January 22, 1915 – May 12, 1998
• Life Member, Class A PGA, 50 years
• National PGA Select Teacher, 1974 – 1978
• National PGA Golf Swing Education Committee, 1971 – 1976
• Conductor of First National PGA Workshop in PGA History
• Golf Professional of the Year, 1960, Ocean Press Division, UPI
• Ranked Top 25, 50 and 100 Teachers by Golf Magazine
• Feature Golf Instruction author for Golfdom, Golf World, Golf Magazine, Golf Lessons, and PGA Magazine for over 49 years.
Like many pros of his day, Paul started in the caddy yard. 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 and was later named Head Pro for the new course, Mills Creek Golf Course.
Paul 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 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 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.
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.
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.
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, senior editor for Golf Magazine, attend a seminar Paul conducted in New Jersey. Tolhurst was instrumental in having Golf Magazine sign a contract with Paul to provide instruction articles for the periodical.
Golf Magazine ran a two part series to introduce its readers to the Bertholy method. In the August issue, John Ross, then editor-in-chief had this to say about Paul’s system: Every now and then we are able to corral one theory or method that meets with overwhelming acceptance form our golfers. Such was Paul Bertholy’s great series, Let Your Body Memorize the Swing published earlier that year in the February and March issues. He remained on the Golf Magazine instruction staff until his death in 1998.
The Conference Board Magazine rated Paul’s method as the most complete program in building a golf swing in its evaluation of the then available golf schools.
Paul was scheduled to appear on the Golf Channel on April 30 and May 1 of 1998. He was sick and cancelled his appearance . The appearance had been promoted by both the Golf Channel and Golf Magazine. He died 12 days after his scheduled appearance. His wife asked me to attempt to represent him on the station. Unfortunately my calls and letters never got to the right people at the Golf Channel. So Paul was lost to the station’s audience. Since that time instructor Martin Hall has mentioned Paul on more than one occasion on his weekly show School of Golf.