Mortgage Daily

Published On: January 8, 2004
Mortgage Exec Tops Golf RankingMGIC CEO named best golfing CEO by Golf Digest

September 9, 2004

By COCO SALAZAR

Some of the best years in mortgage originations have apparently left their mark on the golfing world, as a mortgage industry executive now tops one of Golf Digest’s rankings of best golfers. But Vijay Singh has nothing to worry about.

Golf Digest’s fourth biennial handicap ranking named Curt Culver of MGIC Investment Corp. the best-golfing CEO in the nation — as he carried a U.S. Golf Association Index of 2.4. The 52-year-old executive improved from his previous Index of 2.9, which earned him second place in 2002, when the list was last compiled. Culver barely beat out Jerry Jurgensen of Nationwide, who is a 2.5.

Culver, who interviewed for his first job at MGIC in golf attire when he was in Milwaukee competing in the Wisconsin State Open, once beat golf hall-of-famer Arnold Palmer by a stroke over nine holes at a 1996 course opening, and he has 23 club championships at eight clubs, according to the magazine. Culver reportedly began playing at age 5 to avoid being taken to a baby-sitter and plays much of his golf at a municipal course in Milwaukee.

“I detest cell phones on a course,” Culver reportedly told Golf Digest. “Life isn’t that busy; people just try to make it so.”

To be considered for the ranking, the magazine required CEOs to head a company in the Fortune 500 or the Standard & Poor’s 500 and to have a current U.S. Golf Association Index or supply an approximate handicap. To make it near the top of the list, “you’ve got to be pretty good,” the magazine said. The list ranked 235 American business CEOs.

Another mortgage industry CEO to make the list was Synovus Financial’s James H. Blanchard — at No. 4 with an Index of 3.1. Blanchard reportedly said that 95 percent of his 60 rounds per year are business golf. The Columbus, Ga.-based company he heads is parent of Synovus Mortgage Corp., which finances mortgages in Alabama, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, Kentucky and Tennessee, and was recently named one of the most admired companies and best companies to work for by Fortune magazine.

Following in the fifth spot was William Foley of title insurer and mortgage data provider Fidelity National Financial. Foley reportedly learned to play golf at age 15 in Venezuela, where his father served as military attaché. With an Index of 3.8, he was one of the most improved players from the previous rankings in which he placed eighth with a 5.1.

A newcomer on the list, Ken Glass of First Horizon National placed ninth with an Index of 4.9. The Memphis, Tenn., CEO, who switched to golf after a bad knee kept him from tennis, said his handicap was much lower before he “had to spend so much time on corporate governance,” according to the magazine. Glass’s company reported second quarter mortgage production jumped 30% from the first quarter to $8.9 billion.

Within the top 20 was also David Simon of real estate investment trust Simon Property Group in spot No. 12.

Finishing out the top 50 were L. Phillip Humann of SunTrust Banks at No. 42 with an Index of 9.0, National City’s David Daberko in the 45th slot, and included in the five-way tie for 46th place was Thomas Hoaglin of Huntington Bancshares, which reportedly has mortgage banking offices in Florida, Maryland and New Jersey, and Bruce Karatz who heads the homebuilder parent company of KB Home Mortgage.

The remaining mortgage-related CEOs to fill the top 100 spots were Richard Kovacevich of Wells Fargo, who placed 61 with an Index of 11.0, James Rohr of PNC Financial Services Group at No. 72, followed by Philip Purcell of Morgan Stanley and C. Dowd Ritter of AmSouth Bancorporation, who tied for 74th place. Also in a tie, the 83rd spot was shared by Ralph W. Babb Jr. of Comerica and William B. Harrison Jr. of J.P. Morgan Chase. At No. 92 was Northern Trust’s William Osborn, followed by James Cayne of Bear Stearns at No. 95.

The next 50 slots included Richard Fuld Jr. of Lehman Brothers in 103rd place with an Index of 13.1, Martin McGuinn of Mellon Financial in spot 107, and E. Stanley O’Neal of Merrill Lynch at No. 111. Kenneth Chenault of American Express, which originates home loans through PHH Mortgage, was 116th, Angelo Mozilo of Countrywide Financial placed 122nd, and Arthur Ryan of Prudential Financial filled spot No. 124.

In the remaining portion of the list were Mark Ernst of H&R Block — parent company of Option One Mortgage — as the 152nd best with an Index of 15.6, Jerry Grundhofer of U.S. Bancorp, George Schaefer Jr. of Fifth Third Bancorp, Richard Fairbank of Capital One Financial, Kenneth Lewis of Bank of America, Charles John Koch of Charter One Financial, Harris Simmons of Zions BanCorp, Timothy Eller of Centex Corp., and finishing out the mortgage-related CEOs was Barry Griswell of Principal Financial at No. 222.


Coco Salazar is an assistant editor and staff writer for MortgageDaily.com.

email: [email protected]

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