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a longtime tour pro and close friend of Venturi, to the San Francisco Chronicle. “Not just his great playing record, but also as a transcen- dent television analyst, and then with his philanthropic endeavors. “Really, I can’t think of


one person who has hit the game so vastly and through so many different channels.” Venturi nearly won the Masters as an amateur, tak- ing a four-stroke lead into the final round, before losing by one. He won 14 times as a pro on the PGA Tour, but none was more memorable than his lone major, the 1964 U.S. Open. Still recovering from a car


crash less than three years earlier, Venturi battled 100 degree temperatures at Con- gressional CC in Maryland and shot 66-70 the final day to win by four. “My God, I’ve won the


Open!” an exhausted Venturi let out while crying. “I’ve seen people over


the years who tell me where I won, what I shot and exactly what I did,” he said in an April 2011 interview with the Chronicle. “There aren’t many Opens where everyone can tell you all about it.” Venturi was nearly pulled off the course by a doctor, who feared he could die from heat exhaustion if he con- tinued to play. But Venturi staggered on, and somehow picked up his first win in nearly four years. Venturi’s final win came at the 1966 Lucky Interna- tional, which was staged at Harding Park. Hand prob- lems, eventually diagnosed as carpal tunnel syndrome, soon ended his playing career, but then came his CBS career, which lasted 35 years.


(L-R) Longtime SJCC head professional Eddie Duino, Ken Venturi and Hank Lucente at a public exhibition at San Jose Country Club in 1964 honoring the new U.S. Open champion.


A


sk Hank Lucente how many times he’s shot his


age, and he has the answer queued up like he’s giving out his phone number.


“Six-hundred and eighteen times,” he replies without hesitating. And then there are the 15 holes-in-


one he’s recorded since he was born 91 years ago. Affectionately known as “The Legend” at San Jose Country Club, Lucente still plays to a 17 handicap. “He loves golf,” said Audrey, his wife of 71 years. “He’d rather play golf than anything. The younger guys love to play with him, because he can play as well as them.”


Lucente began his golf career as a caddie at San Jose CC in the 1930s as a 15-year-old, and learned the game from legendary teacher Eddie Duino. Lucente joined the Navy during World War II, flying dive-bomber missions over Tokyo as a radioman/gunner. Following the war, the golf-starved Lucente played at Harding Park GC


NCGA Noteworthy Member Spotlight: Hank Lucente


for 90 straight days, where he began to hone his skills into a champion golfer. During that time, he played with Ken Venturi, and they remained good friends. When Venturi played a public exhibition round at San Jose CC following his incredible 1964 U.S. Open victory, Duino and Lucente filled out the group. Venturi was always fond of Lucente’s grip, calling it one “of the best grips in golf.”


Lucente was the runner- up in the 1954 San Francisco City Championship, before winning the 1972 Santa Clara County Championship, when the 50-year-old beat a


36-year-old John Brodie in a playoff. The NCGA course rater of more than 20 years also won the NCGA Senior Championship in 1981, the Alameda Commuters Senior title, and the San Francisco City Super-Senior, among many other tournaments. Lucente first shot his age at 68, and has been piling on to that total ever since. He is a member of the Cali- fornia Golf Writers Association and San Jose CC Halls of Fame. He has a son, Tom, and daughter, Debra.


Lucente and wife Audrey


SUMMER 2013 / NCGA.ORG / 17


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