A former Merion Golf Club locker room employee was runner-up in a major golf championship!

“DID YOU KNOW”
A former Merion Golf Club locker room employee was runner-up in a major golf championship!

When golf arrived in Philadelphia in the 1890s, Merion Cricket Club in Haverford (later Merion Golf Club), was one of the first clubs to have a golf course. Born in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania in 1886, Emmett began working in the Merion locker room as a young man. Whenever possible he would be on the golf course working on his golf game.

By 1908 he was an assistant pro at the club. In 1913, one year after Merion opened its famous East Course, French left Merion to become the professional at the Country Club of York. At York his golf game began to show signs of greatness. In 1919 he finished second to Walter Hagen at the Met Open, lost in the quarter final of PGA Championship to Jim Barnes the winner, finished third at the Shawnee Open and won the Philadelphia Open which was open to all comers. At the end of the year he was ranked eighth in the United States.

French was named to a 12-man team to oppose a team from Great Britain at Gleneagles Golf Club in Scotland in 1921. Hagen made French the captain of the team. The Americans were soundly defeated, but 2-1/2 of the 4-1/2 points the visitors garnered were won by French, who defeated Ted Ray in a singles match.

The 1922 PGA Championship was held at the Oakmont Country Club in August. The field was composed of 64 PGA members who had qualified in their PGA Sections. The first two rounds were 18-holes and the next four were 36 holes. French swept through the first five rounds winning each match by four holes or more. In the final he met Gene Sarazen, a 20-year old professional who had just won the US Open in July. The match was all square on the 27th tee, but Sarazen proceeded to win the next three holes. The match ended on the 33rd hole with Sarazen the victor by 4 & 3. First prize was $500 and a diamond studded medal. French picked up $300 and a gold medal.

 Later that year he won the Ohio Open at the Donald Ross designed Youngstown Country Club, with an 18 under par score of 274.  It was considered a world record.

French’s golf career would include a second place finish in a Western Open, along with winning a Philadelphia Open and a Pennsylvania Open. He played on another US PGA team in 1926 against the British at Wentworth, England, which was sponsored by Sam Ryder. One year later the first Ryder Cup Match was held.

Arthritis put an early end to French’s career as a tournament player.

Whitemarsh Valley CC hosted a substitute for the 1917 US Open, for charity only!

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Whitemarsh Valley CC hosted a substitute for the 1917 US Open, for charity only!

In the early 1900s the USGA would ask the golf professionals where the US Open should be held. The professionals chose Whitemarsh Valley CC for 1917.

In January 1917 at the USGA’s annual meeting in New York, Philadelphia’s Howard W. Perrin was elected president. Perrin was a member at Philadelphia Cricket Club, St. Davids GC, Merion Cricket Club and president of Pine Valley GC. With the US Amateur slated for Oakmont CC and the Women’s Amateur for Shawnee CC, the delegates decided that holding all three of their 1917 championships in the same state would not be proper. With that the US Open was moved to Massachusetts’ Brae Burn CC, which had been the second choice of the professionals. 

In late January 1917 Germany announced a submarine offensive against any ships bringing supplies to its enemies. With that President Woodrow Wilson called for a vote of Congress for war with Germany, which passed decidedly in both houses. On April 6 Wilson declared war on the German government, not the people of Germany. In April the USGA canceled its championships for the year.

On May 21, Perrin announced that a tournament called National Patriotic Open, a substitute for the US Open, would be played at Whitemarsh Valley in June. The tournament would benefit the Red Cross. The New England golfers were not pleased with the shift to Philadelphia, but saying as much would have seemed unpatriotic.

There would be no prize money for the professionals or silver for the amateurs. The entry fee was $5. For the first time in Philadelphia, spectators were charged an admission fee. With no prize money it was thought that the professionals might not enter, but nearly all did.

The 72-hole 3-day tournament began on Wednesday June 20, with 100 players teeing off on what was described in the newspapers as strong winds blowing across the course. Walter Hagen telephoned to say he would be there on Thursday and catch up by playing 36 holes. Former Shawnee professional Alex Cunningham led by two strokes with a two over par 74. Only 16 players broke 80. Jim Barnes, holder of the 1916 PGA Championship title and professional at Whitemarsh Valley, posted an 84. After the score was posted Barnes realized that his scorer had made a mistake and he had actually shot an 83. When the USGA ruled that the score Barnes had signed for had to stand, the professionals made a protest. They said that if Barnes had to be held to the rules, then Hagen should also and not be allowed to arrive late. Hagen did not play. The officials were surprised how serious the professionals were; considering there was no prize money. 

Thursday the wind died down and Pittsburgh’s Allegheny CC professional, Jock Hutchison, took the lead at 149. In Friday’s 36-hole finish, Hutchison put together rounds of 71 and 72. His 292 total won by 7 strokes. Boston’s Tom McNamara, who was national sales manager for Wanamaker’s golf division, finished second at 299.

At that time in a US Open, the top ten professionals would have received checks, so the top ten were presented with framed certificates commemorating the tournament and their showing. In those days the winner of major tournaments would receive a gold medal. The Red Cross came through with a gold medal, which had a red cross in the middle, for Hutchison. With the player’s entry fees and the admission monies, $5,000 was raised for the Red Cross.

Perrin was only president of the USGA that one year. When the US Open resumed in 1919 after WWI, it was played at Brae Burn and the winner was Hagen.

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

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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.

In 1930 the Philadelphia Cricket Club hosted a championship for senior PGA pros!

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In 1930 the Philadelphia Cricket Club hosted a championship for senior PGA pros!

On the fourth Monday of May, 1930 a group of golf professionals who called themselves the Professional Golfers Seniors Association, met at the Philadelphia Cricket Club’s Flourtown course. It was the first of what they planned to be many annual championships.

There were 22 entries, some from as far away as Cleveland. To be eligible, one had to have been a head professional for at least 25 years. They had set themselves up as a national organization with more than 100 members. Albert R. Gates, PGA of America business administrator, was on hand to oversee the competition.

Along with cash the prize for the winner was the engraving of his name on the Willie Anderson Trophy. The trophy’s namesake, a four-time winner of the U.S. Open, served as the professional at the Cricket Club in 1910. A few months after hosting the 1910 U.S. Open, Anderson died at the age of 31. Also engraved on the trophy were the names of all deceased winners of the U.S. Open. 

The competition was scheduled for one 18-hole round. At the end of 18 holes, 1908 US Open champion Freddie McLeod was tied for the title with Long Island’s Charlie Mayo, with 76s. A sudden death playoff was held, beginning on the first hole. Representing Maryland’s Columbia Country Club, McLeod’s drive was in the fairway and his iron shot to the green finished 8 feet from the hole. Mayo, the professional at Pomonok Country Club, drove into the right rough and his second shot was barely on the green. From there Mayo holed his putt of 30 feet for a birdie. McLeod failed to hole his putt and Mayo was crowned the champion.

Ashbourne Country Club professional Dave Cuthbert shared third place at 77 with Gill Nicholls, who had been the professional at the Wilmington Country Club twenty years before.  

In another casualty of the Great Depression, the tournament was discontinued. Seven years later the PGA of America introduced a Senior PGA Championship. The Championship continues today.

There was threat of a players strike at the 1939 PGA Championship!

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There was threat of a players strike at the 1939 PGA Championship!

In the second week of July the 1939 PGA Championship was played at the Pomonok Country Club, which was in the Queens borough of New York on Long Island. The tournament was at Pomonok because it was just two miles from where the World’s Fair was being held that summer.

Two weeks before the championship former Llanerch Country Club professional Denny Shute, was informed by the PGA that he was not eligible for the tournament because he had been late paying his $25 dues. The deadline was May 20 and Shute’s check had arrived two days late. When news about Shute became known, some of his fellow tournament professionals began voicing threats not to play. Shute, who had won the PGA Championship in 1936 and 1937, appealed the ruling.

When the professionals arrived at Pomonok for the tournament, Shute was informed that his appeal had been denied. The PGA officers and District Vice Presidents, which made up an 11-man executive committee, had voted 6 to 5 against Shute playing in the tournament. As a Ryder Cup Team member and former PGA champion, he had been exempt from local qualifying.

When the other professionals entered in the tournament heard the results of the vote, 51 prominent tournament players signed a petition stating that they would not play unless Shute’s entry was accepted. A Pomonok member, Corky O’Keefe, who had put up $15,000 to sponsor the tournament, threatened a lawsuit against the PGA and Pomonok, stating there would not be a tournament unless Shute was playing.  More meetings of the PGA executive committee were held. Philadelphia CC professional Ed Dudley, who was the PGA Tour tournament chairman and a national vice president, was in favor of Shute playing. 

36-hole qualifying began with the issue unresolved. There were 120 competing for the 64-man match play ladder. Shute teed off in a pairing with Walter Hagen. He was not issued a score card. When Hagen learned that, he sent someone back to the clubhouse for a scorecard.

During the second day of qualifying, Tom Walsh secretary of the PGA, approached Shute after nine holes and offered him a check for $300 to withdraw. He said Shute could consider it an exhibition fee. Shute refused the offer and went on to post a 143 and qualify comfortably.

The committee had voted again and this time the vote was 8 to 3 against Shute. George Jacobus, president of the PGA, and Walsh emerged from the clubhouse. Walsh announced that Shute was out of the tournament, but Jacobus said that he was president and was overruling the committee. Shute was in.

Match play began with Shute losing in the third round. The final was a neighborhood battle. Hershey Country Club professional Henry Picard defeated Reading Country Club professional Byron Nelson in 37 holes. The purse was $10,600 with a first prize of $1,100. The players were reimbursed for their travel expenses which used up the remainder of O’Keefe’s $15,000.

The final 4 spots on the 1931 Ryder Cup Team were decided by a 72-hole playoff!

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The final 4 spots on the 1931 Ryder Cup Team were decided by a 72-hole playoff!

The PGA of America held its annual meeting in Chicago in November 1930. One topic of discussion was the Ryder Cup eligibility. Tommy Armour, who had been born in Scotland and was now a resident of the United States, had won the PGA Championship that year. There were PGA members who thought that Armour should be on the US Ryder Cup Team. After much discussion the delegates passed a by-law stating that all members of the Ryder Cup Team had to be born in the United States, which meant no Armour. Up to that time it was only an unwritten rule that the Team members had to be native born.

PGA President Charles B. Hall announced the PGA of America’s selections for the 1931 Ryder Cup Team, which was being held at Scioto Country Club in Columbus, Ohio. Walter Hagen was the playing captain for a third time. Five other professionals; Gene Sarazen, Johnny Farrell, Horton Smith, Al Espinosa and Leo Diegel who would be the professional at Philmont CC three years later, were on the team. Having lost the Cup in 1929 Hagen was determined to take it back. At the 1929 Ryder Cup, British captain John Henry Taylor had his team out running on the beach at sunup each day. Hagen named 13 professionals that he was inviting to Scioto for qualifying, to determine the last five places on the team.

On Monday June 22, the contingency of professionals trying to qualify for the last four Ryder Cup spots were at Scioto. One of those professionals was Pennsylvania’s Ed Dudley, the professional at the Concord Country Club. Dudley, the winner of the Los Angeles Open in January, had won the Western Open on Sunday in Dayton beating runner-up Walter Hagen, by four strokes. Now on Monday, he had to battle it out for a berth on the Ryder Cup Team.

On Monday and Tuesday, the hopeful professionals played 36 holes each day. At the conclusion Billy Burke led with a one over par 289. (Bobby Jones had won the 1926 US Open at Scioto with a 293) Wiffy Cox (294) was next and Craig Wood (299) picked up the third place. Denny Shute, who would be the professional at Llanerch Country Club two years later, tied Frank Walsh and Henry Cuici for the fourth and last spot with 302 totals. On Wednesday they played an 18-hole playoff which Shute won with a 72. Dudley, who had been on the team the previous year, missed the playoff by one stroke with a 303 total.

On Thursday the Ryder Cup began. The matches, which were all scheduled for 36 holes, began with 4 foursomes the first day and 8 singles the second day. With 90 holes under his belt in three days, Shute was in Thursday’s starting lineup along with two of the other qualifiers, Burke and Cox. Hagen paired himself with Shute. They won their foursomes match 10 & 9. The next day Shute won his singles match 8 & 6. With temperatures topping out in the mid 90s each day the Brits were out of their element. The US Team won by 9 points to 3.

The US Open was one week later in Toledo at the Inverness Club.

The 1959 Ryder Cup was awarded to Atlantic City CC, but it was moved to California!

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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.  

Due to minority golfer issues, the PGA Championship was and was not at Aronimink GC!

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Due to minority golfer issues, the PGA Championship was and was not at Aronimink GC!

In 1947 Charlie Sifford was in Detroit playing in the Negro National Championship. Heavyweight boxing champion Joe Louis and entertainer Billy Eckstine were playing in the amateur division. Louis sold Eckstine on hiring Sifford as his private golf pro and chauffeur. Sifford had been living in Philadelphia and honing his game at Cobbs Creek GC, but now he was on the road with Eckstine. They would spend winter months in California where it was warm and had golf courses open to them.

Sifford played on what was called the United Golfers Association tour, which was for Black golfers. The UGA tour offered two-day weekend events in various locations with meager purses, but it was an opportunity to compete. Beginning in 1932 the UGA held a national championship, which Sifford would later win six times.

Golf was the last professional sport in the United States with a national schedule to become integrated. The PGA of America had a by-law stating that only Caucasians could be PGA members. With the threat of lawsuits in the early 1950s, the PGA announced that Black golfers could play PGA Tour events if invited. Now many of the tour events, especially in the south, became invitation tournaments, in order to not invite the Black golfers.

Sifford began entering the Monday qualifying events for tour tournaments that were open to Black golfers. Most of those were in the northern states.

By the late 1950s, with the growth of golf and more golfers wanting to play on the PGA Tour, the PGA devised an “Approved Players Card”, for non PGA members. Those were attained through the local PGA Sections. Only non exempt PGA professionals and those with Players Cards could enter the Monday qualifying rounds for PGA Tour events.

In 1960 on his third attempt and now with the help of an attorney, Sifford’s application for an “Approved Players Card” was accepted by the PGA, after an eight week wait. Even with that he could still only play in the Monday qualifying rounds for tournaments that were open and not invitations. With such a limited schedule, winning enough money to be among the top sixty money winners and gain full exemption for the next year was difficult.

In July 1960 the PGA announced that its 1962 championship had been awarded to Los Angeles’s Brentwood Country Club. One month earlier in June of 1960 Sifford had qualified for and played in the US Open, but he was most likely not going to be playing in a PGA Championship. To play in the tournament as a non PGA member he would have to be in the top 25 money winners on the PGA Tour the previous year.

When California attorney general Stanley Mosk was informed of that, he announced that there would not be a PGA Championship in California unless Sifford was in the field. The PGA replied that because Sifford was not a PGA member or an exempt player, he was not eligible for entry. Then the Los Angeles Junior Chamber of Commerce, which was the sponsor of the tournament, decided they did not want to be involved in a segregation issue and asked out of its contract with the PGA. Instead they would run an L.A. Open in 1962, rather than skipping a year as planned.

The PGA came back with a statement that it had a valid contract with the Chamber, but at the same time went looking for a new venue. On the other side of the country near Philadelphia, the PGA found a club with a championship course that could host the tournament on short notice, the Aronimink Golf Club. Just a few years before the PGA had held a highly successful PGA Championship at Llanerch Country Club in 1958, which was not far from Aronimink, so there was some comfort in a shift to Philadelphia.

In the third week of May, 1961 the Philadelphia Inquirer ran an article stating that the 1962 PGA Championship might be coming to Philadelphia. PGA Tournament Director J. Edwin Carter was on his way to check out the course at Aronimink. At the annual meeting of the PGA in the fall of 1961, the Caucasian Only clause was removed from the by-laws. The tournament was played at Aronimink in June 1962 without Black golfers. The winner, Gary Player, was the first non PGA member to win the tournament and the first foreign born winner not domiciled in the United States.

In October 1988 the PGA announced that its 1993 PGA Championship would be held at Aronimink GC. In 1990 the PGA Championship was played at the Shoal Creek Country Club in Alabama. Leading up to the tournament it was learned by the press that Shoal Creek did not have any minority members and did not plan to. Now the press was on the case. With the 1993 championship on the horizon the press inquired as to whether Aronimink had minority members. When it was learned that they did not, there were more articles in the newspapers.

In early November 1990, officials of Aronimink GC informed the PGA that the club was withdrawing from its contract to host the 1993 PGA Championship. They said that with its current seven year waiting list for full golf privileges, the club was not going to be able to achieve minority representation in its membership prior to 1993.

If Joe Lewis had not introduced Charlie Sifford to Billy Eckstine, Aronimink GC may not have hosted the PGA Championship in 1962. Aronimink is now scheduled to host the PGA Championship in 2026. 

Aronimink GC’s pro in 1899 was the USA’s first African American golf professional!

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Aronimink GC’s pro in 1899 was the USA’s first African American golf professional!

John Matthew Shippen, Jr. was born in Washington D.C. on December 2, 1879. His father John Sr., was born into slavery in Virginia. When the Civil War ended he was a free man. He moved to D.C. and attended Howard University. Upon graduation he became an Episcopalian minister. In 1888 the church sent John Sr., his African American wife and children to the far end of Long Island to bring Christianity to the Shinnecock Indians.

The Shinnecock Hills Golf Club opened in 1891 and the golfers needed caddies. John and his brother Cyrus along with some of the Indian boys became caddies and some learned to play the game.

By 1896, with the US Open scheduled for Shinnecock Hills, 16 year old John Shippen was being proclaimed in newspapers around the USA. It was written that he was a long straight driver and could play all the shots. He was the holder of the Shinnecock Hills course record, having lowered the number set by then Shinnecock professional Willie Dunn, by six strokes. Dunn had given Shippen pointers on how to play the game.

When the 1896 US Open rolled around in July, Shippen was paired with Charles Blair MacDonald, 1895 US Amateur champion. Oscar Bunn, one of the Shinnecock Indian caddies was also entered. Some of the Shinnecock members paid their entry fees. When the British born professionals learned there was a black golfer entered they produced a signed petition, refusing to play. USGA President Theodore Havemeyer stated that there would be a tournament even if only Shippen and Bunn were in the field. The protesting players decided to play.

The tournament, one day of 36 holes, was won by James Foulis, a Scotland-born professional from Chicago with rounds of 78 and 74 for 152. Despite poor putting, Shippen posted a 78 in his morning round. In the afternoon he took 11 strokes on the 13th hole when his tee shot ended up on a sandy road, where it took several strokes for him to escape. He finished with an 81 for 159 and a tie for sixth and last money. Some years later he said the hole was an easy par four, but his drive was a little too far to the right.

After working as the professional at Maidstone Golf Club, Shippen became the professional at Aronimink Golf Club in 1899, for that one year. His brother Cyrus was his assistant. At times his employers, to justify his employment, would say that he was not a black man but of English/Indian decent. It was said and written that Shippen was related to John Raife on his father’s side and Pocahontas on his mother’s side, which was far from realty. Shippen himself had registered for that 1896 US Open as a Shinnecock Indian, to avoid problems. In later years in an interview with his daughter, she said her father was 100 percent black.   

As the professional at Aronimink, Shippen finished third in a driving contest at the 1899 US Open. He played in six US Opens, tying for 5th in 1902 along with his tie for 6th in 1896.  

For many years Shippen was the professional and course supervisor at the Shady Rest Golf & Country Club in Scotch Plains, New Jersey. It was later Scotch Hills Country Club. In 1991 the John Shippen Foundation was created to offer golf instruction and competition for young minority golfers.  

A Philadelphia PGA pro was the only person to play in a World Series and a Masters!

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A Philadelphia PGA pro was the only person to play in a World Series and a Masters!

Samuel Dewey “Sam” Byrd was born October 15, 1907 in Bremen, GA and grew up in Birmingham, AL. As a young boy he learned to play golf as a caddy. In high school he was a star on the basketball and baseball teams.

In 1926, at age 18, he began a professional baseball career in Class D. He batted .348 and was promoted to Class B Knoxville, where he hit .331 in 1927. The New York Yankees purchased his contract and sent him to Albany, NY, which was in the Class A Eastern League. At Albany he batted .371 and was invited to the Yankees spring training in 1929, where he made the team.

At that time the Yankees had three great outfielders; Babe Ruth, Bob Meusel and Earle Combs. Byrd was relegated to pinch hitting, pinch running and playing in the late innings as a defensive replacement along with filling in for Ruth when he was not feeling well from too much beer or too many hot dogs. Byrd was a great defensive outfielder, with a rifle arm and legs to match.

In late 1934 the Yankees released the aging Ruth. They were bringing Joe DiMaggio up from the Pacific Coast League. After six seasons with the Yankees, Byrd was no longer needed. He was sold to the Cincinnati Reds, where he played two years before being traded to the St. Louis Cardinals. That is when he decided to leave baseball and concentrate on golf. His batting average for his eight major league seasons was .274. Baseball historians later wrote that Byrd’s baseball career was wasted sitting on the Yankees bench during his prime years.

Byrd had turned pro in 1933, playing in a few professional tournaments during the winter months, but now he was all in. Philadelphia Country Club professional Ed Dudley hired Byrd as an assistant. In 1939 he won the Philadelphia Open. The next year he moved over to Merion Golf Club as an assistant. During his four years at Merion, Byrd won the 1942 Pennsylvania Open and won twice on the PGA Tour; 1942 Greensboro Open and 1943 Chicago Victory Open.

In 1940 Byrd was invited to play in the Masters Tournament. At that time the tournament was strictly an invitational tournament. A player was there solely at the invitation of Bobby Jones. It may have helped that Dudley, his boss at Philadelphia CC, was also the professional at Augusta National GC as well. The next year Byrd finished third in the Masters, and a year later he finished fourth. In 1945 as the professional at the Plum Hollow CC in Detroit, Byrd was runner-up to Byron Nelson in the PGA Championship.

In spite of getting a late start in professional golf, and the cancellation of tournaments during World War II Byrd played in 5 Masters, 9 US Opens and 6 PGA Championships. During his career he won eleven professional tournaments of note.

Late in one of the 1932 World Series games Byrd played one inning. Today he is still the only person to play in both a World Series and a Masters Tournament.

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