Born and raised in Huntington, West Virginia, Bill Campbell has become one of the most distinguished amateurs in golf history. After graduating from Princeton University, Campbell had little desire to play professionally; instead he returned to West Virginia, started an insurance company and served in the State Legislature.
On the course, Campbell would compile an astonishing resume. Nationally, Campbell played in 37 U.S. Amateurs, including 33 consecutively (USGA record). At the age of 41, he finally won the U.S. Amateur title in 1964 – a true statement to his persistence. Additional titles on his resume include two U.S. Senior Amateur titles, one Mexican Amateur, one Ontario Amateur, four North/South Amateurs, two Tom O’Shanter World Amateurs, and an unmatched 7-0-1 record in singles competition during eight Walker Cup matches.
In his home state, Campbell won a record 15 West Virginia Amateurs and three West Virginia Open titles. Campbell’s playing career was perhaps best characterized in an issue of Golf Journal where the magazine claimed Campbell was a “professional at being an amateur.” He has been a constant figurehead for golf in the state of West Virginia and is a constant reminder of what a true amateur represents – playing the game because you love to play golf.
Campbell has made an even profound impact on golf off the course. Campbell is the only man to head both major governing bodies of golf: the United States Golf Association (1982-83) and the Royal & Ancient Golf Club (1987). During his tenure as President and Captain of the two respective associations, his message was clear: Golf is a game of manners, relationships, dignity, and self respect.
“It is an honorable game, an honorable institution, if you will, so that people shouldn’t need policemen to keep them straight. That goes with being a golfer.” -Bill Campbell