the 1946 U.S. Open, and his last in the 1971 PGA Championship.

His best finish was a tie for ninth place in the 1953 U.S. Open. He also twice reached the Round of 16 (technically tying for ninth place) in the PGA Championship. In the 1949 PGA, Furgol went out to Jim Ferrier; in the 1955 PGA, he was knocked out by Jack Burke Jr. Furgol also tied for 11th in the 1957 Masters and had five additional Top 20 finishes, last at the 1958 U.S. Open.

More About Marty Furgol

The authors of the 1976 Who's Who in Golf (affiliate link used for book titles in this article; commissioned earned) called Marty Furgol "an outgoing, talkative chap." That's one way of putting it. Eccentric, goofy, annoying are other terms sometimes used for him by other golfers.

His fellow pros did not relish being paired with Furgol because he talked constantly during the round — sometimes just to himself. He also had a habit of losing track of where he was on the golf course in relation to the other golfers, meaning he sometimes got in the way. Whether that was a result of "spacing out," or intentional gamesmanship, was sometimes up for debate.

One example of the type of behavior Furgol could engage in was shared by Arnold Palmer in Palmer's book, A Golfer's Life (affiliate link). In the 1955 Western Open, Palmer was playing with Furgol and Doug Ford in the first round. On the 10th hole, with Furgol and Ford having already played their strokes and walked up the fairway, Palmer was ready to go. But Furgol was standing directly between Palmer and the green. Palmer asked Ford to tell Furgol to move. But Furgol just scooted over a little. Palmer again asked Ford to tell Furgol to move. Again Furgol moved just a bit. By the time Furgol was finally out of the way, Palmer was so mad he wound up hitting over the green and making a bogey. Furgol was clearly just messing with one of the tour's young pros. Palmer physically accosted Furgol afterward and warned Furgol never again to pull a stunt like that on him. (It should be noted, in Furgol's defense, rank gamesmanship was not unusual at all in the PGA Tour of those days.) In his book, Palmer referred to Furgol's "host of eccentricities" and "reputation for being impatient."

Palmer's agent Mark McCormack once wrote that, "Marty was an unusual fellow, one of those who became so deeply engrossed in his own golf that he sometimes forgot the amenities of the game he was playing."

Another Furgol story is shared in Herbert Warren Wind's Golf Book (affiliate link). Having just finished the Phoenix Open, Furgol moved on to Tucson, Arizona, for the following week's Tucson Open. But, Wind related, "Furgol parked his car at the clubhouse, walked four holes, and then, announcing that 'this isn't my kind of track at all,' got back into his car and drove on to San Antonio, the next stop."

Furgol was born in the small town of New York Mills in New York State, where he grew up playing and caddying at Twin Ponds Golf Club. (That was the same course where Ed Furgol developed his game. But despite sharing the same uncommon last name, being born in the same small town, and both becoming PGA Tour winners, Marty and Ed Furgol were not related.)

Marty turned pro in 1937 at the age of 21. His first appearance in a PGA Tour tournament was in the 1938 Glens Falls Open, where he finished 23rd and earned $25. But he entered only seven PGA Tour events total prior to World War II.

The war then delayed his golf career. Furgol enlisted and served five years as an artillery sergeant.

He joined the PGA Tour full time in 1948. There were no wins in that rookie season, but Furgol did earn his first second-place finish at the Ozark Open.

That first win happened in 1951 at the Houston Open. There he beat Jack Burke Jr. in Burke's adopted hometown by one stroke. A few months later, Furgol earned what turned out to be his biggest victory, edging Cary Middlecoff by one stroke at the Western Open. It was a splashy entrance into the winner's circle in two tournaments that carried quite a bit of prestige at the time, and with two close wins over two future Hall-of-Famers. Furgol was also runner-up at the Ozark Open again that year.

Furgol didn't win again until 1954 at the National Celebrities Open. And although that was his only win that season, in most other ways 1954 was his best year. Furgol finished in the Top 25 in 21 out of 25 starts on the tour. He had 10 Top 10s.

He made it into an 18-hole playoff at the 1954 Greater Greensboro Open, but lost to Doug Ford, 75 to 72. Furgol was also runner-up in two other tournaments, the Motor City Open and Thunderbird Invitational. At the end of the year, Furgol was third on the PGA Tour money list, his only Top 10 finish in yearly earnings.

On the strength of that 1954 season, Furgol was named to Team USA for the 1955 Ryder Cup. He did not play in the foursomes, and in the singles Furgol was beaten by Arthur Lees, 3 and 2.

Furgol had two more PGA Tour victories left, and they both happened in 1959. At the San Diego Open he won by one stroke over five runners-up: Billy Casper, Mike Souchak, Bo Wininger, Dave Ragan and Joe Campbell. The 1959 El Paso Open was his final victory on tour.

Furgol played the tour full-time from 1948 through 1959, then continued making sporadic appearances through 1967. After a four-year gap, he made his final PGA Tour starts in 1971.

According to PGA Tour statistics, Furgol had 413 career starts on the tour and made the cut in 391 of them. In addition to his five victories, Furgol finished second six times, was third 12 times, had 41 Top 5 finishes and 101 Top 10 finishes.

After leaving the tour, Furgol moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1968 and became a teaching pro and club pro. While there, he won the Philadelphia PGA Championship in 1970.

Furgol reached age 50 in 1966, but there was no senior tour at the time. He did finish second in 1971 U.S. National Senior Championship (not to be confused with the U.S. Senior Open, which wasn't founded until 1980).

By the time the Senior PGA Tour, now called the Champions Tour, was founded in 1980, Furgol was living in Florida and already in his mid-60s. But he did play 66 tournaments total between 1980 and 1994 on the senior circuit, without any Top 10 finishes.

Furgol was 89 years old when he died in Florida in 2005.

(Book titles are affiliate links; commissions earned)
Alliss, Peter. The Who's Who of Golf, 1983, Orbis Publishing.
Brenner, Morgan. The Majors of Golf, Volume 2, 2009, McFarland and Company.
Elliott, Len, and Kelly, Barbara. Who's Who in Golf, 1976, Arlington House Publishers.
Global Golf Post, "The PGA Tour's Oddest Duck."
McCormack, Mark H. Arnold Palmer: The Man and the Legend, 1967, Cassell.
Palmer, Arnold, with Dodson, James. A Golfer's Life, 2000, Ballantine Books. player profile,
Scharff, Robert. Golf Magazine's The Encyclopedia of Golf, 1970, Harper and Row.
Steel, Donald, and Ryde, Peter. The Encyclopedia of Golf, 1975, The Viking Press.
Trenham, Peter C. "A Chronicle of the Philadelphia Section PGA and its Members.", "Marty Furgol,"
Wind, Herbert Warren. Herbert Warren Wind's Golf Book, 1971, Simon and Schuster.

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