The hallmark of Jim Ferree’s career in professional golf has been courage. In 1991, at age 60, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Three years later, he would beat the illness and receive the prestigious Ben Hogan Award, presented annually by the Golf Writers Association of America.
As a player, Ferree made his mark on three different fronts. He was an outstanding collegian at the University of North Carolina and was the first Tar Heel golfer inducted into the UNC Sports Hall of Fame in 1991. He played on the PGA Tour for 11 years and won the 1958 Vancouver Centennial, firing a 61 on his way to beating Billy Casper. He served the game for years on the club level, nearly winning the 1978 PGA Club Professional Championship, losing in a playoff.
Ferree was born in Pinebluff, North Carolina, and grew up in Winston-Salem, where he attended Reynolds High School. He learned the game of golf from his father, Purvis, long-time pro at Winston-Salem's Old Town Golf Club. Jim attended the University of North Carolina and was a member of the golf team, and had but one PGA Tour win during his regular career years. He was regarded as one of the very best in the game in the tee-to-green ball-striking phase of the game, but putting was always his Achilles' heel. He spent most of his thirties and forties as the director of golf at Long Cove Club in Hilton Head, SC. His career reached full blossom in 1981 when he joined the Senior PGA Tour. He was chosen by PGA Commissioner Deane Beman to be the model for the knickers-wearing player on the Senior Tour's logo. He shares the Georgia-Pacific Grand Champions record for most victories (9) with two other golfers. He was the Senior PGA Tour's Comeback Player of the Year in 1993.
He has won twice in 15 years and has been among the top 15 season money winner five times. Now, as a Super Senior on the Vantage Classics series, he won nine titles in 1994, and won more than $255,000, the most money ever won by a Super Senior in a season. Jim, his wife Karen, and their young son, Purvis Jennings Ferree Jr., live on Hilton Head Island.
Jim Ferree was inducted into the Carolinas Golf Hall of Fame in 1995.