Golf legend Billy Casper, a native of San Diego, California died on February 7th at his home in Utah at the age of 83. Casper, who was also nicknamed “Buffalo Bill” was born William Earl Casper, Jr. went on to become one of the most prolific winners in pro golf.
Casper was noted not just for his golf game, but for his dedication to his family. A devout Mormon, Casper was married to his wife, Shirley, who survives him, for 63 years. He was the father to eleven children.
Billy Casper was one of the greatest winners in PGA Tour history and was a dominant player for the better part of three decades,” tour Commissioner Tim Finchem said in a statement. “We remember his three major championships and his incredible work on the greens that made him one of the best putters of his generation. Beyond his career as a player, though, we will remember Billy as tremendous husband and father, a man devoted to family, charitable pursuits and his religion. He truly has left us with a lasting legacy.
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Casper earned 51 wins on the PGA tour. Among these were 2 U.S. Opens and a Masters. He was elected to the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1978 and was PGA Player of the Year in 1966 and 1970. After retiring as a player, Casper went on to design and manage golf courses.
A touching tribute to Casper was posted on the Facebook page of Jack Nicklaus.
“Billy Casper was one of the greatest family men—be it inside the game of golf or out—I have had the fortunate blessing to meet. He had such a wonderful balance to his life. Golf was never the most important thing in Billy’s life—family was. There was always much more to Billy Casper than golf. But as a golfer, Billy was a fantastic player, and I don’t think he gets enough credit for being one. I have said many times that during my career, when I looked up at a leaderboard, I wasn’t just looking to see where a Palmer or a Player or a Trevino was. I was also checking to see where Billy Casper was. Billy had tremendous confidence. He just believed in himself. You knew when you played against Billy Casper, Billy would not beat himself. You want to talk about someone who could perform under pressure, if you wanted someone to get up and-down for you, Billy Casper was your man. I think it is fair to say that Billy was probably under-rated by those who didn’t play against him. Those who did compete against him, knew how special he was.
“More important than what Billy Casper gave us inside the ropes, he has been so selfless outside them. He has always been so steadfast and committed to his family, his religion, his community, and his unwavering beliefs. And he never asked for anything in return. It was not even a year ago, someone asked Billy how he wanted to remembered, and he said, ‘I want to be remembered for how I loved my fellow man.’
“Over the last 15 to 20 years, my friendship with Billy blossomed. We had a number of common threads, but the one that truly connected us was our love of family and those shared values. It was a genuine treat every time I saw Billy and that smile on his face. Because I knew I was about to talk to a dear friend. I—we—lost a true friend tonight. Barbara and I send out our most heartfelt prayers and love to Shirley, their kids, and all those loving grandkids and great grandkids who tonight are wrapping their arms around the loving memories of a wonderful man.”