John Barnum, a four-time Michigan Open champion, was the first golfer to win his first PGA Tour event past the age of 50 and was also the first player to win a PGA Tour event using a PING putter, which later became the most popular putter in golf.
He was head golf professional at Blythefield Country Club near Grand Rapids for more than 20 years and played the PGA Tour on a part-time basis. In addition to his four Michigan Open wins, he was a three-time Michigan PGA Professional Championship winner and five times won the Michigan PGA Senior title.
The historic first PGA Tour win came at the 1962 Cajun Classic, which he won by six shots over Gay Brewer. He is one of just six golfers who have won on the tour after turning 50. Barnum made noise in the senior major championships, too, finishing second three times in the Senior PGA Championship. He was runner-up to Herman Barron in 1963, second to Sam Snead in ’64 and second to Fred Haas Jr. in ’66.
Barnum died in 1996 at the age of 85. The PING putter he won the Cajun Classic with is in a collection of historical items at Blythefield, and he also donated a PING putter he used in competition to the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame.