A Florida native, Whitten worked as a club professional in Michigan for 28 years and was a dominant player in the Michigan PGA Section.
He served as a medic in Vietnam and played college golf at Southern Mississippi and became a club professional after just missing PGA Tour Qualifying three consecutive times.
He won the 1979 PGA Professional Championship, then known as the National Club Pro Championship, and followed that with a 4-1 record in helping the United States to a 15-6 victory over Great Britain and Ireland in the PGA Cup Matches at Oak Tree in Edmond, Okla. Whitten’s club pro victory earned him a year of eligibility on the PGA Tour.
In 1983, while the head golf professional at Blythefield Country Club, he made national golf news as a club pro qualifier in the 65th PGA Championship at Riviera Country Club in Los Angeles. He shot a 66 to take the early first-round lead and shared his story before the nation’s media. Hal Sutton shot 65 later in the day and was a wire-to-wire winner that week.
Whitten would play several times against the best in the world, and in 1997 qualify for the Senior PGA Tour, now known as the PGA Tour Champions. He played in 30 tournaments among the over-50 set with a top finish of third and two other top 10s.
In Michigan he earned Michigan PGA Player of the Year honors five times and was a two-time winner of the Michigan Open Championship, the Michigan PGA Professional Championship and the Michigan PGA Match Play Championship. In later years he won the 2003 Michigan Senior Championship, and moved back to Pensacola, Fla., where he continued working as a teaching professional. Jerry Pate, Joe Durant and Allison Fouch were tour professionals who worked with Whitten.
His son Chris became the head men’s golf coach at the University of Michigan and is now the Executive Director of the Golf Association of Michigan.
Year inducted: 1993