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DEMARET, JIMMIE NEWTON

DEMARET, JIMMIE NEWTON (1910–1983). Jimmie (Jimmy) Newton Demaret, golfer, was born on May 24, 1910, in Houston, Texas, the fourth of ten children of John O'Brien and Lila Mae (Winkler) Demaret. While in grade school he began golfing and caddying at the Camp Logan and Hermann Park courses in Houston. He then began a professional apprenticeship, attended North High School for two years, and at age fifteen became an assistant to Jack Burke, Sr., at River Oaks Country Club. In the late 1920s and 1930s Demaret was one of many financially strapped Texas professionals, including Ralph Guldahl, Ben Hogan, and Byron Nelson, who traveled the state playing in small tournaments, like those in oilfield towns west of Fort Worth. His first important title was the 1934 Texas Professional Golfers Association championship. He became professional at the municipal course in Galveston, where he secured backing for the winter tournament circuit, or "tour," from nightclub owner Sam Maceo. Victories in 1938 and 1939 earned him an invitation to the Masters Tournament, which he won in 1940 and twice subsequently; he was that tournament's first three-time winner.

After wartime service in the navy, Demaret was among the top ten in golf earnings from 1946 through 1950; in 1947 he was leading money winner, Vardon Trophy recipient, and holder of seven titles. He also played on victorious Ryder Cup (1947, 1949, 1951) and World Cup (1961) teams and was enrolled in the PGA Hall of Fame, the World Golf Hall of Fame, the Texas Sports Hall of Fame, and the Texas Golf Hall of Fame. In 1958 Demaret and Jack Burke, Jr., opened the Champions Golf Club in Houston. In the early 1970s he was a partner in the Onion Creek Club near Austin, where in 1978 he was instrumental in promoting the Legends of Golf Tournament, which inspired the Senior PGA Tour.

Well known in entertainment circles, he pioneered colorful dress on the professional tour and in the late 1960s hosted the popular television series "Shell's Wonderful World of Golf." Demaret was personable and witty, a goodwill ambassador for professional golf. His My Partner, Ben Hogan (1954) offers excellent insight into the emergence of today's big-purse tour. When he died of a heart attack on December 28, 1983, in Houston, his thirty-five titles made him the ninth all-time tournament winner. He was survived by his wife, Idella, and a daughter.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Al Barkow, The History of the PGA Tour (New York: Doubleday, 1989). Golf Digest, March 1984, February 1992. Herb Graffis, The PGA: The Official History of the Professional Golfers' Association of America (New York: Crowell, 1975).

James A. Wilson

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

James A. Wilson, "DEMARET, JIMMIE NEWTON," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fde57), accessed October 20, 2014. Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.