2004 Jones Award Winner Jack Burke Jr. Passes Away at 100
Jackie Burke Jr. was one of the greatest icons in golf during its golden era and died just short of his 101st birthday on January 19, 2024 in Houston. Raised in Fort Worth by his father Jack Sr. as an instructor at River Oaks Country Club in Texas, Burke started using 4-irons at age seven while caddying at his club as part of an early introduction into golf for him and his future son Jack Jr.
After graduating from St. Thomas High in Houston, Burke took to professional golf alongside serving four years in the Marines and briefly working in Texas oilfields. His professional journey began as an assistant pro at Hollywood Golf Club in New Jersey before serving under Claude Harmon at Winged Foot Golf Club before eventually taking over head professional duties at Metropolis Country Club in White Plains.
Peak Career Achievements
Burke was known for achieving extraordinary feats during his competitive career. He won 16 PGA Tour victories – his last being 1963 Lucky International Open – as well as winning both the Vardon Trophy for lowest scoring average and Player of the Year Awards in 1952 and 1956 respectively. Major championship victories came during 1956 as he captured both Masters Tournament and PGA Championship tournaments, an amazing feat considering that at one point in Masters he trailed by eight strokes before rallying from behind! His indomitable spirit was evident from his performance!
Burke proved his skill at the Ryder Cup as well. Over five appearances in which he captained an American team that included Jack Nicklaus, Lee Trevino, Arnold Palmer and Billy Casper; their victory proved particularly notable.
Champions Golf Club Legacy
At its heart lies Burke’s most lasting contribution, co-founding the Champions Golf Club in Houston alongside Jimmy Demaret in 1957. This 36-hole facility became a haven for top amateur players while hosting iconic tournaments like the 1969 U.S. Open, 1967 Ryder Cup Matches, 1993 U.S. Amateur Championship and 2020 U.S. Women’s Open; moreover it proved resilient when taking over hosting for U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship after Hurricane Harvey devastated other host venues failed.
Burke is recognized for his commitment and generosity in golf by receiving the USGA’s 2004 Bob Jones Award, honoring both his sportsmanship and spirit – qualities characteristic of its namesake.
Teaching and Mentorship
After retiring from competitive golf at 33, Burke devoted himself to teaching at Champions, where he met his future wife Robin. A testament to his teaching prowess was when he beat Robin in a putting contest using only his foot! Moreover, he continued mentoring her throughout her life, contributing significantly to her becoming one of the country’s premier mid-amateur players.
He provided guidance to many major champions such as Phil Mickelson, Ben Crenshaw, Steve Elkington and Hal Sutton – Sutton even stated: “Jackie Burke is one of the only remaining people who understands this game completely,” which serves as testament to Burke’s importance on golf.
Final Years and Legacy
Final Years and Legacy Even in his late 90s, Burke remained actively engaged with golf by sharing his wisdom and experiences with younger generations. Being honored with induction into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2000 was a fitting tribute for such an outstanding commitment to this game.
Jackie Burke Jr.’s passing marks an end of an era, yet his legacy will live on through all those whose lives he touched both on and off the golf course. His contributions to golf history will always be honored. His life will forever be celebrated for its contribution.