In all likelihood, the majority of sixteen-year olds are more concerned with passing their driver’s test than sinking putts at the U.S. Open. But in 1950, Mason Rudolph was worrying about just that. He was the youngest golfer ever to play in a U.S. Open – an auspicious beginning to a fruitful career.
The Clarksville native was a member of the PGA Tour for twenty-one years, playing in fifteen Masters and sixteen U.S. Opens and winning six PGA tour events. Rudolph was PGA Rookie of the Year in 1960. His accomplishments and honors are legendary in the Volunteer state.
At one point in his career, Rudolph had a streak of finishing in the money in fifty-two consecutive events, an accomplishment that is nearly miraculous given the intense mental focus necessary to play golf at the highest level. He won a total of six Tennessee state opens and was a member of victorious U.S. Walker Cup and Ryder Cup teams.
Not only a superb golfer, Rudolph is respected as a great teacher of the game, a quality that led him in 1992 to Vanderbilt University, where he became coach of the men’s team and eventually director of golf and assistant to the director of athletics. No stranger to halls of fame, besides being a member of the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame, Rudolph is also a member of the Memphis State University Hall of Fame and the Tennessee Golf Hall of Fame.