• PGA Philadelphia Section Hall of Fame •

Louis "Leo" Diegel
Class of 2000


Leo Diegel was born in Detroit, Michigan in 1899. Diegel was an all-around athlete. He attended the University of Detroit where he played football, basketball and baseball. At age 17 he was a golf professional working for Alex Ross at the Detroit Golf Club. At that time anyone who caddied or worked in a golf shop after the age of 16 was deemed to be a professional golfer. That year he won the Michigan Open as his employer, Ross, finished second. Three years later he won a second Michigan Open, this time by 19 strokes. In 1928 and 1929 he held the #1 ranking on the PGA Tour and he was ranked in the top ten every year from 1920 to 1934. He won consecutive PGA Championships (1928 and 1929) and four Canadian Opens. In winning the 1929 Canadian Open he put together what was considered the best 72-hole score up to that time, a 274. On the way to winning the 1928 PGA Championship at Five Farms in Baltimore he defeated Walter Hagen in the quarterfinals. Up to then Hagen had won 22 straight 36-hole matches and the four previous PGA Championships. Hagenís 1926 PGA Championship had come at the expense of Diegel as he defeated him in the finals. Diegel also finished second in both the U.S. Open and the British Open. Diegel won a total of 29 tournaments on the PGA Tour and he was second 23 times. He was a member of the first four Ryder Cup teams. He arrived in the Philadelphia Section as the professional at the Philmont Country Club in late 1933 and stayed there through 1944. His national victories were behind him but he was a factor in the major championships for several more years. His first year at Philmont he finished second on the PGA Tour money list even though he only played in seven tournaments. Late that year he won two tournaments in Australia and tied for first in another one. Those wins didnít figure in the PGA Tour money standings. Diegel was the PGA of America tournament chairman in 1934 and chairman of the PGA of Americaís national rehabilitation program for wounded World War II veterans from 1944 to 1946. As the tournament chairman of the Philadelphia Section in 1943 he began raising money for wartime charities through the Section events. Out of that evolved the rehabilitation program for the wounded veterans at the Valley Forge General Hospital near Phoenixville. By the time the war had ended Diegel had the rehabilitation program at five veteransí hospitals in the Philadelphia Section and every PGA Section in the country was doing something to rehabilitate the wounded veterans. Diegel was inducted into the PGA Hall of Fame in 1955, the Philadelphia Section PGA Hall of Fame in 2000 and the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2003.
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