Head golf professional 1923-1971, Professional Emeritus 1971-1995

The tournament honors our friend, Harvey Penick, the renowned Hall of Fame teaching professional who created the competition in 1935 and whose association with Austin Country Club spanned 82 years.

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Harvey started as a caddie at the Club’s original Hancock location when he was eight. Later, working weekends, summers and after school he became shop assistant; then, assistant professional. He was offered the Head Professional’s job while still in school but had to decline when his family insisted he finish high school. In as wise a decision as ever made by any golf club, the job was held open for Harvey.

So, in May of 1923 when he was 18, Harvey graduated from Austin High School and became ACC’s Head Professional, a position he would hold for the next 48 years. In 1971 he was named Professional Emeritus when his son, Tinsley, succeeded him as Head Professional. In Harvey’s interpretation, “emeritus” meant he had been honored but did not mean he had been retired. By his choice, he was still around most of the daylight hours of every day so long as his health allowed; teaching, starting, assisting his son in any way needed and dispensing wisdom in simple, uncomplicated, but carefully chosen phrases.

Harvey Penick taught golf for seven decades and coached the University of Texas golf team for 33 years. Among his well-known pupils were Ed White, Betty Jameson, Morris Williams Jr., Betsy Rawls, Mickey Wright, Kathy Whitworth, Sandra Palmer, and most notably Tom Kite and Ben Crenshaw (pictured). Those ladies won over 240 LPGA tour events, two U.S. Women’s Amateurs and 10 U.S. Women’s Opens. The men account for five NCAA individual titles, two Masters, one U.S. Open and over 35 PGA tour wins - Walker Cupper Ed White never played professionally, while Morris Williams, Jr. died in the service as a young man.

Harvey was a gentle, modest and unassuming man, but he taught with a confidence which allowed his pupils to retain their individuality. There was no Harvey Penick mold stamping out uniform swings. He avoided negatives and technicalities and taught with unfailing courtesy and generosity. The lesser skilled were equally as important to him as the notables he helped. Ever so carefully, he chose the words he used in teaching. And he did this more than 70 years, saying “When I quit learning, I’ll quit teaching”. And he never quit teaching until the day he died.

Finally, in the 90’s the whole world learned about this humble Texas golf instructor. In collaboration with Austin writer, Bud Shrake, Harvey authorized four golf instruction books with millions of copies sold: the number one and two all-time sports best sellers, Harvey Penick’s Little Red Book (1992) and his Little Green Book, And If You Play Golf, You’re My Friend (1993), followed by For All Who Love The Game (1995) and The Game For A Lifetime (1996), a work in progress at this death.

The original Little Red Book, the red notebook in which Harvey kept his notes, is on display in the Austin Country Club clubhouse.