It’s an exercise in futility to compare eras, but what Johnny Revolta did on the fledgling PGA Tour in 1935, while simultaneously serving as the head professional at Tripoli Country Club in Milwaukee, can’t be minimized.
He won five times and led the tour money list with $9,543. His signature victory came at the PGA Championship, where he one-putted 13 times in the 36-hole match play final and beat Tommy Armour, 5 and 4. In the first round, he got up and down seven times from bunkers to beat five-time champion Walter Hagen.
Revolta, who spent his formative years in Oshkosh, also won the ’35 Western Open – when that tournament was considered a major – by four shots over Willie Goggin. Known as the “Iron Master” because of his outstanding short game, he tied for 13th in the Masters in his second of 21 appearances.
He also went 2-0 in the Ryder Cup, teaming with Henry Picard in foursomes to crush Alf Padgham and Percy Alliss, 6 and 5. In singles, he beat Reg Whitcombe, 2 and 1.
Revolta is credited with 18 official PGA Tour victories. How good was he? In one early 1930s exhibition, he beat the best ball of Armour and Gene Sarazen.