By John Strege
Errie Ball, the last surviving player from the field in the first Masters (then known as the Augusta National Invitational) in 1934, died Wednesday morning. He was 103.
"The PGA of America is saddened by the passing of Errie Ball, a professional in all aspects of life," PGA of America president Ted Bishop said. "Errie's amazing career spans the legends of the game -- from Harry Vardon through Tiger Woods. His longevity, according to those who knew him best, was founded upon a love of people. Each day, like each step he took on the course, was spent with purpose. We will miss him dearly, but his legacy continues to shine through the many PGA Professionals he inspired to grow our game."
Ball was a native of Wales, who at 15 played in the British Open in 1926. He came to the U.S. to work for his uncle, Frank Ball, at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta. Dave Kindred wrote this in a 2006 Golf Digest story on Ball:
He eventually settled in Illinois and won the Illinois PGA Championship three times and the Illinois Open once. A member of the PGA of America for 83 years, he is in the PGA Hall of Fame and the Illinois Golf Hall of Fame.
His secret to growing old? "Have a good wife and a couple scotches every night," he told Kindred.
Golf World senior writer Tim Rosaforte, meanwhile, visited with him late last year and filed this story.