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Feb 09

Billy Casper Passes Away at 83

Mike Andrusin with Billy Casper at High Bridge Hills Golf Course

Mike Andrusin with Billy Casper at High Bridge Hills Golf Course 2005

 

Professional golfer Billy Casper passed away on February 7, 2015 at his home in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Casper was born in 1931 in San Diego.  He attended Notre Dame on a golf scholarship and later enlisted in the U.S.Navy.  Billy Casper was two time U.S. Open champion (1959, 1966) and Masters champion in 1970.  He collected 51 victories on the PGA Tour and another nine on the Senior PGA Tour, including the the 1983 Senior Open.  Casper’s playing career ranks as one of the best of all time.  He played on eight consecutive Ryder Cup teams and was the winning captain in 1969.  Casper won the Vardon Trophy for lowest scoring average on tour five times with his lowest average recored at 69.82 in 1968.  He was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1978 and PGA Hall of Fame in 1982.

Billy Casper will always be remebered for his support of his fellow man.  He founded the Billy Casper Youth Foundation which helps raise money for many non-profit organizations in the San Diego area.  In 2010, Casper received the PGA Distinguished Service Award that honors outstanding individuals who display leadership and humanitarian qualities, including integrity, sportsmanship and enthusiasm for the game of golf. In 2104, he was honored in Utah,  receiving  a Lifetime Achievement Award in the Governor’s State of Sport Awards program.

I was fortunate enough to meet Billy Casper twice during my tenure as the Director of Golf at High Bridge Hills.  HBH is a property being managed  by Billy Casper Golf for the town of High Bridge.  I was an employee of Billy Casper Golf and attended one of the annual meetings where Billy spoke to the company.  Billy Casper could take over a room when he would  walk in and start talking to people. We all wanted to hear what he had to say about anything golf: Tiger, equipment, courses, and his major victories.  Casper  recounted his final nine holes of the 1966 U.S. Open at The Olympic Club where he came from seven shots back on Arnold Palmer and won in a playoff.  I remember telling my wife when I got home how exciting it was to hear his account.

The next time I met Billy Casper, it was at High Bridge Hills in 2005.  He stopped by for a promotional visit to meet with the town leaders and members at the club.  He hit some shots around the putting green and laughed and joked the whole time.  What a gentleman to be around, he made everyone feel at ease.  Mr. Casper was nice enough to sign my Masters’ flag from 2003 and a golf ball we had found on the property from his endorsement days.  Ten years later, I still have them both and will not part with them.

Billy Casper leaves behind a  family of 11 children, 71 grandchildren and great grandchildren along with his wife Shirley of 60 years.

Billy Casper Signed Masters Flag

Billy Casper Signed Masters Flag

2 comments

  1. Robert Lieberman

    Mike A.:-

    It was a pleasure to read your update on Billy Casper. It is so sad to have to read these items when these legends finally pass away. I just wrote some comments on the: Linked In Website, and also referred to Billy Casper and Charlie Sifford, who also just passed away recently.

    I added a comment about the PGA Tour and it`s to bad that they don`t bring some of the oldies but goodies, back onto the live Tour Events, especially the one`s that had won the tournament that is being played that weekend. Even if they brought 1,2, or 3, it would be nice. The commentators could asked them questions on what is the difference between now and then, did they change any of the holes, or what helped them win the event and maybe the new putting rule that will take place in 2016. More importantly, I believe it would a great thrill for the viewing audience to be able to see some of the greats of long ago, and actually hear their reactions.

    It would be nice if someone from the Tour reads this and brings it to the powers to be. That would be “PRICELESS.”

    Again great job and best wishes,

    Robert Lieberman

    1. Michael Andrusin

      Robert,
      Thanks for the kind remarks. I like your idea about bringing the older players back. It was that generation that paved the way for the player today. We all have to remember that. Keep thinking Spring!
      All the best. Keep following http://www.begingolfnow.com.
      Mike

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