Don Pooley Athlete, post-1960

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Dec 21, 2010 1 Comment ›› Riverside Sport Hall of Fame

Athlete, post-1960

Born in 1951 in Phoenix, Arizona, Don Pooley grew up in Riverside and began working closely with club professionals, including caddie Cliff Moore, during his junior year at Poly High School.

Don PooleyWhile Don began playing golf when he was six-years old, he showed little promise of the champion he would become. “Today nobody’s more surprised than me because I was never a great junior player, I was never a great college player, and I never had a lot of success growing up,” Pooley says.

After graduating from the University of Arizona, Don turned pro in 1973 and received his Tour card in 1976. His first year on the Tour was so disastrous, he lost his card, and he and his wife Margaret decided that Don should give Qualifying School one more try. If he made it through, he would go back on the Tour; if not, God had another plan for them. Don qualified for the last spot on the Tour, and the rest is a golf-playing history that includes highlights such as:

  • 1980 winner, British Columbia Open
  • 1987 winner, Memorial Tournament
  • Winner, Million-Dollar Hole-In-One, Bay Hill Classic
  • 1994 returns to Tour after four years of surgery and recuperation
  • 2002 winner, U.S. Senior Open
  • 2003 winner, Allianz Championship

Pooley has been a devout Christian since his teens. After his Senior Open win, Don spoke of his belief. “…God is the one who has given me the desire and the gift to play the game. But He can’t hit the golf ball for me. I have to go out there and work to perfect the skills that He has given me. But that’s true of everything in life. That’s not just golf.”

Don Pooley lives in Tucson with his wife Margaret. They have two daughters: Lynn and Kerri.


  1. I was updating some biographical information on Don Pooley for an upcoming event and came across your website. You have him listed as the 1980 winner of the British Columbia Open. You will want to correct that to say the B.C. Open (B.C. stands for Broome County). I know this because I grew up near Endicott where this annual PGA Tour event was held (and is still held as a Champions Tour event). Thought you would appreciate knowing.