Meet Paul Bertholy


Paul Bertholy, January 22, 1915 - May 12, 1998

  1. Life Member, Class A PGA, 50 years

  2. National PGA Select Teacher, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978

  3. National PGA Golf Swing Education Committee, 1971, 1972, 1974, 1975, 1976

  4. Conductor of First National PGA Workshop in PGA History

  5. Golf Professional of the Year, 1960, Ocean Press Division, UPI

  6. Top 25, 50 and 100 teachers as ranked by Golf Magazine from the rankings inception through year he died.

  7. Feature Golf Instruction Author for Golfdom, Golf World, Golf Magazine, Golf Lessons, and PGA Magazine over a span of 49 years.

Like many of the pros of his day Paul started in the caddy yard. In 1940, at the age of 25, he spearheaded a drive to have a public golf course built in Sandusky, Ohio with WPA funds. He obtained the required number of signatures and took them to Toledo to the appropriate government office. He received the funding needed to build the course. He designed the course, built it with high school boys who received free memberships. He was later named Head Pro for the new course, Mills Creek Golf Course.

He was head pro there until 1946, when he started to construct his own golf range in Sandusky. It had 15 covered hitting stations, 15 outside stations, and 10 stations on grass tees. Grass tees were not common at the time. Paul’s range was recognized in 1950 by Golfdom business edition as one of the top facilities in the country. Other pros would come to see Paul’s design. Sam Byrd, the ex-New York Yankee turned golf pro, visited Paul on more than one occasion to see his facility.

While operating his golf range Paul became an expert in golf ball construction. He was later recognized as such in PGA Magazine. During World War II rubber was rationed. New golf balls were rare and expensive. Five dollars per golf ball was a steep price in the 1940s. Paul purchased an army surplus potato peeler. He would put old and cut golf balls in the machine, which operates as a tumbler with a water feed to prevent burning. He would tumble the golf balls until they were smooth. He purchased balata cover stock from the Worthington Ball Company. The cover stock was heated on a large flat steel grill. When the cover stock was hot enough it would be cut and spread on the smooth golf balls. They were then put in to a golf ball form that had the dimple patterns and clamped together. They were immersed in ice water for cooling. When removed they were hand trimmed at the seams and then painted. For those of you that might not be familiar with the Worthington Ball Company in the 1940s they were the premier golf ball manufacturer. They manufactured the MacGregor golf balls as well as their own. They were located in Elyria, Ohio and used Paul’s range as their testing facility.

Paul sold his range in 1960 and became partners in the Capital City Country Club in Austin, Texas. Unfortunately that venture was unsuccessful and Paul and his wife, Missi were happy to leave. Paul swore never to be a partner again and wasn’t.

He taught in Florida and Cleveland before settling in Chicago and teaching at Golfland. Here Ellen Griffin and Lorraine Abbott of the National Golf Foundation saw Paul’s name on the teaching roster. They knew of Paul through his work presented in Golf World. He was asked to be a speaker at various National Golf Foundation seminars, which he did. In 1974, while a guest speaker at Pine Needles in Southern Pines, NC, Paul and Missi took a short drive to Foxfire Country Club just outside of Pinehurst. Vic Sorrell, the golf pro at Foxfire had success using Paul’s teaching method. The clubs board of directors was very familiar with Paul’s work. When Vic accepted another club job Paul was contacted and asked to become Director of Golf. He accepted the position. In 1977, he resigned to conduct his schools privately, which he did until his death in May of 1998.

In 1971, Paul was asked by Leo Fraser, then president of the PGA of America to be National PGA Education Director. Paul was so busy teaching he had to decline. He recommended a man who would later become one of the top instructors and authors in the United Stated, Dr. Gary Wiren.

Bill Strasbaugh, National PGA Vice President, said Paul Bertholy established the laws of the fine golf swing and eliminated the myths from golf instruction. Mr. Strasbaugh had Desmond Tolhurst, then senior editor for Golf Magazine attend a seminar Paul conducted in 1974 in New Jersey. Tolhurst was instrumental in having Golf Magazine sign a contract with Paul to provide instruction articles for the periodical.