Joe Finger was born in Houston, Texas where he lived until retiring to Kerrville in 1988.
Mr. Finger earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Rice Institute and a Master of Science degree in Chemical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. While at Rice, he was a four year golf letterman, serving as Co-Captain of the golf team which won the Southwest Conference Championship.
In 1941 Mr. Finger began his professional career as a chemical engineer with positions at Pan America Refining Corp (AMOCVO), J.S. Abercrombie & Company where he was instrumental in the design, startup and operation of the 100 octane aviation gasoline refinery at Old Ocean, Texas. In spite of many attempts to get into the armed forces, he was consistently deferred by the Petroleum Administration for War.
After the war Mr. Finger began work for Corrulux, where his innovative work with plastic was lauded. Corulux was eventually sold to Libbey Owens Ford Glass Company, where he remained as President of the Corrulux Division for four years. He held several patents on the manufacturing process which is used all over the world. He then turned to his favorite pastime, golf, for his next venture.
Mr. Finger was an accomplished golfer as he held the Westwood Country Club championship for 13 years, while developing golf course architecture as a serious hobby. Starting out as an unpaid superintendent and doing all of the engineering work for the golf course, he was hired by the Westwood architect to assist the addition of 9 holes to their course. Mr. Finger was eventually recommended by the architect to apply for the course at Randolph Air Force base in San Antonio. He got the job.
From that humble beginning, he became one of the top golf course architects in the country, as judged by the number of his works included in Golf Digest list of Americas 100 Greatest Courses. His courses from New York, though the southeast, southwest and into California and Mexico, earned him many honors over the 45 years he spent in the business. He also built nine courses for the Air Force, and His consulting work took him to Canada, Puerto Rico, St. Croix, Spain, Italy, and Germany.
He was particularly honored when Byron Nelson asked him to help rebuild the 8th green at the Masters. During his career he was a member of the American Society of Golf Course Architects, and served as Director of the National Club Association.
In 1988 he retired, moved to Kerrville and worked with Byron Nelson to redesign the Riverhill Country Club golf course. His final undertaking was the complete remodeling of the Scott Schriener Municipal Golf Course in Kerrville.
Birthplace: Houston, Texas
Born: June 4, 1918
Died: September 28, 2003