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It’s About Time

We are overjoyed with the recent announcement that The World Golf Hall of Fame is inducting Denny Shute into its hallowed halls. Denny is the older brother of Bird Golf’s professional emeritus, Larry Shute.

Denny Shute was an extraordinary player and even more special, person. Denny won three Majors, the 1933 British Open and the 1936 and 1937, PGA Championships in addition to winning 12 other PGA tournaments.

The legendary, Sam Snead, was being interviewed once and the reporter stated the he (Snead) was the best golfer from West Virginia. “No”, interrupted Snead, “I may be the best PGA Tour player from West Virginia, but the best golfer from West Virginia is Denny Shute”. High praise from the man that won more tournaments than any other player, in the history of the Tour.

Denny and Larry’s Father was a club professional who had come from England. Denny was born in Ohio but grew up in West Virginia, which is where he honed his great skills. Denny had a distinguished amateur career that included wins in the 1923 and 1925, West Virginia Amateurs, the Ohio Amateur in 1927 and three consecutive Ohio Opens from 1929-1931.

We must remember that playing golf for a living was not the lucrative, endorsement laden career that it is today. Most of the top players also had “club jobs”, which was their primary income. When Denny won the 1933 British Open (interestingly, he beat fellow 2008, WGHOF inductee, Craig Wood in a 36 hole playoff to win the Claret Jug at the home of golf, St. Andrews), he did not make back the expense of his travel, from the wining purse.

Denny would play on three Ryder Cup teams in 1931, 1933 and 1937 and also come close to winning two US Open’s, losing in playoffs in 1939 to Byron Nelson and then again in 1941, to Craig Wood.

It was a different world in those days. The second World War, was happening at what would have been, the peak of Denny’s career. Denny Shute, like so many others, more than did his part for the war effort, but by the time that the War ended, in 1945, Denny was 40 years old.

Helping people was always Denny’s, greatest passion, and he actually enjoyed being a club professional more than he liked playing the Tour. Denny was the consummate PGA professional and was the Head professional at Portage Country Club in Akron, Ohio from 1945 until his retirement in 1972. He passed away in 1974.

Hard to imagine a player today, who would trade in signing autographs to be in a pro shop at 6 am helping his members, but that is exactly what Denny did. Denny was elected into the PGA of America’s Hall of Fame, in its inaugural class, in 2005.

On November 10th, 2008, Larry Shute will be at the World Golf Hall of Fame in St. Augustine to receive Denny’s induction. It has been a long time coming. Too long.

Denny Shute loved golf passionately but he loved people, more. He represented in his person, all the qualities that this great game, stands for. He was a friend and mentor to thousands. Denny Shute gave little care for fortune and fame, but he cared deeply, for all those whose lives he touched.

They just don’t make them like Larry or Denny Shute, anymore.