|Birth: ||Oct. 9, 1918|
|Death: ||Oct. 8, 1986|
Walter Burkemo (October 9, 1918 – October 8, 1986) was an American professional golfer, best known for winning the 1953 PGA Championship.
Burkemo was born in Detroit, the youngest of 13 children of Norwegian immigrants who settled there. He began in golf at the age of 8 by caddying at Lochmoor Country Club in Detroit. Burkemo won his first PGA Tour event at the 1938 Southern Florida Open; however, World War II intervened soon thereafter and he found himself drafted into the Army. Burkemo served as an infantry sergeant in the European Theater. He was seriously wounded twice during the war; the second time during the Battle of the Bulge.
Burkemo resumed his PGA Tour career after recovering from his injuries. He had little success in the late 1940s; but in 1951, his luck began to change when he won his first of four Michigan Opens. His best years in professional golf were in the early 1950s; he won the 1953 PGA Championship and finished as runner-up in 1951 and 1954. Although he was one of the most consistent top-10 finishers on the Tour, he would go on to win one only more PGA Tour event, the 1957 Mayfair Inn Open. He was a member of the 1953 Ryder Cup team.
The 1953 PGA Championship was played at Birmingham Country Club in Birmingham, Michigan, only six miles from the Franklin Hills Country Club where Burkemo was club pro. He benefitted from a so-called "home field advantage" because during the matchplay era, the PGA Championship was a marathon 36 holes of qualifying followed by six matches – the last four at 36 holes. He also benefitted from the fact that Ben Hogan, who was to win that year's first three Majors, was still in England finishing-up in the British Open when the PGA Championship started. Burkemo's toughest match en route to the final against Felice Torza was in the semifinals against 1948 Masters champion Claude Harmon, who was up 3 after 11 holes. Burkemo rallied to win.
After the 1954 season, Burkemo returned to life as a club pro because the grind of the PGA Tour was proving too difficult for him to maintain with a wife and four children. He continued to play the tour part-time for the rest of his career. He and his brother Vic opened Burkemo's driving range in Detroit, for years it was a favorite in the area, grandson David Marsh (son of Janet Burkemo) recalls.
Burkemo was inducted into the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame and the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame. He died in Fenton, Michigan, a day before his 68th birthday.
Created by: Douglas Kirk Sorensen
Record added: Aug 11, 2009
Find A Grave Memorial# 40536609
In your honor Walter - play on through from the third tee at Waverley Golf Club, Milwaukie, Oregon, USA.|
Douglas Kirk Sorensen
Added: Aug. 11, 2009