• PGA Philadelphia Section Hall of Fame •

Jay Jack Weitzel
Class of 2011

     

Jay Weitzel was born in 1930 in Sinking Springs, Pennsylvania. Jay was the seventh of nine children. As the age of 10 he joined his brother Johnny at the Manor Country Club where they caddied and learned to play golf. They learned quickly as they both would win the Pennsylvania State High School Championship. Johnny became the professional at Manor and Jay worked for him while he was attending high school. In 1949 Johnny became the pro at the Colonial Country Club in Harrisburg. At that same time Jack Grout was nearby as the pro at the Country Club of Harrisburg. Jay worked for Johnny that summer helping him out at Colonial. Late that year Grout was hired as the professional at the Sciota Country Club and he asked Jay to come to work for him as an assistant. Jay spent six years with Grout at Sciota where he watched a young Jack Nicklaus come through their junior golf program. During that time he was drafted into the army and spent 21 months fighting the Korean War. While Jay was in the service his brother Johnny became the professional at the Hershey Country Club. In 1956 Johnny died from injuries sustained in an automobile accident on the way home from a golf tournament. A member at Hershey recommended Jay for the vacant position and he was hired by the people who ran the Hershey Trust Company, which owned the club. Before Jay was hired the club’s professionals had all been playing pros for more than 20 years. Since 1935, except for one year, the pros had been Henry Picard, Ben Hogan and Johnny Weitzel. As a result of having worked at Sciota Jay understood what a properly managed golf program could do for a club’s membership. Jay introduced tournaments for the members, shot-gun starts, junior golf clinics and golf carts. Over the years he managed more than one golf course. There was the Hershey Park Course that was open to the public and Juvenile Course that was open just to children and their guests. When the Hershey Lodge opened in 1966 there was a golf course there as well. In the meantime Jay could see that the clubhouse, which had been Milton Hershey’s home, was too small for a busy country club. He began to sell his ideas of building a new clubhouse in a better location, the addition of a second 18 holes and an expanded practice area. In 1969 the East Course opened and the members moved into a new clubhouse, which was located between original (now called West Course) and the new course. Jay and Hershey Country Club hosted the Pennsylvania Open 12 times and the LPGA Lady Keystone Open 17 times. As a player he qualified for two U.S. Opens and a PGA Championship. For 38 years he was one of the most respected golf professionals in the country. As the head professional at Hershey more than a dozen assistants who worked under him went on to be head professionals. In 1981 Jay Weitzel was the Section’s “Golf Professional of the Year” and in 2011 he was inducted into the Philadelphia PGA Hall of Fame.
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