At one time the golf professionals had to play with a marker in the U.S. Open!

“DID YOU KNOW”
At one time the golf professionals had to play with a marker in the U.S. Open!

At one time, the USGA assigned markers to the golf professionals in the U.S. Open. Because the professionals were playing for money they were not trusted to keep their own scores, not even by a fellow competitor. A non-competitor walked with each professional recording his score on each hole, while the amateurs were trusted to report their own scores.

On January 17, 1916, a group of 75 golf professionals and leading amateurs, like Francis Quimet and Albert W. Tillinghast, met in New York City at Wanamaker’s Taplow Club to explore the formation of a national organization of golf professionals.  

Tillinghast

Philadelphia’s Albert W. Tillinghast, a fine amateur golfer and golf course architect, spoke at length on the need for the golf professionals forming of a national organization.

He related a story from the 1915 Pennsylvania Open at Shawnee Country Club. Tom Anderson, Jr. was on the green of the final hole with a one stroke lead and a short putt to win the title. His golf ball had come to rest in a cupped lie. As the president of Shawnee and architect of the course, Tillinghast was the referee for the Anderson pairing. With his golf ball in the line of his fellow competitor, Anderson was requested to lift his ball. At that time a golf ball was simply lifted and not cleaned.  A ball marker was not used to assist in replacing the ball.    

Tillinghast stated “When he replaced, Anderson put the ball religiously back into the cupped lie, although he was certain to miss the putt and did, owing to the bad lie. How many amateurs” asked Tillinghast “would not have been tempted to give the replaced ball a good lie? I know that the rules are observed no more honestly by any golfers than the pros. It is the amateurs who take liberties with the rules.”

Tillinghast said it was time for the golf professionals to become more independent of the USGA. Until then the USGA had served as a clearing house for golf professional and green keeper positions. Tillinghast added that the golf professionals should have the ability to handle their own affairs. If organized, the professionals would be treated with more respect.

When Rodman Wanamaker offered to put up the money for a championship the PGA of America was founded On April 10, 1916.

By missing that putt in the 1915 Pennsylvania Open, Anderson ended in a tie with Eddie Loos. That same day they played an 18-hole playoff which ended with them still tied. On the 55th hole of the day Anderson won with a par.

Later in 1915, while learning to drive with the assistance of an instructor, Tom Anderson, Jr. died at the wheel of the automobile at age 29. His brother Willie, winner of four US Opens, had died in 1910 at the age of 31.

A bottle of red wine brought Bobby Locke to the 1947 Philadelphia Inquirer Invitation!

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A bottle of red wine brought Bobby Locke to the 1947 Philadelphia Inquirer Invitation!

Having won the 1946 British Open, Sam Snead was invited to South Africa in early 1947 to play a series of exhibitions with their leading golfer, Bobby Locke. Locke had finished tied second at that 1946 British Open. Snead was guaranteed a percentage of the gate receipts or $10,000, whichever was larger, along with his expenses.  During the time that Snead was away he would have only collected $17,250, if he had won every tournament. During February and March, Snead and Locke met up twenty times, with Locke, coming out ahead fifteen times to three for Snead, even though Snead averaged close to 70 strokes per round. Two were tied.

With that, Snead encouraged Locke to give the US PGA Tour a try. On April 1 Locke and Snead flew into New York in route to Augusta, Georgia for the Masters Tournament. From New York they boarded a train to Columbia, South Carolina and then were driven to Augusta. In meeting up with Snead at Augusta, his agent Fred Corcoran said “I see you kicked a field goal.”

On his first venture to the states Locke had little time to prepare for a tournament, which began on April 3. He was able to get in one practice round. Locke tied for 14th. Snead was farther down, tied for 22nd, one stroke out of the money. The winner was Jimmy Demaret.

Fred Byrod, the Sports Editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer, was in Augusta covering the Masters. The Philadelphia Inquirer Invitation was scheduled for the fourth week of May and Byrod was recruiting for the tournament. One evening during the week of the Masters, Byrod had dinner with Locke. With the assistance of a bottle of red wine, or maybe two, he sold Locke on committing to play in Philadelphia.

With no more tournaments on the PGA Tour until the second week of May, Locke played a series of exhibitions in the southeastern states. In his second start in the USA Locke won the Houston Open by five strokes. Next it was the Colonial Invitational in Fort Worth where Hershey CC’s professional; Ben Hogan, won and Locke tied for third.

1947 Inq Inv-Cedarbrook CC 2

From there the tour moved to Philadelphia for the Inquirer’s tournament at Cedarbrook CC, just north of the city at that time. After a rainout on Thursday 36 holes were scheduled for Sunday. On Sunday nine thousand spectators turned out in a misty rain and wind for the final rounds. Locke put together a pair of 70s to overcome a five stroke lead by Hogan and won by four strokes. Philmont CC’s professional Matt Kowal and Lloyd Mangrum tied for second. Hogan ended up in fourth place.

Locke won again the following week in Boston. After that he finished third at the US Open and then won three more times. When 1947 came to a close Locke was second to Demaret on the 1947 money list with $24,327 to Demaret’s $26,536. Demaret had played in 29 tournaments versus 16 for Locke. They both won six times.

Playing a limited schedule Locke won four more times in 1948 and 1949. In 1949 Locke was banned from the PGA Tour by the PGA of America for not appearing at tournaments and exhibitions when he had committed. Locke chose not to defend his Canadian Open title when the sponsor wouldn’t give him a $1,000 appearance fee. He withdrew from a tournament after 36 holes, saying he had to leave for the British Open which was still 16 days away.

In 1951 the PGA ban was lifted but Locke only returned to the states on a few occasions. During his career he finished third or better in half the tournaments he entered on the US PGA Tour.

Locke had to be one of the twenty best golfers of all time, winning 4 British Opens and a total of 85 professional tournaments world-wide.

Battles with prize money for the attention of professional golfers are nothing new!

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Battles with prize money for the attention of professional golfers are nothing new!

In 1931, both Florida and California were staging tournaments for the professional golfers in January. Florida was offering the Miami Open and several other tournaments totaling $25,000 in prize money. There had been a sudden drop in the stock market in late 1929, but many thought it was only something temporary.  

At that time there was no official PGA Tour. What amounted to a professional tour was a loose arrangement of money tournaments across the country. These tournaments might be staged by a local chamber of commerce promoting its city, or a resort selling itself to the world of golf. Even the wives of the golf professionals sent letters to cities in Florida and California extolling the benefits of holding a professional golf tournament. 

As the 1931 Miami Open was coming up in the first week of January, the Miami Chamber of Commerce was feeling the pinch. It announced that it would not be able to fund the $2,500 purse, like it had in 1930. Only through donations by local golf enthusiasts, $2,000 was finally put together to play for.  The tournament director announced that entries would be accepted up until the last player teed off in the first round. Two hundred and four professionals and amateurs entered.

On learning that, three-time defending Miami Open champion Gene Sarazen bolted from his winter home in New Port Richey, Florida for the West Coast and the Los Angeles Open with its $10,000 purse.

The L.A. Open began on January 8 with 291 professionals and amateurs qualifying on six golf courses for 91 open spots in the starting field of 130. Thirty nine were exempt from qualifying. Played at Wilshire Country Club, the three-day tournament finished with 36 holes on Monday, due to rain. Concord Country Club’s professional Ed Dudley came from six strokes back on the final day to win the $3,500 first prize. Former Philadelphia Cricket Club head professional Eddie Loos and Al Espinosa tied for second.

Dudley, Ed 13

The next tournament required a drive south to Mexico for the $25,000 Agua Caliente Open and its $10,000 first prize. Two-time winner of the PGA Championship, Leo Diegel, was the host professional and Sarazen was the defending champion. There was qualifying. The starting field of 114 was advertised as the strongest of the year. Ryder Cupper Johnny Golden won the tournament in an 18-hole playoff over George Von Elm. Second prize was $3,500. Checks were distributed after play at the Agua Caliente Race Track.

In March there were two tournaments in Miami, with total prize money of $20,000. In a one week period there was the $5,000 International Four-Ball and the $15,000 LaGorce Open with a first prize of $5,000.

After LaGorce it was time for most golf professionals to return to their club jobs in the north. To survive at that time, most golf professionals had to be club professionals, and most of the best paying positions were in the north where the industrial cities were located. For those who were interested, there were two more enticing stops on the way north in late March. There was a $5,500 North and South Open in Pinehurst and a $5,000 Southeastern Open in Augusta, Georgia with first prizes of $1,500 and $1,000.

That summer the Western Open, which Dudley also won, had a first prize of $500 with total prize money of only $1,650. Walter Hagen finished second and Sarazen tied for third. The US Open put up $4,550 with its usual top prize of $1,000.  The PGA had a first prize of $1,000 and total money of $7,200 for its championship. At that time the Western Open was nearly as major as the US Open and the PGA Championship. Even though most of the professionals had to take time off from work to be there, there was lasting prestige in winning any of those tournaments, so the best players showed up. 

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

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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.  

The Philadelphia PGA and the Maxwell Award for football have a connection!

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The Philadelphia PGA and the Maxwell Award for football have a connection!

The Philadelphia PGA held its first Section Championship on June 12, 1922, with the winner having his name engraved on the Evening Public Ledger Cup. The cup, a silver old-English urn, had been donated to the Philadelphia PGA through the efforts of the newspaper’s sports editor Robert W. “Tiny” Maxwell and his golf writer, Percy Sanderson, who wrote under the penname Sandy McNiblick.

Public Ledger Cup TTT

Maxwell, who stood six foot-four and weighed 270 pounds, had been an All-American football lineman at the University of Chicago, playing for the famous coach, Amos Alonzo Stagg. After two years at the U of C, he showed up at Swarthmore College near Philadelphia, where he was again named to an All-American team. Swarthmore lost only one game in 1905 and that was to the University of Pennsylvania (11 to 4) in what was later remembered as one of the most brutal games in the history of college football.

President Theodore Roosevelt demanded changes be made to college football to make it less dangerous. Eighteen college players had died that year. The forward pass was made legal, and the yards required for a first down were doubled from five to ten.

The next year Maxwell played on Philadelphia’s Jefferson College football team, which was his fifth year of varsity college football. 

After college he found employment writing sports for a Chicago newspaper and played some pro football. Then he turned to officiating football games. Due to his integrity and football knowledge, he found himself in demand for the most important games, mostly college but some professional. 

Maxwell began writing about sports for the Evening Public Ledger in 1914,and within two years he was the sports editor for the Public Ledger newspaper. As the sports editor he was a stalwart promoter of all Philadelphia sports.

On June 26, just 14 days after the Philadelphia PGA Championship, Maxwell along with Sanderson, Sanderson’s wife, and another couple were traveling in Maxwell’s $6,000 vehicle. They were on the way home to Philadelphia from a social visit west of Norristown. Sometime after midnight, with Maxwell at the wheel, they came upon a vehicle stalled in the highway near the intersection of Egypt and Trooper Roads. Maxwell swerved to pass the stalled vehicle, crashing into an oncoming six-ton truck, before he was able to apply the brakes. The truck was transporting 23 Boy Scouts who had been attending a dance and were returning to their campsite near Betzwood.

All of the passengers in Maxwell’s automobile were injured, some critically. Sanderson appeared to be the most serious, with a fractured skull. Maxwell had a broken leg, fractured ribs, and broken hip. They were taken to Montgomery County Hospital in Norristown. None of the Boy Scouts or other occupants of the truck were hospitalized.

Maxwell contracted pneumonia four days later and died later that day at age 38. The Maxwell Football Club was founded in his memory. Each year the Maxwell Award is bestowed on a college football player the club members deem to be most deserving.

Sanderson, who was still unconscious when Maxwell died, recovered to write about golf again, but it was a slow process. Leading golf professionals played exhibitions to assist with Sanderson’s hospital bills.

For more than 35 years the Philadelphia Section members competed for a one-year possession of the Evening Public Ledger Cup.

In 2021, the Philadelphia PGA’s Marty Lyons was inducted into the PGA Hall of Fame!

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In 2021, the Philadelphia PGA’s Marty Lyons was inducted into the PGA Hall of Fame!

Lone overdue, Marty Lyons was inducted into the PGA of America’s Hall of Fame in November 2021. Lyons should have been inducted many years ago, but first someone had to nominate him. Deceased since 1968, his accomplishments were nearly forgotten.

Lyons spent all but six of his 55 year golf career at the Llanerch Country Club in Haverford Township, Pennsylvania. In 1913 at the age of 9, Lyons was introduced to golf when he took a six mile trolley ride from his home in West Philadelphia to caddy at Llanerch. Lyons would earn 35 cents for carrying a golf bag around the course, and then had to give the caddy master 10 cents of his earnings. The trolley fare was 5 cents each way, so some days he walked to the golf course and then home. 

At age 16 Lyons dropped out of school to become the caddy master at Llanerch. Two years later he was the assistant professional at Llanerch. In 1928 he moved across the Delaware River to southern New Jersey, where he was the head professional at the Spring Hill Country Club for six years.

With his employer struggling with the Great Depression, Lyons returned to Llanerch in 1934 as the assistant to Denny Shute. Having won the British Open in 1933, Shute was away playing in tournaments and exhibitions most of 1934. The next year Shute was off to Chicago for a new head professional position. By popular acclaim of the Llanerch members, Lyons was now the head professional.

At that time the juniors could not play the Llanerch golf course until age 16. As the head professional Lyons changed that and instituted junior golf clinics where he filmed their golf swings. One year five of his junior girls broke 80. His prize pupil, Dorothy Germain, won the 1949 US Women’s Amateur.

The Philadelphia Section hosted the PGA of America’s 25th anniversary at Philadelphia’s Bellevue Stratford Hotel in September 1941. That week, the PGA Tour’s Henry Hurst Invitational was being played in Philadelphia at Torresdale-Frankford CC. The PGA officers, leading players and the national press were among the 800 that attended. Lyons and Jimmy D’Angelo served as co-chairmen.  

Lyons, Marty 3xy

In October 1941 Lyons was elected president of the Philadelphia PGA, an office he would hold for six years. At the 1943 spring meeting Lyons gave tournament chairman Leo Diegel full authority to use the Section’s tournament schedule to raise money for World War II charities.

Exhibitions were played with local amateurs and nationally known professionals. The Philadelphia PGA was planning to buy an ambulance for the Red Cross but someone from the Red Cross suggested they visit the Valley Forge General Hospital for wounded veterans to see what could be done there. Lyons and Diegel decided to build a nine-hole golf course on the hospital grounds. Every member of the Philadelphia donated either time, equipment or money and many did all three. Before they were done, the Philadelphia pros raised enough money to build two golf courses and three putting courses at veterans’ hospitals in the Delaware Valley. Under the leadership of the Philadelphia PGA every PGA Section in the country instituted rehabilitation programs for the wounded veterans during World War II.     

Lyons was elected PGA Secretary at the 1948 national meeting. Even though he was nominated for office again, he chose to serve only one year.

At the PGA’s 1956 annual meeting, Lyons campaigned for his club to host a PGA Championship, and Llanerch was awarded the 1958 championship.

Lyons and some of the Llanerch members attended the 1957 championship in Dayton, Ohio, to learn what they could about hosting a PGA championship. When they returned Lyons wrote a letter to the PGA relating how he had attended a well-run championship that had lost money, and some of the better players had not even entered. He stated that if the format was changed from match play to stroke play, more PGA members could participate. Also with stroke play, a major television company might be interested, as the big name golfers would still be playing on the weekend.

At the 1957 PGA annual meeting, with Lyons selling his format change, the delegates voted to change their PGA Championship to stroke play. Then through the local television affiliate, Lyons sold CBS on televising the tournament.

The 1958 PGA Championship was televised, which was a first for that tournament. CBS broadcast the last three holes of the tournament on Sunday, for a total of two and one half hours. The PGA Championship turned a profit, which it hadn’t for many years. Frank Chirkinian, a young man who was producing the evening news at the CBS affiliate, produced the telecast. He went on to produce the CBS telecast of the Masters Tournament for four decades. Along with that, there was another young sports reporter named Jack Whitaker, who did interviews with the leading golfers for the nightly news at that CBS affiliate. 

Lyons mentored two golf professionals, Leo Fraser and Henry Poe, who went on to be presidents of the PGA of America. He hosted the Philadelphia PGA Championship 9 times, 8 on consecutive years.

In 1968 Lyons was back in harness as the PGA Director from District Two. But that same year, at the Philadelphia Section’s spring meeting, he suffered a heart attack and died at the head table.  His last words were “With the boys coming back from Vietnam, we need to get the golf course at Valley Forge Hospital going again.”

The Philadelphia PGA was founded on December 2, 1921

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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.

President Warren G. Harding’s schedule changed the dates of the 1921 Philadelphia Open!

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President Warren G. Harding’s schedule changed the dates of the 1921 Philadelphia Open!

At the Golf Association of Philadelphia’s annual meeting in early 1921, it was announced that its Philadelphia Open would be played in southern New Jersey at the newly constructed Pine Valley Golf Club. The Pine Valley officials said that the GAP should be ready with a back-up plan as there were four unfinished holes on the course. As the year wore on it became apparent that Pine Valley would not be ready by the July tournament dates, so Whitemarsh Valley Country Club agreed to host the tournament.  

On July 10 the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that the starting date of the US Open, which had been scheduled to begin on Monday July 18, was being moved to the 19th due to US President Warren G. Harding’s schedule. The US Open was being hosted by the Columbia Country Club in Chevy Chase, Maryland. The USGA wanted to have President Harding play the first tee shot of the tournament, and then be in attendance on the last day for the closing ceremony, to present the trophy to the winner. 

With that, the GAP had a problem. Their plan had been for the two-day Philadelphia Open to begin the day after the US Open ended. The players could hop a train at the conclusion of the US Open and travel north to compete in the Philadelphia Open the next two days, a Friday and Saturday. Now the GAP needed both a Saturday and Sunday in July from Whitemarsh Valley. The Club’ officials said no to that. The tournament could not be held the next Monday and Tuesday as the Met Open was beginning on Tuesday near New York.

Harding, McLeod, Barnes 1921

At the US Open, President Harding drove off the first tee shot on Tuesday the 19th and awarded the trophy to the winner Jim Barnes on Friday the 22nd. Barnes, the professional at Whitemarsh Valley from 1914 to 1917, won by nine strokes over Walter Hagen and the host professional, Fred McLeod, who tied for second. The USGA was fortunate that there was no 18-hole playoff needed, as President Harding had another conflict. That next morning President Harding left the White House and traveled to western Maryland to spend the weekend on a 200-acre farm, camping with Thomas Edison, Henry Ford and Harvey Firestone. They referred to themselves as the Vagabonds.

The Philadelphia Open was played on the first Monday and Tuesday of August. Despite having a first prize of $225 and a total purse of $575, the starting field was composed of mostly local players. Held over two windy days, New York’s Willie Macfarlane (1925 US Open champion) won by 13 strokes. Whitemarsh Valley member Woody Platt finished second, and Jack Campbell, a three time winner of the tournament, was third.

If the tournament could have been played at the brand new and highly anticipated Pine Valley Golf Club, there probably would have been a world class field. Sometimes the best of plans doesn’t work out.

The 1963 Whitemarsh Open, the richest yet, wasn’t even on the PGA schedule on January 1!

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The 1963 Whitemarsh Open, the richest yet, wasn’t even on the PGA schedule on January 1!

On March 8, 1963 Whitemarsh Valley Country Club member Anthony Cimino and his construction business partner Don Amato, who said he had just learned that a golf ball was round, announced that they would be sponsoring a PGA Tour Whitemarsh Open in the first week of October. The prize money would be $125,000; $15,000 more than the Cleveland Open, scheduled for June. The announcement made it into newspapers all over the United States.

Cimino said that he was confident that 55,000 daily tickets would be sold at an average price of $5. Along with television, a pro-am, parking, concessions and a program book, there would more than enough receipts to cover the tab. Twenty percent of the gross would go to charity. He was hoping the charity connection would encourage the amateur golfers to purchase spots in the pro-am and promote the sale of daily admission tickets. The 1962 PGA Championship at Aronimink Golf Club had drawn 67,000 and Cimino thought Whitemarsh could top that.

The Ryder Cup was being played in Atlanta one week after the Whitemarsh Open. The tournament director said that the British PGA had promised that their players would be playing at Whitemarsh. It was also hoped that most of the United States team would be entered.

Tournament expenses would be around $300,000. Whitemarsh Valley was charging Cimino $25,000 for the use of the course. Daily ticket prices would be Monday and Tuesday $2; Wednesday, Thursday and Friday $5; Saturday and Sunday $6. A ticket for the week, which included grounds, clubhouse and parking, was $35. Grounds and clubhouse was $25. A grounds only pass was $17.

The tournament would be competing for attendance and attention with college football, baseball’s World Series, which was still being played in the afternoons in 1963, and the Philadelphia Eagles would be playing the Dallas Cowboys at home that Sunday.

The second week of August was available, as the $35,000 Eastern Open in Baltimore had recently been canceled. The sponsors told the PGA that after 13 years of the Eastern Open being unprofitable; it was time for better dates. In August the Baltimore golf courses were in poor condition and many local people were vacationing. Even though the August dates were available, WVCC would not give up that week to the Whitemarsh Open.

The 1963 PGA Tour schedule had been planned with a two week gap between the second West Coast swing of the year and the Ryder Cup. But with the offer of $125,000, the Whitemarsh Open was now in that second week.

In July Carling Brewery announced that they would be holding a $200,000 tournament at Detroit in 1964. The Whitemarsh Open tournament director retorted that Whitemarsh would be $210,000 next year.

No one had to enter Whitemarsh, but the money was enticing. Pros that had not been seen on the PGA Tour in years showed up. Just like the 1940s, 1944 PGA champion Bob Hamilton and 1946 Masters champion Herman Keiser drove in together. PGA champions had lifetime exemptions on the PGA Tour. Former PGA champions Jim Turnesa 1952, Walter Burkemo 1953, and Chandler Harper 1950 were entered. Jimmy Demaret, a three time winner of the Masters (1940, 1947, 1950), had entered as well. All 10 members of the US Ryder Cup team were in the field, but no one from the British team was there. They were in Atlanta practicing for the Ryder Cup match, which the US would win 23 points to 9.

With the tournament being played in October the weather was cool and breezy, which made scoring difficult. A five under par 67 led the first round and a pair of 138s led after 36 holes. 151s made the cut. On Saturday Arnold Palmer, who had started with rounds of 70 and 71, put together a 66 to take a three-stroke lead into the final round. On Sunday Palmer had an up and down round of 74. His 281 total edged out 1957 PGA champion Lionel Hebert (282), by one stroke. 51-year old Sam Snead shot a 66 on Sunday to tie Al Balding for third at 283. Palmer picked up the largest check of his career to that time, $26,000, and paid his local Whitemarsh Valley caddy $1,500. Last money was $170, as everyone who made the cut won money. It was Palmer’s lone PGA Tour victory in his home state of Pennsylvania.

Whitemarsh scores

The professional golfers made out well. Gary Player, who was traveling with his wife, three children, a nanny and 22 pieces of luggage, made a profit. His expenses for the week were $2,300.  

But the tournament was not a financial success for the sponsors. There was no TV contract and only 48,500 paying customers turned out. However 20,500 were there on Sunday, which led to an announcement by the sponsors that the tournament would be back in 1964 with better dates and a purse around $200,000 (1964 was again $125,000). The tournament lasted for 18 years, 1963 to 1980, with different names and different sponsors.

The 1929 US Ryder Cup Team had to go back to playing with their wooden shaft clubs!

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The 1929 US Ryder Cup Team had to go back to playing with their wooden shaft clubs!

The Ryder Cup match was being contested at the Moortown GC near Leeds, England in 1929. The US team had won the first, of what would become be a long history, on home soil at Worcester CC in 1927.  Now they were headed to England where they were going to have to go back to competing with their wooded shaft golf clubs.

The United States Golf Association had ruled in early 1925 that the golfers could use steel shaft clubs in tournament play. It was now 1929, but the Royal & Ancient GC which made the rules of golf for the entire world, except the USA and Mexico, had not yet made steel shaft clubs legal. Another challenge for the US players was that they would be playing with the smaller British golf ball.

The US team members knew this well in advance of the match. During the 1929 winter tour all members of the US team, except Walter Hagen, Leo Diegel and Horton Smith, had gone back to playing with wooden shafts. At age of 36 and 27 respectively Hagen and Sarazen had plenty of experience with wooden shafts. It was Smith the team was most worried about.  At age 20 he had played most of his life with steel. Smith had been the sensation of the winter tour with seven victories, but at Bellaire, Florida he had tried wooden shafts and finished out of the money.   

It wasn’t only the Ryder Cup in late April where the US golfers would be playing with wooden shafts. Next it was the British Open. Then they were headed back to Moortown for a tournament, followed by a French PGA tournament and the German Open in late May, before heading home. Before the team embarked for England April 11 on the steamship Mauretania, team Captain Hagen had Smith out on a Long Island golf course practicing with wooden shafts.

For the voyage to England Hagen had Smith rooming with Ed Dudley a native of Brunswick, Georgia, who was the new professional at Concord CC, south of Philadelphia. In 1924 as a 15-year-old in Joplin, Missouri, Smith and Dudley had first met when Dudley had come there to be the professional at a club in town. Before the ship had even set sail, Dudley had Smith in the ship’s golf store looking to see if there might be a wooden shaft driver that appealed to him. 

1929 Ryder Cup TTT

The Ryder Cup match was played on April 26 and 27 with all matches scheduled for 36 holes. The weather was very cold with hail and even heavy snow at times. There were ten men on each team, and two had to sit out each day. For the first day’s four foursomes (alternate strokes), Hagen sat Smith as the US took a 2-1/2 to 1-1/2 points lead. Dudley and Sarazen lost 2&1.

 It was Hagen’s belief that if one was good enough to be on the team then he should play. For the eight singles the next day Hagen sat Dudley and Johnny Golden. Smith played and won his match, but only one other American won and one managed to half his match. By a count of 7 points to 5 Great Britain captured the Cup, while their captain was benching the same two players both days.

Hagen told his team “You can’t win them all.” Hagen had lost by 10 & 8, to their captain George Duncan. Hagen said that the British victory would be good for golf, with even more interest at the next Ryder Cup in 1931. There were 10,000 spectators the first day and 15,000 the second day.  

Two weeks later playing with his wooden shafted clubs, Hagen won the British Open by six strokes. Americans Johnny Farrell and Leo Diegel finished second and third. England’s Percy Alliss, who sat on the Ryder Cup bench both days and would sit on the bench both days again in 1931, tied for fourth.

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