Frank Richard Stranahan (August 5, 1922 – June 23, 2013) was an American sportsman. He had significant success in both amateur and professional golf. He was ranked number one in his weight class in powerlifting, from 1945 to 1954, and he became known on the golf course and off as the "Toledo strongman" long before the modern game of golf and fitness. After he retired from tournament golf in the early 1960s, he became a prolific long-distance runner, competing in 102 marathons.
|Full name||Frank Richard Stranahan|
|Born||August 5, 1922|
|Died||June 23, 2013 (aged 90)|
West Palm Beach, Florida
|Sporting nationality||United States|
|Residence||West Palm Beach, Florida|
|Children||Frank Jr., Jimmy, Lance|
|College||University of Miami|
University of Pennsylvania
|Former tour(s)||PGA Tour|
|Number of wins by tour|
|Best results in major championships|
|Masters Tournament||T2: 1947|
|U.S. Open||T10: 1958|
|The Open Championship||T2: 1947, 1953|
|U.S. Amateur||2nd: 1950|
|British Amateur||Won: 1948, 1950|
Early life and familyEdit
Stranahan was born in Toledo, Ohio in 1922. He was born into a very wealthy family; his father, Robert A. Stranahan, Sr., was the founder of the highly successful Champion Spark Plug company. Frank's father's millions allowed Frank to concentrate on golf, and while in his teens he set a goal of becoming the best golfer in the world. He grew up playing the famous Inverness Club in Toledo, and won several club championships there.
Coached by Byron NelsonEdit
Stranahan received instruction as a junior at Inverness in the early 1940s from Byron Nelson, the club's professional, who was also playing the PGA Tour at that time. Nelson retired in 1946 after one of the greatest competitive careers in golf history. Stranahan played college golf for the University of Miami. Nelson later mentored several other young players who went on to significant competitive success, including World Golf Hall of Fame members Ken Venturi and Tom Watson, as well as Marty Fleckman (1965 NCAA champion, with one Tour win).
Competitive golf careerEdit
During his amateur golf career, spanning from 1936 to 1954, Stranahan won over 70 amateur tournaments, and several Open events as well, competing against professionals. Stranahan was able to remain amateur by forgoing the prize money he could have won as a professional, due to his family wealth. His greatest accomplishments included appearing as a finalist in over a dozen national championships, winning seven. He won two major championships (as they were counted at the time): the 1948 and 1950 British Amateurs. Stranahan was runner-up in five other major championships, including the British Amateur, the Masters Tournament, The Open Championship, and the U.S. Amateur. He won the Canadian Amateur Championship in 1947 and 1948. He won the Tam O'Shanter All-American Amateur six consecutive years from 1948 to 1953; this was a significant extravaganza hosted by impresario George S. May. His globetrotting allowed him to compete in over 200 tournaments across three continents during his amateur career.
He remained an amateur most of his career, during which time he played on three winning Walker Cup teams in 1947, 1949, and 1951. He finally turned pro at age 32 in September 1954, after losing to 24-year-old Arnold Palmer in the round of 16 at the U.S. Amateur the previous week. He is the only amateur golfer in PGA history to win a professional event as an amateur more than once. Stranahan's dream was to win this championship; his closest was a 1950 finals loss in extra holes to Sam Urzetta. Stranahan stated at the time of turning pro that one of his reasons for making the switch was a desire for the Tour players to develop greater respect for him, since if he won a Tour event as an amateur, the runner-up received the first-place money. As a pro, his greatest victory was the 1958 Los Angeles Open.
Style, mentors Gary PlayerEdit
Stranahan worked with several golf instructors in an attempt to find the perfect swing; he was characterized by his fellow competitors as someone who experimented too much with his game, with a 'made' swing as opposed to a 'natural' swing, although his short game was very well respected. Stranahan became good friends with the young Gary Player, then, in the mid-1950s, just beginning to make his mark on the professional circuit, with advice on fitness, which Player successfully incorporated into his own training and preparation which Player had been training on since a boy. Stranahan drew chuckles from many by traveling to golf tournaments with his weightlifting equipment, but was in fact pioneering an eventual method which would become the norm several decades later, with the Tour supplying staffed workout facilities to players at Tour events by the 1980s.
Stranahan was known as something of a playboy during his amateur years, before settling down with his marriage in 1954. He was seen as arrogant by many fellow competitors, who often struggled to make ends meet, well before the evolution of golf into its modern big-money era.
Run-ins with Masters administratorsEdit
Several times during his amateur career, Stranahan ran afoul of Clifford Roberts, the chairman of Augusta National Golf Club and the Masters Tournament, because of his unsportsmanlike conduct, which violated club and tournament rules. Notably, Stranahan was warned, and then finally suspended from the tournament in 1948, for playing more than one ball during practice rounds, although he had finished as runner-up the previous year. Stranahan appealed unsuccessfully to Bobby Jones, as well as fellow competitors, to be reinstated. Stranahan was invited to compete again the following year, despite the controversy, which continued, due to his failure to respect the rules. After Stranahan's father was approached by Jones over the matter, the younger Stranahan eventually wrote letters of apology to Jones, and behaved properly thereafter at the tournament, while maintaining there was much more to this situation which remained behind the scenes, without ever specifying the details of this. Stranahan retired from competitive golf in the early 1960s.
Stranahan's greatest personal feat is that he helped save the Open Championship. After World War II when few American golfers competed in the event, Stranahan competed in eight consecutive Open Championships, and was runner-up in 1947 and 1953. His personal support, along with the 1961 and 1962 wins of Arnold Palmer, revived, sustained, and returned the greatness of the Open Championship through encouraging other top Americans to compete, despite the low prize funds of that era.
Family misfortune, final yearsEdit
Stranahan suffered significant family misfortune. His wife Ann, whom he married in 1954, was herself a top-class amateur golfer; she finished runner-up in the 1960 Canadian Women's Amateur. Ann died at age 45 from cancer. His eldest son Frank Jr. died from cancer at age 11. His second son Jimmy died of a drug overdose in Houston, Texas at age 19. Stranahan's father also died from cancer. His youngest son Lance works in real estate in Florida.
- this list is incomplete
- 1940 Toledo District Junior Championship
- 1941 Trans-Mississippi Amateur, Ohio Amateur
- 1942 Ohio Amateur
- 1946 Mexican Amateur, Western Amateur, North and South Amateur, Great Lakes Amateur
- 1947 Canadian Amateur, Great Lakes Amateur
- 1948 British Amateur, Canadian Amateur, Mexican Amateur, All-American Amateur
- 1949 Western Amateur, North and South Amateur, All-American Amateur
- 1950 British Amateur, All-American Amateur
- 1951 Mexican Amateur, Western Amateur, All-American Amateur
- 1952 Western Amateur, North and South Amateur, All-American Amateur
- 1953 All-American Amateur
PGA Tour wins (6)Edit
- 1945 Durham Open (as an amateur)
- 1946 Kansas City Invitational Victory Bond Golf Tournament, Fort Worth Invitational (both as an amateur)
- 1948 Miami Open (as an amateur)
- 1955 Eastern Open
- 1958 Los Angeles Open
- this list is incomplete
Amateur wins (2)Edit
|1948||British Amateur||5 & 4||Charlie Stowe|
|1950||British Amateur||8 & 6||Dick Chapman|
|Masters Tournament||NT||NT||NT||20 LA||T2 LA||T19||T14 LA||T32||T19||T14 LA||T43|
|The Open Championship||NT||NT||NT||NT||NT||NT||T2 LA||T23||13 LA||T9 LA||T12 LA||T37||T2 LA||T29|
|The Amateur Championship||NT||NT||NT||NT||NT||NT||R16||R16||1||QF||1||R32||2||R64||R16|
|The Open Championship||12||T19||CUT|
Note: Stranahan never played in the PGA Championship.
LA = low amateur
NT = no tournament
CUT = missed the half-way cut
DNQ = did not qualify for match play portion
R256, R128, R64, R32, R16, QF, SF = Round in which player lost in match play
"T" indicates a tie for a place
|The Open Championship||0||2||0||2||3||8||11||10|
- Most consecutive cuts made – 8 (twice)
- Longest streak of top-10s – 1 (five times)
U.S. national team appearancesEdit
- Barkow, Al (November 1989). The History of the PGA TOUR. Copyright PGA Tour. Doubleday. pp. 240–2, 253. ISBN 0-385-26145-4.
- Elliott, Len; Kelly, Barbara (1976). Who's Who in Golf. New Rochelle, New York: Arlington House. p. 180. ISBN 0-87000-225-2.
- "Robert A. Stranahan Sr". automotivehalloffame.org. Retrieved 2021-01-03.
- Sampson, Curt (1998). The Masters: Golf, Money and Power in Augusta, Georgia. New York: Villard Books. pp. 96–97. ISBN 978-0-375-75337-4.
- "Top amateur Stranahan decides to turn pro". Daytona Beach Morning Journal. Florida. Associated Press. September 7, 1954. p. 8.
- "When's the last time an amateur won a PGA Tour tournament?".
- Sampson, pp. 100–103
- United States Golf Association (1994). Golf, the Greatest Game: The USGA Celebrates Golf in America. HarperCollins Canada. ISBN 978-0-06-017135-3.
- "Frank Richard Stranahan (1922–2013) Obituary". Toledo Blade. Retrieved June 25, 2013.
- "Judy Darling Captures Open Title". The Gazette. Montreal, Canada. CP. August 15, 1960. p. 17. Retrieved February 7, 2012.
- Barclay, James A. (1992). Golf in Canada: A History. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart. ISBN 978-0-7710-1080-4.
- Sampson, p. 102
- Garrity, John (April 6, 1998). "Muscled Out Of The Masters". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved June 25, 2013.
- Livsey, Laury (June 25, 2013). "Stranahan, amateur winner of six Tour titles, dies at 90". PGA Tour. Retrieved June 25, 2013.
- "Legendary Amateur Frank Stranahan Dies: Toledo native played on three USA Walker Cup Teams, won two British Amateurs". USGA. June 25, 2013. Archived from the original on June 29, 2013. Retrieved June 25, 2013.
- "Masters – Past Winners & Results". Masters. Archived from the original on October 12, 2013. Retrieved June 25, 2013.
- "USGA Championship Database". USGA. Archived from the original on December 21, 2010.
- "Previous Opens". Open Championship. Retrieved June 25, 2013.
- "M'Inally The Sole Scottish Survivor". The Glasgow Herald. May 31, 1946. p. 6. Retrieved June 25, 2013.
- "Four Scots In Last Eight". The Glasgow Herald. May 30, 1947. p. 5. Retrieved June 25, 2013.
- "Irish-American Final At Portmarnock". The Glasgow Herald. May 28, 1949. p. 2. Retrieved June 25, 2013.
- "Only Three Americans In Last Eight". The Glasgow Herald. May 25, 1951. p. 7. Retrieved June 25, 2013.
- "Stranahan Loses To Ward In Gruelling Finish". The Glasgow Herald. May 28, 1953. p. 4. Retrieved June 25, 2013.
- "Controversial Decision Saves Carr". The Glasgow Herald. May 28, 1954. p. 4. Retrieved June 25, 2013.