“DID YOU KNOW”
The 1921 Philadelphia Open Dates Were Changed Because of President Warren G. Harding!
It was 1921 and the dates were all set for the country’s leading golf professionals to play four big golf tournaments from New York to Washington D.C., in just 15 days. The pros would start out at the Shawnee Open on July 14 and 15, go to Washington for the U.S. Open, travel by train to Whitemarsh Valley CC for the Philadelphia Open, which would be played the next two days, and finish up at the Metropolitan Open in New York on July 27 and 28.
The U.S. Open was being held at the Columbia CC, so the USGA decided to have President Warren G. Harding hit a drive from the first tee to kick off the tournament on the first day. Qualifying for the tournament was to be held on site on July 18-19 with the tournament being played on Wednesday the 20th and Thursday the 21st.
In early July President Harding notified the USGA that he would not be available to open the tournament on the 18th but he could do it on the 19th. The USGA then moved the tournament dates back one day.
The U.S. Open was now going to end on Friday and the Philadelphia Open was being pushed onto a Saturday and Sunday at Whitemarsh Valley. The WVCC members came out against giving up their course for Saturday and Sunday. The Club had already hosted the Women’s Golf Association of Philadelphia championship for five days in May and the Golf Association of Philadelphia men’s championship in June, which ended on a Saturday. They had now taken the Philadelphia Open on short notice when Pine Valley Golf Club, which was to have held it, had declined due to poor turf conditions.
At the U.S. Open all of the 258 entries had to qualify. England’s Ted Ray, the defending champion, was not in the states. The field was divided with one half qualifying on Tuesday, and the other half on Wednesday. They played 18 holes and the low 40 plus ties each day were put into the starting field. 36 holes were played on Thursday and 36 again on Friday. Jim Barnes, who had been the professional at Whitemarsh Valley just four years before, put together a score of 289 that won by nine strokes over Walter Hagen and the host professional Fred McLeod. President Harding was on hand to present the trophy, along with Vice President Calvin Coolidge. That was a first, and has not happened since. First prize was $500 which was $50 less the top prize at the Shawnee Open.
The Philadelphia Open was played in August at WVCC. New York’s Willie Macfarlane, who would go on to win the 1925 U.S. Open, won by 13 strokes with a two-day total of 294. Whitemarsh Valley CC member Woody Platt finished second.