With a unique plan, Torresdale-Frankford CC held a PGA Tour tournament!

With a unique plan, Torresdale-Frankford CC held a PGA Tour tournament!

One year a young boy received a bow and arrow for Christmas. He tried out his archery skills by setting some arrows on fire and launched them into Torresdale-Frankford CC’s golf course maintenance building. The building caught on fire. With that the club realized it needed a fence around the property to tighten its security.

TFCC member Henry Hurst, a linen merchant and member of Augusta National GC, was attending the 1940 Masters where he purchased Jimmy Demaret in a Calcutta Pool. When Demaret won Hurst picked up $5,000, some of which he shared with Demaret. Demaret told Hurst that if he ever ran a tournament in Philadelphia he would play and recruit some of the touring professionals as well. 

Hurst approached the TFCC Board, of which he was a member, with a proposal. If they would let him hold a PGA Tour tournament at their Club, he would make enough profit to build the fence. The Board agreed and a date for September 1941 was secured with the PGA.  

In April 1941 Hurst began promoting his tournament to the press. The Henry A. Hurst Invitation would have a field of 50 professionals and amateurs along with ten professionals from the Philadelphia PGA. Hurst announced that Ben Hogan, Byron Nelson and Sam Snead along with Demaret had already accepted invitations. Prize money would be $5,000, with another $2,500 for special feats during the practice rounds.

By August 20, 13,000 season tickets which included the practice rounds had been sold. A ticket for the full week cost $2.50. Daily tickets were $1.10. Hurst wanted the tickets to be affordable for everyone.

When tournament week arrived in the third week of September 1941, Hurst and TFCC were ready. Three grandstands had been erected on the course, with one near the 18th green seating 2,500.  There were large scoreboards at various locations. Scoreboard operators were connected by 6,000 feet of cable to tees 4, 9, 13, 16 and 18 for updates.

Pre tournament days included more than practice rounds for the contestants. There were exhibitions on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. As a favor to Hurst, Bobby Jones played on Tuesday and Wednesday. Hogan played on Tuesday and Bud Ward, 1941 US Amateur champion, played on Wednesday. Bob Hope was the draw for Thursday. 

There was prize money for the low practice round scores each day. Hogan won a driving contest, held on the 10th hole, with a drive of 287 yards, and picked up $75. On Wednesday evening 12 touring professionals showed off their golf shots across the street at Holmesburg CC under floodlights, which was free of charge to the public.  

On Friday 73 professionals and amateurs teed off in the first round. Sam Snead took the lead with a course record 64 for the 6,397 yard course. Despite a second round 74 Snead was still in the lead, but tied. On Sunday morning Snead posted a 69 to lead by 5 and then an afternoon 65 ended all doubt. His 272 total won by nine strokes. Dick Metz (281) was second and Demaret (282) was third. First prize was $1,500, as 12 professionals shared the $5,000.

At the closing ceremonies Hurst announced that the prize money would be $12,300 in 1942, but by December the USA was at war. The Club had the money to build its fence, but due to war the needed steel was not available for several years. The tournament was not held again.

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