July 29, 2009

PGA Tour Player Marc Turnesa Carries On His Family's Impressive Golf Legacy

From time to time, we hear about father-and-son PGA Tour winners, for example, North Carolina's Clayton Heafner andVance Heafner, Al Geiberger and Brent Geiberge, Julius Boros and Guy Boros, etc. Impressive and rare as those tandems may be, none of them have quite the same legacy as current Tour player Marc Turnesa. His family was once called "The First Family of Golf" -- and for good reason:

As Marc's father, Mike Jr., points out, ''We've been called the 'First Family of Golf,' and 'America's Royal Family of Golf' in Colliers Magazine in the '50s.'' According to the New York Times, RKO flew the boys to Bermuda in 1938 to make a short film called The Golfing Brothers.

Willie's obituary in the Times said the Turnesa family was ''to golf what the Kennedys were to politics.''

Marc's Great Uncle Jim won the 1952 PGA, beating Chick Harbert 1-up and breaking what the PGA of America media guide still refers to as ''a 26-year family major championship jinx.'' Ten years earlier, Jim had lost in the final match of the PGA to Sam Snead.

Grandfather Mike won six PGA Tour events and finished second to Ben Hogan in the 1948 PGA Championship. He was head pro at Knollwood Country Club in Westchester, N.Y., for 44 years.

Great Uncle Joe won 15 tour events but finished runner-up to Jones in the 1926 U.S. Open and lost in the finals of the 1927 PGA to Walter Hagen.

Great uncles Doug, Frank and Phil became teaching pros.

The seven boys were sons of Vitale and Anna Turnesa, Italian immigrants who settled in Elmsford, N.Y. According to the New York Times, Vitale took a job on the construction crew at Fairview Golf Club and later became head greenskeeper, but never played the game in his 50 years working there.

Akron American Chronicle

For his part, Marc is holding his own on the PGA Tour, with one win in 2007, followed by a down year last season. This season, he's continuing to struggle, with his best finish being a T30 at the Northern Trust Open. Turnesa has started well in several tournaments, but has been unable thus far to string together four top-notch days in a row in order to keep his perch in the upper parts of the leader board.

He's been there before. Turnesa played the mini-tours for several years after graduating from NC State, and like many of the grinders in the middle of the game, he was living on borrowed time and money. Then, in 2006, his game came together and he played the minor league circuit well enough to continue on through the spring and summer. At the end of that year, he earned his Nationwide Tour card, won there, finished in the top 15 and earned a promotion to the big tour. Last October, Turnesa went wire-to-wire for a 1-shot victory at the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in Las Vegas. With the victory, he earned the two-year PGA Tour exemption that goes with it, giving him some much needed certainty to continue playing golf...and to continue to work hard, grind it out and improve his game.

No wonder NC State golf coach uses Turnesa as an example to his current players. Through hard work, Marc Turnesa has made the most of what talent he was born with and his dedication has led to not only a PGA Tour career, but also membership in an exclusive club: PGA Tour winner.

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