One of Us

Laury Livsey


Laury Livsey is the historian for The PGA Tour, archiving and preserving its past and documenting its present for the future. With this year being the 50th anniversary of THE PLAYERS Championship, fans are showing more interest in all that came before.

How did THE PLAYERS become such a big part of this community?

We didn’t start here in Florida. We actually started in Atlanta. That’s where the first tournament was. Commissioner [Joseph] Dey, before he retired, planned to move it around. So, it started in Atlanta, went to Fort Worth, then went to the Fort Lauderdale area, and then came here to replace the Greater Jacksonville Open.

Deane [Beman, former commissioner] decided to build the headquarters here and build a golf course. And here we are.

It was over at the Sawgrass Country Club at first.

Yeah, from ’77 to ’81. The first PLAYERS at TPC Sawgrass was supposed to be in ’81 when the golf course was ready, but the viewing areas were not. So, they had one more year across the street and then ’82 was the first year.

Are you actually employed by The PGA Tour?

I’ve been with the Tour since November of 2002. Always in communications, and I’m in communications right now. My role changed to historian, and I’ve been doing history for almost a decade.

But I was also doing public relations for PGA Tour China, PGA Tour Latinoamérica, PGA Tour Canada — our international tours — and trying to promote those players who were on their way up.

What is your background?

I went to the University of Utah. Studied communications. I worked at the school newspaper, was the sports editor.

Then, I moved on to sports information. We were a very small staff back then, and the sports information director gave me golf, and said, “You’re in charge of our men’s golf team.”

It was a great opportunity as a student. You’d help with football. You’d help with basketball, but it was great to have your own sport to work on. I really loved golf.

I played a lot of golf, but I was also just fascinated by the history of it.

How did you become The PGA Tour historian?

I really felt like there was a need for a historian. We have so much from a corporate standpoint that has never been archived … it’s just in boxes. So, I approached my boss and said, “What would you think about making that my full-time job?”

It became official last July. So, it’s relatively new, even though I’d been doing historical things for almost the entire time I’ve been at the Tour, but really in a de facto way for the last decade.

There must be a lot of history to document.

The Tour’s been around since 1968. So, The PGA Tour is not that old. But the history of golf in America goes back to the 19th century.

I think there’s a lot to tell. And guys like Lloyd Mangrum fascinate me. Guys that fought in World War II, and World Golf Hall of Famers and just really, really great players who made good money but didn’t make the kind of money that players are making today. They’re the ones who built the tour.

I went up to Hot Springs, Virginia, three different times and got to know the Snead family very well. They just opened up their entire property to me to see all of Sam’s stuff. They were in the process of getting it ready to auction off. But to be able to just see everything that he accomplished, one of the three or four best players to ever play the game — that was right up my alley, that kind of stuff.

I just thought: Can I turn that into a full-time position and really help the company tell the story? We’ve got plenty of people telling about Scottie Scheffler and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas, but who’s telling about Dow Finsterwald and Billy Casper and these players who, I think, in some ways are getting forgotten?

How do you take the present and tie it to the past and bring it all together? That’s what I’m trying to do.

Tell me about what you do.

It’s a real mix. Right now, I’m trying to build database of things that have to do with our tournaments, our players, our company that I think will help tell the story.

And a lot of this stuff has just been stored at our Iron Mountain facility on Commonwealth Avenue on the westside. I want to scan it, make that available, searchable, put tags on it.

Some of the stuff, once it’s scanned, you just throw away. But a letter from Bill Clinton or a letter from George Bush to Commissioner Finchem is something you keep; we will want to display it at some point.

So, you really have to look at what is worth keeping, what is worth making known to our staff, what is worth making known to the public.

In addition to archiving, you write articles.

I just finished writing a 3,500-word article that’s on about the history of how the Tour went to Atlanta Country Club in Marrietta for the first PLAYERS Championship. I went up to Atlanta Country Club, talked to the team up there. Found some members who went to the first event. Talked to some people, and then wrote a story about it.

We celebrated the 40th anniversary of the PGA Tour logo in 2020. I wrote a 4,000-word story and three sidebars on how that came about. Disney designed that. Don’t know who the artist was.

We’d had our little shield logo, it looked a little bit like the Union Pacific logo. And our marketing director at the time, Art West, said, “I’ve got to be able to sell the tour. I can’t sell a shield.”

So, Disney created this logo [the current one].

Then, there’s always been a question about: How many wins did Sam Snead have officially? At one time he had 88. And then, they reduced it to 81. They finally settled on 82. Of course, the Tour was very different in the ‘30s, the ‘40s and the ‘50s. They had team events, 36-hole events, it wasn’t always Thursday to Sunday. So, I think it’s comparing apples to oranges.

We had a committee back in the ‘80s that said, “These are the 82 wins that we count as official.” Sam thought he should have been given more. People think Tiger has had a way better career, and that Sam should only have about 60 career wins because he had so many team wins.

So, I just wrote a big, long story.

Future historians will be grateful for all the work you’ve done.

I think so. The first wave I did, adding scores in, we didn’t even have full scores for early U.S. Opens in our system. And that’s easily getable information. You can find that; it’s a significant enough event. And we put that in.

So, I would say, in our first wave, we added somewhere in the neighborhood of about 200,000 scores and probably somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,500 players that played in the U.S. Open, played in the PGA, played in the Master’s, played in the old Metropolitan Open in New York. And we’re still not even close to being done.

So, what do you like best about what you do?

The variety. And just the history. I was a history minor in college. And I just love it. I always loved, really, American history.

To be able to do something where I feel like I’m contributing to the company and I’m going to leave it in a better place than when I arrived.

Sounds kind of cornball, but it’s kind of heartening to me to go, “Tony Jacklin’s record in our system is much more refined now than it was a decade ago.”

Since 1980, we would put every player’s score who played in an event, but in 1979, the only scores we put in were the guys who made the cut.

So, 70, 80 guys never got their scores put in. It would almost look like: Well, that guy really had a great career; he hardly ever missed the cut. Because when you did miss the cut, it wasn’t put in.

Do you have any interesting tidbits to share?

A good one was when Annika Sörenstam played in Colonial [Bank of America Colonial tournament], and she became the first woman to play in a PGA Tour event since Babe Didrikson Zaharias. That was all true.

But during my research I found Shirley Spork. Shirley was one of the founding members of the LPGA and a legend from that side of golf.

And she played in what was called the Northern California-Reno Open back in the ‘50s. And she didn’t play well. Didn’t come close, but they didn’t have a cut, so she played all four rounds. She was never a factor. She wouldn’t have made the cut had there been a cut. But she played. And she was a female. In the ‘50s.

And we did not have that. That now appears in our record book. I was really glad to be able to discover that. And I’m pretty confident now every woman who’s ever played has been documented.

Where do you live now?

I live in Mandarin. We’ve really loved it there.

What do you like best about living in Northeast Florida?

You don’t have to shovel the rain. [Laughs] …

I don’t really think about the cold here. Yeah, it gets a little chilly, and I like that, actually. You feel like you get a semblance of seasons here. A little bit of winter. Not like you’re living in Miami, where it’s warm all the time.

And just how different it is. We have a pretty good-sized lot. And we’ve got a retention pond in our backyard. We’ve got egrets and we’ve got wild turkeys and we’ve got just all these wading birds that you would never see in Utah.

I just really like that.

How do you like to spend your free time?

I like to garden. I like to work in my yard. I like to plant flowers. I still mow my lawn.

I don’t mind putting in the headphones and sitting on the ground and weeding, planting flowers.

And I enjoy research, reading and just nerdy stuff.