Bruce Weber of the New York Times is reporting that golf legend Calvin Peete has died. Weber writes:
“Calvin Peete, whose life traced one of sport’s most triumphant arcs — a school dropout with a crooked left arm who did not pick up a golf club until his 20s, did not join the pro tour until his 30s, and still became one of the leading players of his era and the most successful black professional golfer before Tiger Woods — has died. He was 71.”
Although there was no cause of death given, the golf pioneer’s death was confirmed by The Murray Brothers Funeral Home in Atlanta.
Born in Detroit, Peete moved to Pahokee, Florida to live with his father, a vegetable picker. Peete dropped out of school in the 8th grade and picked vegetables, beans and corn. At age 12, he fell out of a tree, breaking his arm which never healed correctly. It was this injury that would eventually give him his edge on the golf course. Peete developed a personal technique to compensate for the injury, which resulted in remarkable accuracy.
“A self-taught player who never hit especially long, Peete was one of golf’s most accurate drivers and fairway players. He won his first Professional Golfers Association tour event, the Greater Milwaukee Open, in 1979, and from 1982 through 1986 was among the tour’s most prolific champions, winning 11 tournaments, including four in 1982.
In 1984, he averaged 70.56 shots per round, winning the Vardon Trophy, given annually to the professional golfer with the lowest per-round score. In 1985, his two wins included the prestigious Tournament Players Championship (now the Players Championship) in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., a victory that Sports Illustrated described as ‘against the best field that will tee off all the year on one of the most unrelenting, terrorizing courses the pros play.’
From 1976 to 1995, Peete played in 344 tournaments, winning 12, finishing in the top 10 73 times and earning $2.3 million.”
Pete is survived by his second wife Pepper and seven children. He was 71.
Read more at the New York Times.