A tribute to Bill Johnston, Pro-Professional PGA Golfer, Designer, and a member of the PGA Hall of Fame
The 149th Open Championship was played in July 2021 at Royal St. George’s Club in Sandwich, England. In 1960, 61 years ago only two players from the United States made the cut at the Open Championship, Arnold Palmer and Bill Johnston.
Bill Johnston won the 1960 Utah Open putting on a brilliant performance on the final day. Shooting a low round, a 9-under 63, allowed him to pass five players in the final round and win the tournament by two shots.
Following his tour in the U.S. Army in 1945, he enrolled at the University of Utah serving three years as a Captain. He turned pro in 1950, accepting the job as Head Pro at Empire Golf and Country Club in Vernal, Utah, a course he designed.
In 1951 Johnston played in his first PGA event, tying for 47th in the Los Angeles Open. Between 1952 and 1955, Johnston played a smattering of tournaments while tending to his various Head Pro positions. He became the head pro at Provo’s Timpanogos Golf Course in 1952 and moved to Arizona Country Club in 1958.
Johnston limited his playing career – between 1964 and 1974. His design course business continues to succeed.
Bill’s design philosophy, “I do everything on site. I walk the land until I determine which way I want to go. I walk backward and forward. Not quite sideways, but every which way. I try to get slight doglegs into a golf course, six or seven of them, at least. I build them for fun and possibly to host a tournament,” Johnston shared in a 2014 interview.
“From then on, it seemed like invitations kept rolling in to build courses,” Johnston added.
In 1994, Johnston became a member of the Utah Golf Hall of Fame and the Arizona Golf Hall of Fame inducting Johnston in 2018.
Mr. Johnston passed away earlier this year at the age of 96. He is survived by his wife of nearly 64 years, JoAnne, and their four sons: Brad, Blake, Brice and Burke.