Venturi’s lone Ryder Cup appearance came in 1965, when the United States defeated Great Britain & Ireland, 19 ½-12 ½ at Royal Birkdale, in England. Venturi and partner Tony Lema secured a critical 1-up victory over Bernard Hunt and Neil Coles on Day 2 in the afternoon four-balls.
Venturi’s talent was undeniable, but his body failed him. Carpel Tunnel Syndrome in his hands made it impossible to continue on the course, and Venturi was forced to retire with 14 career PGA TOUR victories.
That of course, was just the beginning of Venturi’s second act in the game. He joined the CBS Sports television team in 1968. He spent the next 35 years as a color commentator and lead analyst. At Augusta National Golf Club, Venturi worked alongside Byron Nelson, Pat Summerall, Ed Ingles and Jim Nantz. In 1984, CBS reached a milestone when, for the first time, it showed coverage of all 18 holes for the Masters. During his Masters tenure, Venturi called the action at two very famous holes – the par-5 13th and the par-4 18th.
“Kenny sounded like he was in your living room,” said Nantz, who joined CBS in the mid-1980s and began anchoring the network’s coverage in 1995. “He was very conversational. He’s been a very dear friend.”
Venturi’s straightforward, everyman style in the booth made him popular with fans. As his career grew, he became one of the game’s most respected voices.
In 1998, Venturi received the Old Tom Morris Award, the most prestigious honor given by the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America. Two years later, he received the PGA of America Lifetime Achievement in Journalism Award. Venturi also captained the United States to a 21 ½-10 ½ victory in the 2000 Presidents Cup, held at Robert Trent Jones Golf Club in Gainesville, Va.
Venturi is famous for the 1964 U.S. Open, for being buddies with the likes of Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin, and for 35 years, being the voice of golf in America’s living room. He created one truly iconic golfing life, both on and off the course.