As so many knew from coast to coast, Fred Wampler was the complete professional. He combined the rare talents of a superb player and astute teacher with the acumen of a personable and gentleman club professional. Fred did it all graciously and quietly, suffering silently through an 18-year battle with chronic leukemia that claimed his life at age 62 in 1985.
Wampler’s roots were every bit as deep in Indiana, where he was born in 1923, as they became in Denver where he served 17 distinguished years as head professional and standout player at Denver Country Club.
Known as “Little Hogan” around the PGA Tour circuit where he toiled prosperously for seven years, the 5-foot-8, 150-pound Wampler combined common sense with hero worship in modeling his game after Ben’s and confessed he never felt completely relaxed until he adopted Hogan’s style.
After earning an Air Medal serving three years with the Army Air Corps in World War II, flying 10 combat missions over the Marshall Islands, Fred returned to Purdue University to earn a degree as an honor student, but excelled even more in golf. He won the Indiana State Amateur in 1947 and 1949, was runner-up in 1948; won three straight Big Ten titles, the 1950 NCAA and 1950 Indiana Open championship.
Wampler turned pro in 1950, joined the staff of Al Ciuci at Fresh Meadow on Long Island for two years, during which he won the Long Island Open in 1952. He won the 1953 Manchester Open, the 1954 Los Angeles Open on the PGA Tour and lost a playoff to Sam Snead in the 1957 Greensboro Open. He won the 1962 St. Clair Open while serving four years as head pro at St. Louis Westwood after a brief stint at Silver Mariana Golf Course at Jacksonville Beach, Fla.
In 1965 Fred started a 17-year career at Denver CC that saw him emerge not only as a tremendous club pro, but a dominant player in the area. He won the Colorado PGA Section titles in 1966, 1968, 1973 and 1974; was four times runner-up; was Colorado Section Golf Professional of the Year 1974; played in 14 U. S. Opens, 13 PGA Championships and two USGA Seniors; won the 1983 PGA Senior Open and was elected to the Indiana Golf Hall of Fame in 1972.
Wampler, who left Denver CC in 1982 for the French Lick Springs Resort in his home state, was revered throughout Colorado as well as Indiana. He was elected to the Purdue University Sports Hall of Fame in September 1997.