One of the most steady and consistent faces in Austin’s golf history is Roane Puett. Over a career that has lasted nearly 60 years, Puett’s list of accomplishments holds its own against Austin’s golfing heavyweights. From cementing himself in Austin lore by playing for Harvey Penick at the University of Texas to becoming the only 5-time winner of the Men’s City Championship, Puett’s career seemed only to flourish as time went on.
- 5-time winner of the Men’s City Championship (1957, 1961, 1964, 1975, 1982)
- 3-time winner of the Harvey Penick Labor Day Tourney (1960, 1964, 1978-tie)
- 2-time winner of the Firecracker Open (1963, 1966)
- 1953/54-Won the intramural golf championship as a member of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity at the University of Texas
- 1954-Letter on the University of Texas Golf Team that won the SWC Championship (other members included Joe Golden, Raymond Leggett, Davis Love, F. Lee Pinkston, and Teddy White)
- 1954-Won 12thAnnual Premier Golf Tournament in Greggton, Texas.
- 1963-Won Champions Cup paired with George McCall
- 1966-Turned Pro (PGA)
- Note: Puett won many other titles but the complete list is not available at this time. It will be updated as it becomes available.
Early Life and Signs of Things to Come
Born into a family of Longhorn athletes in Longview, Texas, Roane’s path to greatness seemed almost predestined. His father, Nelson Puett Sr. was the star quarterback on the 1911-12 University of Texas football team. His older brother, Nelsen Jr. played football for the University of Texas in the late 1930’s. In fact, Roane’s great-grandfather, Thomas Moore Harwood, was a member of the commission that created the University of Texas and served on the very first University Board of Regents. With all signs pointing to Roane following in the family’s footsteps, Puett found himself attending the University of Texas playing under legendary Texas golf coach, Harvey Penick.
As a Longhorn
Roane had a successful golf career during his time at the University, despite only staying for three years. He was admitted in 1951 into the School of Engineering and joined the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity,winning the intramural golf championship in 1953. Not long after winning the intramural title, Roane lettered on the UT golf team under Harvey Penick and was a member of the team that won the 1954 conference title. Shooting a 279, Roane fell 1 stroke short of winning his first major individual accolade at the 1954 Southwest Conference (SWC) Tourney, losing to his Longhorn teammate, Joe Golden.
Puett defeated Gene Garland in the 1954 12thPremier Golf Tournament (Greggton, Texas) in a nail-biter that saw the lead change hands a total of 8 times during the match. The next year, Roane took a step back by finishing dead last with a score of 155 in the 13thPremier Golf Tournament. However, Puett got his swing back when he paired with another amateur, Teddy White, in the 1954 Odessa Pro-Amateur Tournament. The two amateurs held their own throughout the tournament against pairs with 1 professional player and 1 amateur, finishing 3rdafter the opening day of the tournament.
After leaving the University of Texas in 1954 to continue his golf career, Puett went on a multi-decades long tear through the three major tournaments in Austin. His hottest shooting streak came in the 1957 City Championship and lasted until the 1966 Firecracker Open. During this 9-year span, Puett won 3 City titles, 2 Firecracker Opens, back-to-back Harvey Penick Labor Day Tournaments, and set a course record while winning the Champions Cup. Paired with a former University of Texas football player, George McCall, the tandem flew through the 1963 Champions Cup field with a score of 68-68-73-65 with their best round being a course record 6 under par.
Roane Puett (first row, orange shirt) in a group photo during the 2006 Firecracker Tournament Champions Gathering at Lion’s Municipal Golf Course. Back Row: Sonny Rhodes, Ricky Arzola, Doug Nelle, Larry Roden, Brandon Whitman, Chuck Ribelin, and Michael Cooper.Middle Row: Tim Wilson, Brian Noonan, Steven Bright, Bill Gainer, Billy Clagett, and George McCall.Front Row: Bobby Ormand, Randy Petri, Roane Puett, and Walter Benson, Jr.
However, following this phenomenal performance, Puett’s streak came to a temporary end, failing to repeat in the 1964 Champions Cup, finishing 2nd. Going into the 1966 City Championship, Roane was also heavily favored to win the title again. He defeated a young Tom Kite, one of the greatest golfers in the history of the city, in the 2ndround of the tournament in a duel for the ages. Kite vs. Puett went for 21 holes and Puett won the battle only after Kite missed a 4-foot putt that would have sent the playoff to a 22nd hole. Unfortunately after such a brutal duel, Puett’s chase for his 4thCity Championship would be put on hold after losing to Mike Purvis in the semi-finals. Two years later, Roane would pair with Tom Kite in the 1968 Austin Pro-Amateur Tournament where they would finish 8th, taking home a total of $500 in winnings.
Puett didn’t make another big splash until a decade later, when he stormed back onto the scene winning the 1975 City Championship, 1978 Harvey Penick (tie), and the 1982 City Championship. The 1982 City Championship, his fifth, gave him the honor of owning the most Austin Men’s City Championship wins in history, breaking a tie with Bill Penn and Lester Lundell. To this day, his record of 5 men’s titles is still unbroken. Roane qualified for the PGA after a 144-hole marathon test in 1966, and most recently finished tied for 52ndin the Gatlin Brothers Southwest Classic in 1989.
Despite one of the most illustrious careers in Austin golf history, it could be argued that Roane isn’t the best golfer in his own family! Roane is married to legendary women’s golfer, Barbara Puett. Barbara is one of the few people who can be considered on the same level as her husband in Austin’s golf history, having won the Women’s City Championship 6 times, one more than Roane! The Puett’s have three children, Roane Jr., Paulette, and Phara. More information on Barbara Puett can be found here: http://www.golfaustin.org/aboutus/history-of-golf-in-austin/barbara-puett/
- 1963 & 1966 Roane Puett. 2006. Photograph. Firecracker Tournament Champions Gathering, Austin. BigDriver.com. Lion's Municipal Golf Course, 2006. Web. 4 June 2012. <http://www.bigdriver.com/lions/firecracker-champs-images/puett.jpg>.
- "32 Young Pros Qualify for PGA." Dallas Morning News 28 Oct. 1966: 4B. Print
- AP. "Austin Golf Team Wins." Dallas Morning News 18 Mar. 1963: 2. America's Newspapers. Web. 4 June 2012.
- AP. "Longhorns 1-2 In Conference Golf Tourney." Dallas Morning News 15 May 1954: 6. America's Newspapers. Web. 4 June 2012.
- AP. "SA Team Wins Cup Golf Meet." Dallas Morning News 23 Mar. 1964: 2B. America's Newspapers. Web. 4 June 2012.
- "Austin Pro-Am Tournament Results." Austin-American Statesman 9 Dec. 1968. Print.
- Gage, Harry. "On The Fairway." Dallas Morning News 11 May 1952: 3. America's Newspapers. Web. 4 June 2012.
- Group Photo. 2006. Photograph. Firecracker Tournament Champions Gathering, Austin. BigDriver.com. Lion's Municipal Golf Course, 2006. Web. 4 June 2012. <http://www.bigdriver.com/lions/firecracker-champs-images/group.jpg>.
- "Men's Golf History." TexasSports.com. University of Texas, 2004. Web. 04 June 2012. <http://www.texassports.com/auto_pdf/p_hotos/s_chools/tex/sports/m-golf/auto_pdf/golf-history>.
- "Nelson Puett." Memorial Obituaries. Weed-Corley-Fish Funeral Home. Web. 04 June 2012. <http://obit.wcfish.com/obitdisplay.html?task=Print>.
- Notestine, John. "Texas Alpha-University of Texas." The Shield of Phi Kappa Psi 74 (Nov. 1953): 145. Print.
- "Puett Wins Premier Title." Dallas Morning News 23 Aug. 1954: 10. America's Newspapers. Web. 4 June 2012.
- "ROANE PUETT." Roane Puett Results. PGA TOUR, Inc. Web. 06 June 2012. <http://www.pgatour.com/golfers/005503/roane-puett/season/>.
- Sanner, Fred. "City Golf Favorite Puett Victor on 21st." Austin-American Statesman 30 May 1966. Print.