By Matt Jenkins
---- — Dick Hart, a professional golfer and Salem native who played on the PGA Tour in the 1960s, passed away last month at the age of 77.
Hart was born in Salem and learned the game of golf at Wenham Country Club. He is believed to be the only North Shore-born golfer to ever win a PGA Tour event, capturing the 1965 Azalea Open in Wilmington, N.C., in dramatic fashion.
Hart outlasted Phil Rodgers on the eighth sudden death playoff hole. He earned the trophy — and the prize of $3,850 — when he parred the eighth hole and Rodgers bogeyed. Both Hart and Rodgers each had scores of 276 after 72 holes, thanks in large part to an eagle Hart recorded on the 15th hole of the final round.
The eight-hole playoff remains one of the longest in PGA Tour history.
Hart was 75th on the money list in 1965 (a career best) and led the 1963 PGA Championship after the first and second rounds. He shot a 66 in the first round and a 72 in the second round at the Dallas Athletic Club. He ended up tying for 17th place with a 76 and a 74 in the third and fourth rounds, respectively.
Jack Nicklaus went on to win that PGA Championship with a 5-under par 279, nine shots better than Hart. That was Hart’s best finish in a major championship.
Hart, who made 78 cuts during his Tour career, was also the head golf professional at Hinsdale Golf Club in Hinsdale, Ill., for 43 years.
He won the Illinois Open and Illinois PGA Championship three times each and captured the Illinois Match Play Championship twice. He was inducted into the Illinois PGA Golf Hall of Fame in 1990.
Hart spent his twilight years living in Louisiana near his family. He is survived by his daughter, Dalyce Burvant, and two sons, Rick and Ross, as well as five grandchildren.