“DID YOU KNOW”
The 1959 Ryder Cup was awarded to Atlantic City CC, but it was moved to California!
The Ryder Cup, which was first contested in 1927, was interrupted by World War II, and postponed twice. The 2001 Ryder Cup was postponed to 2002 due to the 9/11 attack and now in 2020, due to COVID-19, it has been rescheduled for 2021.
With war in Europe and then World War II there were no matches from 1939 to 1946. That could have been the last of the Ryder Cup if not for Robert A. Hudson, a fruit grower and canner from Portland, Oregon. Hudson had been sponsoring the $16,000 Portland Open and had spent $25,000 as the sponsor of the 1946 PGA Championship at the Portland Golf Club. He decided to revive the Ryder Cup. His club would be the host and he would provide whatever finances were needed for a 1947 match.
Hudson paid the travel expenses for the British Team on the Queen Mary. He met them in New York upon their arrival. They were wined and dined at the Waldorf Astoria, before boarding a train with Hudson to travel on the three-day cross-country trip to Portland. Hudson paid for the British Team’s housing, meals and everything else. To help the British professionals make up for lost income while away from home, the PGA of America arranged paid exhibitions. The American Team swept the foursomes and lost only one of the eight singles, posting an 11-1 victory. Hudson spent $70,000 of his own money hosting that Ryder Cup. He is often referred to as the “The Savior of Ryder Cup”.
In 1949 the US Team was in Ganton, England for the Ryder Cup with its non-playing captain Ben Hogan, who was recovering from his near fatal auto accident. Hudson wanted to be sure the US Team was properly fed. He shipped a half ton of meat to England with the Team; 600 steaks, 6 hams, 12 sides of beef and 4 boxes of bacon. The British newspapers ran articles about their food being not good enough for the Americans. Hogan said he read more about food in the sports pages than golf. In the end, the US Team shared their food with the British Team.
With the 1951 Ryder Cup back in the states, Hudson was a co-sponsor of the match, which was held at Pinehurst. Four years later he sponsored the Ryder Cup at the Thunderbird Golf & Country Club in Palm Springs, California, where he had a winter home. Just as before, Hudson paid the expenses; travel, lodging and meals, for the British Team.
In May of 1957 the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that the officials of the Atlantic City Country Club had been practically assured that the 1959 Ryder Cup would be played at their club. In November, at the PGA’s national meeting it was announced that Atlantic City CC would be hosting the Ryder Cup in 1959. The club and its pro-owner Leo Fraser would be sponsoring the match. In December, an article in the Inquirer mentioned that new championship tees were being built at Atlantic City CC for the Ryder Cup, adding 400 yards to the course. As late as August of 1958, news articles were still mentioning the upcoming Ryder Cup at Atlantic City.
Later in 1958 Robert Hudson decided that he would like to host the Ryder Cup at another one of his Palm Springs clubs, the newly opened Eldorado Country Club. For all that Hudson had done for the PGA, its officials decided to grant his wish. Hudson was also a member of the PGA’s advisory committee. Leo Fraser agreed to release the PGA from its commitment. Again Hudson paid all expenses for the British Team, including travel from England.
As a favor to Fraser, the British Team would practice at Atlantic City CC before heading to California. The British Team had also practiced at ACC in 1955. They practiced for two days and then participated in a pro-am that was held in a driving rainstorm. Everyone played the 18 holes and then were treated to a five-course dinner. From there the British Team traveled to the White House to visit President Eisenhower, who would later become an honorary member at Eldorado. From Washington it was on to Augusta National and California. Having lost the Cup in 1957, the US Team won by a margin of 8-1/2 to 3-1/2 points.
What interesting piece of history. Never heard anything about this and loved reading about it. Thanks Pete.