Born in 1915 in Detroit, Bob Babbish was the son of an immigrant coal miner turned auto industry employee, and he went on to play golf and dine with the likes of President Dwight D. Eisenhower and movie stars as a leading manufacturer’s representative and businessman from Bloomfield Hills.
He learned to play the game at Highland Park Golf Course, which later became the grounds for Chrysler’s headquarters. He was a team captain for the University of Detroit golf team and regarded as one of the nation’s top collegiate golfers, and he earned a degree from the university in commerce and finance in 1941.
He also served in the U.S. Army and reached the rank of Captain while serving in Europe during World War II.
At age 20 he won the 1935 Michigan Amateur Championship and remains the only Michigan golfer to have ever won the nationally prestigious Western Amateur Championship (1938). He qualified for and played in seven U.S. Open Championships and five U.S. Amateur Championships, and playing as an amateur, finished eighth in the 1950 Motor City Open ahead of Ben Hogan and Sam Sneed.
A Detroit Golf Club member and multiple-time club champion, and a member of Meadows Country Club in Sarasota, Fla., he played golf until age 94. He died in 2012 in Sarasota.