Popularly known as “The Haig”, Walter Hagen was the team captain of 6 U.S. Ryder Cups. His success was evident when he became the very first American to win the British Open. He was also the first club professional at the Oakland Hills Country Club located in Bloomfield Hills in Michigan. Other than that his record career includes earning 44 tour victories and 11 major championships. These are the 1914 and 1919 U.S. Opens; the 1922, 1924, 1928, and 1929 British Opens; the 1921, 1924, 1925, 1926, and 1927 PGA Championships. He was inducted in the World Golf of Fame in 1974.
Hagen declared that he never wanted to be a millionaire; he just wanted to live like one which he did. Born on December 21, 1892 in Rochester, New York, Hagen’s influence raised the standards of pro golfers. His presence in a tournament guarantees thousands of crowds. His golfing style requires expensive appearance fees especially during exhibition matches. He was the first golf player to bank on product endorsements. Not to mention, that he was making fashion statements during games. He wore classy two-toned shoes and colored tailored outfits. In fact, he was considered one of the Best Dressed Americans.
As a child, Hagen was consistently exposed to golf. He grew up near the famous Oak Hill Country Club. In his younger days, he was already caddying at the Rochester New York. Later in life, he became the head professional golf player at the club.
At 22, he already won one major tournament at the U.S. Open in 1914. But only in the mid 1920’s that his greatest highlight in sports happened. He won 4 consecutive PGA championships and another one later on.
After his success and being exceptionally flamboyant on and off course, Hagen died at age 77 on October 5, 1969.