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

“DID YOU KNOW”
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!

“DID YOU KNOW”
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!

“DID YOU KNOW”
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.

The 1949 Ryder Cup had great golf and controversies!

“DID YOU KNOW”
The 1949 Ryder Cup had great golf and controversies!

Having been revived in 1947 following World War II, the 1949 Ryder Cup was being held during September in Yorkshire, England at the Ganton Golf Course. The US team was led by non-playing Captain Ben Hogan, who was recovering from a February near fatal automobile accident. On September 3rd the team sailed for England aboard the RMS Queen Elizabeth.

Golf had returned to normal in the United States following the war, but even by 1947 that wasn’t the case in the United Kingdom, which had been devastated by the war. No one was sure if a Ryder Cup would be played again. Robert A. Hudson, a fruit grower, canner and packer decided to revive the competition by bringing the 1947 Ryder Cup to his club, Portland Golf Club. Hudson paid the travel expenses for the British Team on the RMS Queen Mary. On their arrival, Hudson met them in New York. The Brits were wined and dined at the Waldorf Astoria by Hudson, before he boarded a train to travel with the team on a three and one/half-day cross country trip to Portland. Hudson paid for the British Team’s housing, meals, everything. He spent $70,000 hosting the event. The US won 11 points to 1.

1949 Ryder Cup voyage Lyons

When it came time for the US team to travel to England for the 1949 Ryder Cup, Hudson was with them, along with the title, Ryder Cup Secretary. Still suffering the after effects of the war, Great Britain was on meat rationing. To be safe, the US team took along 600 steaks, 6 dozen hams, 12 sides of beef and 4 boxes of bacon. No one ever said that the meat was Hudson’s idea, but it seemed like it must have been. During the days leading up to the match on September 16-17, there were endless articles in the British press about the Americans bringing along a half ton of meat, which the US Team shared with the British Team. Hogan told the British press that for 12 days he had been reading articles mostly about the US Team’s food, and very little about the Ryder Cup itself.

Something that could have been a problem for the US professionals was that they had to play with the smaller British golf ball. The British ball was smaller, 1.62 inches in diameter vs. 1.68, but weighed the same as the US ball. It played better in the wind but being smaller, it did not sit up as well on the turf. Hogan said that during the voyage his team had been hitting the British golf balls into the ocean off the deck of the ship every day. He figured it would take about three days on the Ganton course for his men to adjust to the smaller ball. 

On the eve of the matches Captain Hogan filed a complaint with the British captain concerning the depth and spacing of the grooves in some of his players’ irons. Hogan said that 1939 British Open champion Dick Burton’s whole set of clubs should be disqualified. Burton had drilled small holes in his wedges for better control of the ball on greens that were baked out from a warm summer. British team member Charlie Ward said that if British Captain Henry Cotton had not been so nasty in 1947, we wouldn’t be having these problems. At the 1947 Ryder Cup, Cotton had forced most of the American team to file down the faces of their wedges. Cotton had made the team in 1949, but declined to play.

World famous British golf writer Bernard Darwin, grandson of biologist Charles Darwin, and Ed Dudley, honorary US Captain and past PGA President, were chosen to oversee the adjustments to the Brit’s clubs. Darwin stated that there was nothing that a little filing would not correct. After all that, the British players agreed to play with the same grooves as the US Team.

Despite missing most of 1949 due to his auto accident, Hogan still had plenty of points to be a playing member of the team. Though not fit to play, he was not replaced with another player, so the US had just nine healthy players. All matches were scheduled for 36 holes. The first day of foursomes left the US in a 1 point to 3 points deficit. The US team got a break when overnight rain softened the greens after round one, which made them more like what they were accustomed to. The next day in the singles, the US won 6 of the 8 matches, for a 7 to 5 victory.

While on the Wilson staff, Sam Snead played with an Izett driver for more than 30 years!

“DID YOU KNOW”
While on the Wilson staff, Sam Snead played with an Izett driver for more than 30 years!

When Sam Snead first ventured out to play some tournaments on the PGA Tour, he could drive a golf ball so far, he even amazed the touring professionals. But where it ended up was quite often a problem.

With fall’s arrival in 1936, a 24-year-old Snead decided to give the PGA winter tour a shot. The winter tour began at Pinehurst that year with the PGA Championship being played in November. Not being a PGA member yet, Snead was not eligible for the PGA Championship. The next stop was the Augusta Open, then the Miami Open and Nassau Open. Snead cashed once, a $100 check for a 16th place tie at Miami. (That year there was an Augusta Open at the Augusta CC and Forest Hills CC, as well as the Masters at Augusta National GC in April.)

After Christmas, Snead headed to California with Johnny Bulla for the west coast swing. Preparing for the Los Angeles Open, Snead met up with Henry Picard on the practice field. Picard mentioned that he had heard Snead was having problems with his driver. Picard told Snead that with his power he needed a driver with a stiffer shaft. Picard went to his car and returned with a driver for Snead to try.

Snead hit three drives and right then he knew that was the driver for him. It was an Izett driver that Ardmore, Pennsylvania club maker George Izett had made for Picard. The club had eight degrees of loft and a stiff shaft that weighed five ounces. The driver weighed fourteen and one-half ounces. When Snead asked Picard how much he wanted for the driver, Picard said five-fifty ($5.50). Snead later said that he would have paid more.

 With his new Izett driver Snead finished sixth at LA winning $400. The next week he won the Oakland Open and picked up another $1,200. Snead won four more times that year and ended up second on the money list with $10,243.73. When his one-year contract with Dunlap expired that year he left Dunlap and signed a contract with Wilson Sporting Goods.

George Izett was born in Scotland and grew up playing golf on the Children’s Course at the Gullane Golf Course. He came to the United States in 1928 to work as a clubmaker at Merion Golf Club. When it came to making golf clubs Izett was a master craftsman. In 1930 when Bobby Jones was completing his Grand Slam, the insert in the face of his driver had cracked during his semifinal match. That evening Izett put a new insert in the driver. Jones won.

Izett, George TTT

For the public to think Snead was playing with a Wilson driver, the driver was shipped to Izett with a Wilson soleplate and a Wilson decal for the crown. Due to the differences in the soleplates, George had to do some carving to make it fit properly.

For more than 30 years Snead played most of his tournament golf with that Izett driver, winning more than 80 times on the PGA Tour, including seven majors.

George Fazio’s first foray into golf architecture was at Cobbs Creek Golf Club in 1955!

“DID YOU KNOW”
George Fazio’s first foray into golf architecture was at Cobbs Creek Golf Club in 1955!

George Fazio, winner of the Philadelphia Open five times, was one of the best golfers to come out of Philadelphia. Fazio learned to play golf as a caddy at Plymouth Country Club in Norristown. A playing pro is what he wanted to be, but in his time only a few could make a living just playing tournament golf.

Like most golf professionals in the 1930s, he started out as an assistant pro. In 1940 he was the head pro at Glendale GC in Havertown, but the next year he was at Cedarbrook CC as the playing pro so he could enter more tournaments. He spent 1946 and 1947 as the pro at Hillcrest CC in Los Angeles, only to leave to play the PGA Tour full time.  Then he was in Maryland as Woodmont CC’s professional in 1950, but even that year he was 20th on the PGA Tour money list. Being a club professional was not what he wanted in life.

For a while he had a scrap iron business, and through the generosity of William Clay Ford he owned a Ford automobile dealership in Conshohocken. He leased and operated semiprivate golf courses in the Philadelphia suburbs; Flourtown CC and Langhorne CC. Along the way he won the 1946 Canadian Open and tied for first at the 1950 US Open, only to lose the playoff.

In December 1954 Fazio was awarded a one-year $12,000 contract by the Fairmount Park Commission to make the city of Philadelphia’s five public golf courses profitable. The five courses had experienced a combined loss of $57,000 for 1954. First he had the tees at three courses regrassed with the more durable U-3 Bermuda grass. Then he negotiated the hosting of the Daily News Open, a PGA Tour tournament, at the jewel of the city’s courses, Cobbs Creek GC. With Cobbs Creek hosting the PGA Tour, Fazio knew some changes were needed. He relocated the 18th green and redesigned the 17th hole. Along with that, he added 500 yards to the course. The tournament was held two years, 1955 and 1956.

In 1960 he was asked to assist with the design of Atlantis CC in Ocean County, NJ. He created a routing for the course. Because he did not do a total design of the course he never claimed it, but Atlantis still advertises it as a George Fazio design.

Fazio, George TT 2

That year Fazio heard that Bob Hays, the University of Pennsylvania golf coach, was planning to build a golf course near Phoenixville. He called Hays to say he was going to build his golf course. Hays said he already had someone lined up to do that, but Fazio insisted he was going to be the one. Hayes agreed to have lunch with Fazio. Fazio showed up at the lunch with four framed designs for the course. He had hired an airplane with a photographer to take pictures of the property. Fazio had designed 18 holes by sketching on tracing paper over the photographs. With that, Hays agreed that Fazio to be the architect of his Kimberton GC.

At that time there were few construction companies that built golf courses. Bill Elliott, a friend of Fazio, and a member of both Pine Valley GC and St. Davids GC, put up the money for the equipment and labor to build the course. Fazio completed the whole project, from moving the dirt, to drainage, irrigation and grass.

After that Fazio and Elliott built Squires GC on their own, which they sold to some men as it was nearing completion. They then built Moselem Springs GC for Hawley Quier, who owned the Reading Eagle newspaper. Next it was Waynesborough CC, which opened in the fall of 1965. Elliott’s vision was a golf course with a hotel catering to corporate outings and meetings during the week, with weekend golf memberships. Before they could finish the project a group who wanted to have a private club purchased the project from Fazio and Elliott, while paying them to complete the course.

In 1968 the USGA held the US Women’s Open at Moselem Springs. Within a few days Fazio and Elliott were inundated with offers to build golf courses from the Caribbean to Hawaii.

Sam Snead played his first tournament on the PGA summer tour at the 1936 Hershey Open!

“Did You Know”
Sam Snead played his first tournament on the PGA summer tour at the 1936 Hershey Open!

In early September 1936 twenty-four-year-old Sam Snead ventured out of the Blue Ridge country to test his golf game in a summer PGA Tour event, the Hershey Open. Before that, only a trip to Florida for the 1935 Miami Open and a missed cut at the North and South Open in March had been his attempts at professional touring golf.  

Having learned golf as a caddy at the Homestead Resort in Hot Springs, Virginia he was now in his first year as an assistant professional at The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. In July he had won a tournament called the West Virginia Closed by 16 strokes with rounds of 71 and 61. It was played at The Greenbrier’s 6,317-yard championship course and open only to West Virginia professionals. The 61 was made up of nine pars and nine birdies. He drove the green on two par four holes, only to take three putts for pars.

By late summer Snead had saved up $75 so he decided to try his luck in Milton Hershey’s $5,000 Hershey Open, where the prize money was the same as the US Open and the Masters that year. Snead took a train to Philadelphia and then a second train to Hershey. He arrived on Wednesday for a practice round. There for a practice round as well was George Fazio, who invited Snead to join him. The first hole at that time was a straightaway 329 yard par four, with its green near the Hershey Chocolate factory. (Later the factory was enlarged and the hole was changed to a dogleg left.) Snead’s first two drives were in the factory grounds.  His third drive was on the green.

Snead-1939 Program TT

In the first round Snead toured the par 73 course in 70 strokes, which was two off the lead. After a second round 77 and a third round 70, he was within three strokes of the leaders. In the last round Snead birdied the 343 yard 11th hole after driving the green, but putting failures led to a 74 that left him four strokes behind the winner, host professional Henry Picard (287). A tie for sixth at 291 earned Snead $285. Picard won $1,200. Before Snead could leave town Craig Wood signed him to a $500 contract with Dunlop Sporting Goods to play its clubs and golf balls.   

The world of professional golf had been made aware that a new star was on the horizon, but Johnny Bulla was one who had not gotten the message. In January Bulla and Snead drove to the west coast for the winter tour in Bulla’s automobile. Snead’s auto wasn’t road worthy for a trip to the west coast. During the drive west Snead offered to split all the expenses and winnings, but Bulla declined, figuring he would play better than Snead. That was a mistake. Snead won the second tournament they entered, the Oakland Open, and the rest is golf history.

Struck by lightning at the Philadelphia Open, Ed Dudley should have been the winner!

“DID YOU KNOW”
Struck by lightning at the Philadelphia Open, Ed Dudley should have been the winner!

The 1931 Philadelphia Open, sponsored by the Golf Association of Philadelphia, was hosted by the Manufacturers Golf & Country Club in the second week of August. The tournament was scheduled for 72 holes over two days and attracted professionals from New York and the Middle Atlantic states.

On Monday morning more than 100 plus professionals and amateurs teed off in the first round and played in perfect sunny weather, but no one was able to even equal the par of 71. Concord Country Club professional Ed Dudley posted a 72 to lead the field by one stroke.

During the second round of the tournament that afternoon, severe storms swept across the course. Those players with decent scores from the morning round continued on, while many headed for the clubhouse. Some of the greens were so flooded the golfers had to use lofted irons to hole out. No one from the tournament’s committee appeared on the course to stop play.

At about 6:30 p.m. Dudley, paired with Clarence Hackney and Felix Serafin, was approaching the 18th green, which was near the clubhouse high above most of the course. With his umbrella over his head and putter under his arm, lighting struck nearby. Electricity reflected off Dudley’s steel shafted umbrella and putter temporarily paralyzing his right arm and leg. After a few minutes rest he putted out, finishing with an 81. Just after he putted out another bolt of lightning struck nearby. Dudley threw his putter into some bushes. 43 players turned in a score for the second round.

Dudley, Ed TTT

Dudley was examined at a hospital where he was found to have some red marks on his leg and his right arm and leg were stiff. He seemed to be alright other than that and was sent home. Due to Dudley being a member of the 1929 Ryder Cup team and having won the Western Open only a few weeks earlier, the incident made newspapers all over the country. Most of the articles mentioned that he would not be able to finish the tournament.  

The competitors assumed that the first round would count and the second round would be wiped out due to the course conditions, but the tournament committee canceled out both rounds and made it a 36-hole tournament. The committee sited a USGA rule.

Rule No.2 section 2 “If the committee considers that the course is not in playable condition or that insufficient light makes the proper playing of the game impossible, it shall at any time have the power to declare the days’s play null and void.

On Tuesday Dudley was back for his assigned time and played all 36 holes. Playing in what the newspapers described “an all day downpour” he posted a pair of 75s but it only earned him a four-way tie for second. Hackney, who benefited from the Monday cancellation after a first round 80, won with a (72-75) 147 total and picked up a check for $350.

If only Monday’s second round, when the golf course was unplayable for most of the time, had been washed out, Dudley would have won with ease.

A Philadelphia club professional won the British Open after losing the Ryder Cup!

“DID YOU KNOW”

In early July 1933, Llanerch Country Club’s professional Densmore “Denny” Shute, was in St. Andrews, Scotland playing in the British Open at the Royal and Ancient Golf Club. Everyone, even the holder of the title, Gene Sarazen, had to pass a 36-hole prequalifying test. Once the tournament got under way, Shute never led until the 72nd hole. He started out with even par rounds of 73 and 73 to trail by six strokes. On the final day of 36 holes Shute began with another 73 and trailed by three as five were tied for the lead. On a windy afternoon, the scores ballooned. Craig Wood managed a 75 to take the lead in the clubhouse at 292. Later in the day Shute posted a fourth 73 to tie Wood at 292. In a 36-hole playoff the next day Shute was around in 75-74 to win by five strokes. It was nearly a home victory for the Scots. Denny’s father, now a golf professional in Ohio, had done his apprenticeship at St. Andrews, and his grandmother still lived in Scotland.

Just 10 days before that, Shute had been with the US PGA team competing against the British PGA team in the Ryder Cup at the Southport & Ainsdale Golf Club in Southport, England. With victories in 1927 and 1931 against a loss in 1929, the United States held the Cup and a slim lead. The British PGA was determined to retake the Cup with a win on their home soil. The great John Henry Taylor was the captain, and he took his appointment seriously. Taylor had his team members out running on the beach at daybreak each day.

Shute, Dennyx (TGH)

The match was played over two days. The first day there were four 36-hole foursome matches (alternate strokes), and the second day there were eight singles matches, which were also scheduled for 36 holes.

Taylor’s training may have helped. At the end of day one the British led by 2-1/2 points against 1-1/2 for the visitors. The second day’s singles matches were tightly contested. Late in the day the final score came down to the last match still on the course. The two combatants were Denny Shute and Britain’s Syd Easterbrook.  They came to the 36th hole, and after some indifferent golf, both reached the par four green in three. Both were putting from about 25 feet. Easterbrook putted first and was left with a three-foot putt.  The Ryder Cup result was now all on Shute. If he two putted, the match would most likely end in a tie and his team would retain possession of the Cup. If he holed his putt they would win.

The playing captain, Walter Hagen, should have been on the green to remind Shute that two putts would be alright, but Hagen was not there. He was up on a knoll behind the green talking to Prince Edward (who later as the King of England abdicated the throne). Shute, who was putting downhill, went past the hole by four feet and missed coming back. Easterbrook holed his putt and the British were victorious. When Hagen was asked why as captain, he was not there to advise Shute that a tie would keep the cup; he said that he felt it would be rude to interrupt a conversation with a future king.

One might say that Prince Edward won the 1933 Ryder Cup for Great Britain. Walter Hagen always called him Eddie.

George Fazio teed off first in the final round of the 1950 US Open and well might have won!

“DID YOU KNOW”
George Fazio teed off first in the final round of the 1950 US Open and well might have won!

At 8 a.m. Saturday June 10, 1950, two local golf professionals, George Fazio and Al Besselink, were the first two players teeing off for the double round finish of the US Open at Merion Golf Club’s East Course.

At that time there were no gallery ropes, so the USGA would spread out the leaders. Crowd control of the 10,000 spectators each day was up to volunteer marshals. Before the tournament began Ben Hogan had said that his biggest problem might be getting under the gallery ropes. Hogan had circulation problems in his legs from the near fatal automobile accident just one year earlier in February 1949. Large veins had been tied off to mange blood clots. This caused cramping.

For the 36-hole finish on Saturday, players were paired in twos at six minute intervals. Fazio (145) and Besselink (143) may have been put in the first pairing by the officials, because they were not slow and knew the golf course. Actually it was Merchantville, New Jersey’s Besselink who struck the first tee shot of the day with Norristown, Pennsylvania’s Fazio next.

Fazio TTT

Halfway leader Dutch Harrison (139) was at 9:00 with Julius Boros (140). Johnny Bulla (140) and Lloyd Mangrum (142) were off at 8:30. Ben Hogan (141) and Cary Middlecoff (142) had a 9:30 time. Jim Ferrier (140) and Henry Ransom (143) had a 9:54 tee time. It had taken a score of 149 to make the cut (low 50). Most of the players with the higher scores had later times, but some were arly. Only five strokes back at 144, Denny Shute, once the professional only a few miles away at Llanerch CC and a winner of three majors, was last off at 10:30.

In the tournament’s third round that morning Fazio kept himself in the conversation with a 32 on the second nine to post a 72 for 217, while Mangrum with a 69 took the lead at 211. With a 73 Harrison (212) was still there, in second place. Hogan (72), Middlecoff (71) and Johnny Palmer (70) were tied for third at 213.

Back on the course at 12:30, Fazio played the last nine holes in 33 strokes for an even par 70. His 72-hole 287 total on the scoreboard looked great, but probably not a winner. Then the US Open pressure began to take its toll. Middlecoff and Palmer, each were in the process of taking 79 strokes to finish. Harrison with a 76, came in one worse than Fazio’s 287. Mangrum was out in 41 and staggered in with pars on the exceedingly difficult final three holes for a 76. That managed to get him into a tie with Fazio.

Fazio (1971 TTT

Out on the course one hour after Mangrum, Hogan made 10 pars and a bogey on the first eleven holes. His legs were giving out. On the last nine holes either Middlecoff or Hogan’s caddy removed his ball from the hole. On the 12th tee Hogan’s drive found the rough. He limped over and leaned on Harry Radix, who was there as a spectator. He said “Harry I don’t think I can finish.” (Before there was a Vardon Trophy for the low scoring average on the PGA Tour it was the Radix Cup. The Radix Cup, donated by Radix, a Chicago jeweler, was awarded for that achievement from 1934 to 1936.) Hogan’s second shot was long and would have ended up over the green out-of-bounds in Ardmore Avenue if not for the throng of spectators at the back of the green. From there he made a bogey. It has been reported that after the short 13th hole, which was near the clubhouse, Hogan considered quitting but his caddy was on the way to the 14th tee so he kept walking. He three putted 15 for a bogey. He made a par on 16 when his second shot hit a lady spectator near the green and ended in a good lie just off the green.   On the par-three 17th, his tee shot found a back bunker and he made another bogey. Hogan was now in a tie with Fazio and Mangrum. On the last hole he was on the green after a drive and a 1-iron. From 40 feet he putted four feet past the hole. Without much though a dead tired man made the next one coming back. With his 74 there was now a three way tie at 287; Fazio, Mangrum and Hogan.  

In 72 holes, if one more putt had been holed by Fazio or one more missed by Hogan and Mangrum, Fazio would have won the US Open. In the last round, he had made a great 4-iron shot from the rough on the 16th hole to four feet, only to miss the putt. Fazio would have been a long-shot and a dark-horse, but no more than some others. Fazio had won once before, the 1946 Canadian Open.

In an 18-hole playoff on Sunday which began at 2 p.m. because of Pennsylvania’s “Blue Laws” (The law is still on the books in Pennsylvania, but not enforced). Hogan won with a 69 against a 73 by Mangrum and a 75 by Fazio. First prize was $4,000 and worth much more in endorsements.   

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