How many golfers on the PGA tour overanalyze their swing? For Ralph Guldahl, a man who rarely ever thought about his swing in technical terms, it has been long theorized that his game -one that earned him three major championships in three years- disappeared when he set out to write an instructional book on golf and began to analyze his own swing.
Ralph won 16 times on the PGA tour, including 3 majors. Ralph Guldahl was born within a year of fellow Hall of Fame golfers Sam Snead, Ben Hogan, and Byron Nelson, yet his path to golfer stardom was a different one, indeed. His first brush with major victory came at the 1933 U.S. Open when he was nine shots out of the lead with eleven holes to play, and wound up needing only a 4-foot putt on the eighteenth to force a playoff.
He missed the putt and then dropped off the tour radar for three years, preferring to sell cars in Dallas.
Here's a list of his PGA Tour Wins:
1931 (1) Santa Monica Open
1932 (1) Arizona Open
1934 (1) Westwood Golf Club Open Championship
1936 (3) Western Open, Augusta Open, Miami Biltmore Open
1937 (2) U.S. Open, Western Open
1938 (2) U.S. Open, Western Open
1939 (4) Greater Greensboro Open, Masters Tournament, Dapper Dan Open, Miami Biltmore International Four-Ball (with Sam Snead)
1940 (2) Milwaukee Open, Inverness Invitational Four-Ball (with Sam Snead)
Sam Snead often spoke highly of this mysterious golfer, once saying that, "When Ralph was at his peak, his clubhead came back on the line and went through on the line as near perfect as anyone I've ever seen." Though Ralph didn't have a technically sound swing, and it didn't have a great deal of power, his control of distances on approaches was uncanny. His lag putting was considered some of the best ever and Sam Snead also commented on Ralph Guldahl's composure, "If Guldahl gave someone a blood transfusion, the patient would freeze to death."
Yet it could be something that Ralph said himself that could give insight into his ultimate abandonment of the game in 1942. He was quoted as stating, "Behind my so called poker face, I'm burning up." Perhaps his nerves were only being held in check and once he turned inward to analyze what it was that he did well, they were unleashed. By today's standards, Ralph Guldahl would be one of the top golfers in the world, if not the best. The US Open of 1938 was quite the tournament. -Ralph Guldahl beat Sam Snead for the second time in a major. -Guldahl became the last person to win the US Open while wearing a necktie -The highest score ever recorded in a US Open, a 19, was recorded that year. Here's the entire story: "The worst score recorded at any one hole in the US Open is 19, by the unfortunate Ray Ainsley at the 16th in the second round at Cherry Hills in 1938. The American hit his ball into a stream and, refusing to take a penalty drop, kept trying to chip it out. He managed eventually - holing out after dropping 15 shots to par (although, he quipped, he did kill quite a lot of fish). Not surprisingly, Ainsley missed the cut. " Click to read more highlights from the tournament: US Open