WVU Sports Hall of Fame
Written by Bryan Messerly
Mike Krak played golf for West Virginia from 1944-48 and left as perhaps the best golfer in school history.
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Krak came to WVU hoping to play basketball for coach Lee Patton, but he was on a team loaded with such star players as Leland Byrd, Fred Schaus and Clyde “Hard Times” Green. Krak gave up basketball and joined the Mountaineer golf team for coach Dr. Richard Aspinall.
In 1947, as the team’s No. 1 golfer, Krak helped West Virginia to an outstanding 12-0 match play record, including a pair of easy victories over arch rival Pitt. WVU also qualified for NCAA regionals in Ann Arbor, Mich., for the only postseason appearance in program history.
Krak played one more season in 1948 for the Mountaineers before landing a job as an assistant golf professional at Canterbury Golf Course in Cleveland. Then, following a three-year stint in the Air Force, Krak joined the PGA Tour in 1954.
Krak played in 15 majors, placing four times in the PGA Championships, his best finish coming in 1963 at the Dallas Athletic Club when he tied for 34th. Yet his memorable major was the 1959 PGA Championships at the Minneapolis Golf Club when he was one of nine players to lead the field after his first round score of 67.
He was considered one of the longest hitters on the tour when he played, twice winning long drive competitions at the PGA Championships in 1956 and 1957.
Krak played a full tour schedule until 1956 when his father became ill and chose to return to West Virginia and become the first club professional at Lakeview Resort in Morgantown from 1957-62. While at Lakeview, he was a two-time winner of the PGA Tri-State Championship.
His best finish on the tour came in 1958 when he placed third in the Greater New Orleans Open. Krak was a two-time winner of the Metropolitan PGA Championship and won the Westchester Open in 1969 while working as the club professional at Wee Burn County Club in Darien, Conn. In 1980, he was lured away from Connecticut to help build Pete Dye Golf Course in Bridgeport, W.Va. Krak then became the director of golf at the National Golf Course in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., and played in some Senior PGA Championships.
A Weirton, W.Va., native, Krak, a 2005 College of Physical Activity and Sports Sciences Hall of Fame inductee at WVU, played in nine PGA Championships, five U.S. Opens and one British Open during his career.
Krak graduated from WVU in 1948 with a degree in physical education. He resides in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., with his wife, Susan. They have three grown children, Jennifer, David and Greg, and eight grandchildren.