“DID YOU KNOW”
Ed Dudley Saved Golf During World War II?
On December 7, 1941 Japan attacked Pearl Harbor and the United States was at war. As 1942 rolled along our country’s leaders were trying to figure out a plan of attack. One thing they knew was that all raw materials and man power were needed for the war effort. The U.S. Office of Price Administration (OPA) rationed gasoline on the East Coast on May 15 and by December it was nationwide. Based on your type of work, you would be issued a sticker for the car’s windshield. The average person was given an A sticker, which limited them to four gallons of gas a week. As it turned out it wasn’t gasoline that was being rationed, but tires. The Japanese army had cut off the supply of rubber from the Far East. To receive a gasoline sticker, one had to swear he had no more than five automobile tires. Driving to a golf course to play golf or be a spectator was considered pleasure driving and totally outlawed in 1943.
In 1942, except for the Masters Tournament and the US Open, the PGA Tour played nearly a full schedule, but 1943 was a different story. Even with the country at war, there were quite a few great players not in the service. Byron Nelson and Jug McSpaden were 4F. Players like Gene Sarazen and Tommy Armour were still competitive, but none of them could assure cities like Los Angeles or Miami that they would play there due to the gas rationing. In 1943 only four PGA Tour equivalent events were played.
Ed Dudley, who was then the president of the PGA of America, knew everyone. He had been the tournament chairman for the PGA Tour and a three time Ryder Cup team member. He had been a professional in California, Oklahoma and Philadelphia, and was now the professional at Augusta National Golf Club, even though it was closed for the duration of the war. With Augusta closed, Sonny Fraser engaged Dudley as the professional at his Atlantic City Country Club.
Dudley decided to go to Washington DC to see what he could do for the game of golf. He met with many people, getting the runaround. His efforts took some time, but in mid March of 1943 Paul V. McNutt, chairman of the War Manpower Commission “approved wartime golf provided it does not interfere with the war effort”. The ruling meant that professional golfers could purchase gas to travel to tournaments and people could attend golf tournaments without it being considered joy riding. Even the local golf professionals were able to revive their tournament schedules.
A few days later Joe Dey, executive secretary of the United States Golf Association, congratulated Dudley on “a good piece of work” convincing the United States government that playing golf during the war was not unpatriotic. Dey said “The USGA never had any doubt about this matter, but Dudley and the PGA are to be congratulated. The golfers wanted it, but it was Dudley who made it happen.”
A year later, in 1944, the PGA Tour was back with a schedule of 23 events, one being the PGA Championship. That year at the Tam O’Shanter Open in Chicago, 43-year-old Ed Dudley finished second to Nelson. If not for Dudley’s efforts, Nelson wouldn’t have had 11 straight wins in 1945, because there won’t have been 11 tournaments on the PGA Tour. 38 tournaments were played that year.