Stranahan, amateur winner of six TOUR titles, dies at 90

June 25, 2013

By Laury Livsey, PGA TOUR staff

Frank Stranahan, a six-time PGA TOUR winner who captured the 1945 Durham Open and the 1948 Miami Open as an amateur, died June 23.

He was 90.

The native of Toledo, Ohio, the son of R.A. Stranahan, the Champion Spark Plug founder, was also a world-ranked weightlifter and carried the nickname “Muscles” and the “Toledo Strongman” during his playing career. 

Stranahan first made his mark in amateur golf and didn’t turn professional until 1954, at age 32. His first significant title was the 1941 Trans-Mississippi Amateur, when he defeated John Barnum, 6 and 5, at Sunset Golf Club in St. Louis. That win as an 18-year-old made him, at the time, the tournament’s youngest winner. He later added two British Amateur titles (1948 and 1950), two Canadian Amateurs (1947 and 1948) and three North and South Amateur crowns (1946, 1949 and 1952). He was a runner-up at the 1950 U.S. Amateur.

He is also remembered for three close calls in major championships -- ties for second at the 1947 and 1953 British Opens and at the 1947 Masters, where he fell by two strokes to Jimmy Demaret at Augusta National. Later that summer, in his British Open loss, he came excruciatingly close to forcing a playoff with winner Fred Daly. Stranahan’s approach shot from 110 yards into the closing hole stopped three inches short of the cup. Six years later, he was one of four players to tie for second behind winner Ben Hogan at the British Open at Carnoustie Golf Club.

"We were saddened to learn of the passing of Frank Stranahan. He was a wonderful man, one of golf’s most accomplished amateurs and certainly one of the most interesting individuals to play the game," said PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem. "Frank’s achievements are no doubt underappreciated today, including the fact that he was a remarkable all-around athlete. Frank was a noted powerlifter during this period and later, became an accomplished long-distance runner, competing in a number of marathons. We look at the athleticism of our players today and can say that Frank truly was well before his time when it came to golf and fitness."

Stranahan won the TOUR’s 1955 Eastern Open in Baltimore then added the 1958 Los Angeles Open title, outlasting E.J. “Dutch” Harrison with a pair of 67s over the final 36 holes at Rancho Municipal Golf Course.

Following his retirement from tournament golf, Stranahan went into business and focused his athletic pursuits back on weightlifting and running marathons. His final made PGA TOUR cut came at the 1964 Carling World Open at Oakland Hills Country Club in Michigan.

Stranahan is survived by his son Lance. His wife, Ann, and two sons, Frank and James, predeceased him.

Services are pending.