The Philadelphia PGA was founded on December 2, 1921

The Philadelphia PGA was founded on December 2, 1921

The PGA of America, at its 1921 national meeting, decided to turn its seven PGA Sections, which covered all of the 48 states, into more Sections. With that, the golf professionals in the Philadelphia area began to formulate a plan for a more regional association than the Southeastern Section, of which it was then a part. 

The prime movers to create this new PGA Section were Bob Barnett, the professional at Tredyffrin Country Club in Paoli, Pennsylvania and Stanley Hern, a PGA member who was managing the St. Mungo Golf Ball Company in Philadelphia. They began by putting on a Main Line Open golf tournament at Tredyffrin CC on the first Monday of November. Tredyffrin CC put up $250, and with a $5 entry fee there was more than $500 in prize money.

Jim Barnes, who had won the first PGA Championship in 1916 as the professional at Whitemarsh Valley Country Club near Philadelphia, was entered. Due to the strength of the field, the tournament was later considered to be the equivalent of a PGA Tour event. Due to a missed train connection, Barnes did not arrive until nearly noon. On a cool day with an icy wind, Barnes, playing with Hern, toured the first 18 holes in one hour and 45 minutes. Barnes put together a two over par 72, which broke the course record by one stroke. Barnes took 77 strokes in his afternoon round, which took 2 hours and 10 minutes. His 149 total won the $200 first prize by five strokes, and he picked up another $25 for the low round of the day.

That evening the golf professionals met and began formulating plans for their PGA Section. Hern was appointed to draw up plans for an organizational meeting.

At 10 a.m. on Monday November 21, 1921, the PGA members in the Philadelphia region met at 715 Denckla Building, which was at Eleventh and Market Streets in Philadelphia. Temporary officers and temporary committees were appointed, along with plans for another meeting. St. Davids Golf Club professional Bill Byrne was nominated as the temporary president.

PPGA Crest 1920s x

At 8:30 on a Friday evening, December 2, 1921, the first official meeting of the new PGA Section was held. Most of the golf clubs in the Philadelphia area were represented as thirty PGA members gathered at A.G. Spalding & Bros.’ building at 1210 Chestnut Street in Philadelphia. Officers were elected. The president was Barnett. They named their PGA Section, Philadelphia PGA. The boundaries went from Philadelphia to Harrisburg and north to Williamsport. It included Wilmington, Delaware and a few clubs just across the Delaware River in South Jersey. The dues were $5 per year, which went to defray the expenses of maintaining the organization, and promoting tournaments.

Later the Section included all of eastern Pennsylvania, all of southern New Jersey south of the 40th parallel, the state of Delaware and a few golf facilities in northern Maryland. Of today’s 41 PGA Sections, it is still the only one named for a city.

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