In 1937, the Senior PGA Tour held its first event at Augusta National Golf Club, home of the Masters Tournament. Today, senior golf professionals are earning millions of dollars per year playing on the tour’s many demanding courses. Officially renamed the Champions Tour, this tournament for golfers over age 50, features many well-known golfers who were previously famous for their time on the PGA circuit.
Let’s look at five of the standouts who have continued their successes on the senior tour and beyond:
Gary Player – This South African pro racked up 165 total wins throughout his career. “The success of the Champions Tour is one of the great wonders of the world, and one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen in my career,” Player told Southland Golf magazine. “The standard of play is not good, it’s phenomenal. The standard of play out there is just a notch below that of the regular tour and the shot-making is actually superior.”
Arnold Palmer – Palmer won 92 tournaments, earning the nickname “The King.” The youngest Masters champion, Palmer was the first to win four Masters Tournaments; in addition, he was the first pro to earn more than $1 million total. He won several major tournaments on the Senior PGA Tour, and it has been reported that in the late 1990s, he was pulling in more than $20 million annually in endorsements.
Lee Trevino – Trevino won 29 tournaments on the PGA Tour and 29 on the Senior PGA Tour. He was also the first golfer to win the US, British, and Canadian Open tours in the same year. According to Golf Digest, he named the PGA and Championship tours “Flat Belly” and “Round Belly” respectively, and the nicknames have stuck to this day.
Jack Nicklaus – Known as the “Golden Bear,” Nicklaus is considered by many to be the greatest player ever. A five-time PGA Player of the Year, he went on to compete in the Senior PGA Tour from 1990 to 2005. He pursued several ventures while competing, including founding Nicklaus Design, a golf course design firm. Nicklaus, alongside his wife, Barbara, established the Nicklaus Children’s Health Care Foundation and dedicated the Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in West Palm Beach, Florida, in 2004.
Chi Chi Rodríguez – From head caddy at the Dorado Beach Resort in Puerto Rico to the PGA Tour, Rodríguez was beloved by fans for his victory dances and his signature straw hat. Like many of the other pros, his greatest success occurred on the Senior PGA Tour. Today, the Chi Chi Rodríguez Youth Foundation works with at-risk children.
Like the pros, healthy seniors are hitting the links well into their 80s and beyond. Recent studies have shown the benefits of low-impact exercises such as walking, biking, and golfing. There’s no better way to get fresh air, spend your day moving, and enjoy the company of friends than to get to a nearby golf course and hit the links.