In August 1945 a golf tournament for the U.S. troops was played in France with one ball!

“DID YOU KNOW”
In August 1945 a golf tournament for the U.S. troops was played in France with one ball!

With the end of World War II in Europe in May 1945 the U.S. military was still needed there, but the troops were able to relax a little. There were baseball games, swimming, archery, horse shoes and even golf tournaments. 

In early August there was a golf tournament at St. Cloud Country Club in St. Cloud, France for the U.S. military men, amateur and professional. It was called the E.T.O. Tournament, standing for European Theater of Operations. There were 88 professionals and 90 amateurs entered. One thousand had attempted to qualify for the tournament at various sites. Each entrant was issued identical seven-piece sets of clubs; driver, 3-wood, 4 irons and a putter. Each day the players were provided with one golf ball. The tournament was 72 holes, and a player could easily be left without a ball to finish the round. After their round was over some golfers went out on the course to see if they might find an extra golf ball. If that was not enough challenge, the golfers had to contend with bomb craters. Also, there were pill boxes to play around or over, that had been installed on the golf course to protect France from the German invasion.

Lloyd Mangrum, who won two Purple Hearts during the war, won the tournament. One Purple Heart was given from being wounded at the Battle of the Bulge, and the other was a broken arm suffered in a jeep accident. His arm was so badly damaged the doctors thought he would never be able to return to tournament golf. While in training for the war he was offered the head professional position at the Ft. Meade (MD) military base golf course, but declined the offer, deciding to fight the German Army.  

Mangrum won the tournament by five strokes with a four-round total of 291. Two professionals who would be a force in tournament golf in the Philadelphia PGA after the war finished second and third in the pro division. Matt Kowal, who served four years in the war, was second, and Rod Munday, who also had won a Purple Heart, finished third. Atlantic City’s Leo Fraser, who would go on to be president of the PGA of America, also played in that tournament. Jimmy McHale, who had been an assistant at the Philadelphia CC, but was now an amateur, defeated William Campbell in an 18-hole playoff for the amateur title.  

Kowal, Matt (TTT)

Earlier that year Kowal had won the Third Army Championship, with Mangrum finishing second.

Later in 1945 there was a tournament in Biarritz where the same three, Mangrum, Kowal and Munday, finished one, two, and three. Then the Army Special Services sent the three of them, along with Horton Smith, on a tour of Europe playing exhibitions for the G.I.’s.

With the war over, Mangrum returned to the PGA Tour, winning the U.S. Open in 1946, to go with a total of 36 PGA Tour tournaments.

Kowal, a native of Utica, NY, returned to the states as the pro at Philmont CC. Kowal won a Philadelphia PGA Championship and a Philadelphia Open. At the 1947 PGA Tour’s Philadelphia Inquirer Invitation, played at Cedarbrook CC, Kowal finished second to Bobby Locke.

Munday, Rod (TTT)

A Californian, Ronald “Rod” Munday returned as a head pro in Ohio in 1946. He tried a year in the business world, 1947, but when Dutch Harrison left the CC of York to play the PGA Tour full time, he was more than ready to get back into golf, succeeding Harrison at York. As the pro at York, Munday, who always struggled with his putting and might use four different putting grips in one round, won the 1951 Philadelphia PGA Championship.  

3 thoughts on “In August 1945 a golf tournament for the U.S. troops was played in France with one ball!

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  1. Pete: What a joy it must have been for those war weary soldiers to be able to return to the golf course! r. lamar kilgore 2193 yellow springs rd. malvern, pa 19355 610-640-1611

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