World Golf Hall of Fame member, 2-time major championship winner, cofounder of Champions Golf Club, and golf wise man Jack Burke Jr. is the 2007 recipient of the PGA of America's Distinguished Service Award.
Burke was born in Houston, where his father was a head pro, in 1923. His father hired Jimmy Demaret as an assistant pro, and Demaret was young Jackie's babysitter. The two formed a tight bond and were lifelong friends, and Burke Jr. and Demaret founded Champions Golf Club together.
Burke won the Vardon Trophy in 1952 and Player of the Year in 1956. He played for five U.S. Ryder Cup teams and was captain of two others.
From the PGA:
"Jackie Burke is one of the most gifted players and ambassadors of the game, a man whose sage advice continues to inspire both professionals and amateurs everywhere," said PGA of America President Brian Whitcomb. "Perhaps Jackie's finest career moments are those spent outside the glare of the spotlight, where he has never wavered in promoting golf's values as a means of guiding young people to become better citizens. The PGA of America is proud to bestow the PGA Distinguished Service Award on such a stalwart servant to the game of golf."
The winner of the 1956 Masters and PGA Championship, Burke is one of eight children of Jack Burke Sr., a head professional at River Oaks Country Club in Houston, Texas, and winner of the 1941 Senior PGA Championship.
Young Jackie Burke was playing golf at age 4, breaking par by age 12, winning wagers against grown men and being challenged by the legendary Babe Zaharias of
Port Arthur, Texas, who joined him for occasional rounds at River Oaks.
Burke reaped the benefits of his father's lessons on the practice range and at the dinner table, which was an informal "classroom" for such teaching and Tour legends as Jack Grout, Harvey Penick, John Bredemus, Byron Nelson and Ben Hogan, who gathered regularly to trade stories and advice.
Jackie gave his first golf lesson at age 13, which was the beginning of a lifetime of both teaching and promoting the game.
"I've been in The PGA (of America) for 60 years, and to get acknowledged like this is to me a very good thing in my life and I'm very touched," said Burke. "I was blessed in my life to have learned the game from my father, who was the first [golf] teacher in Texas. He was the best teacher I ever heard give a lesson. I found that if you get around good teachers, you will remember what they say for a long time."
"I've always believed that young people should not have pressure on them to become someone they cannot be. Go out and play the game and enjoy it. If you play well, someone will find you with a trophy."
(Photo via PGA.com)