“DID YOU KNOW”
More than 200 players teed off in the first round of the 1946 Orlando Open!
World War II was over and the PGA Tour was back in full swing. Entries were pouring in for tournaments, especially during the winter months when northern golf courses were closed and the club professionals could get away. Due to the increase in entries, tournament management was becoming an issue. Some tournaments had limits to the entries; some held qualifying rounds and some just accepted whoever entered.
The PGA of America’s national meeting was held in Chicago in the middle of November. Ben Hogan, who was the professional at the Hershey Country Club, while playing a full schedule on the PGA Tour, made an unannounced appearance at the meeting. Hogan, the leader of an unofficial players group met with the PGA Executive Committee the day after the meeting ended. He presented a proposal for establishment of a seven-man player constituted board. The board would arrange schedules, control the PGA Tournament Bureau and punish absenteeism. A date was set to meet with Hogan’s committee later in the month at the Orlando Open. PGA President Ed Dudley, who had been a tour player, stated that Hogan’s committee and the PGA were both working toward the same objectives.
The Orlando Open was held in late November at the 6,454 yard Dubsdread Country Club. An edict had gone out from the PGA that future PGA Tour events would have no more than 100 players. There were 25 amateurs entered. Some thought had been given to a qualifying round for the amateurs, but it was decided to let them all into the starting field. The problem was that entries were accepted right up to the day of the tournament, so it was difficult to have qualifying rounds for the marginal players. 210 were in the starting field.
On Thanksgiving Day, Thursday November 28, the Orlando Open with Hogan as the defending champion began at daybreak. The low score for the day was 65, with Hogan shooting 75. Even with less daylight to operate with, everyone finished. The field was cut to 100 players for the second round, and 70 for the last 36 holes. Dallas professional Harry Todd won the tournament with a nine under par 275, while Hogan finished six strokes back at 281. First prize was $2,000.
At Orlando a seven-man player board was elected and met with the PGA officers on Saturday evening. After the meeting Hogan and PGA Tour tournament manager Fred Corcoran made a joint announcement. Among other items, Hogan mentioned standardization of appearance money for the top players, better promotion of the tournaments, and the restriction of tournament fields to 150 players. Hogan said that they hoped to have the policies in place by the Los Angeles Open in January. Hogan and Corcoran stated that there was no friction between the players and the PGA. The control measures were necessitated only due to the increased number of tournaments, and the expansion of the entry lists. Hogan said that they were only trying to help Corcoran have a smoother running operation.
That all lasted in some form until 1968 when the tournament players and the PGA split up and became two organizations.