Dow Finsterwald is being recognized as a 2018 Nobel Chalfant Award winner for his distinguished service to the Colorado Section of the PGA, as well as to the game of golf in general.
“The section has a lot to be proud of,” started Finsterwald who detracted from his legacy by highlighting the accomplishments of other. “One of which is, twice in the last eight years being voted the strongest Section in the country. That’s pretty strong. Keep up the good work and keep golfing.”
Sixty years ago at Llanerch Country Club in Havertown, Penn., Finsterwald was celebrating his 1958 PGA Championship win. This was the first year the event transitioned from match to stroke play and it was also the first PGA Championship that was broadcast by network television – CBS provided nationwide coverage on Saturday and Sunday.
Born and raised in Athens, Ohio, Finsterwald attended hometown Ohio University where he played on the golf team. In 1969, he was inducted into the Ohio University Athletics Hall of Fame joining his father, Russ Finsterwald, who was in the first class of inductees as a football player.
He turned professional in 1951 and won 12 Tour titles between 1955 and 1963. He was known for his superb short game being one of the most consistent of players on the Tour at the time. He finished fifth or better more than 50 times in his career.
Finsterwald also played on four Ryder Cup Teams (1957, 1959, 1961 and 1963) and was the non-playing captain of the 1977 team. He won the Vardon Trophy in 1957, which is awarded to the Tour Professional with the lowest scoring average (his was 70.30). In 1958, he was honored as PGA Player of the Year. Finsterwald finished in the money in 72 consecutive tournaments – second only to Byron Nelson’s 113 consecutive cuts. This record stood for many years until eclipsed by Jack Nicklaus, Hale Irwin and Tiger Woods; however, he is still fifth on the list today.
Finsterwald served as Director of Golf at The Broadmoor for 28 years. He simultaneously served as PGA of America Vice-President; was a member of the PGA Tournament Committee; and served on the USGA Rules of Golf Committee. He is also the Pro Emeritus of the Pikewood National Golf Club, based in Morgantown, West Virginia. In 2006, Finsterwald was inducted into the PGA of America Golf Professional Hall of Fame, and two years later into the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame. He was the first Professional from the Colorado Section to receive a National PGA Award – the 1958 Player of the Year Award.
Finsterwald lives in Orlando, Fla., during the winter and Colorado Springs during the summer. He and his wife Linda, who passed away in 2015, have three sons and a daughter.