• PGA Philadelphia Section Hall of Fame •

Martin F. "Marty" Lyons
Class of 1994

           

Marty Lyons was born in 1904 and got his start in golf as a caddy at the Llanerch Country Club at the age of nine. Llanerch was named Bon Air Golf Club at that time. He spent all but six years of his golf career at Llanerch. At age 16 he was the caddy master at Llanerch and two years later he was the assistant pro to John Edmundson. At that time the clubs had caddy teams that played matches against caddy teams from other clubs and Llanerch had the best caddy team around. Some of the caddies that came out of Llanerch were Bud and John Lewis; John, Bill and Ted Beadle; Marty and Jimmy Lyons; and Bill Boyle. His brother Jimmy worked for him as an assistant at Llanerch at various times. They all became PGA members. Lyons left Llanerch for the head professional position at the Valley Brook Country Club and after that he became the professional at the Spring Hill Country Club. After six years in New Jersey he returned to Llanerch in 1934 as Denny Shuteís assistant. The next year Shute left Llanerch and Lyons succeeded him as the head professional. Lyons had a passion to teach the game of golf and he was especially interested in young golfers. As the caddy master at Llanerch he had helped the caddies get an opportunity to play the course. At Spring Hill, a resort community in New Jersey, Lyons had started group lessons for juniors. When Lyons became the head professional at Llanerch the club didnít want anyone under 16 playing the course. He promptly convinced the club president to change that and a junior golf committee was formed. He would try any idea to interest the children of the members in golf. In 1937 Lyons learned that an employee in the office at Llanerch had the equipment and the knowledge to take motion pictures with sound. They filmed the junior golf classes and showed the films to the juniors later at a party and the kids loved it. In 1947 television was new and Lyons had found a new medium to promote his teaching. He went on TV station WPTZ with his prize pupil and graduate from the Llanerch junior golf program, Dot Germain, who would win the U.S. Women's Amateur in 1949. Lyons, the tenth president of the Philadelphia Section, was president of the Section six years, 1942 to 1947, and a vice president for four years before that. In 1941 Lyons ran the Section for the absent president, Ed Dudley. He hosted the Section championship nine times; eight were on consecutive years. In the fall of 1947 Lyons was selected by the PGA executive committee to represent District II as a national vice president. The next year he was elected secretary of the PGA of America. He served only one year as secretary and chose not to run again even though he had been nominated. Because Llanerch was such a busy club he felt like he didnít have enough time to devote to the office. Because of Lyonís work at the national level he and Llanerch were awarded the PGA Championship for 1958. It was a historical championship as it was the first PGA of America Championship played at stroke play after having been played at match play 39 times. It was Lyons who put the wheels in motion to change the PGA Championship from match play to stroke play. Lyons had visited the 1957 championship in Dayton to see what he could learn about hosting the tournament. He witnessed a tournament that offered a purse, which was almost fifty percent more than the U.S. Open. The purse didnít matter but the format did and some of the big names skipped the tournament. The tournament lost money. When Lyons returned to Llanerch he began selling his members at Llanerch on the benefits of a stroke play format and then he took his campaign to the officers of the PGA of America. At the national meeting that fall the delegates voted to change the format to stroke play. Due to the format change and Lyons sales efforts to his friends at CBS in Philadelphia, the tournament was televised for the first time. It was a huge success and turned a healthy profit for the PGA and Llanerch C.C. With all his accomplishments Lyonís most important achievement was creating the golf course at Valley Forge General Hospital in 1943 to assist in rehabilitating the wounded veterans who were returning from World War II. Before they were done the Section had introduced golf at four more facilities in the Section. As a result of this other PGA Sections in the country followed up on what Philadelphia had started. Before the war was over all the PGA Sections were helping rehabilitate the wounded veterans. At the suggestion of Sam Byrd, Lyons and Jimmy DíAngelo formulated a plan for a winter home of the PGA at Dunedin, Florida. They took it to the national association and saw it through to fruition. Lyons was the Philadelphia Sectionís PGA Professional of the Year in 1955. In 1966 Lyons was a national vice president representing District II for a second time. Two years later, having just given his report on the national association at the Sectionís spring meeting he suffered a heart attack and died while seated at the head table. He was elected to the Sectionís Hall of Fame in 1994.
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