The early years
At the turn of the 20th century, Brits ruled the game, amateurism held high status and few actually pursued golf for a living. Walter Hagen, a talented dandy from Rochester, New York, changed all that in the 1910s and '20s. Tom Clavin's bio, Sir Walter: Walter Hagen and the Invention of Professional Golf, offers salient details on the man's humble origins and occasionally stormy personal life, yet also effectively relates how Hagen's indomitable golf skills and flamboyant personal style propelled him into the public arena. Winning 11 major tournaments (including an unparalleled streak of four consecutive PGA Championships), Hagen was the Babe Ruth of his sport. I never wanted to be a millionaire, I just wanted to live like one, he once said. Hagen avidly took his game on the road, often overseas, and played innumerable paid exhibition matches, which, when combined with his official winnings, showed how excellence and showmanship could be parlayed into a big-money, full-time occupation.