Arnold Palmer never won the PA Open, even with help from the PA Golf Association!


Arnold Palmer never won the Pennsylvania Open, even with help from the PA Golf Association!

Arnold Palmer played in the Pennsylvania Open two times and finished second both times.

While serving in the United States Coast Guard in Cleveland, Yeoman 3-C Palmer played in the 1952 Pennsylvania Open. The one-day 36-hole tournament was played at Gulph Mills Golf Club and St. Davids Golf Club on the second Monday of October. Still an amateur, Palmer was given leave from his Coast Guard duties in Cleveland to play in the tournament. Even though he was not a resident of Pennsylvania, his entry was accepted by the Pennsylvania State Golf Association, which was then being managed out of the Western Pennsylvania Golf Association office, located in Pittsburgh. Palmer was the only player in the field not residing in Pennsylvania. If Palmer had been a professional, there might have been some grumbling from the Pennsylvania professionals. Playing Gulph Mills first, Palmer posted rounds of 71 and 72 for an even par 143 which put him in a tie for the title with George Griffin, Jr., assistant to his father at Green Valley Country Club. With an 18-hole playoff scheduled for Tuesday, Palmer had to call his commanding officer for another day of leave. In the playoff the next day, which was at Gulph Mills, Griffin won with a 73 against a 76 for Palmer. Now in 2022, for some reason Palmer is not listed in the PSGA records, instead Ken Gibson who finished third is listed as the runner-up.  

Fifteen years later in 1967, Palmer entered the PA Open again, for only the second time. The tournament was being held near his home at Laurel Valley Golf Club, where Palmer was a founding member. It may be that the Laurel Valley members talked him into entering. Palmer at age 37 was still near the peak of his game, winning four times on the PGA Tour that year.   

The tournament was played on a Monday and Tuesday in the third week of August. The tournament had been in Hershey at the Hershey Country Club for the past fourteen years. Laurel Valley was just ten years old and had hosted the PGA Championship the year before. 192 pros and amateurs entered.

In the first round Palmer shot a four over par 75, but he was only four strokes behind the leader, and there were only six players with better scores. No one broke par. Two thousand fans turned out to follow Palmer. There was a cut to the low 70 and ties after the first round.

Due to what was described as a social commitment in New York, where he was headed to play in the Westchester Classic, Palmer was first off the tee the next day. Instead of playing late in the day with the leaders, Palmer was putting on freshly mowed greens with no spike marks, paired with players out of contention. When the professionals saw Palmer teeing off first there was plenty of grumbling about favoritism by the state golf officials.

Even though he made bogies on the 16th and 18th holes, he shot a 69 and appeared to have a good chance of being the winner. Palmer said that if he ended up in a tie for first, he would forfeit. As Palmer was finishing his round the leaders had just begun their rounds.

Ross, Bob 3 (TTT)

Bob Ross, the professional at the Philadelphia Cricket Club, had been on a hot streak. On Saturday he had won the 3-day Philadelphia PGA Championship. Earlier that summer Ross had begun using an aluminum shaft driver. Like Palmer he had shot a 75 in the first round. Playing in one of the final pairings, Ross birdied five of the first seven holes and then made two more birdies on the back nine. He made pars on the last two holes for a 68 and a two-day total of 143, to win by one stroke.

First prize was $800. Palmer donated his $500 second place money to the Pennsylvania State Golf Association to promote its state open, whatever that meant. None of the professionals who finished behind Palmer saw any of that money.

There was a time when the golf professionals went “all in” to promote the PGA Tour!

“Did You Know”
There was a time when the golf professionals went “all in” to promote the PGA Tour!

The PGA of America came into being in 1916. Along with trying to place golf professionals in the clubs that were the best fit for both the clubs and the golf professionals, there was also a desire to create competitive playing opportunities for the golf professionals. At first the competitions were quite haphazard. Golf resorts like Shawnee in Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains, and cities like Miami and Los Angeles, who wanted to promote their mild weather, would host tournaments.   

By the late 1920s, what had been a collection of various tournaments was beginning to develop into what people were referring to as the PGA Tour. Then the Great Depression arrived, followed by World War II. Even though money was tight and travel was difficult, the Tour continued on. It only survived because the public wanted to see those great golfers. Each week hundreds of volunteers took time off from work to host a PGA Tour tournament.

Purses were small, even for that time in US history. The norm was a $10,000 to $15,000 total payout. Less than thirty players even cashed a check each week, usually about twenty-five. Most pros lost money playing the Tour, but they loved the competition. If nothing else, they wanted to prove something to themselves, and if their name was in the newspapers a few times they might parlay it into a better position as a home pro.

Each week the entry fees were $1 per thousand dollars in the purse. A $10,000 purse equaled a $10 entry fee. The entry fees went to paying the salaries and travel expenses of the tournament manager, rules officials and scoreboard operators. There was also an advance man who was one week ahead of the Tour. He managed the entries and made sure the rough was cut at a reasonable height along with the hazards and ground under repair being properly marked. His role was to assure that the facility was ready to host the PGA Tour. The entry fees did not cover all those expenses, so some money from the PGA dues of the home professionals was needed as well. Some PGA professionals felt that it was money well spent, like advertising. You could call it the PGA of America’s “Lost Leader”.  

The playing professionals did what they could to help the cause. If invited, they would speak to civic clubs or any organization that was interested.

On Tuesday evenings some of the best players entered that week would put on a driving contest and a golf clinic. The players weren’t paid for participating in the clinic but were doing what they could to make the tournament a success.

Each week one of the professionals would be chosen to serve as the Coordinator/MC for the clinic. He would select twelve or so professionals to assist with the clinic. The MC would commentate, and the pros would speak about the fundamentals of the golf swing, along with demonstrating shots from the driver to the sand wedge.

The picture you see below is from the 1949 Reading (Pennsylvania) Open. In the middle with the clipboard is Lawson Little, MC for that week’s clinic. Little won both the US Amateur and the British Amateur back-to-back in 1934 and 1935 along with winning the 1940 US Open. Everyone in the photo won at least three times.

From L to R: Lloyd Mangrum (36 PGA Tour wins), Chick Harbert (7 Ws), Jackie Burke (16 Ws),
Toney Penna (4 Ws), Henry Ransom (5 Ws), Lawson Little (8 Ws), Sam Snead (82 Ws),
Fred Haas (5 Ws), Dave Douglas (8 Ws), Ed Furgol (6 Ws), Johnny Palmer (7 Ws),
Cary Middlecoff (39 Ws), Skip Alexander (3 Ws)

Middlecoff won that 1949 Reading Open, edging out Snead by one stroke. The total payout of $15,000 had a top prize of $2,600. Twenty six professionals made the money with last place $110. Middlecoff’s win moved him to the top of the money list for 1949 with $18,749.57, just ahead of Snead. Ben Hogan was at home recovering from his near fatal auto accident.

1949 Reading O Clinic 4

In 1913 the USA showed its golf was on a par with British golf!

“Did You Know”
In 1913 the USA showed its golf was on a par with British golf!

With the 1913 United States Open scheduled for September, Great Britain’s leading golfers were heading to the USA. Harry Vardon and Ted Ray were leading the way. As their passenger ship was nearing New York City, Ray asked Vardon, who had been in the states in 1900, “What is it like in America?” With one word Vardon said “Frantic”. 

A few minutes later they were handed a telegram from Alex Findlay, their stateside manager, stating that they were booked to play an exhibition the next day in Philadelphia at Whitemarsh Valley CC.  Ray said “I see what you mean.”

On embarking from their ship they were met by a horde of reporters. Then they boarded a train to Philadelphia, arriving after midnight. In Philadelphia they were interviewed on the steps of their hotel by more reporters. 

The next morning, Saturday August 16, Vardon and Ray were at Whitemarsh Valley for a 36-hole exhibition. Designed by George C. Thomas on his family’s estate, Whitemarsh Valley was Philadelphia’s first great golf course. Playing catch-up to Great Britain’s golf, America was hell bent on getting there.

Vardon and Ray’s opponents for the match were Whitemarsh Valley’s professional Ben Nicholls and his brother Gil. Philadelphia’s Johnny McDermott, winner of the previous two US Opens, was unavailable as he was in New York, finishing second in the Metropolitan Open.

Nicholls, Gil (TGH)

Born in England, the Nicholls brothers had credentials. Gil, the professional at Wilmington CC, had won the Metropolitan Open and North and South Open, along with twice being second in the US Open. Ben had won championships in Europe along with defeating Vardon on two occasions during Vardon’s 1900 exhibition tour of America, which some dubbed “The Vardon Invasion”.  In spite of still being on their “sea legs”, Vardon and Ray lived up to their billing by defeating the Nicholls brothers 3&1. On what a newspaper described as pitiless heat, the Brits wore waist coats while their opponents were in shirt sleeves. In the afternoon round Vardon shot a 71 for a new course record. Nearly 2,000 turned out to view the golf and it was said that there would have been a larger turnout if the course had been more accessible. 

At the two-day 72-hole Shawnee Open McDermott came from behind to win by eight strokes. Vardon tied for third and Ray tied for sixth. At the US Open Vardon and Ray ended up tied with a young American amateur, Francis Quimet, which Quimet won in an 18-hole playoff the next day. The Shawnee course had been the first course design of Philadelphia’s A.W. Tillinghast.

Findlay, a transplanted Scot who had managed Vardon’s 1900 US tour and was now building golf courses for the Florida East Coast Railroad, had booked Vardon and Ray for a wide-ranging series of exhibitions. They traveled the country from coast to coast playing 45 exhibitions before heading home in November. Vardon stated that the best amateur he played against was Chicago’s Chick Evans.

Golf in the states had moved to a new level. McDermott and Quimet had showed the world of golf that there were American born golfers who could compete with Great Britain’s best. Walter Hagen had entered the picture. With architects like A.W. Tillinghast, Donald Ross, C.B. MacDonald and Walter Travis, world class golf courses were opening every month. Pine Valley Golf Club was in the works, and Merion’s East Course had opened in late 1912. American golf was now on a par with Great Britain and Philadelphia was a major part of it.  

Lew Worsham won the 1947 US Open with two putters in his bag!

“Did You Know”
Lew Worsham won the 1947 US Open with two putters in his bag!

Lew Worsham won the 1947 US Open in an 18-hole playoff with Sam Snead. Worsham and Snead came to the par four 18th hole still even. Both were near the hole, putting for pars. Deciding to finish out, Snead addressed his putt, but Worsham said he thought he was farther away. A measurement determined that Snead was away. Snead putted and missed. Worsham then holed his putt to win the US Open, using one of the two putters he had in his golf bag, a Ted Smith hickory shaft mallet head. Usually someone playing with two putters had a putting problem, but not Worsham.

Who was Ted Smith?
Ted Smith was born in Philadelphia in 1906 to Hungarian immigrants who had Americanized their name to Smith. Later they moved to Chicago. At age 12 Smith asked for golf clubs for Christmas because he had seen a picture of John D. Rockefeller playing golf. Smith began playing golf, caddying and working for the golf professionals at a public golf course. He asked so many questions of the golf professionals, they called him “Questionnaire”.

At age 18 he went to work at Seaview Golf Club near Atlantic City, NJ as an apprentice club maker. After stints as a club maker in California and Illinois he became a salesman for the MacGregor Golf Company out of Dayton, Ohio. Smith covered the states east of the Mississippi and Toney Penna covered everything west of the Mississippi.

Smith and Penna told the MacGregor Company management that they could make better clubs than they were being given to sell. With that Smith began designing the irons and Penna designed the wood clubs. MacGregor became the most successful golf club company in the US. Byron Nelson, Ben Hogan and Tommy Armour, represented MacGregor playing the clubs on tour.

When World War II broke out the MacGregor factory was taken over by the US government for the defense of the country. Smith made dummies used in testing experimental ejection seats for fighter planes. The government became aware of Smith’s talents and sent him to Camden, NJ to work on the Navy supply ships. Smith helped create a new type of propeller for the ships that made them more efficient, thus transporting the supplies to Europe more quickly.

After the war Smith decided to stay in the Philadelphia area and opened the Ted Smith Putter Company in Upper Darby, PA. He worked out of the basement of his home making the putters.

Smith, Ted-1963 Jan 22 xx

When Smith opened his business in 1946 there was a pent-up demand for domestic goods like automobiles, which used steel. The big golf companies were buying all of the steel shaves that were available so Smith put hickory shaves in his putters. As it turned out the hickory shafted putters were very popular, though more expensive due to the time needed to make them. He turned out about 2,000 putters a year. Eventually he had 30 different models for sale, which he designed himself.

In one of those ironies of life, the Japanese, who Ted had helped defeat in World War II, became his biggest and best customers. With the World Amateur Team Championship being played at Merion Golf Club in 1960, Smith put 50 of his hickory-shafted putters in Merion professional Fred Austin’s golf shop on consignment. Each member of the Japanese team bought one of his putters. One member of the Japanese team was affiliated with an import/export firm in Japan. He began importing Smith’s putters. By 1971 sixty percent of Smith’s putter sales were in Japan, and he could have sold his total output there. With each order came a letter of credit and three days after the putters were shipped, Smith was paid by a local bank.

Due to his success in Japan Smith only sold putters in the US to keep the Ted Smith Putter name alive, and as a precaution in case the market in Japan ever dried up.  

The modern version of the PGA Tour was formed at Whitemarsh Valley CC in 1968!

“Did You Know”
The modern version of the PGA Tour was formed at Whitemarsh Valley CC in 1968!

The PGA of America came into being in 1916. In the early days of what became known as the PGA Tour it was a loose arrangement of professional golf tournaments. To create interest in hosting tournaments, wives of PGA professionals would write letters to the Chamber of Commerce of large cities, golf resorts and regional golf associations. It became obvious to the PGA professionals that it would be better if it was organized by someone.

In 1930 the PGA hired it first tournament manager, Bob Harlow, a former newspaper man who was managing exhibitions for Walter Hagen and Joe Kirkwood. His job was to sell and promote the tournaments as well as manage them. He set up the starting times and fined the players if they were late. The players were often displeased with how the tournaments were managed by Harlow.

The PGA Tour usually lost money and some years nearly one quarter of the PGA members’ dues had to go to operating the Tour. Many of the home professionals were unhappy as well. Harlow reported to the PGA officers and board. On the side Harlow managed some of the players, which led to his demise in late 1936 due to complaints about favoritism and not spending his full time on tournaments.

He was followed by Fred Corcoran, another manager of athletes, who proved to be no more satisfactory. He was hired and fired several times but due to World War II, he lasted until late 1947. On more than one occasion Corcoran was punched in the nose by a disgruntled playing professional. During Corcoran’s tenure, Ben Hogan, as the leader of a players group, made an unannounced appearance at the 1946 annual meeting of the PGA. He presented a proposal for establishment of a seven-man player constituted board. The board would arrange schedules, control the PGA Tournament Bureau and punish absenteeism. Eventually much of that was accepted to various degrees.

George Schneider, who would also play the PGA Tour at the same time, followed Corcoran. The players were happy, but the PGA felt he sided with the players on most issues, so he was let go in early 1950. That year a Players Board constituted by four players and the three PGA officers was instituted. Schneider was followed by men who were either accused of playing favorites in making rulings or were successful but unhappy with life on the road. In 1964 the PGA hired Jack Tuthill, an ex FBI man, who handled the position to the satisfaction of the PGA and the players.

When a player signed an entry form to play in a PGA Tour event, a paragraph in the form committed him to play his next tournament on the PGA Tour, unless it was a tournament in his PGA Section. As an example, a member of the Philadelphia Section PGA like Art Wall or Al Besselink could play in the Section Championship or Philadelphia Open at the same time a PGA Tour tournament was being played in another part of the country.

In February 1951 Jimmy Demaret and eight other PGA professionals, which included Al Besselink, Stan Dudas and Willie Polumbo from the Philadelphia PGA, played in the Mexican Open which was being held at the same time as the PGA Tour’s Rio Grande Valley Open in Harlingen, Texas. Demaret had a $500 guarantee from the Mexican Open. The PGA fined Demaret $500, and most of the others $200, and stated they were suspended until the fines were paid. The next PGA Tour event was the Houston Open, Demaret’s home town. The chairman of the Houston Open threatened to cancel the tournament unless Demaret was in the starting field. Demaret threatened to sue the PGA for all the money it had and threatened to punch PGA President Horton Smith in the nose. In the end a wealthy oilman gave Demaret a check to cover the fines of Demaret and the others who wished to play at Houston. Demaret handed the check over to the PGA and played under protest. Demaret teed off wearing a Mexican sombrero.

More money began coming to professional golf in the mid 60s due to television. Frank Sinatra offered to sponsor a $200,000 tournament in Las Vegas in 1968. Not wanting to be associated with gambling, although legal, the PGA of America turned it down, which incensed the players. Many of the Tour’s players now had college educations. They presented the PGA with a list of grievances over the day-to-day operation of the tournaments. When not much changed the players stated they wanted complete control of what was now a $5.6 million tour. In 1950 the professionals had played for $541,950.

The players put together a 13-man organizing committee and hired a lawyer. They called themselves the “American Professional Golfers Inc.” The evening before the first round of the Philadelphia Golf Classic, August 21, 1968, the players held their first official meeting at the Whitemarsh Valley Country Club. All players were invited. Gardner Dickenson was elected president, with Jack Nicklaus vice president, and Billy Casper treasurer. 205 players agreed to join.

The new organization announced that they would honor all PGA Tour contracts for the rest of the year but had begun negotiating for tournaments and television contracts for 1969. The PGA of America and the new players’ organization were both scheduling tournaments for 1969 and both ran qualifying tournaments for new players.

Fraser, Leo 2 (TGH) x

In November Atlantic City Country Club owner/professional Leo Fraser was elected president of the PGA of America. Led by Fraser, the PGA of America made peace with the players in December. The Tournament Players Division of the PGA was created. Its Board was made up of the three PGA officers, four tournament players and three non-PGA independent directors.

The players have owned and managed the PGA Tour for 54 years. There was a time when the lesser players were organizing for more money, like paying everyone in the starting field each week. Now in 2022 the players own the PGA Tour, Champions Tour, Korn Ferry Tour and Latinoamerica Tour. Prize money on the PGA Tour has increased from $5.6 million to $427 million, along with bonus money and a profit sharing plan, but there are some who are dissatisfied, even though it is their tour, and there are millions of dollars to be made.

There were 7 U.S. Women’s Opens before the USGA recognized women’s professional golf!

  “Did You Know”
There were 7 U.S. Women’s Opens before the USGA recognized women’s professional golf!

The first U.S. Women’s Open was played at the Spokane CC in August 1946. It was managed by the Women’s Professional Golf Association which had been founded in 1944. The tournament was co-sponsored by the Spokane Athletic Round Table and the WPGA. There were 40 entries. First prize from the $19,700 purse was $5,600 in war bonds. Any money (war bond) over $100 won by an amateur went back into the WPGA treasury. The early favorites were Patty Berg and amateur, Babe Zaharias. The tournament was played at match play, with the semifinals and final rounds being 36-hole matches. Berg won, defeating Betty Jameson in the final.

Berg had been a United States Marine stationed in Philadelphia during World War II. Playing exhibitions, she helped raise millions of dollars for the war effort.

The following year the tournament was in Greensboro, North Carolina at the Starmount Forest CC. Betty Jameson won by six strokes over two amateurs. At $7,500 the prize money was much smaller. First prize was $1,200.

Patty Berg

Leo Fraser stepped up to host the 1948 tournament at his newly purchased Atlantic City CC. The prize money was the same as 1947. There were 51 entries. Babe Zaharias, who had turned pro to make a golf movie, won by eight strokes with an even par 300 total. When she failed to hole a five-foot putt on the last green, Zaharias missed out on another $1,000 which had been put up by an ACCC member for anyone breaking 300. Zaharias said it did not make a difference; it would just have put her in a higher tax bracket.

The WPGA went out of business in the summer of 1949 and was reformed as the Ladies’ Professional Golf Association (LPGA), with Berg as its president. Sponsored by the newly formed LPGA, Prince George’s CC in Virginia hosted the U.S. Women’s Open in September. Louise Suggs put together a 291 over the four rounds to win by 12 strokes over Zaharias. The total prize money was $7,500 again, but first prize was larger at $1,500.

Zaharias won the 1950 U.S. Women’s Open and its $1,250 first prize by nine strokes at the Rolling Hills CC in Wichita, Kansas. The 1951 tournament was won by Betsy Rawls at Druid Hills CC in Atlanta. Her 293 won by five strokes. First prize was $1,500. The last day’s attendance of 6,000 was a record for the tournament’s six years.

The LPGA played for $100,000 in prize money during the 1951 season. In order to save money, the lady professionals ran their tour from top to bottom. They set up the golf courses, promoted the events, made the pairings, and served as the rules committee.  Golf companies Wilson, MacGregor and Spalding kept the LPGA tour alive by signing the top professionals to endorsement contracts. There were Babe Zaharias, Patty Berg and Louise Suggs golf clubs for women. The women’s clothing company, Weathervane, sponsored four tournaments with bonus money at the conclusion of the four events.

The 1952 tournament, sponsored by the Philadelphia Inquirer Charities, was at the Bala Golf Club in Philadelphia. Louise Suggs won the $1,750 top money by seven strokes with a 284. That year the LPGA had hired a man to administrate their tour. There were sixteen tournaments on the schedule. Admission was $1 on week days and $2 on the weekend. For the week, there were 11,000 in attendance. With total prize money of $7,000 the Inquirer’s Charity turned a profit.  

In 1953, after seven U.S. Women’s Opens had been played, the USGA acknowledged that women’s professional golf was going to last. They began sponsoring the tournament, but the money stayed the same or was even less at times for the next ten years.   

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

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.  


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!

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!

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!

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.  

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