The world, in general, and the world of golf lost a gentleman and champion on Wednesday when Calvin Peete, a 12-time winner on the PGA Tour died at the age of 71.
Peete was the most decorated African American golfer on the Tour before the Tiger Woods era took a stronghold. His aforementioned 12 victories on Tour were between the years of 1976 and 1986. His biggest, and clearly most noted, win was The Players Championship in 1985, where he held off the best field in golf. In 1982, Peete won a career best four tournaments.
Peete was known for his ball striking, and was considered one of the most accurate during his era. He led the Tour in driving accuracy a remarkable 10 straight years.
In 1984, Peete was the Vardon Trophy winner. The award is given annually to the overall scoring leader on Tour.
Peete competed in two Ryder Cups for the United States in 1983 and 1985 compiling an individual record of 4-2-1.
Born in 1943, in Detroit, Peete was the eighth child of nine and did not start playing golf until sometime in his early 20s. Despite suffering an injury during childhood that left him unable to extend his left arm fully, Peete was able to earn his card at the 1975 Q-School. He earned his first tour victory at the 1979 Greater Milwaukee Open. In 2012, Peete was inducted in the African American Ethnic Sports Hall of Fame.
Tim Finchem the commissioner of the PGA Tour called Calvin an inspiration, to many people. “He did not start the game until quite late, but became one of the best players on Tour winning often despite his childhood injury to his left arm,” added Finchem.
Peete gave back a great deal by working with The First Tee with his wife Pepper. Finchem finished his accolades for Peete by saying everyone will dearly miss him.
He is survived by his wife Pepper, and his children: Calvin, Dennis, Nicole, Rickie, Aleya, Aisha and Kalvanetta.
Jack Nicklaus paid Peete a tribute in a statement:
I thought Peete was a remarkable golfer. He was able to overcome adversity, which included physical limitation, to be a very successful golfer.
After many accolades about his golfing ability, Nicklaus said that off the course Peete was a very warm and caring person. Nicklaus said he enjoyed a close relationship with Peete and the two had fun together. Calvin, added Nicklaus, gave of himself to golf and to others.
Editor’s Note by Troy Klongerbo:
When looking back at Calvin Peete’s golf swing, it mesmerizes me the way Mo Norman’s swing does. So unique, yet so effective.
At the top of the golf swing, he’s got the club pointed across the line with a bowed arm, yet he was able to, time and time again, hit consistently straight golf shots. His swing has a bit of a Russell Henley to it, does it not? I can see some of the similarities, for sure, particularly in the way they enter the hitting area.
Calvin Peete was a great man for the game of golf. And although I never saw him play, I know he is one who will be sorely missed.