• PGA Philadelphia Section Hall of Fame •

Robert Henry "Skee" Riegel
Class of 1993

           

Skee Riegel was born in 1914 in New Bloomfield, Pennsylvania and grew up in eastern Pennsylvania. He attended Harrisburg Academy, West Point and Lafayette University before graduating from Hobart College. At Lafayette he captained both the football and baseball teams. He didnít begin playing golf until he was 23. That year he got married and took some golf lessons because his wife played golf. When World War II began Riegel went to Emery Riddle Universityís flight school in Miami. While in Miami he started to show promise by winning the 1942 Florida State Amateur Championship. Riegel served in the Air Corps as a flight instructor during the war. After leaving the service he rose to the top of amateur golf. At the U.S. Amateur at Baltusrol Golf Club in 1946 he qualified with a score of 136, setting a record for the on site qualifying rounds. The record lasted for more than thirty years. Riegel won the U.S. Amateur in 1947, the Western Amateur in 1948 and the Trans-Mississippi Amateur in 1946 and 1948. He was chosen for the Walker Cup team in 1947 and 1949. He was unbeaten in Walker Cup play, winning all four of his matches. Riegel turned pro in early 1950 and joined the PGA Tour. He was one of the first golfers involved in bodybuilding and he was always the strongest professional on the PGA Tour. In 1951 he nearly won the Masters Tournament but he finished second when Ben Hogan edged him out. That year he finished eighth on the PGA Tour money list. In 1951 he joined the Wilson Sporting Goods advisory staff and he was a loyal Wilson staff member for over 50 years. In 1954 Riegel returned to Pennsylvania as the head professional at the Radnor Valley Country Club. He won the Pennsylvania Open in 1957 and 1959 and the Philadelphia Open in 1960. For more than 15 years after leaving the tour he was a factor in the U.S. Open and the PGA Championship. During those years he played the PGA Tour during the winter and continued to finish in the money quite often. Beginning with 1946 Riegel played in the U.S. Open 16 times, the Masters Tournament 11 years in a row and the PGA Championship 9 times. He was 40 years old before he could play in his first PGA Championship because he didnít turn pro until 1950. He then had to serve a five-year apprenticeship on the PGA Tour before he could attain PGA membership and be eligible for its championship. His wife Edith was at all of the tournaments and knew every golf professional. She walked every hole with Skee until late in his career. Riegel left Radnor Valley at the end of 1961 for the opportunity to participate in the ownership of a new golf course, York Road Golf Club in Bucks County. He was a member of the first Schmidt Challenge Cup team where he was made the captain. From that time on he was the non-playing captain of every challenge cup team. Riegel was an expert on the USGA Rules and knew the rules of golf as well as any employee of the USGA. For over thirty years he was a permanent member of the Philadelphia Sectionís tournament committee and the rules chairman of every Section tournament. In 1975 he was given the Horton Smith Award by the Section for his many hours spent educating the golf professionals on the rules of golf. Riegel was inducted into the Philadelphia Section Hall of Fame in 1993.

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