Passing of Paul Harney, NEPGA Past President and Hall of Fame Member
It is with a heavy heart that the New England PGA reports the passing of former NEPGA President and Hall of Fame Inductee Paul Harney, PGA Life Member.
PGA TOUR Champion, 5 Time Mass Open Winner, Devoted Husband/Father and U.S. State Department Goodwill Ambassador
(Russell) Paul Harney, of Falmouth, Massachusetts, husband of Patricia (Patti) Burke Harney, died August 24 after a long illness, surrounded by his loving wife of 54 years and his 6 children.
Born in Worcester, Massachusetts, July 11, 1929, Paul became the most accomplished professional golfer from Massachusetts in the modern era with 7 PGA Tour victories, international wins and 5 consecutive Mass Open titles and was the first inductee into the New England PGA Hall of Fame in 1995.
“Harney never had any qualms with his place in life. First and foremost, he was a family man, golf ranking a distant second.” (Boston Globe). However, the golfing world knew of him through his accomplishments from tee to green and many they were. At the age of 9, Paul started caddying and playing golf at Tatnuck Country Club in Worcester, crediting his skills to his mentor/teacher and friend, the late Walter Cosgrove, head pro at Green Hill Golf Club in Worcester. As a 4 year day hop to The College of the Holy Cross, on academic scholarship, Paul was captain of the college’s golf team, posted a 52-4 record and won NCAA medalist honors his senior year in college. Upon graduation in 1952, Paul proudly served his country as an officer in the Navy during the Korean War before kick-starting his illustrious professional golfing career.
Harney played full-time on the PGA TOUR from 1955 to 1963. He was named Golf Digest magazine’s “Most Improved Golfer” in 1957 after back-to-back victories at the Carling Open and Labatt Open. He fulfilled a promise he made to his new bride, Patti, when they married in 1957, that when their first child started school, he would take a club professional position and play the PGA TOUR part-time. Despite being among the top echelon of PGA TOUR players at the time, he returned home to Worcester in 1964, where he served as head professional at Pleasant Valley Country Club until 1973. Playing part-time did not, however, keep Harney from the winner’s circle on the PGA TOUR. He won back-to-back Los Angeles Open titles in 1964 and 1965 and won his final PGA TOUR event at the 1972 Andy Williams – San Diego Open, edging Hale Irwin by one stroke. When PGA TOUR legend Johnny Miller came out of semi-retirement to win his 25th and final PGA TOUR title at the 1994 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro Am, he proclaimed, “I pulled off a Paul Harney,” in salute to the Bay Stater Harney who had won under similar circumstances 22 years earlier. With Harney’s final victory on the PGA TOUR in 1972, he moved to Cape Cod with Patricia and their 6 children to establish and run Paul Harney Golf Club in East Falmouth, a par 61 course he had purchased in 1965 and is still family-runned to this day.
As much as Harney received from the game and world of golf, his country and community, Paul was proud to give back, personally giving lessons to men, women and youths at the Paul Harney Golf Academy and serving as president of the New England Section of the PGA. Harney was named 1974 PGA Golf Professional of the Year and was enshrined into the PGA Golf Professional Hall of Fame in 2005 for his commitment to developing golf for all. Paul was also a weekly CCD teacher at St. Patrick’s Parish in Falmouth and, from 1967-1971, was a Goodwill Ambassador for the U.S. State Department where he conducted golf clinics for the local people and played exhibitions with the heads of state and royalty of Myanmar (Burma), Malaysia and Singapore.
Paul was a spiritual man who conducted his life with honor, respect, loyalty and dignity. A devout Catholic his whole life, Paul was philanthropic in his giving to Catholic charities and the Jesuits of The College of the Holy Cross. To his family and those closest to him, his marriage of 54 years to his best friend Patti was his most treasured accomplishment. Always humbled and soft spoken about his golf triumphs, Paul, nevertheless, relished in the opportunity to mention the “blessings” he received from those that guided his faith and assisted his career, to his life-long friends on and off the golf course, to daily Mass goers and to fellow parents who watched, alongside Paul, their respective childrens’ hockey games, school parades and dance recitals.
Paul was the son of the late Fred and Lena Harney of Worcester; brother of Fred (Florida) and Larry Harney (Florida), Trudy Ferris (New Hampshire) and Joyce Dubuque (Worcester) and devoted husband to Patricia Burke Harney. Paul is survived by his wife and six children, Christopher (Bangkok/Falmouth), Erin Abbott (Falmouth), Anne Marie (Falmouth), Timothy (Bangkok), Helene Pyne (Rye, NY) and Michael (Falmouth) and 16 grandchildren.
May the Mother Mary greet him at the gates of Heaven, may the saints invite him to round-table discussions and may God welcome Paul to an eternal life of peace and a special place for his dear Patti, to continue their hand holding, unrelenting smiles and most enjoyable games of golf together.
If you so wish, Paul would have appreciated your support of the Holy Cross Golf Team (1 College Street, Worcester, MA 01610) or the Mary McCarthy Care Center (73 Service Road, E. Sandwich, MA 02537).
The Section will send out calling hours and funeral information once it is available.