David Graham left school at the age of 14 in order to follow his dream of becoming a Professional golfer. Now, 55 years later and with two Major titles to his name, Graham has joined golf’s most honoured club with the former Australian professional receiving official induction into the World Golf Hall of Fame overnight.
Graham received his official inauguration at golf’s spiritual home, St Andrews, alongside Mark O’Meara, Laura Davies and former American golf course architect A.W. Tillinghast.
“What an incredible honour it is for me to be introduced,” said Graham.
“This has been a wonderful evening for me at this time in my life, and I am so grateful. Thank you very much.”
After leaving school, Graham spent his formative years as a PGA Trainee under Club Professional George Naismith at Riversdale Golf Club in Melbourne; Naismith persuaded Graham to change his swing from left to right-hander to offer him a greater chance of success.
“I got interested in golf when I was 12 at a little golf course called Wattle Park in Melbourne, Australia.”
“I received a job there working weekends, and for some of the unknown reasons I started to play left-handed, and I don’t know why I did that, but when I went to work for George Naismith, he was the head professional at Riversdale Golf Club in Melbourne, he changed me from playing left-handed to playing right-handed. Thank goodness I listened to him.”
Graham turned professional in 1962, contending regularly on the PGA Tour of Australasia and Asian Tours before moving to America in 1969. Within two years Graham had gained his PGA TOUR card with his first win on American soil coming in 1972 at the Cleveland Open in a playoff with fellow Australian, Bruce Devlin.
Graham went on to win the US PGA Championship in 1979 in a playoff with Ben Crenshaw and the US Open in 1981 at Merion Golf Club where he played a final round that is considered one of the best final rounds in Major championship history; winning by three shots over George Burns and Bill Rogers.
In a recent interview with the World Golf Hall of Fame, Graham reminisced about his US Open win.
“Everything was in line. It was in Merion, which is a very historic club. It’s where (Lee) Trevino won an open, where (Ben) Hogan won an open and where Bobby Jones completed the Grand Slam, so it’s entrenched in history. That, obviously, has to be my greatest memory,” said Graham.
Graham represented Australia in three Dunhill Cups, sharing victory in 1986 with Greg Norman and Rodger
Davis [right], and two World Cups, which included winning the 1970 World Cup with Bruce Devlin. Graham was also the international team captain for the inaugural Presidents Cup in 1994.
With more than 20 victories worldwide, Graham sits alongside Hale Irwin, Bernhard Langer and Gary Player as one of the four champion Professionals to win tournaments on six different continents.
Graham holds eight victories to his name on the US PGA Tour and appeared on the European Tour, Japan Golf Tour and later on the US PGA Champions Tour where he recorded a further five wins.
Although primarily competing in the US, Graham was a regular competitor on the PGA Tour of Australasia securing eight wins including the Queensland PGA Championship and the Australian Open.
The World Golf Hall of Fame induction ceremony, the first to take place outside of St Augustine in Florida, was held at the University of St Andrews; a place that has seen a number golf’s greatest players recognised for their achievements and contributions to golf, including Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Gary Player.
Graham joins a prominent list of Australians who have each received golfs highest honour including Walter J. Travis, Kel Nagle, Peter Thompson, Greg Norman and Karrie Webb
In 1988 Graham was made a Member of the Order of Australia for his services to golf and in May this year received Life Membership of the PGA of Australia alongside Randall Vines, Mark Duder and William Husband.