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The Life & Legend of Payne Stewart

Though some 14 years have gone by since his untimely passing, Payne Stewart remains one of the most beloved figures in golf.

Those of us old enough to remember watching Payne play, remember him best for his unique on-course apparel, including his patterned knickers and Scottish style tam-o-shanter hats, as well his intensity and heart.

Stewart had an undeniable love for the game and for the sportsmanship of golf. With a U.S. Ryder Cup victory already clinched, he once picked up his opponent’s ball on the 18th green, conceding the match out of courtesy. Classy, courteous and mature. That was Payne.

We pause to remember him on his birthday today and celebrate all he brought – and still brings – to golf.


Stewart holds the trophy after edging Phil Mickelson by one stroke at the 1999 U.S. Open. Photo by AP

Born in Missouri, Stewart began his career on the Asian Tour, where he won two tournaments before returning to the states to join the PGA TOUR. His first big win came at Quad Cities Open – a memorable event for Stewart, as it was the only tour win his father got to witness. Stewart’s father, a salesman and amateur golfer himself, introduced him to the game at the age of four, after having played in the 1955 U.S. Open. Thirty-six years later, Payne went on to win the 1991 U.S. Open in Chaska, Minn.

Stewart notched an impressive 11 PGA TOUR event wins during his career, including three major championships, and he was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2001. He was admired for his graceful swing, throwback sense of style, and his undeniable sportsmanship.

In 2000, a year after his death,The PGA TOUR created the Payne Stewart Award given annually to a player “sharing Payne’s respect for the traditions of the game, his commitment to uphold the game’s heritage of charitable support, and his professional and meticulous presentation of himself and the sport through his dress and conduct.” Previous recipients of the award include other golf greats such as, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Steve Stricker, and many more.

Photo by Payne Stewart Golf Club

The Payne Stewart Golf Club is a tribute to Missouri native and favorite son, Payne Stewart. Photo by Payne Stewart GC

Stewart’s legacy lives on through his family, friends, charities and dedicated fans. For a chance to honor the competitor, visit the Payne Stewart Golf Club in Branson, Mo., just outside his hometown of Springfield, Mo.

Created to commemorate Payne’s life and legend, each of this tribute course’s 18 championship holes features a unique story from Stewart’s life, giving the golfer a look into his most cherished memories, both on and off the course.

What’s your favorite memory of Payne Stewart?

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