1971 Masters Champion, Charles Coody, puts us inside the room at the annual Champion’s Dinner at Augusta and recalls his fondest memories of the Par 3 tournament with his grandsons caddying (and hitting the occasional putt). He admits regret with only playing one Open Championship, a T5 at Birkdale, in 1971 and shares his memories of other Tour victories. His love of family, and pride of his grandchildren, are evident as Charles Coody shares the rest of his story, “FORE the Good of the Game.”
Billy Charles Coody (born July 13, 1937) is an American professional golfer, best known for winning the 1971 Masters Tournament. Coody was born in Stamford, Texas and raised in Abilene, Texas. He graduated in 1960 with a bachelor's degree in Business from Texas Christian University; he made his pro debut in 1963.
Coody won two regular PGA Tour events early in his career and was known as one of the best iron players of his era. At the 1971 Masters Tournament, Coody opened with a first round 66 for a 3 shot lead. He remained in the lead entering the final round but was expected to lose to co-leader Jack Nicklaus who had won the 1971 PGA Championship two months earlier. The event turned into a 3-way battle between Coody, Nicklaus, and a young Johnny Miller who was playing his first Masters as a professional. Coody made a birdie on the 15th and a clutch 15-foot putt on the 16th for another birdie. He made pars on the last two and won by two strokes.
Coody had his share of success after his Masters victory. He represented the United States for the only time in the 1971 Ryder Cup. He finished 5th at the 1971 Open Championship at Royal Birkdale. He would win two events on the fledgling European Tour in 1973. He also had chances to win additional majors at the 1976 PGA Championship and 1977 PGA Championship. In 1976 he held a two stroke lead entering the final round before finishing with a 77. The following year, at Pebble Beach, he finished two strokes out of a playoff, shooting a 73 in the final round.
However, his Masters triumph did not serve as a catalyst for Coody to become one of the greats in the game. In fact, while he posted nine top-3 finishes through the 1970s and early 1980s, he never won on the PGA Tour again. Coody would play full-time on the PGA Tour until he reached his late 40s.
When he turned 50, Coody played on the Senior PGA Tour with a good amount of success, winning five times. Like most Masters winners, Coody played the Masters Tournament through his old age. He retired from active competition at the 2006 event having played 38 of the last 39 Masters.
Coody was inducted into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame in 2000. A college golf tournament, the Charles Coody West Texas Intercollegiate, is named for him. He also lends his name to a charity event, the Charles Coody Classic.