Harvie Ward Dies At 78
September 6 , 2004
By David Normoyle, USGA
Far Hills, N.J. - Two-time U.S. Amateur Champion E. Harvie
Ward, Jr. died Sept. 4 at his home in Pinehurst, N.C., following
a long struggle with cancer. He was 78.
Ward was one of the best amateur golfers in the world from the
late 1940s through the 1950s. He played on three U.S. Walker Cup
teams, going undefeated in all six of his matches, and won the
1952 British Amateur in his first attempt.
Ward became one of only nine golfers to win consecutive U.S.
Amateur championships when he did so in 1955 and 1956. The list
of other consecutive Amateur championship winners includes Bob
Jones and Tiger Woods.
Ward's first significant victory came in 1948 when he won
the North and South Amateur. Ward either won a national amateur
championship or was a member of a victorious Walker Cup team
every year from 1952 to 1956.
Edward Harvie Ward follows
through on a swing. (USGA Photo Archives)
He became a teaching professional in 1973, a second career in
which he worked at clubs including Pine Needles in N.C., and
Grand Cypress Resort and Interlachen in Florida.
Born on Dec. 8, 1925 in the tobacco country of Tarboro, N.C.,
Edward Harvie Ward first learned the game on a course with sand
greens set in a cow pasture. Affected by chronic ear problems
that lasted into adulthood, Ward took up golf as the only sport
his illness allowed him to play consistently.
Though he achieved some initial success as a teenager, he was
hampered early on by an unusual grip, which he called the
"Harley." The grip was so-named by Ward because he
claimed it looked like he was revving up a Harley Davidson
motorcycle every time he tried to swing a club. It wasn't
until he received some advice from well-known instructor, Palmer
Maples, that he began to excel.
Known as a consistently strong putter throughout his career,
Ward credited his humble beginnings as a major influence.
"When you putted on sand, you could see exactly where the
ball rolled," Ward told the USGA in a 1991 interview.
"You could tell whether you were cutting it or hooking it
because the surface was flat. You didn't have any undulations
on sand greens, so you generally knew exactly what you were
Though he won several important tournaments before the 1952
British Amateur, it was that victory that earned him
international prominence. But it wasn't so much how he won,
as the number of attempts it took him to become the 10th American
to win the British Amateur.
"It was kind of expected that you might do well, but you
just didn't go over the first time and win the British
Amateur," said Ward. "So that's what brought the
most focus, not so much the way that I played."
Ward's experiences in Britain, like so many other golfers
of the day, were shaped by the post-war rations that many Britons
had to subsist on, including powdered eggs and the like.
Reminiscing about his diet while in England, Ward once said,
"Hell, I ate enough Dover sole to swim back to the United
Ward played in 16 U.S. Amateur Championships from 1947 through
1965. His first victory came in 1955 at the Country Club of
Virginia, in Richmond, Va., followed by the 1956 victory at the
Knollwood Club in Lake Forest, Ill.
Throughout the final match in 1955, which he won 9 and 8 over
Bill Hyndman, Ward felt it was his time to win.
"I had the bit in my mouth," said Ward. "After
the morning round I had him something like eight-down. He
[Hyndman] did not play that badly, but it was just all my
Ward's opportunity to become the first three-in-a-row
winner of the U.S. Amateur never materialized after it was
determined in 1957 he had violated the Rules of Amateur Status.
He was required to sit out a probationary year before being
reinstated in 1958.
Ward competed in eight U.S. Opens, with his best finish a tie
for seventh in 1955. Ward had been tied for the lead in that
championship with Tommy Bolt after 36 holes.
As a teaching professional later in life, Ward always focused
on the fundamentals of the game.
"When I have young boys that I'm working with,"
Ward said in 1991, "I stress driving and wedging and
putting. I don't care how good your iron play is, if you
can't drive it in the fairway you might as well break 'em
up or use 'em for gardening or whatever."
As a competitor, Ward once drove Jack Nicklaus to distraction
with his uncanny feel for the game and ability to get up and down
from just about anywhere. He beat Nicklaus in the 1958 U.S.
Amateur in a match where he had to hit a recovery shot from
inside a refreshment stand. Ward said about the match, "I
just.stole his lunch."
"I don't care how great a player somebody is;
everybody has to have a little touch," he said. "You
can't just wind up a toy and send it out there to
David Normoyle is the coordinator of education and
outreach for the USGA Museum and Archives. E-mail him with
questions or comments firstname.lastname@example.org.