A Jackson native who played on the University of Detroit golf team, Dave Hill won the 1959 Michigan Open in his first year as a professional golfer and went on to an outstanding PGA Tour career.
He often made headlines with his blunt statements and willingness to take on golf’s hierarchy, but he also won over $1 million on tour with help from 13 wins. He won the Vardon Trophy in 1969 for the lowest scoring average on the PGA Tour, and was on the Ryder Cup team that year, too. He was also on Ryder Cup teams in ’73 and ’77, and won six times on the Senior PGA Tour, which is now called the PGA Tour Champions.
Hill played in 15 U.S. Opens, 12 Masters and 12 PGA Championships with one top-five finish in each, and he played in just one British Open.
He was known as a great ball-striker and had his best finish in a major championship when he was second in the 1970 U.S. Open at Hazeltine in Chaska, Minn. Of course, his criticisms of the course in which he said they ruined a good farm when they built it, made the headlines instead of his play.
He was popular beyond his hometown of Jackson and made a cameo appearance in a Walt Disney movie called “Now You See Him, Now You Don’t.” Hill died in 2011 after a long battle with emphysema.
His brother Mike is also a member of the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame.