Class of 2022

Terry Diehl

Born: Rochester, NY
Residence: Victor, NY

Terrance Jeffrey Diehl was born in the fall of 1949 in Rochester, NY. He grew up in a house on Pixley Road just across the street from Brook-Lea Country Club. 

His father was a former pro baseball player and avid golfer, and the Diehl’s were members of the neighboring golf course. His mother was also a talented golfer and bowler in her own right.

Once Diehl began to focus on competitive golf in his early teens, competitive success came quickly to him.

His work ethic was unmatched on the golf course, spending long hours playing and practicing down the street at the club. He was once quoted in the Democrat and Chronicle newspaper that hard work to him meant… “getting to the course at 8am and leaving at dark. Hitting a couple hundred balls, playing the course, working on anything that went wrong on the golf course and then some putting and chipping practice.”

He worked at his game with his father, along with local standout club professionals Sam Urzetta of the Country Club of Rochester (2015 NYSGA HOF Inductee) and Jack Lumpkin of Oak Hill Country Club.

As a freshman in high school (age 13), he won the Rochester District Golf Association’s (RDGA) Boys’ Sub-Junior title in 1963 at Irondequoit Country Club, triumphing over Monroe’s Gregg Smith, 8 and 7.

The following year, Diehl qualified for the 1964 U.S. Junior Amateur Championship in his first attempt at age 14. He medaled in the qualifier at Locust Hill Country Club. 

Merely a week later, Diehl won his first state title, the NYS Boys’ Sub-Junior at Cornell University Golf Course over Joe Russo of Syracuse, 3 and 2.  

He claimed his second RDGA victory, the Boys’ Junior at the Country Club of Rochester in 1965, and retained the title in 1966 and 1967.

His second state victory came during the 1966 NYS Boys’ Junior Amateur at Moon Brook when he defeated Bob Battaglia of Buffalo, 4 and 3 in the final match. He was at this point, simultaneously the Rochester District and NYS Junior champion, and completed a sweep of local junior titles in just a few seasons of competition.

In 1967, he won the New York State Jaycee Championship (a top golf tournament in the 50s-60s) at Wiltwyck Golf Club in record-setting fashion. Two years prior, at 15, he won the Jaycee Long Drive competition with a startling distance of 330 yards.

He qualified for the U.S. Junior again in 1967 and made Match Play, losing in the first round.

Diehl, one of the state’s top teenage golfers in the 60’s, also participated in basketball, swimming, baseball and football. He attended the Aquinas Institute, and graduated in 1968, sporting an athletic frame of 6-foot and nearing 200 pounds.

He added another major accolade to his amateur golf resume when he captured the Ganson Depew Cup during the 1969 NYS Men’s Amateur. His win at Elmira Country Club was against Ithaca’s Tom Cleary, who he beat 2-up, after being down 1-up through 18 holes. It was the final year of a match play format, prior to the reintroduction of it again in 1992.

He won the prestigious Monroe Invitational in 1969 over Carl DiCesare, and again in 1971 over Jim Kuntz, both times in 19 holes. He also won the Country Club of Rochester Invitational in 1968 and 1971.

Diehl may have added even more victories to his short amateur career, had it not been for the fierce group of golf legends he competed against during that era including fellow Rochester area foes Don Allen, Carl Dicesare and John Calabria along with statewide stars like Bill Tryon, Nick Raasch, and John Baldwin.

He attended the University of Georgia from 1968-1971 and was recruited as a member of the men’s golf team with some initial help thanks to his club pro, Lumpkin, an alumnus. He earned all-american honorable mention during his sophomore season and finished solo second in the NCAA championship. He later served as the team’s captain in his senior year. In total, he had three top-10 finishes at the NCAAs.

1969 was truly a banner year for young Diehl. As a sophomore at Georgia he earned all-american honorable mention, finished second in NCAA’s, won the NYS Men’s Amateur, and the Monroe Invitational.

He qualified for the U.S. Open as an amateur in 1970 when it was hosted at Hazeltine National.

As many accolades as Diehl racked up during the mid 60’s to early 70’s, he fell short of capturing a second Men’s Am trophy. During his title defense in 1970, he gave it a great run at Locust Hill Country Club, finishing in second and losing to the legendary Don Allen by a stroke. Diehl held a three-stroke lead with a few holes to play, but stumbled on his way to the house.

Diehl joined the professional ranks in 1971 and achieved his PGA Tour Card in the fall of 1973. 

During his rookie season, he won the San Antonio Texas Open and fired two 65s during the tournament. He was the first Rochesterian to win a national event since Sam Urzetta won the U.S. Amateur in 1950.  

“When I won, I thought that was the thing to do. I had done it so much, I was geared to win. That’s all I knew how to do,” he said in Democrat and Chronicle quotes from April 1985.

Early in his pro career, he was called “the most talented player on tour” by legendary tour player Tom Watson. 

Diehl spent a total of ten seasons on the PGA Tour, posting 21 top-ten finishes, including strong play during the following golf majors: Tied for 7th at the 1977 U.S. Open (shared the first-round lead), Tied for 10th place at 1980 PGA Championship at Oak Hill, and a tie for 32nd in the 1978 Masters Tournament. 

As Diehl’s playing career was nearing its end in 1983, he was approached by PGA Tour Commissioner Dean Beman who wanted to expose the PGA Tour to corporate America. He felt Diehl could be a good fit for this position, and he inevitably worked for the PGA’s marketing department for several years, taking a major role in developing a pool of the PGA Tour’s corporate sponsors.

He later worked as a director of golf, and eventually an investment manager for a few different high-profile companies in the Rochester area.

He was able to achieve another successful career as a businessman in the decades after he left the pro ranks.

He currently resides in Victor with his wife, Laura, and has four sons and a daughter.

Terry Diehl’s Career Highlights
-      1963 RDGA Boys’ Sub-Junior Champion
-      1964 NYS Boys’ Sub-Junior Champion
-      1966 NYS Boys’ Junior Amateur Champion
-      3-time RDGA Boys’ Junior Amateur Champion (1965-67)
-      1967 NYS Jaycee Golf Champion
-      1967 International Junior Masters Tournament Medalist
-      1969 NYS Men’s Amateur Champion
-      2-time U.S. Junior qualifier (1964, '67)
-      2-time Monroe Invitational winner (1969, '71)
-      2-time Country Club of Rochester Invitation Winner (1968, '71)
-      Played collegiate golf at University of Georgia (1968-71)
       - All-American Honorable Mention (Sophomore, 1969)
       - 2nd Place Finish in NCAA Championship (Sophomore, 1969)
       - Captain (Senior, 1971)
-      Turned professional in 1972, joined PGA Tour in 1974
-      Won the 1974 San Antonio Texas Open (Valero Open) during rookie season
-      Played in 262 PGA Tour events
         2 – 2nd place finishes
         4 – 3rd place finishes
         23 – top 10 finishes
         150 cuts made
-      Has held positions as Marketing, PGA Tour, ESPN Analyst, and Investment Manager since leaving professional golf in 1983