Johnny Palmer was born in Eldorado, NC in 1918 and grew up in nearby Badin. There he spent much of his free time caddying at the Stanley Country Club and learning as much as he could about the game of golf. Then in 1938, feeling confident that he could earn a living playing golf, he turned to the professional tour. However, it was not until a long nine years later that he proved to himself that he was indeed a winner. That year, 1947, he won his first of eight PGA Tour events when he won the Western Open, at the Salt Lake City County Club. Two years later, in 1949, at the Hermitage Country Club in Virginia, he came close to winning one of golf’s four “majors.” He lost in the match play finals of the PGA Championship to Sam Snead three down and two to play. In route to the finals, he beat such tour standouts as Jim Ferree and Lloyd Mangrum.
From 1946 to 1951 he averaged winning over $13,000.00 a year — very good money in those days — a figure broken only by Hogan, Snead, Middlecoff, Demaret, Mangrum and Ferree. His best showing in the US Open was a 289 score at the St. Louis Country Club in 1947, which placed him in a tie for sixth. In 1949, he was fourth in the Masters Tournament and four back of winner Sam Snead. He played in 13 Masters tournaments and in those days the scoreboard listed him simply as “Palmer” — until a second Palmer came along who, to differentiate between the two, was listed “A. Palmer,” for then Johnny was king.
Locally, Johnny was also successful in winning the Carolinas PGA Section title five times and the Carolinas Open three times. He is a member of the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame, The Carolinas Section PGA Hall of Fame, and was inducted into the Carolinas Golf Hall of Fame in 1983.
During his two and a half years in the Air Force in World War II, he served as a side gunner aboard a B-29 and flew 32 missions over Japan.
Mr. Palmer’s tournament victories:
The Western Open
The Philadelphia Inquirer Open (now the Philadelphia Classic)
The Mexican Open
The Nashville Open
Member US Ryder Cup Team
The Houston Open The World Tam O’Shanter
1949, 50 '52 '54
'Among top 15 money winners on PGA tour
The Canadian Open
The Colonial Open
Johnny Palmer was inducted into the Carolinas Golf Hall of Fame in 1983.