1934 US Open at Merion GC
After having hosted six USGA championships including Bobby Jones’ final victory in his 1930 Grand Slam, Merion Cricket Club was selected to host the 1934 United States Open. Merion Cricket Club was later renamed Merion Golf Club. Olin Dutra was the winner with a score of 293. The total purse was $5,000
1936 PGA Invitation at Woodcrest CC
The Philadelphia PGA hosted its second Invitation Golf Tournament in May 1936. The first one had been played in 1935 at Llanerch CC. The tournament had been the idea of Philadelphia PGA president Ed Dudley. Deal, NJ professional Vic Ghezzi won the three round tournament and the $500 first prize with a three round total of 214. Dudley and host professional Bruce Coltart tied for second.
1937 PGA Invitation at Whitemarsh Valley CC
The 3rd annual Philadelphia PGA Invitation tournament was held at the Whitemarsh Valley CC in June 1937. The Philadelphia Section had some assistance with the purse that year as the cosponsor was the True Temper company. At that time almost all of the best golf clubs were made with True Temper steel shafts. Except for True Temper’s tournament chairman every person on the committees for the tournament were Philadelphia PGA members. The tournament drew a strong field. Harry Cooper, who at that time was the best player to never win a major tournament, was the winner. The tournament also made history. For the first time in professional golf, Babe Zaharias and Helen Hicks, two female professionals were in the starting field.
1939 US Open at Philadelphia CC
The 1939 US Open hosted by the Philadelphia Country Club, will always be remembered as the one where Sam Snead made an eight on the par five 72nd hole, when a par would have given him the title. The host professional, Ed Dudley, who had been paired with Byron Nelson for the first two rounds, was paired with Snead. As Dudley and Snead were walking to the next tee, Dudley said he told Snead that he needed a par to win. Snead later said that he though he needed a birdie. Nelson won the tournament in a playoff that took two 18-hole rounds to determine the winner.
1940 PGA Championship at Hershey CC
The 1940 PGA Championship was hosted by the Hershey Country Club and its professional Henry Picard who was the defending champion. Due to rain one more day was needed, so the tournament ended on Labor Day. In the finals Byron Nelson finished birdie-birdie-par, to defeat Sam Snead, who was now the Shawnee Inn’s playing professional, one-down. Nelson might have birdied the last hole, but he only needed two putts from ten feet to win. The total purse came to $11,050. The posting of the program book is through the courtesy of the Hershey Community Archives, Hershey, PA.
To view the tournament program book click here.
1942 PGA Championship at Seaview CC
In May 1942, Sam Snead, playing out of the Shawnee Country Club, defeated Corporal Jim Turnesa 2&1 in the final of the PGA Championship at Seaview Country Club at Absecon, New Jersey. Turnesa was stationed at Ft. Dix, New Jersey and two days later Snead was in the United States Navy.
1945 Philadelphia Inquirer Invitation
The second annual Philadelphia Inquirer Invitation Golf Tournament was held at the Llanerch Country Club in June 1945. This was the year of Byron Nelson’s eleven straight victories on the PGA Tour. He arrived in Philadelphia with six straight wins. That week the Nelsons were staying with Jug McSpaden and his family. With 18 holes to play McSpaden was leading Nelson by one stroke. Two time PGA champion Leo Diegel, who was now the professional at Philmont Country Club, showed up on the 13th tee. He asked Nelson how he was doing. Nelson said he was doing alright at two under par. Diegel told him that McSpaden had just posted a 66, so he had better get going. Nelson then birdied five of the last six holes for a 63 to win by two strokes. On the eve of the tournament first prize had been reduced from $5,325 to $3.333.33 in War Bonds and the number of prize winners increased from 21 to 25. This was to comply with PGA Tour guidelines.
To view the tournament program book click here.
1946 Philadelphia Inquirer Invitation
Llanerch CC hosted the 3rd annual Philadelphia Inquirer Invitation in June 1946. Byron Nelson was the defending champion, but he was retired from tournament golf and home on his ranch in Texas. At the first Inquirer Invitation in 1944 first prize had been 38% of the purse. The night before the 1945 tournament, PGA president and former Philadelphia Section president Ed Dudley had sold the Inquirer committee on reducing the first prize to 30%, in order to pay more places. Now the first prize of $2,500 was 16% of the purse, rounded up. In later years the PGA settled in on 18% for first prize. The tournament ended in a tie between Herman Barron and Lew Worsham. The next day Barron won the 18-hole playoff and each player received 25% of the admissions with 1,500 in attendance.
1947 Reading Open at Berkshire CC
The first of five Reading Opens was played at the Berkshire Country Club in October 1947. There were 176 entries of which 149 were professionals. The field was cut to the low 100 after the first round and the low 60 after the second round. Ernest Joe “E.J.” “Dutch” Harrison, the professional at the Country Club of York, was the winner. A last round 68 gave him a seven under par 277, which was three strokes better that South Africa’s Bobby Locke. First prize from the $10,000 purse was $2,000. Harrison won two more times on the PGA Tour that year.
1948 Reading Open at Berkshire CC
The second of five Reading Opens was played again at the Berkshire Country Club in July 1948. The purse had been increased from $10,000 to $16,000 with $1,000 going to Philadelphia Section members who played well but missed the money. Ben Hogan, who was the professional just 50 miles away at the Hershey Country Club, was the winner. On the weekend he put together rounds of 66 and 64 to win by one stroke. Hogan’s 269 total was eight strokes better than Dutch Harrison’s winning score the year before. Harrison posted the same 277 again, but only tied for 13th. Jack Grout, the professional at the Country Club of Harrisburg, tied for 17th at 280. Two years later he would be teaching a young Jack Nicklaus at Sciota Country Club in Columbus, Ohio.
1949 Reading Open at Reading CC
In 1949, the third of five Reading Opens was played at the Reading Country Club. The defending champion, Ben Hogan, was absent due to his near fatal automobile accident early in the year. Cary Middlecoff and Sam Snead, who had set a new course record in the opening round with a seven under par 63, were tied for the lead after three rounds. Playing right in front of Snead, Middlecoff birdied the 72nd hole for a total of 266. After a great shot to the green, Snead had a four-foot putt to tie. With 3,500 spectators looking on, Snead missed his birdie putt, which made Middlecoff the winner. First prize was $2,600.
1950 Reading Open at Berkshire CC
The fourth annual Reading Open was back at the Berkshire CC where Ben Hogan had won in 1948. The golfers of Reading were welcoming Hogan, who was the professional at the nearby Hershey CC, back to competitive golf and hoping that he would be playing in their Reading Open again. This page in the program book featured some of his accomplishments. But, when the tournament kicked off Hogan was in California making a movie about his life, called Follow the Sun. Sam Snead won the tournament with a 72 hole total of 268, which was one stroke better than Hogan’s winning score in 1948.
1950 US Open at Merion GC
At the end of regulation play in the 1950 US Open at Merion GC, Philadelphia’s George Fazio was tied for the title with Ben Hogan and Lloyd Mangrum. A day later Hogan, who was making his famous comeback from a near fatal auto accident won the 18-hole playoff.
1951 Reading Open at Berkleigh CC
The last of five straight Reading Opens was held in September 1951. The defending champion, Sam Snead, was not there. Snead was in Hawaii playing exhibitions with Dutch Harrison. For the first time, the Berkleigh Country Club was the host club. Jim Turnesa led all the way. His four under par 280 won by three strokes over Jack Burke, Jr. Philadelphia’s Skee Riegel tied Jimmy Clark for third. The purse was $15,000 again, but first prize was lowered from $2,600 to $2,400. With the change in the money breakdown, 30 players won money, six more than the year before. Seven Philadelphia Section members finished in the money.
1953 Ryder Cup Team Challenge Matches
From the beginning in 1927, the Ryder Cup matches always lost money until the business side of television figured out that big money could be made from sports. In 1953 the Berks County (PA) Golf Association hosted a challenge match between the Ryder Cup team and a team of challengers to aid the team and the members of the team financially. A program book was published for that event.
1955 Daily News Charity Golf Tournament
This was the first of two PGA Tour tournaments sponsored by the Daily News newspaper at Cobbs Creek Golf Course. The course, owned by the city of Philadelphia, was an unusual layout for the PGA Tour, with a par of 68. The course, which had been altered some by the installation of a military site for World War II, measured 6,243 yards. George Fazio made some changes to the course for the tournament. There was only one par five and it measured 630 yards. Ted Kroll, a former assistant at Philmont Country Club, and Doug Ford tied for first at one over par 273. Kroll picked up the $4,000 first prize with a birdie three on the first hole of a sudden death playoff. The golf course is now being renovated to bring it back to its former glory.
1958 PGA Championship at Llanerch CC
Llanerch Country Club and its professional Marty Lyons hosted the PGA Championship in July 1958. It was the first PGA Championship contested at stroke play. It was only through the effort and influence of Lyons, who had been a PGA officer, that the tournament was at Llanerch. First he had to sell Llanerch on hosting the tournament, then he had to sell the PGA on Llanerch. After that he sold the PGA on changing the format to stroke play.
1962 PGA Championship at Aronimink GC
Aronimink Golf Club hosted the PGA Championship in July 1962. The winner was Gary Player. Player was not an instance success when he came to the United States in 1957, but with financial aid from George Fazio he was able to continue playing the PGA Tour. As a favor to Fazio, from 1957 to 1961, he registered out of the Flourtown Golf Club that Fazio was leasing. Fazio even had a small living quarters built in the Flourtown clubhouse for Player.
1971 US Open at Merion GC
The US Open was back at Merion GC for a third time in 1971. The golf course at 6,544 yards was considered antiquated by the world of golf, but when all the scores were in on Sunday evening Lee Trevino and Jack Nicklaus were tied for the title with even par 280s. The next day Trevino defeated Nicklaus in an 18-hole playoff.
1980 Atlantic City Senior Open
The 1980 Atlantic City Senior Championship, the inaugural tournament in the first year of the Senior PGA Tour, was held at Leo Fraser’s Atlantic City Country Club. Leo Fraser as president of the PGA of America in 1968 had formed a peaceful resolution between the PGA and the touring professionals, who were in the process of forming an independent players association. Now, by holding a senior tournament for professionals over 50, he was helping some of those same players get their new tour under way. Due to Fraser’s granddaughter being afflicted with diabetes, the proceeds from this program book were dedicated to the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation.
1981 US Open at Merion GC
In 1981 the US Open was hosted by Merion GC for a fourth time. Merchandising at major golf tournaments had become an opportunity for the host professional to realize some income during a week or more, without golf lessons or member play. Merion professional, Bill Kittleman, who studied architecture at Yale had created a new logo. The logo for the US Open, 1981 US Open Merion, was embroidered on shirts along with anything else that could be sold. With his golf shop dedicated to the rules officials, Kittleman set up tents for merchandising at several locations on the golf course. Some of his fellow PGA professionals and their families assisted with the merchandising that week. Many golfers say that Kittleman’s Merion logo is the best logo in golf.
2013 US Open at Merion GC
In 2013 Merion GC hosted the US Open for a fifth time. With Merion being outmoded by the modern golf ball, no one thought the US Open would be back, but with some creative changes the course had been lengthened to nearly 7,000 yards. It was still short by modern golf standards, but when it was all over Justin Rose was in the clubhouse holding the trophy with a 72 hole score of 281.