• PGA Philadelphia Section Hall of Fame •

Henry Clay Poe
Class of 1996

           

Henry Poe was born in Durham, North Carolina in 1915. When he was seven years old his father took over the management of the Hillandale Golf Course in Durham and the family moved into the clubhouse. He mowed greens in the morning before school and at night he helped his father make and repair golf clubs. He attended Duke University and turned pro in 1937. In his first tournament, played at Pinehurst on the #2 course, he tied for first with Dutch Harrison and lost in an 18-hole playoff. For the next two years he played in the PGA Tour tournaments when they were held east of the Mississippi River. In 1939 he worked at the Winged Foot Golf Club for Craig Wood. That fall the Reading Country Club hired Poe when Byron Nelson left for the professional position at the Inverness Club in Ohio. Except for three years during World War II when he worked in defense plants Poe was the professional there until the end of 1966. Poe taught LPGA Hall of Fame member Betsy King how to play as one of his junior golfers at Reading CC. In the fall of 1952 he was elected as the 13th president of the Section without ever having been an officer or having served on a committee. He was the Section president for four years and a vice president of the PGA of America for three years after that. From 1952 to 1970 he was the chairman of the annual meeting for the PGA of America. In 1955 the PGA enlisted Poe to supervise the construction of a practice putting green for President Eisenhower at his farm in Gettysburg. He was the Philadelphia Section’s “Professional of the Year” in 1959. In late 1966 he left the Section and Reading to work for the Vanity Fair Corporation in Alabama where he oversaw the design, construction and operation of three golf courses for the company. After holding the office of treasurer and secretary he was elected president of the PGA of America for 1975 and 1976. In 1979, with the support of Jack Nicklaus, he spearheaded the change in the Ryder Cup matches to include golf professionals from all the European countries. Before that only professionals from Great Britain and Ireland opposed the U.S. team and the matches had become quite one-sided. As a result the matches became very competitive and attract almost as much attention as golf’s four major championships. When the PGA of America hosts the Ryder Cup every fourth year, the matches are one of the association’s largest income producers. In 1996 Poe was inducted into the Philadelphia Section PGA Hall of Fame. He is also a member of the Carolinas Golf Hall of Fame and the Carolinas PGA Hall of Fame.

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