PNGA Hall of Famer Kent Myers passes

Updated: March 3, 2022

Kent Myers, who collected 150 victories during a long amateur career that led to his induction into the Pacific Northwest Golf Hall of Fame, passed away. He had just finished hitting a bucket of balls on a driving range in Scottsdale, Ariz., and fell of a heart attack. He was 89.

Myers was introduced to golf as a junior at North Salem High School in Oregon. He took an interest in the game after he was given a set of Stan Thompson persimmon woods and Bobby Jones irons by a teacher at North Salem. The teacher’s son had used them before he was killed in World War II. Myers said he “felt an obligation to play the game” after receiving the clubs.

In 1956 Myers qualified to play in the U.S. Open at Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, New York. This event would be the first of 11 USGA championships Myers played between 1956 and 1996; the others included a U.S. Senior Open, three U.S. Amateurs, and six U.S. Senior Amateurs.

Myers was famous on the national golf scene for occasionally using his behind-the-back-between-the-legs putting stroke. He even used it in the 1991 U.S. Senior Open. Myers enjoyed a long and successful career as an educator, retiring in 1991 as the assistant superintendent of the Bend, Oregon, school district.

Myers got the idea for his “optional” putting style while stationed in the Army in Texas in 1956. He’d been winning a lot of money on the putting greens used by military personnel, who then banned him from the games. So Myers experimented with the behind-the-back technique, and asked his buddies if he could rejoin the putting games if he putted that way. The others acquiesced and let him back in the competitions. “It wasn’t long before I was winning all the money that way, too.”

His unique putting style gained notoriety in 1967 at the inaugural Pacific Coast Amateur Championship, held at Seattle Golf Club. Joe Dey, the USGA’s legendary executive director for many years, spent a day at the event. “I was putting on the 16th green and I knocked in a 20-footer behind my back,” recalled Myers. “Someone in the gallery yelled, ‘I thought I got ’em all!’ It was Dey, who recently had banned (Portland golf pro) Bob Duden’s croquet-style putter and was cracking down on alternative styles of putting. Dey called me in afterwards and interviewed me. They (USGA officials) took my picture.”

By Tom Cade, PNGA