Frank Stranahan

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.

Frank Stranahan
Frank Stranahan 1951.png
Stranahan in 1951
Personal information
Full nameFrank Richard Stranahan
Born(1922-08-05)August 5, 1922
Toledo, Ohio
DiedJune 23, 2013(2013-06-23) (aged 90)
West Palm Beach, Florida
Sporting nationality United States
ResidenceWest Palm Beach, Florida
ChildrenFrank Jr., Jimmy, Lance
CollegeUniversity of Miami
Harvard University
University of Pennsylvania
Turned professional1954
Former tour(s)PGA Tour
Professional wins9
Number of wins by tour
PGA Tour6[1]
Best results in major championships
(wins: 2)
Masters TournamentT2: 1947
PGA ChampionshipDNP
U.S. OpenT10: 1958
The Open ChampionshipT2: 1947, 1953
U.S. Amateur2nd: 1950
British AmateurWon: 1948, 1950

Early life and familyEdit

Stranahan was born in Toledo, Ohio in 1922.[2] 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.[3] 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.[4] 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.[2] 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.[2] 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.[2] 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,[2] after losing to 24-year-old Arnold Palmer in the round of 16 at the U.S. Amateur the previous week.[5] He is the only amateur golfer in PGA history to win a professional event as an amateur more than once.[6] 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.[2]

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.[7] Stranahan retired from competitive golf in the early 1960s.

Business studiesEdit

After leaving competitive golf, he concentrated on business. He studied at Harvard University and the Wharton Business School at the University of Pennsylvania.[8]


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.[9]

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.[8][10][11] 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.[12] His youngest son Lance works in real estate in Florida.[13]

Stranahan died June 23, 2013, aged 90, at his home in Miami Beach, Florida, where he had lived for many years.[14][9][15]

Amateur winsEdit

this list is incomplete

Professional winsEdit

PGA Tour wins (6)Edit

Other winsEdit

this list is incomplete

Major championshipsEdit

Amateur wins (2)Edit

Year Championship Winning score Runner-up
1948 British Amateur 5 & 4   Charlie Stowe
1950 British Amateur 8 & 6   Dick Chapman

Results timelineEdit


Tournament 1938 1939 1940 1941 1942 1943 1944 1945 1946 1947 1948 1949 1950 1951 1952 1953 1954
Masters Tournament NT NT NT 20 LA T2 LA T19 T14 LA T32 T19 T14 LA T43
U.S. Open NT NT NT NT T45 T13 T41 CUT T46 T42 CUT CUT
The Open Championship NT NT NT NT NT NT T2 LA T23 13 LA T9 LA T12 LA T37 T2 LA T29
U.S. Amateur DNQ DNQ NT NT NT NT R32 R32 QF R64 2 R256 R32 R128 R16
The Amateur Championship NT NT NT NT NT NT R16 R16 1 QF 1 R32 2 R64 R16


Tournament 1955 1956 1957 1958 1959 1960 1961 1962 1963
Masters Tournament T15 T22 CUT CUT T34
U.S. Open T10 CUT T49 T45 CUT
The Open Championship 12 T19 CUT

Note: Stranahan never played in the PGA Championship.

  Top 10
  Did not play

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

Sources: Masters,[16] U.S. Open and U.S. Amateur,[17] The Open Championship,[18] The Amateur Championship: 1946,[19] 1947,[20] 1949,[21] 1951,[22] 1953,[23] 1954.[24]


Tournament Wins 2nd 3rd Top-5 Top-10 Top-25 Events Cuts made
Masters Tournament 0 1 0 0 1 8 13 11
U.S. Open 0 0 0 0 1 2 13 8
The Open Championship 0 2 0 2 3 8 11 10
PGA Championship 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Totals 0 3 0 2 5 18 37 29
  • Most consecutive cuts made – 8 (twice)
  • Longest streak of top-10s – 1 (five times)

U.S. national team appearancesEdit


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Barkow, Al (November 1989). The History of the PGA TOUR. Copyright PGA Tour. Doubleday. pp. 240–2, 253. ISBN 0-385-26145-4.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Elliott, Len; Kelly, Barbara (1976). Who's Who in Golf. New Rochelle, New York: Arlington House. p. 180. ISBN 0-87000-225-2.
  3. ^ "Robert A. Stranahan Sr". Retrieved 2021-01-03.
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ "Top amateur Stranahan decides to turn pro". Daytona Beach Morning Journal. Florida. Associated Press. September 7, 1954. p. 8.
  6. ^ "When's the last time an amateur won a PGA Tour tournament?".
  7. ^ Sampson, pp. 100–103
  8. ^ a b United States Golf Association (1994). Golf, the Greatest Game: The USGA Celebrates Golf in America. HarperCollins Canada. ISBN 978-0-06-017135-3.
  9. ^ a b "Frank Richard Stranahan (1922–2013) Obituary". Toledo Blade. Retrieved June 25, 2013.
  10. ^ "Judy Darling Captures Open Title". The Gazette. Montreal, Canada. CP. August 15, 1960. p. 17. Retrieved February 7, 2012.
  11. ^ Barclay, James A. (1992). Golf in Canada: A History. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart. ISBN 978-0-7710-1080-4.
  12. ^ Sampson, p. 102
  13. ^ Garrity, John (April 6, 1998). "Muscled Out Of The Masters". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved June 25, 2013.
  14. ^ Livsey, Laury (June 25, 2013). "Stranahan, amateur winner of six Tour titles, dies at 90". PGA Tour. Retrieved June 25, 2013.
  15. ^ "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.
  16. ^ "Masters – Past Winners & Results". Masters. Archived from the original on October 12, 2013. Retrieved June 25, 2013.
  17. ^ "USGA Championship Database". USGA. Archived from the original on December 21, 2010.
  18. ^ "Previous Opens". Open Championship. Retrieved June 25, 2013.
  19. ^ "M'Inally The Sole Scottish Survivor". The Glasgow Herald. May 31, 1946. p. 6. Retrieved June 25, 2013.
  20. ^ "Four Scots In Last Eight". The Glasgow Herald. May 30, 1947. p. 5. Retrieved June 25, 2013.
  21. ^ "Irish-American Final At Portmarnock". The Glasgow Herald. May 28, 1949. p. 2. Retrieved June 25, 2013.
  22. ^ "Only Three Americans In Last Eight". The Glasgow Herald. May 25, 1951. p. 7. Retrieved June 25, 2013.
  23. ^ "Stranahan Loses To Ward In Gruelling Finish". The Glasgow Herald. May 28, 1953. p. 4. Retrieved June 25, 2013.
  24. ^ "Controversial Decision Saves Carr". The Glasgow Herald. May 28, 1954. p. 4. Retrieved June 25, 2013.

External linksEdit