Jim Ferrier

James Bennett Elliott Ferrier (24 February 1915 – 13 June 1986)[2] was an Australian professional golfer from Manly, New South Wales. After compiling a fine record as an amateur golfer in Australia during the 1930s, he moved to the United States in 1940, turned professional in 1941, and joined the U.S. PGA Tour. He won the PGA Championship in 1947, among his 18 Tour titles, and was the first Australian and first golfer from the southern hemisphere to win a professional golf major title. Ferrier became an American citizen in 1944.

Jim Ferrier
Personal information
Full nameJames Bennett Elliott Ferrier
NicknameUndertaker, Wolf
Born(1915-02-24)24 February 1915[1]
Sydney, Australia
Died13 June 1986(1986-06-13) (aged 71)
Burbank, California, U.S.[2]
Height6 ft 4 in (1.93 m)
Weight192 lb (87 kg; 13.7 st)
Nationality Australia
 United States
SpouseNorma Kathleen Jennings Ferrier (m. 1938–79, her death)
Lorraine Ruth (Devirian) Sheldon[2] (m. 1980–86, his death)
Turned professional1941[3]
Former tour(s)PGA Tour of Australasia, PGA Tour
Professional wins33
Number of wins by tour
PGA Tour18
PGA Tour of Australasia10
Best results in major championships
(wins: 1)
Masters Tournament2nd: 1950
PGA ChampionshipWon: 1947
U.S. OpenT5: 1950
The Open ChampionshipT44: 1936
British Amateur2nd: 1936
Achievements and awards
Sport Australia
Hall of Fame

Early life, family, early golf, education, marriage

Ferrier was born in Sydney, son of John Bennett Ferrier, who had worked as both an insurance clerk and an employee of American Tobacco Company, and his Australian-born wife, Louisa Elliott.[4][5] Jim was raised in Manly, a suburb, and was taught golf as a youth by his father, a low-handicap player, who was born of Scottish descent in Shanghai, China, with family from Carnoustie, Scotland. Ferrier Street in Carnoustie, near the world-famous golf course Carnoustie Golf Links, honors the family.[2][3] The senior Ferrier took a job as secretary of the Manly Golf Club, where Jim began golf at age four and a half.[6][3] Jim was educated at Sydney Grammar School.[2] Young Ferrier injured a leg playing soccer in his teens, and he had to contend with a significant limp for the rest of his life.[7]

Championship success

Ferrier was playing to a handicap of scratch (zero) by his mid-teens, when he left school to be able to play more golf; he was club champion for the first time at Manly at age 15.[3] His first significant win at the state level came in the 1931 New South Wales Amateur Championship, and he repeated there in 1934, 1937, and 1938.[8] From age 16, Ferrier represented New South Wales seven times in Australian men's inter-state team play, in 1931, 1933, 1934, 1935, 1936, 1937, and 1939; he compiled an overall head-to-head record of 7 wins and 3 losses in those events.[9]

He was runner-up in the 1931 Australian Open at the age of 16, taking a six on the 72nd hole to lose by one stroke to five-time champion Ivo Whitton.[3] He also finished runner-up in that championship in 1933 and 1935. He broke through to win in both 1938 (by 14 strokes) and 1939, still as an amateur. He won the Australian Amateur title in 1935, 1936, 1938 and 1939; his four titles in that event is tied for most with Michael Scott. Ferrier was also victorious in eight further significant Australian professional Open events during the 1930s (see below).

He had the opportunity to play exhibitions at Manly Golf Club with world-class players such as Walter Hagen and Gene Sarazen, along with Australian Joe Kirkwood, Sr., who had caddied at Manly for Ferrier's father.[3] He also played with Harry Cooper in 1934, when an American team made a tour of Australia; the team also included stars such as Paul Runyan, Denny Shute, and Craig Wood.[3]

Ferrier was runner-up in 1936 to Hector Thompson by 2-up, in The Amateur Championship at St Andrews; this was the best result by an Australian to that juncture, in the world's oldest amateur championship. On that same trip to the British Isles, Ferrier became the first Australian to win the Golf Illustrated Gold Vase, at the Ashridge Golf Club; this was one of the most prestigious amateur events in England. He traveled by ship from Australia to Britain, then on to the USA by ship after his British golf events, flew across the North American continent, then returned to Australia by ship across the Pacific, making a global circuit. He met Sarazen and woman pro Helen Hicks on ship, and played with them in Australia.[3] Sarazen won the 1936 Australian Open.

Ferrier worked as a golf reporter and writer for several Australian publications.[3]

Ferrier married Norma Kathleen Jennings on 12 January 1938 at All Saints Church of England, Woolhara, Sydney.[2] He taught Norma to play golf, and she eventually reached a three handicap, being proficient enough to help her husband with his game.[3] The couple had no children.

Moves to USA, turns pro, joins PGA Tour

In 1940, Ferrier went to the United States as a golf journalist, writing for The Sydney Morning Herald.[10] Ferrier was not allowed to qualify for the U.S. Amateur, due to an Australian golf manual published earlier in the year that he was contracted to receive royalties from.[3] His tournament entry was rejected by the United States Golf Association.[11][12] At the time, amateur golf eligibility rules differed between Australia and the USA.[13]

As an amateur, Ferrier played several Tour events in 1940, including the Masters Tournament, to which he had been invited based on his amateur record in Australia.[3] However, he was allowed to enter several other amateur events in the U.S., despite the USGA's ruling. He scored his first win in the USA in the 1940 Chicago District Amateur Championship, at the Riverside Golf Club.[14] In January 1941, Ferrier lost to George Dawson in the 36-hole final of the Miami Biltmore Hotel Amateur Championship.[15]

He turned professional in March 1941[16] and joined the PGA Tour as a club professional, based at the Elmhurst Country Club[3] in Elmhurst, Illinois, near Chicago, joining the Professional Golfers Association of America. Ferrier signed a golf equipment contract with Wilson Sporting Goods.[17]

With the United States declaring war on Japan, Nazi Germany, and Italy, in December 1941, following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Ferrier and his wife Norma worked in defense industry jobs in the Chicago area during World War II; this was part of conditions to become American citizens.[3] He served in the U.S. Army from 1944 to 1945, rising to the rank of staff sergeant.[2] While stationed in the artillery at Camp Roberts, California,[18] he gained his first tour victory at the Oakland Open in December 1944, a week after a runner-up finish to Byron Nelson in San Francisco.[19][20]

In 1946, following discharge from the Army, Ferrier embarked on full-time PGA Tour play. That year, he made golf history by becoming the first player to score a hole-in-one twice in one PGA Tour tournament. He performed the very rare feat at the Victory Bond San Francisco Open held at the Olympic Club, in the first and fourth rounds; despite this, Ferrier finished well behind champion Byron Nelson.[21]

Ferrier's most significant career win came at the PGA Championship in 1947, one of golf's four major championships. He was the first Australian to win a major, and at the time this gave him a lifetime exemption to PGA Tour events. The previous year, he was the medalist in the stroke play qualifier and set the scoring record.[22]

Ferrier returned to Australia on a trip in 1948, and lost an 18-hole playoff in the Australian Open to Ossie Pickworth, who won his third straight title. Pickworth, three years younger, had also grown up at the Manly Golf Club, had caddied for Ferrier there, and had worked at the club as an assistant professional.

At the 1950 Masters, Ferrier led Jimmy Demaret by three shots with six holes to play, but finished two strokes back as the runner-up to Demaret. He scored 16 of his 18 PGA titles between 1947 and 1952, with a peak of five wins in 1951; that was second on Tour to Cary Middlecoff (6). He was second leading money winner on the Tour that year, behind only Lloyd Mangrum. Ferrier's other significant victories included consecutive Canadian Open titles in 1950 and 1951.

Ferrier was renowned as an outstanding putter.

Later years, death

Ferrier greatly scaled back his PGA Tour competition from 1954, and took a financially lucrative club professional's job with the Lakeside Country Club in suburban Los Angeles, for eight years.[2] He did return to playing more Tour events in the early to mid 1960s, with some success. He was runner-up in the 1960 PGA Championship at age 45. His final Tour win in 1961 snapped a nine-year winless stretch, and he also won a California regional pro event in 1963 in his 48th year.

But his game fell off after that, although he continued to play some Tour events into the late 1970s, using his lifetime exemption.[23] This created some friction on Tour, since he (and certain other non-competitive aging past champions) was blocking younger players from entering, with fields at limited sizes. An eventual change of PGA Tour regulations came from that, requiring veteran players to maintain a certain playing standard to continue to have access to tournaments. The present-day Champions Tour had not yet been created, although Ferrier did play some events on that Tour in the early 1980s, but struggled.

Ferrier became a member at the same city's Wilshire Country Club.[3]

On 6 January 1955 (Season 5 Episode 17),[24] Ferrier appeared on the television game show You Bet Your Life hosted by Groucho Marx, of Marx Brothers fame. He was paired with Marilyn Pierce, a dog trainer and former model.

Ferrier died in Burbank, California, in 1986 at the age of 71.[2]

Legacy, honors

Ferrier's record in important Australian events was as good as anyone's in the 1930s, although he competed as an amateur; he won a total of ten Open events, where professionals were in the field; he also won a total of eight significant amateur events in Australia. His total of four titles, achieved over a span of five years, in the Australian Amateur Championship is tied for the most ever, with Hon. Michael Scott. His runner-up finish in the Amateur Championship of 1936 was the best result by an Australian until Doug Bachli won in 1954; this title was matched by Australian Bryden Macpherson in 2011.

Ferrier did not begin playing the American PGA Tour full-time until 1946, the year he turned 31 years old. But over the next eight seasons, he compiled a very impressive record for outstanding, consistent play. From 1946 to 1953 inclusive, Ferrier finished in the top-25 of Tour events a total of 202 times. Over eight-year periods across the Tour's history, this total has been topped only by Doug Ford, with 223, from 1952–1959. Ferrier's single-season high was 34 top-25 finishes in 1950; this figure has been topped only by the 37 from Lloyd Mangrum in 1948, and by Harold McSpaden, with 35 in 1945; it was matched by Dow Finsterwald with 34 in 1956, with all data through the 1988 season. In terms of top-10 finishes, his 29 from 1950 has been surpassed only by 31 from McSpaden in 1945, and 30 from Byron Nelson, also in 1945.[1]

Ferrier's five wins on the regular PGA Tour in the 1951 season was the most by an Australian until it was matched by Jason Day in 2015.

Ferrier was ranked #22, through the 1988 season, by the Tour's wide-ranging statistical project, which tabulated in detail the performance statistics for the Tour's top 500 players, through the 1988 season.[1] Of those ranked above him on that list, only E. J. Harrison, at #16, has not been inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame.

Ferrier was the first Australian to win one of the four men's professional championships. He was also the first player from the Southern Hemisphere to win a major.

Ferrier's example set the stage for the international success of stars such as South African Bobby Locke (four Open Championship titles between 1949 and 1957), and fellow Australian Peter Thomson (five Open Championship titles between 1954 and 1965). But Ferrier's record in the U.S. was superior to those of both Locke and Thomson.

Until the arrival of South African Gary Player on the U.S. Tour in the late 1950s, Ferrier was the most successful non-American in that Tour's history, or at least since Tommy Armour played in the 1920s and 1930s. Ferrier was certainly the most successful non-American of his era. Until the arrival of fellow Australian Greg Norman on the U.S. Tour in the 1980s, Ferrier was the most successful Australian on that Tour. Travel between golf tournaments became notably easier after Ferrier and his cohorts wound down their careers; players of his era mostly drove their cars. As airline service improved in the U.S. and around the world, and as tournament prizes rose greatly, later generations were able to save time and energy by flying between tournaments.[3][1]

As his success mounted, Ferrier helped to design a signature set of Wilson golf clubs; Wilson also issued a replica of Ferrier's putter – the Grandmaster – from his 1947 PGA Championship win; this putter is now a collector's item. He was made a member of the Sport Australia Hall of Fame with its inaugural class in 1985.[25]. He received an entry in the Australian Dictionary of Biography. His portrait is in the Australian National Portrait Gallery.[26]


  • Jim Ferrier's Golf Shots, 1940, Australia.
  • The Golf Clinic, 1949 (contributor)[2]

Amateur wins (10)

(This list may be incomplete)

Professional wins (33)

PGA Tour wins (18)

Major championship is shown in bold.

Australasian Tour wins (10)

Note: all wins as an amateur

Other wins (5)

(This list may be incomplete)

Major championships

Wins (1)

YearChampionshipWinning scoreRunner-up
1947PGA Championship2 & 1 Chick Harbert

Note: The PGA Championship was match play until 1958

Results timeline

Tournament 1936 1937 1938 1939
Masters Tournament
U.S. Open
The Open Championship T44
PGA Championship
The Amateur Championship 2
Tournament 1940 1941 1942 1943 1944 1945 1946 1947 1948 1949
Masters Tournament 26 T29 T15 NT NT NT T4 T6 T4 T16
U.S. Open T29 T30 NT NT NT NT CUT T6 CUT T23
The Open Championship NT NT NT NT NT NT
PGA Championship NT R16 1 R32 SF
Tournament 1950 1951 1952 1953 1954 1955 1956 1957 1958 1959
Masters Tournament 2 7 T3 T16 WD
U.S. Open T5 CUT CUT
The Open Championship
PGA Championship R32 R16 R32 R32 T38
Tournament 1960 1961 1962 1963 1964 1965 1966 1967 1968 1969
Masters Tournament CUT T5 CUT
U.S. Open CUT T22 CUT WD
The Open Championship
PGA Championship 2 T45 T39 7 T56 CUT T49 T64 CUT CUT
Tournament 1970 1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977
Masters Tournament
U.S. Open
The Open Championship
PGA Championship CUT CUT WD
  Top 10
  Did not play

NT = no tournament
WD = withdrew
CUT = missed the half-way cut
R32, R16, QF, SF = Round in which player lost in PGA Championship match play
"T" indicates a tie for a place


TournamentWins2nd3rdTop-5Top-10Top-25EventsCuts made
Masters Tournament01157101512
U.S. Open000124136
The Open Championship00000011
PGA Championship11136102216
  • Most consecutive cuts made – 7 (twice)
  • Longest streak of top-10s – 5 (1946 PGA – 1948 Masters)

See also


  1. Barkow, Al (1989). The History of the PGA Tour. New York: Doubleday. pp. 260–298. ISBN 0-385-26145-4.
  2. Stoddart, Brian. "Ferrier, James Bennett Elliott (Jim) (1915–1986)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Retrieved 9 April 2013.
  3. Barkow, Al (1986). Gettin' to the Dance Floor. Atheneum. pp. 168–174. ISBN 978-0689115172.
  4. Australian Dictionary of Biography, entry for Jim Ferrier
  5. Barkow, 1986
  6. Hoare, Willie (28 June 1947). "Australia's Jim Ferrier ranks with golf's best". St. Petersburg Times. p. 13.
  7. Sampson, Curt (1992). The Eternal Summer. Taylor Publishing. p. 191. ASIN B000M1PWB4.
  8. "Honour Roll: Men's NSW Amateur Champions". Golf NSW. 28 January 2016.
  9. golf.org.au, men's interstate team match results
  10. Witwer, Stan (21 December 1940). "Jim Ferrier displays links skill". St. Petersburg Times. p. 13.
  11. Snider, Steve (27 August 1940). "USGA bars Big Jim Ferrier from Amateur tournament". Pittsburgh Press. United Press. p. 21.
  12. McLemore, Henry (13 September 1940). "Jim Ferrier still best amateur". Calgary Herald. United Press. p. 6.
  13. "Jim Ferrier – Golf". Sport Australia Hall of Fame.
  14. "CDGA Amateur Championship – Tournament History". Chicago District Golf Association.
  15. "Ferrier Beaten". The Sydney Morning Herald. 20 January 1941. p. 10 via National Library of Australia.
  16. "Jim Ferrier to turn professional". Spartanburg Herald-Journal. Associated Press. 16 March 1941. p. 22.
  17. Barkow, 1986
  18. "Jim Ferrier leads Byron by stroke". St. Petersburg Times. United Press. 4 December 1944. p. 9.
  19. Wood, Hall (11 December 1944). "Jim Ferrier hottest thing in golf pants". Oxnard Press-Courier. p. 2.
  20. "Ferrier victor in open golf". Spokesman-Review. Associated Press. 11 December 1944. p. 3.
  21. Schrock, Cliff (3 March 2016). "When making one hole-in-one at a PGA Tour event just isn't enough". Golf Digest.
  22. "Ferrier blasts new golf mark". Spokesman-Review. Associated Press. 21 August 1946. p. 10.
  23. pgatour.com website, entry for Jim Ferrier
  24. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jRxQsgnJWVY&list=PLHaioNpr_GDbvsTj_taM-jO6C1658N1PC&index=13
  25. Sport Australia Hall of Fame website
  26. portrait.gov.au, entry for Jim Ferrier
  27. "Sgt. Jim Ferrier Wins Service Golf Title". The Telegraph. 23 July 1945.
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