John J. “Johnny” “Jack” McDermott attempted a comeback in 1924!

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John J. “Johnny” “Jack” McDermott attempted a comeback in 1924!

In 1911, at only 19, Philadelphia’s Johnny McDermott won the U.S. Open, and then won it again in 1912, only to suffer a mental breakdown in late 1914. There was a great deal of speculation concerning what might have been the cause.

McDermott & trophy (TT) 2

The great British professionals, Harry Vardon and Ted Ray, were in the states for the 1913 US Open. A few weeks before the US Open, with Vardon and Ray in the field, McDermott won the Shawnee Open by eight strokes. During a speech he was asked to make, McDermott stated that the people of this country needn’t worry or fear as to the US Open cup going to the other side. He was told that he had insulted the visitors, so he went to them and apologized. A.W. Tillinghast, the designer of the Shawnee course and the club’s golf chairman, asked the golf writers not to mention the speech. All agreed, but then one ran an article about what McDermott had said. It turned into a torrent of criticism.

The USGA threatened to bar him from the US Open. A week later Philadelphia’s Public Ledger newspaper published a rebuttal for McDermott explaining what he had been trying to say, and what he had meant with his words, but it was too late to calm the storm.  

In spite of the uproar McDermott played in the US Open, finishing a disappointing 8th, four strokes out of a tie for first. He had difficulty adjusting to the wet golf course. McDermott liked to play a low approach shot that would hop twice and stop. With the wet greens his shots kept coming up well short of the hole. Francis Quimet, a young amateur from the USA, defeated Vardon and Ray for the title in an 18-hole playoff.

In October McDermott got back on the winning track winning the Western Open at the Memphis Country Club by seven strokes.

He finished second at the North and South Open at Pinehurst in March 1914, and then was off to the British Open in June for a third time. He had tied for fifth in 1913. Somehow he missed a ferry and a train and was late for his starting time to qualify for the tournament. The tournament officials said he could play, but McDermott declined, saying it would be unfair to the other players.

He headed home, boarding the Kaiser Wilhelm II. Soon after leaving port in heavy fog, the ship was struck by a grain freighter. The life boats were lowered but not needed, as the ship made it back to shore. McDermott sailed for home on another ship.

Back in the states McDermott did not attempt to defend his title in either the Shawnee or Western Opens, or play in the Met Open. At the US Open in August he tied for 9th and then a month later he tied for 7th at the Philadelphia Open. He seemed to have lost his usual fiery confidence.  

In October he collapsed in the pro shop at Atlantic City Country Club where he was the professional. His parents came and took him home to West Philadelphia. One of McDermott’s sisters said that everything seemed to happen to him in less than a year; the Shawnee speech, the British Open, the ship wreck and losses in the stock market.

8 J. McDermott (2)

In and out of mental hospitals, McDermott played in just one tournament in 1915, the Met Open on Staten Island. At the end of the first day he was in third place with 145 strokes. On the second day he seemed to tire, shooting a 79-81. His 305 total left him tied for 15th.   

With his father being a mailman the family was unable to afford private hospitals. McDermott was committed to the State Hospital for the Insane in Norristown, PA in 1916, less than two months before his 25th birthday. The hospital had a 1,232 yard golf course that McDermott could play. Though a state hospital, his family had to pay $1.75 a week for his care.

Exhibitions were played to assist the family with McDermott’s expenses. Walter Hagen, Jim Barnes, Johnny Farrell and Joe Kirkwood, Sr. played a 36-hole exhibition at Merion GC in October 1922. The professionals received no remuneration and paid their own expenses.

A year later in October, Hagen was at Gulph Mills GC playing a 36-hole exhibition. On hearing where McDermott was, Hagen had someone drive him there after golf at Gulph Mills. He played the hospital course with McDermott that day. Hagen reported that McDermott had lost little of his old prowess.    

In mid December 1923, Zimmer Platt (brother of Caddy Scholarship J. Wood Platt) and McDermott played an exhibition match against two professionals at Whitemarsh Valley CC. In spite of winter conditions McDermott refused to improve his lie at any time. On the 14th hole McDermott put his greenside bunker shot two inches from the hole to close out the match. McDermott was three over par for the 14 holes.   

In the summer of 1925 McDermott attempted a comeback. He played in four tournaments; Shawnee Open, Philadelphia PGA Championship, Philadelphia Open and Pennsylvania Open.  Though he hadn’t won a tournament in 12 years he usually attracted a gallery. His scores were in the 80s and he was never in contention. 

After that his golf was relegated to playing with various Philadelphia professionals. On August 1, 1971, one day after playing nine holes at Valley Forge GC, Johnny McDermott died of heart failure, 11 days before his 80th birthday.  

Leo Fraser held a senior open at his Atlantic City CC 23 years before the USGA’s first one!

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Leo Fraser held a senior open at his Atlantic City CC 23 years before the USGA’s first one!

In September 1957, Leo Fraser, owner and professional at the Atlantic City Country Club, staged an open tournament for senior golf professionals and amateurs, 50 years of age or older. Fraser was always looking for a way to promote golf and his club.

Since 1937 the PGA of America had held a senior championship for its members who had reached the age of 50. In August of 1957 there had been an inaugural tournament called the U.S. Senior National Open in Spokane, Washington.  At Spokane Gene Sarazen had lost a playoff for the title.

Spokane had a bigger purse and larger field than Fraser’s tournament, but there were some great golf professionals from the past entered in the Atlantic City Seniors Open. Former Philadelphia PGA member Denny Shute, the winner of two PGA Championships and a British Open, was entered. Harry Cooper, who some still refer to as the greatest golfer to never win a major championship was there. Along with winning 30 times on the PGA Tour in the 1920s and 30s, Cooper had finished second in two Masters Tournaments and two US Opens, losing the 1927 US Open in a playoff.  

At Atlantic City Pete Burke, the 1956 Senior PGA Champion, led the three-day tournament until the last green where he carelessly missed a one-foot putt. That left him tied with Joe Zarhardt, who had just turned in a 67, with 212 totals. The two pros were sent right back out that day for an 18-hole playoff.  Zarhardt, a Jersey boy who had won a Philadelphia PGA Championship and a Philadelphia Open, was now a pro in North Carolina.  He won the playoff with a 69 against a 71 for Burke. Shute finished fourth and Cooper was eighth. First prize was $650 and ten pros won money.

Former Atlantic City CC professional Johnny McDermott, winner of the 1911 and 1912 US Opens, was in attendance as a guest of Fraser. McDermott had been confined to mental hospitals since suffering a nervous breakdown in late 1914.Fraser, McDermott, Cooper 2

Fraser held the tournament one more year. Zarhardt returned nearly defending his title, losing a sudden death playoff to Virginia’s Jack Isaacs. Cooper finished third. The US National Senior Open continued on out west for many years, finding a home in Las Vegas. At one point, Tommy Bolt won that tournament five straight years.  

It took 23 more years for the USGA to embrace senior professional golf. It June 1980 the newly formed PGA Senior Tour held its first tournament at the Atlantic City Country Club. One week later, the USGA held a senior open at Winged Foot Golf Club in New York. That first US Senior Open was for golfers 55 and over, but in 1981 with Arnold Palmer having turned 50, the tournament was changed to accept entries from those 50 and over.

At one time, big name golf professionals like Byron Nelson played in local tournaments!

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At one time, big name golf professionals like Byron Nelson played in local tournaments!

Byron Nelson won the 1937 Masters Tournament on the first Sunday of April and then reported for work at the Reading Country Club as the new head professional.

On Monday, two weeks after winning the Masters, Nelson played in what was termed a Philadelphia PGA sweepstakes (one day).  The professionals played for their entry fees. Nelson shot two 73s, finishing second to Bruce Coltart by one stroke.  

1937 was a Ryder Cup year, with Great Britain being the host. The final four spots on the US team were determined from the two qualifying rounds at the PGA Championship and the US Open’s four rounds. As the medalist at the PGA, and a tie for 20th at the US Open in Detroit, Nelson earned one of those last spots.

Three days later on Tuesday, Nelson was in New York at a dinner for the Ryder Cup team.  That next morning, June 16, the Ryder Cup team set sail from New York for the one week trip to England. The US team defeated the British on their soil for the first time. Two weeks later Nelson finished fifth in the British Open.

On Thursday July 29th Nelson returned to the states, stepping off a ship in New York Harbor. On Sunday he was in Jamestown, NY playing an exhibition with Henry Picard. That night he drove home, nearly 300 miles, to host the Central Pennsylvania Open on Monday. 

With little sleep, Nelson put together rounds of 69 and 71 at RCC to tie Bruce Coltart for the title with 140s. An 18-hole playoff was held on Saturday, which Nelson won, picking up a check for $150. On Sunday Nelson and Picard played an exhibition at Lehigh CC.

Nelson hosted the Central Pennsylvania Open again in August 1938. He led after the morning round with a course record 66, but in the afternoon he finished with four straight bogies for a 75. Delaware’s Ed “Porky” Oliver, who was around the 36 holes in 140 strokes, edged him out for the title by one stroke. When Oliver could not get any of his three attempts in the fairway, Nelson won the driving contest with a poke of 273 yards, 6 inches. That evening Nelson and Oliver left for Cleveland to play in the $10,000 Cleveland Open, the richest tournament of the year.  

In 1939 Nelson won the US Open in June and the Western Open in July. One week after winning the Western he was hosting the Central Pennsylvania Open, which he won for a second time. His 137 total won by three strokes. First prize had dwindled from $150 to $100.

The 1939 Philadelphia PGA Championship was held at Llanerch CC in September, and Nelson was there playing in the one-day 36-hole qualifying. He won the medal by four strokes with a 137 and picked up $100. Booked to play an exhibition near Boston that weekend, he couldn’t stay on for the match play, which determined the Section champion. 

In early October 1939 Nelson, who had won the US Open earlier in the year, played in the Philadelphia PGA’s Lady-Pro Championship. This was no one-day social event. The format was selective drive/alternate shots. The teams qualified on Tuesday morning and then played the first round match that afternoon. For the survivors, there were two more rounds of matches on Wednesday, with the final on Sunday. The Nelson team qualified with a 79 and met the medalists, Joe Kirkwood, Sr. and his partner, in the first round. All square at the end of 18, the two teams returned to the first tee for sudden death. With little daylight remaining the golfers couldn’t see the green on the 245-yard par-3-hole. Kirkwood’s drive was on the green and Nelson’s was in the right rough. The two ladies were well short of the green. The Kirkwood team won with a 3 and went to the final before losing to the three-time Ryder Cupper Ed Dudley and his partner. Two-time PGA Champion Leo Diegel and his partner won the second flight.

Later in October Nelson bade farewell to the Philadelphia PGA by playing in the Pro-Green Chairman tournament. He had resigned from RCC to be the next professional at the Inverness Club in Ohio. Nelson and his chairman were paired with Henry Picard, who had defeated Nelson in the final of the PGA Championship that July.

Instead of defending his Philadelphia PGA title, Gene Kunes won the 1936 Canadian Open!

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Instead of defending his Philadelphia PGA title, Gene Kunes won the 1936 Canadian Open!

Born in Erie, Pennsylvania in 1909, Gene Kunes arrived in Philadelphia in 1934 as an assistant to Ed Dudley at the Philadelphia Country Club. Kunes had assisted Dudley at Augusta National Golf Club that winter and in April he followed him north to his summer position. Kunes arrived in Philadelphia as a two time winner of the Connecticut PGA Championship. When Jeffersonville Golf Club professional Frank Wood died suddenly in May, Kunes became the professional at Jeffersonville.

That summer Kunes won the Philadelphia PGA Championship, defeating his assistant Bud Lewis in the final. When it came time to defend his Section title in 1935, Kunes had a dilemma. The tournament was the same time as the Canadian Open. He had made the semifinals of the PGA Championship the summer before and had recently tied for 21st in the 1935 US Open. Also, his old employer Ed Dudley was entered in the Canadian Open, so Kunes decided to give it a try.

At Montreal Kunes was on his game, outplaying a strong field which included Walter Hagen, Paul Runyan and Horton Smith. Kunes won by two strokes as he put together rounds of 70-68-74-68 for an even par 280. Vic Ghezzi finished second at 282. Tony Manero and Dudley tied for third with 285 totals.  

In the fall of 1935 Kunes had his gall bladder removed and was not able to defend his Canadian Open title the next summer. That operation was the first of what would be many stomach operations. Due to problems with his health he resigned from Jeffersonville in late 1936, heading south for six months of rest and no golf.

By the summer of 1937 Kunes was back playing in tournaments. Exempt off having been in the top 30 at the 1940 US Open, Kunes, now the professional at Holmesburg GC, was at Ft. Worth, Texas for the 1941 US Open. With the usual 36-hole Saturday windup at that time, he tied for 20th, which qualified him for the 1942 US Open, and flew home to Philadelphia.  

On Monday he teed off at Merion GC in the one-day 36-hole Pennsylvania Open. At the end of the day he and Terl Johnson were tied for the title with 150 totals. On Tuesday morning there was an 18-hole playoff which ended in a tie. Kunes and Johnson were back on the course that afternoon for another 18-hole playoff, which Kunes won. Having played 72 holes in the Texas heat and 72 holes at Merion over a six day period, it appeared that Kunes was back in good health, but it was not to be.

In December 1942 he was in the hospital for an operation on his liver. While he was there, his appendix and spleen were removed. In June 1943, nearly 300 golfers turned out to benefit Kunes with a day of golf at Llanerch CC. After several months in a hospital he was convalescing at the Seaview Hotel & GC., but not in condition to make the trip from the Jersey shore to Llanerch.

In August 1945 there was a seventh operation, this one on his liver again, along with 19 blood transfusions. With all that he was back playing tournament golf by June of 1946. In 1947, as the professional at the Englewood Golf Club in New Jersey, he won the New Jersey Open, New Jersey PGA, Philadelphia Open and Massachusetts Open, all in that one year. If not for poor health that haunted him for years, Kunes might have been someone the world of golf remembers.

Golf’s leading touring professionals played in the Wood Memorial at Jeffersonville GC!

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Golf’s leading touring professionals played in the Wood Memorial at Jeffersonville GC!

Frank Wood and Joe Capello were introduced to golf as caddies at the Essex Country Club, a Donald Ross designed course north of Boston. As young golf professionals they worked for Ross at Pinehurst during the winter months. When Ross completed Aronimink Golf Club in 1928 he installed Joe Capello as the professional. Capello brought Wood along as his assistant.

When the Jeffersonville Golf Club in Norristown, Pennsylvania, another Ross design, opened for play in 1931, Ross paved the way for Wood to be the professional there. Born in Canada to French Canadian parents in 1902, Wood’s family moved to the states when he was a young boy. Born Francois Dubois, his name was Americanized to Frank Wood.

Wood fell ill while participating in the 1934 US Open qualifying round and died of pneumonia on May 23. In Wood’s memory, the Jeffersonville GC members decided to hold a Wood Memorial tournament open to professionals and amateurs. 

The tournaments were a huge success with early winners from the Philadelphia PGA, like Ed Dudley, Ed “Porky” Oliver, Sam Byrd and Gene Kunes. In the 1942 tournament, 42 professionals and 250 amateurs teed off. 50 more amateurs showed up but had to be turned away. After that the lower handicap amateurs played on Monday with the professionals and the other amateurs playing on Tuesday.

After an interruption for World War II the tournament was resumed in 1946. Fifty-one-year old Charlie Hoffner came out of competitive retirement to play in the 1947 Wood Memorial. At one time the strongest player in the Philadelphia Section and a member of the 1926 pre-Ryder Cup team that took on a British team in Scotland, Hoffner hadn’t made a tournament appearance for nearly a decade. He arrived at Jeffersonville with woods and a putter. He borrowed a set of irons and teed off before 8 a.m. Early in the round his driver broke, so he drove with his brassie the rest of the round. In spite of a double bogey, he posted a two under par 68 before many of the 244 professionals and amateurs had even teed off. No one else broke 70 and Hoffner collected the $200 first prize.

In the 1950s the purse was increased and the tournament began to attract professionals from the PGA Tour. The tournament would be scheduled on a Monday after the Eastern Open in Baltimore, Insurance City Open in Hartford or Reading Open.

Tommy Bolt and Merchantville, New Jersey touring professional Al Besselink tied for first in 1952 with 65s and with no playoff each picked up $275. Oliver, Dow Finsterwald, Jimmy Thomson, Marty Furgol, Dave Douglas and George Fazio, who had been an assistant at Jeffersonville in the 1930s, were in the field.

Tour player Max Evans drove in from Hartford for the 1953 Wood Memorial. After a four hour nap in the lockeroom he posted a 65 that put him in a tie for the top money with Fazio, who had played earlier. Arriving late, defending co-champion Al Besselink joined the Evans pairing on the eighth hole. After putting out on the 18th green he played the first seven holes with a marker and posted a 66 for third money. Besselink was last off the course, just before it was too dark to see. 

Oliver took the top prize for a third time in 1954, winning $500. In spite of a fatted 3-iron shot on the par three 18th hole, which resulted in a bogey, he tied Dudley’s tournament record score of 64 and won by four strokes.

The committee reduced first prize to $400 in 1955 and spread the money over more places. With that, even though the PGA Tour was in Philadelphia for the Daily News Open which ended on Sunday, the touring pros did not stick around for the Wood Memorial and headed north to the Carlings Open in Boston and a more lucrative one day tournament en route.    

The 21st and final Wood Memorial, which Besselink won, was played in 1959. The tournament was always open to all comers including the Negro professionals like Howard Wheeler and Charlie Sifford who each won the Negro National Championship six times. During the 1950s ten professionals who would be Ryder Cuppers were entered.  

A young Ben Hogan finished second to Byron Nelson on and off the golf course!

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A young Ben Hogan finished second to Byron Nelson on and off the golf course!

As most golfers know, Ben Hogan and Byron Nelson were born in 1912 and grew up caddying at the Glen Garden Golf Club in Ft. Worth, Texas. Nelson’s golf game may have developed sooner, due to Hogan beginning with left-handed clubs.

Nelson always seemed to have a bit of an edge. One year, in the club’s annual caddy tournament Hogan and Nelson tied for first place. There had been no mention of a playoff being part of the tournament, but the committee called for a playoff which Nelson won. As a result of that Nelson was asked to work in the golf shop and was able to play the course more often.

They both turned pro at an early age. Nelson had success almost right away, winning money on the PGA Tour. Nelson began winning tournaments while Hogan was struggling to win enough money to even cover his expenses.  

In late 1936 Nelson and Hogan both applied for the head professional position at Reading Country Club in Pennsylvania. RCC hired Nelson. A few months later Nelson won the Masters and then headed north to his new job at RCC. Hogan wasn’t invited to the 1937 Masters. At times Hogan was working odd jobs in the oil fields and gambling houses to enter some more tournaments.

In the spring of 1938 Hogan landed a job as the teaching and playing professional at the Century Country Club in White Plains, New York. In the embedded photo, Hogan and Nelson, pictured with William Flynn, are at the Philadelphia Country Club the week after the 1939 Masters, playing a practice round for the upcoming US Open. Nelson was back at Reading CC and Hogan was on his way to White Plains.

In June Nelson finished 72 holes in the US Open at the Philadelphia Country Club tied for first with Craig Wood and Denny Shute. On Sunday there was an 18-hole playoff, which Nelson won after a second 18-hole playoff on Monday. Hogan finished 62nd.

(What follows was told to me by Henry Poe.) During the playoff Nelson told Wood and Shute that he was going to be the professional at the Inverness Club in Toledo in 1940. Nelson asked them if they knew of anyone who might be right for Reading CC. Wood recommended Henry Poe who was working for him at Winged Foot Golf Club.

Hogan had also applied at Inverness. Again he had finished second to Nelson. Nelson being Nelson said that the committee must have liked the way he tied his tie better than Ben.

Poe told me he really wasn’t interested in the Reading position. He loved working at Winged Foot for Wood, but he agreed to an interview. During his interview he was invited to stay for dinner and told he could have the same contract as Nelson. Poe signed on and stayed 27 years. He went on to be president of the Philadelphia PGA and the PGA of America.

In 1940 things began to turn around for Hogan. In March he won the North and South Open for his first individual title on the PGA Tour, but it was back to Century CC for a third year. Hogan won three more times that year and tied for fifth at the US Open.

In early 1941Henry Picard resigned as the professional at Hershey Country Club to buy a farm in Oklahoma. A great supporter of Hogan, Picard recommended him to Milton Hershey, who owned the club. Hogan was now a head professional. He won five times on the PGA Tour in 1941 and six in 1942. At the same time Nelson’s golf game was improving as well.

By late 1941 the United States was at war. Hogan enrolled in a flight school and learned how to fly. In 1942 he volunteered for the US Air Force and taught flying during the war. Nelson, who was turned down by the draft board due to a blood disorder, won even more often than before.

In 1945 Nelson won 11 straight tournaments and 19 in total. Late that summer Hogan was a civilian again. Before the year was over he had won 5 times. About the time that Hogan had figured out tournament golf, Nelson seemed to have tired of the tournament trail. After winning six times in 1946 Nelson retired in late July. It is too bad that the world of golf wasn’t able to witness two of the greatest golfers ever, competing against each other at the peak of their careers.

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

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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. Also the USGA presented him with a medal similar to what a winner of the US Open would receive. 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!

“DID YOU KNOW”
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.

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