Last night, at a hospital in Rancho Mirage, California, legendary golf player and CBS Sports golf analyst Ken Venturi passed away at the age of 82. During his long and successful career, Venturi worked alongside other legendary sportscasters such as Vin Scully, Pat Summerall and Jim Nantz. A broadcasting mainstay, Venturi commented on the game of golf for a record 35 years before his retirement in 2002.
Venturi began his playing career at an early age, but began to gain attention as an amateur in 1956 when he finished second in the Masters at the age of 24. This near win prompted Venturi to turn pro, and he went on to have a highly successful golfing career. Venturi captured a total of 14 PGA Tour events in his time, most notably, his win in the 1964 U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club outside Washington. On a day that brought 100-degree heat and a gruelling 36 holes, Venturi pulled through a victory with rounds of 66 and 70. “My God, I’ve won the Open,” said Venturi after sinking his final putt that day.
Carpal tunnel syndrome forced Venturi to retire as a professional golfer, but it allowed him to go on to become one of the most loved and recognized broadcasting legends of our time. In 1968 Venturi began his long and illustrious career at CBS when he was hired as the lead golf analyst for the season. Venturi credited his broadcasting style to then CBS golf producer, Frank Chirkinian. “You’re doing television. It’s not what you say but what you don’t say. I never talked over a shot — I let it play,” Venturi said in 2002.
Venturi battled more than one health problem in his life, from multiple surgery’s on his hands, to undergoing treatment for prostate cancer in 2000-2001, having quintuple heart-bypass surgery in 2006 and enduring heart problems in 2011. Venturi turned 82 just this past Wednesday, and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame last week. He is survived by his wife, Kathleen, and his two sons.
“The greatest gift in life is to be remembered,” said Venturi, during his last broadcast. “Thank you for remembering me. God bless you, and God bless America.”