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A Philadelphia PGA Club Professional May Have Been the Victim of an Augusta National Ruling!

The fifth Masters Tournament kicked off on Friday April 1, 1938. The schedule called for one round on Friday, one round on Saturday and 36 holes on Sunday. There were five professionals from the Philadelphia Section in the starting field.

One of those was Felix Serafin, the head professional at the Country Club of Scranton. Serafin was in the fourth pairing of the day at 12:45. With a field of only 44 players the first starting time was 12:30.

Within a couple holes of Serafin’s start it began to rain. Serafin finished the first nine with a four under par 32 and with rain continuing to fall Serafin made it to five under par at some point on the back nine. When Bobby Jones, the president of Augusta National, had to hole a putt from the back of the first green for a bogey 5 play was stopped and the golfers were called in off the course. The first round was then called a “Rain Out”. In those days when the full field could not complete a round due to weather all scores for that day were just “Washed Out”.

In 1938 communications and scoreboards for golf tournaments were not what they were later. On Saturday the New York Times reported Serafin being four under par on the front nine but losing strokes on the second nine. The next day the newspaper corrected its article and gave Serafin credit for his fine play. One thing that everyone knew was that Serafin was well ahead of the rest of the field when play was stopped.

Serafin wasn’t an unknown or he would not have been invited to the Masters. Along with other victories he had already finished second in the 1935 North & South Open and won the Pennsylvania Open twice. During his career he played in 11 U.S. Opens, 8 Masters Tournaments and 6 PGA Championships.

With a Monday finish, Hershey Country Club head professional, Henry Picard won by two strokes with a three under par 285. Serafin put together a 291 total and tied for sixth with the host professional Ed Dudley, who was also the professional at the Philadelphia Country Club at the same time. First prize was $1,500. Serafin and Dudley each won $275.

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