A Chronicle of the
Philadelphia Section PGA and its Members
by Peter C. Trenham
Before The PGA
1895 to 1915
1895 The professional at the Philadelphia Country Club, John Reid, played in the first U.S. Open
1896 3 pros from the Philadelphia area played at Shinnecock Hills in the second U.S. Open
1897 Philadelphia Cricket Club’s professional Willie Hoare finished fifth in the U.S. Open
1898 James Litster, the pro at the Philadelphia Cricket Club, finished 14th in the U.S. Open
1899 St. Davids’ Harry Gullane finished 7th in the U.S. Open and was 2nd in the driving contest
1900 Harry Vardon won the U.S. Open and 3 Philadelphia professionals were out of the money
1901 Overbrook’s James Litster and Wilmington’s James G. Campbell tied 3rd in Hollywood Open
1902 Introduction of the Haskell wound rubber-core ball made lower scoring at the U.S. Open
1903 Huntingdon Valley CC professional Jack Campbell won the first Philadelphia Open
1904 Springhaven Club’s Horace Rawlins, the first U.S. Open winner, finished 14th in U.S. Open
1905 Scotchman, James G. Campbell, defeated Englishman Donald Ball for the Phillly Open title
1906 The Philadelphia Cricket Club’s professional, Donald Ball, won the Philadelphia Open
1907 Alex Ross returned to capture the U.S. Open at the Philadelphia Cricket Club
1908 Jack Campbell won his 3rd Philly Open in 6 tries, Donald Ball finished 12th in the US Open
1909 Gil Nicholls won the Philly Open and Andy Campbell finished 7th in the U.S. Open
1910 Johnny McDermott lost a three-way playoff for the US Open at Philadelphia Cricket Club
1911 Johnny McDermott became the first American born winner of the U.S. Open at the age of 19
1912 Johnny McDermott won the US Open again, Gil Nicholls won his second Philadelphia Open
1913 Johnny McDermott won Shawnee Open by 8 strokes, Harry Vardon and Ted Ray in the field
1914 Gil Nicholls won a second North & South Open, J.J. McDermott resigned Atlantic City CC
1915 Gil Nicholls won the Shawnee Open and the Met Open
Before the PGA was founded on April 10th, 1916 there were professional golfers and professional golf tournaments in the United States and the region that would become the Philadelphia Section PGA in late 1921. Golf started in America in the late 1800s and most of the first professionals were from Scotland, England and Ireland where golf had been played for many years. At one time, by someone’s count, 300 golf professionals had immigrated to the United States from the little town of Carnoustie, Scotland alone, which had a population of 5,000.
In the early 1900’s there was an organization of professional golfers called the Eastern Professional Golfers’ Association. The first president of the organization was George Low, Sr. Alex Smith won their first championship, played at the Forest Hill Field Club, New Jersey in 1906. In July 1914 some of the same professionals met at the Shawnee Open at Shawnee-On-Delaware, Pennsylvania and formed an organization called the Professional Golfers’ Association of the East. They agreed that they would play their championship there each year. In late 1915 the organization was still in business though described as being moribund, with money in the treasury, but nearly inactive. One of the reasons for the organization’s lack of money may have been the cost of the monument they provided for Willie Anderson’s grave-site.
In December of 1915 a group of golf professionals from the Philadelphia region met to form the Philadelphia Professional Golfers’ Association. Several other large cities had formed similar organizations. They were soon preempted when the PGA of America was formed in April 1916 and the Philadelphia area pros were invited to be members of the Southeastern Section of the PGA of America.
There were many outstanding golf professionals in the region that would later become the Philadelphia Section. The star from the Philadelphia area during this period and later a long time member of the Philadelphia Section was Johnny McDermott. In 1911, at age 19, he became the first American born winner of the U.S. Open and in 1912 he repeated as the champion.
Most of the homebred Philadelphia professionals got their start as caddies. A large number of them grew up in East Falls and got their start at the Philadelphia Country Club. At one time during the mid-twenties a total of 48 professionals who had grown up in East Falls were holding head pro positions in the United States. The two most famous East Falls pros were Jack Burke, Sr. and Joe Roseman. Burke finished second in the 1920 U.S. Open. Roseman went to Des Moines, Iowa to work as Burke’s assistant. He wound up staying in the Midwest as a pro-green superintendent. Roseman designed more than 50 golf courses while inventing golf course mowers and manufacturing the mowers. There were Roseman mowers still in use after 1999. In 1921 Roseman became the first president of the Illinois PGA Section.
The British Open was played for a 35th time. It was held on the Old Course at St. Andrews, Scotland in the second week of June. The contestants played four rounds in two days. J.H. Taylor won the championship for the second straight year with rounds of 86, 78, 80 and 78. His 322 total won by four strokes. Sandy Herd was second at 326 and Andrew Kirkaldy was third at 332. George Pulford was fourth at 335. Prize money took a huge leap to a total of 85 pounds with first prize 30 pounds. 11 professionals won money.
Horace Rawlins, who would later be the professional at The Springhaven Club in 1904, won the first U.S. Open. The tournament was played at the Newport Golf Club in early October on a very windy cool day. He put together rounds 91 and 82 for a 173 total that edged out Willie Dunn (175) by two strokes. Dunn had won what would be forever considered an unofficial U.S. Open the year before. James Foulis (176) and A.W. Smith (176) tied for third one stroke behind Dunn. Rawlins won $150 and a gold medal that cost $50. Rawlins had recently arrived in America and was working at Newport as an assistant. It was the only time that someone from the host club won the U.S. Open. The total purse was $335. There were four other money prizes and eleven entries. The entry fee was $5. The only entry from the Philadelphia area among the eleven starters was John Reid the professional at the Philadelphia Country Club. Another entry was Willie Norton, who would later be the professional at the Shawnee Country Club & Buckwood Inn.
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The British Open was played at Muirfield in Gullane, Scotland during the second week of June. The championship ended in a tie between J.H. Taylor (77-78-81-80) and Harry Vardon (83-78-78-77).Their 316 totals bettered the field by three strokes. Willie Fernie and amateur Freddie Tait tied for third with 319s. The playoff, which was 36 holes, was not held until two days later because Taylor and Vardon were playing in a tournament at North Berwick the next day. Vardon (78-79) won the playoff with a 157 against Taylor’s 161 (80-81). Again first money was 30 pounds.
Horace Rawlins (155) almost succeeded in defending his crown at the U.S. Open, as he finished second at the Shinnecock Hills Golf Club on the third Saturday of July. James Foulis, who had been introduced to golf at St. Andrews, Scotland, won the title and $150 by three strokes with a 78 and a 74 for 152. He was the professional at the Chicago Golf Club and had only been in the states for two years. Joe Lloyd finished third at 157 two strokes in front of Andrew W. Smith and George Douglas who tied for fourth with 159s. Willie Hoare (171) the professional at the Philadelphia Cricket Club, finished 15th. John Reid (172) tied for 16th and William W. “Willie” Campbell (184) who was in Philadelphia laying out some of the first golf courses for the Merion Cricket Club and Huntingdon Valley Country Club, finished 25th. Five pros won money and the total purse was $335.
On the fourth Sunday of October the Philadelphia Country Club hosted what may have been the first tournament for golf professionals in the Philadelphia area. The field was composed of nine pros and eight were from well outside Philadelphia. John Reid, who had been the pro at the Philadelphia Country Club that year was not in the field and must have been off somewhere laying out a golf course for some new club. George Douglas, who was the professional at The Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts, posted an 80 and a 77. His 157 total was seven strokes better than Willie Tucker (164), Willie Hoare (164) and William Way (164) who tied for second. Strong winds made the scoring difficult. Tucker had designed the course for PCC the year before that. The only player with a current connection to Philadelphia was William W. “Willie” Campbell, who was back in Philadelphia laying out new golf courses. The prize money wasn’t reported.
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The Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, England hosted the British Open in the third week of May. Amateur Harold Hilton (80-75-84-75) won the championship for a second time. His 314 total won by one stroke. James Braid was second at 315. George Pulford and amateur Freddie Tait tied for third with 317 totals. As an amateur Hilton received 30 pounds in silver plate and the winner’s gold medal. With that the professionals’ money was reduced by 30 pounds.
In the U.S. Open in mid September at the Chicago Golf Club future Philadelphia Cricket Club professional, Willie Anderson finished second to Joseph Lloyd by one stroke. Teeing off on the last hole Lloyd led the 17-year-old Anderson by one stroke. Although the concept of par was not yet in use the last hole measuring 466 yards would surely have been a par five considering the equipment used at that time. Both players made threes on the hole, which created a finish that was as spectacular as any in major championship golf, before or after. Lloyd’s rounds were 83 and 79 for 162 against Anderson’s 79 and 84 (163). No one else was within four strokes of Anderson. Willie Dunn and James Foulis tied for third with 168s. Willie Hoare shot a 169 to finish fifth. He won the last money prize of $10. First prize was $150 with total prize money of $336. Thirty-four players completed the 36 holes. A driving contest was held before the tournament. John H. Harrison, who would be in Philadelphia managing the golf department at Gimbel Brother’s Department Store a year later, won with a drive of 233 yards. That was nine yards if front of Horace Rawlins who finished second.
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In March twelve more professionals from Scotland had followed James Foulis to Chicago and other clubs in the mid-west. In the third week of June Fred Herd, one of those new arrivals from St. Andrews and the brother of the great Sandy Herd won the U.S. Open by seven strokes at the Myopia Hunt Club near Boston. Herd’s rounds were 84, 85, 75 and 84 for 328. Alex Smith (335) finished second one stroke in front of Willie Anderson who came close again, finishing third alone at 336. Joe Lloyd was next in fourth place with a 339 total. The championship was contested over 72 holes for the first time. James Litster (355) the professional at the Philadelphia Cricket Club, finished tied for 14th. First prize was still $150. Another Philadelphia professional, John H. Harrison, who was now managing the golf department at the Gimbel Brothers’ Department Store in Philadelphia, withdrew after three rounds. First prize was $150 and the winner also received a gold medal worth $50. The total cash purse was $335. All competitors had clubhouse privileges for the week and there was no charge for lunch.
The British Open was played at the Prestwick Golf Club in Prestwick, Scotland during the second week of June. Harry Vardon (79-75-77-76) was the winner for a second time. His 307 score nipped Willie Park, Jr. (308) by one stroke. Amateur Harold Hilton was third at 309 and J.H. Taylor was fourth at 312. First money was still 30 pounds.
A professional golf tournament was played on July 19th and 20th at the Huntingdon Valley Country Club. The club provided a free lunch for the contestants. There were ten entries and the fee was $2. The course was in Rydal near a train station called Noble and had nine holes. The players played four nine-hole rounds each day to make it a 72-hole tournament. Philadelphia Country Club head professional Harry Gullane put together rounds of 79, 80, 80 and 80 for a winning score of 319. Willie Anderson (331) finished twelve strokes back in second place. Philadelphia Cricket Club professional James Litster and James G. Campbell the professional of the Belmont Cricket Club tied for third with 348s. Belmont became Aronimink GC. The purse totaled $150 and the winner received $100.
On the second Thursday of November the Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, New Jersey hosted a one-day golf tournament for professionals and amateurs. On what was described as one of that golf season’s worst days sixteen players teed off in the first round and twelve posted scores for the 36-hole event. The golfers had to endure a bone chilling rain that persisted all day. The competition ended in a two-way tie as Harry Gullane and the host professional, Willie Anderson, posted identical rounds of 87 and 81 for totals of 168. Their rounds of 81 tied the course record, which was held by Anderson. John Shippen finished third at 179. Willie Tucker and Mungo Park tied for fourth with 180 totals. There were four money prizes with $100 going to the winner and $30 for player in second place. Due to the weather and darkness closing in the two leaders agree to call it a draw and split the money. The next day Gullane boarded a ship for his home in Scotland, where he would spend the winter.
The British Open was hosted by the Royal St. George’s Golf Club in Sandwich, England in early June. Harry Vardon (76-76-81-77) defended his title, winning a third British Open. His 310 score won by five strokes. Jack White was second at 315 with Andra Kirkaldy third at 319 and J.H. Taylor fourth at 320. Top money was still 30 pounds.
On the fourth Saturday of June the Huntingdon Valley Country Club hosted a one-day 36-hole open tournament. The host professional William “Willie” Thomson carried the day by four strokes. Thomson played steady golf as he turned in a pair of 78s for a total of 156. Harry Gullane, who was now the professional at the St. Davids Golf Club, shot a 77 in the afternoon, which was the low round, to finish second at 160. Merion Cricket Club professional, Robert M. Thomson, was next with a 164. Ben Nicholls, who was the professional at the Philadelphia Country Club, finished fourth with a score of 165. There were 16 professionals and amateurs who turned in scores for the 36 holes.
The first Western Open was played in the second week of September at the Glen View Golf and Polo Club near Chicago. The one-day tournament ended in a tie with Willie Smith and Laurie Auchterlonie knotted at 156. Smith posted a pair of 78s and Auchterlonie’s rounds were 81 and 75. The next day Smith won an 18-hole playoff by ten strokes with a competitive course record of 74. Harry Turpie finished third with a 160 and Peter Walker was next at 165. First prize was $150 and a gold medal. The Western Golf Association, which sponsored the Western Open, was formed to offer more opportunities for competitive golf in the mid-western states.
The day before the U.S. Open began in mid September the USGA held a driving contest and Harry Gullane, who was now the professional at the St. Davids Golf Club, finished second with a drive of 264 yards-2 feet-9 inches. Willie Hoare won the contest with a drive of 269 yards-7 feet-6 inches. John Shippen, who was now the professional at the Aronimink Golf Club, had a drive of 259 yards, which allowed him to finish in third place. Shippen was the first American born golf professional and the first African-American professional. The driving contest took place on the Baltimore Country Club’s first tee which was on an elevation but the balls got only a short roll as the ground where the balls landed was flat and there had been a heavy rain a few days before. Those were big drives as the gutta-percha ball was still in use at the time.
In mid September future Huntingdon Valley Country Club professional George Low, Sr. (326) finished in a three-way tie for second in the U.S. Open. The Baltimore Country Club’s Roland course hosted the two-day tournament. Baltimore had been experiencing a prolonged drought and artificial watering had only encouraged crabgrass to grow on the greens. Ten days before the tournament a few showers appeared. The green keepers covered all 18 greens with cloth and managed to grow enough grass to make the greens playable. For the first time records were kept as to how many putts were taken by each competitor, but no one knew if the count was below the norm or not. The winner by eleven strokes was Willie Smith who had rounds of 77, 82, 79 and 77 for 315. Tying with Low were W.H. “Bert” Way (326) and Val Fitzjohn (326). Harry Gullane (331) finished seventh and won $50. Except for a 46 on the last nine Gullane might have finished second. First prize was $150 and the winner also received a gold medal worth $50. The total purse totaled $750 and the entry fee was $5. Ben Nicholls (343) was 17th and William “Willie” Thomson (349) finished 24th. John Shippen (350) tied for 25th. Shippen competed in five U.S. Opens between 1896 and 1913, finishing fifth in 1896. Robert M. Thomson and John Reid, now the professional at the Atlantic City Country Club also turned in 72-hole scores.
In late November it was announced that the price of golf balls was going up because of a shortage in gutta-percha. The best golf balls had been selling for $3.50 to $4 per dozen. The golfers could turn in their worn golf balls to the professional and have them remade for $1.50 per dozen. The remade balls were a little smaller and lighter and therefore not the best for tournament play.
In 1899 the golf professionals were paid $5 to $10 per week and they charged fifty cents to one dollar for golf lessons. They also made money by repairing and selling clubs.
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Golf in the United States was spreading fast. Only four years before there had been just over 80 golf courses in the United States and now there were 982. There was at least one in each of the 45 states.
In 1900 Harry Vardon was on an exhibition tour of the United States under the sponsorship of the Spalding Sporting Goods Company. The tour had been arranged by Alex Findlay and he was also managing the tour along with playing when needed. Findlay worked for Spalding and had been sent to England to sign up Vardon for the exhibition. Spalding had just come out with a new golf ball, the Vardon Flyer, which Vardon played with in the matches, along with Spalding clubs.
On the third Tuesday of February Vardon was paired up against Ben Nicholls, at Ormond, Florida. Nicholls was victories in the 36 hole match, five up and four to play. It was one of Vardon’s few losses during his tour of the United States, but he would lose again to Nicholls later in the year. One reason for the upset may have been that the golf course was in poor condition and quite substandard. Only a few days before Vardon had defeated Willie Smith, the U.S. Open title holder, two down at St. Augustine where the course was of much better condition.
On Saturday April 21 Vardon was in Philadelphia for a scheduled exhibition at the Philadelphia Country Club. Vardon had thought that he would be opposed by Ben Nicholls, who he had lost to in Florida, but Nicholls was now in Boston, working with his brother Gil in a business making golf clubs and selling golf equipment. Vardon’s fee, which was usually $250, was paid by the six member clubs of the Golf Association of Philadelphia. Each club paid a portion of the fee based on the number of members in the club. The Philadelphia Country Club’s course was selected for the match with the first round beginning at 11am and the second round commencing at 3pm. As was usual at most stops on the tour Vardon took on two of the better local players competing against their better-ball score for 36 holes. Vardon’s opponents that day were Harry Gullane, who was now the professional at the Philadelphia Cricket Club, and William “Willie” Thomson, professional at the Huntingdon Valley Country Club. Gullane out drove Vardon most of the time and performed quite well but his partner, who was usually very reliable had an off day. In spite of that the local professionals led by three holes when they went to lunch and were still two-up with four holes to play in the afternoon. Vardon finished like the champion that he was as he holed two sizable putts on the 16th and 17th greens to take a one-up lead, which he held to the finish.
The British Open was held at the Old Course in St. Andrews, Scotland during the first week of June. There was a cut for the first time. To make the cut one had to be within 19 strokes of the leader with the stipulation that at least 32 professionals would be playing the final 36 holes. J.H. Taylor won for a third time with rounds of 79, 77, 78 and 75 for a total of 309 that won by eight strokes. Harry Vardon, who was back on a break from a United States exhibition tour, was a distant second at 317. James Braid (322) was third and Jack White (323) was fourth. First prize was increased from 30 pounds to 50.
At the Chicago Golf Club in early October the great English professional Harry Vardon added to his record by winning the U.S. Open on his first visit to America. He finished two strokes ahead of his fellow countryman J.H. Taylor (315), who finished seven strokes ahead of the third place pro, David Bell (322). Laurie Auchterlonie (327) finished fourth. Vardon’s rounds were 79, 78, 76 and 80 for 313. There were 60 entries. First prize was $200 and the total purse was $800. George Low, Sr. (331) played well again finishing sixth. Harry Gullane (352), who had been the professional at the Philadelphia Cricket Club that year and was now in Pittsburgh laying out a course for the Pittsburgh Golf Club, finished 24th and the new Philadelphia Country Club head professional James L. Hutchison (358) finished 32nd. John Reid withdrew after the third round and William “Willie” Thomson withdrew after the second round. An American golf company was so sure that Vardon and Taylor would finish first and second it put up prize money for the professionals employed in the United States to compete for equal to what the USGA was paying out. This meant that an American pro could finish third and win more than Vardon did. The USGA wasn’t happy about this but the company had advertised this nationwide and a number of professionals had entered only because of the second purse. David Bell received two checks and the golf company also gave him a gold medal, similar to the one that Vardon won.
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The British Open was played at Muirfield in Gullane, Scotland during the first week of June. James Braid (309) won by three strokes with rounds of 79, 76, 74 and 80. Harry Vardon was second at 312. J.H. Taylor (313) was third and amateur Harold Hilton (320) fourth. The prize money stayed the same with the top check still 50 pounds.
In the middle of June Willie Anderson won his first of four U.S. Open championships at the Myopia Hunt Club, but it required an extra day to wrap it up. Anderson with rounds of 84-83-83-81 and Alex Smith with rounds of 82-82-87-80 had finished in a tie with 331s. In an 18-hole playoff the next day Anderson won with an 85 against Smith’s 86. Smith’s brother Willie (333) finished third and Stewart Gardner (334) came in fourth. The 72-hole score of 331 was the highest made by a winner of the tournament. There were no entries from the Philadelphia area. First prize was again $200 and the total prize money was still $800.
Cities were finding out that they could attract visitors by hosting golf tournaments. In early August Long Branch, New Jersey and Hollywood Country Club hosted the Hollywood Open. The first day Willie Smith (83-81–164) edged out Willie Anderson (81-84=165) by one stroke in a 36-hole individual stroke play tournament. Jack Park, Ben Nicholls, George Low, Sr., and Alex Campbell tied for third with 166s. The players were sent off in twos at three-minute intervals. First prize from the $475 purse was $150.
The second day’s format at the Hollywood Country Club was scotch foursomes. The favorites Willie Anderson and Willie Smith won by five strokes, with a (79-77) 156. Gil Nicholls and Alex Campbell were next with a 161. James Litster now the professional at the Overbrook Golf Club and James G. Campbell now at the Wilmington Country Club tied for third with the team of Ben Nicholls and Willie Norton at 163. Willie Smith picked up another $50 giving him $200 for the two days.
After not having a tournament in 1900, a second Western Open was played in the third week of August. The one-day tournament was held near Chicago at the Midlothian Club. Laurie Auchterlonie picked up the title with rounds of 79 and 81 for 160. The host pro David Bell finished second at 162. Harry Turpie was next at 167 and Fred Herd finished fourth with a 170. First prize was $125 and a gold medal.
In early September the USGA came out with amendments to its by-laws pertaining to the definition of an amateur golfer. The USGA listed thirteen descriptions of someone who would not be considered an amateur golfer. Item number four was anyone who lays out or takes charge of a golf course for hire. Number five was someone who carries clubs for hire after attaining the age of fifteen years. Number seven was anyone who was classified as a professional in any other sport. Number nine was anyone who plays the game or frequents golf courses for the purpose of exploiting business. The executive committee of the USGA would decide any cases not covered by the thirteen definitions.
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The British Open was held at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, England during the first week of June. Harry Vardon began the tournament by hitting his first two drives out of bounds and ended by three putting the 72nd green to lose by one stroke. The winner, Sandy Herd, posted rounds of 77, 76, 73 and 81 for a total of 307. Vardon and James Braid tied for second with 308 totals. Amateur Robert Maxwell was fourth at 309. First prize was still 50 pounds.
The Western Open moved east to Cleveland at the Euclid Golf Club. The tournament now two days was played in mid September. Willie Anderson won the tournament and he now held the title to the United States’ two major tournaments, the U.S. Open and the Western Open. Anderson became the first player in the United States to break 300 for 72-holes on a 6,000 yard golf course. His rounds were 80, 75, 69 and 75 for 299. Willie Smith and the host pro W.H. Way tied for second with 305s. Stewart Gardner finished fourth at 310. First prize was $150 and there were five money prizes.
Willie Anderson wasn’t able to successfully defend his U.S. Open title at the Garden City Golf Club. In the second week of October Laurie Auchterlonie put together rounds of 78, 78, 77 and 77 to become the new champion. Auchterlonie won $150 and a gold medal worth $50. Stewart Gardner and amateur Walter Travis tied for second at 313. Willie Smith finished fourth with a score of 316. Anderson and John Shippen tied for fifth with 318s. James G. Campbell (335), Philadelphia Country Club professional Walter Fovargue (341) and Robert M. Thomson (348) tied for 26th, 35th and 43rd respectively. John Reid now the professional at the Delaware County Field Club, Bill Robinson, who had replaced Reid as the professional at the Atlantic City Country Club and St. Davids Golf Club professional James Govan withdrew after the second round. The introduction of the Haskell rubber-core golf ball was responsible for lower scoring. The ball had been invented in 1898 but it took a while to catch on as the better players felt that this livelier ball would cause them to lose their touch around the greens. The entry fee was $5 and there were 93 entries. Ten professionals won money and the total money had been increased to $870.
The British Open was at the Prestwick Golf Club in Prestwick, Scotland during the second week of June. With rounds of 73, 77, 72 and 78 Harry Vardon won the championship for a fourth time, His 300 total won by six strokes over his brother Tom Vardon (306). Jack White (308) and Sandy Herd (309) finished third and fourth. First money was still 50 pounds.
Willie Anderson won his second U.S. Open at the Baltusrol Golf Club in late June by defeating David Brown in a playoff. Brown had won the British Open in 1886. Anderson, who had been the pro at Baltusrol, and Brown had tied with 307s. Anderson’s rounds were 73, 76, 76, 82 and Brown’s were 79, 77, 75 and 76. In the last round Anderson lost a comfortable lead when he made an eight on the par three 9th hole. The next day Anderson won a playoff with an 82 against Brown’s 84. Stewart Gardner (315) finished third, eight strokes out of the playoff, and one stroke in front of Alex Smith (316). Donald Ross (318) finished fifth and his brother Alex Ross (323), who was the professional at the Wilmington Country Club, tied for ninth and finished in the money as there were ten places paid. John Reid (332), who was now the professional at the Belfield Golf Club, tied for 24th, James G. Campbell (333), now the professional at the Mt. Airy Country Club tied for 26th, Robert M. Thomson (338) finished 35th and Aronimink Golf Club professional Walter Reynolds (346) finished 42nd. Walter Fovargue and Riverton Country Club professional William N. Thompson withdrew after the third round. Bill Robinson withdrew after the second round and James Litster withdrew after the first round. First money was $200 and prize money totaled $875.
The fourth Western Open was held at the Milwaukee Country Club in mid July. Alex Smith earned his first of what would be many major titles as he went wire to wire with rounds of 78, 76, 81 and 83 for 318 and a two-stroke win. Laurie Auchterlonie and David Brown tied for second at 320. Harry Turpie finished fourth with a 321. The last round was played in a driving rainstorm causing 20 of the 56 entries to withdraw.
John Reid and Walter Fovargue met in a challenge match on neutral ground at the Philadelphia Cricket Club. It was the Belfield Golf Club versus the Philadelphia Country Club. The stakes were $200 with winner take-all and the contest was 36-holes of match play on one day. The match wasn’t close as Reid who possessed the less enviable tournament record, won by 8-up. $200 was big money as the winner of the U.S. Open received $150 that year and first prize in the Philadelphia Open was $90.
The first open championship of the Golf Association of Philadelphia was held in late October at the Philadelphia Cricket Club’s St. Martins Course. The tournament became known as the Philadelphia Open. Jack Campbell, the professional at the Huntingdon Valley Country Club won that first championship. Earlier in the year Campbell had finished sixth in the U.S. Open while working for his brother Alec at The Country Club in Massachusetts. Campbell defeated Alex Ross (323) by two strokes with rounds of 85, 83, 76 and 77 for a 72-hole score of 321. The course measured 5,821 yards. Ross would go on to win the 1907 U.S. Open on that same course. James G. Campbell, James Litster, and Robert M. Thomson also finished in the money. They respectively posted scores of 324, 326 and 327 as they finished 3rd, 4th and 5th. First prize from the purse that totaled $200 was $90. All the money winners were born outside the United States and learned the game in Great Britain. Jack Campbell and James G. Campbell were not related.
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The British Open was held at Royal St. George’s Golf Club in Sandwich, England during the second week of June. For the first time the tournament was three days, with a 36-hole finish as usual. Jack White (296) won by one stroke with rounds of 80, 75, 72 and 69. James Braid and J.H. Taylor tied for second with 297 totals. Tom Vardon was fourth at 301. First money was still 50 pounds.
Willie Anderson won the Western Open for a second time on the first of July. The host club was the Kent Country Club in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Anderson led at the end of the first day by three strokes with rounds of 78 and 76. The next morning Anderson tacked on a 77 to keep the lead by one stroke over Alex Smith. In the afternoon Anderson played the last nine holes in 35 strokes, which enabled him to set a new course record of 73. That brought him home four strokes in front of Smith (308), with a 304 total. Laurie Auchterlonie finished third at 315 and Stewart Gardner was next with a 319. First prize was $150 and five pros won money from the purse of $400.
A professional invitational tournament was held at the Mt. Airy Country Club on the first Saturday of July. Four pros were invited. The host professional, James G. Campbell, took the top money with rounds of 78 and 82. His 160 total edged out John Reid (79-82—161) by one stroke. William N. Thompson (166) finished third and James Litster (173) was fourth.
Willie Anderson won the U.S. Open for a third time and the second in succession during the second week of July. The tournament was hosted by the Glen View Golf Club near Chicago. It was played on a Friday and Saturday with 36 holes each day. Stewart Gardner led at the end of day one at 151. Everyone more than 15 strokes behind the leader was cut. On Saturday Anderson shot a final round 72 to win. The 72 was the low round of the tournament. Anderson’s rounds of 75, 78, 78 and 72 for a total of 303 won by five strokes. Future Section member Gil Nicholls finished second at 308 and Fred Mackenzie was third at 309. Nicholls brother Ben, who was also a future Section member, tied for fourth with the host professional Laurie Auchterlonie with 324 totals. Horace Rawlins, winner of the first U.S. Open in 1895, finished 14th at 322. Rawlins, was now the professional at The Springhaven Club. Huntingdon Valley Country Club’s professional Jack Campbell tied for 20th at 329. First prize was $200. Ten players won money. The prize money totaled $844.
In mid September the second Philadelphia Open, which was played at the Philadelphia Country Club’s Bala Course, was changed to match play. Jack Campbell won again as he defeated another Wilmington Country Club professional, Thomas B. Clark, in the 36 hole final by 6 & 5. In the morning 18 of the 36-hole final Campbell set a course record shooting a 72. Campbell defeated amateur Dr. Simon Carr in the semifinals 6&5 and Clark put out Jack Hagen, the professional at the Philadelphia Country Club, one-down. In the second round Campbell had defeated the former U.S. Open champion Horace Rawlins in a match that went four extra holes.
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The British Open was played at the Old Course at St. Andrews, Scotland in the second week of June. Strong winds made for high scores. James Braid won with rounds of 81, 78, 78 and 81 for a total of 318 that was five strokes better than the rest of the field. J.H. Taylor and Roland Jones tied for second with 323 totals. James Kinnell was fourth at 324. First money was still 50 pounds.
The Western Open was played at the Cincinnati Golf Club in the third week of July. The golf course was hilly but short and the scoring was low. Fifty pros and amateurs were entered. Arthur Smith put together rounds of 69, 69, 66 and 74 for a 278 total, which brought him in two strokes in front of James Maiden (280). Robert Simpson was next at 290 and Laurie Auchterlonie finished fourth with a 294. There were five money prizes and Smith took home $150 and a golf medal. Smith played the new pneumatic golf ball, which had a core of air compressed at 800 pounds. Arthur Smith was not related to the brothers Alex, Willie and Macdonald.
In mid September Alex Smith defeated Willie Anderson in a playoff to win the first Metropolitan Open. The Fox Hills Club on Staten Island, New York hosted the tournament. Smith and Anderson had finished the tournament tied at 300 and in the playoff Smith turned in a 74 against Anderson’s 76. Smith’s tournament rounds were 73, 74, 74 and 79. Jack Hobens and Marty O’Loughlin tied for third with 303 totals. First prize was $150 along with a gold medal and Anderson won $100.
Willie Anderson won his fourth U.S. Open at the Myopia Hunt Club in Massachusetts in the third week of September. Anderson finished two strokes in front of Alex Smith at 314 with rounds of 81, 80, 76 and 77. Peter Robertson and Percy Barrett tied for third with 317s. Again all players who were more than 15 strokes behind the tenth place score were cut. The only Philadelphia professional to make the cut was Jack Campbell (340) who tied for 37th. Bill Robinson missed the cut. First prize was $200 with total prize money of $870.
The next week in September the Philadelphia Open was played at the Huntingdon Valley Country Club. The format was match play again and the final match was a contest of English and Scottish schools of golf. James G. Campbell from North Berwick, Scotland defeated Philadelphia Cricket Club professional, Donald Ball a native of England and a cousin of the great English amateur John Ball, 3 & 2. In the semifinals Ball eliminated Merion Cricket Club’s professional James R. Thomson 5&4 and Campbell defeated Richard Clarkson, professional at The Springhaven Club on the 19th hole. Campbell won $102.50, which was fifty percent of the total purse. The entry fee was $5 and the Golf Association of Philadelphia added $100. Jack Campbell, winner of the first two Philadelphia Opens in 1903 and 1904 lost in the first round to William N. Thompson 2&1. Campbell was now the professional at the Langhorne Country Club.
On the second Monday of November more than 30 golf professionals met in New York to form an organization. They called it the Eastern Professional Golfers’ Association. Temporary officers were elected. George Low was elected president and Donald Ross was the vice president. Stuart Gardner was treasurer and Charles Kirchner was secretary. Low was authorized to appoint a committee of seven to draw up a constitution and by-laws. They were to report back to a meeting in December. The initiation fee was set at $5, but all who joined by January 1 would be considered charter members with the waiver of the initiation fee. The hope was to ultimately unite with the Western Professional Golf association to form a national organization.
On the second Monday of December the Eastern Professional Golfers’ Association met in Albany, New York to incorporate. The corporation would operate in the middle and eastern states. Ten directors were elected including George Low, Donald Ross and Donald Ball, who was the professional at the Philadelphia Cricket Club a few months later.
The Eastern Professional Golfers’ Association held a meeting at the Astor House in New York on Monday May 7th to select an advisory board. President George Low presided over the meeting. Jack Hobens and Horace Rawlins were appointed to a committee to nominate permanent officers. The organization had $450 in a bank account. Pennsylvania professionals Donald Ball and Eugene McCarthy, the professional at the Highland Country Club, were in attendance. Other professionals at the meeting were Alex Findlay and Willie Norton.
On Monday June 4th the Eastern Professional Golfers’ Association met at the Astor House in New York. The temporary officers were made permanent. The president was George Low, Sr. An advisory board of six amateurs was selected. One of those was Samuel Y. Heebner of Philadelphia.
The British Open was at Muirfield in Gullane, Scotland in the middle of June. After two rounds the field was cut to all who were more than 14 strokes off the lead. 72 players made the cut. James Braid (300) won by four strokes with rounds of 77, 76, 74 and 73. J.H. Taylor (304), Harry Vardon (305) and amateur John Graham, Jr. (306); second, third and fourth. First money was still 50 pounds.
Alex Smith won the Western Open for a second time in the third week of June. The tournament was played at the Homewood Country Club near Chicago. With the U.S. Open being played in Chicago one week later there was a strong field entered. Smith’s rounds were 82, 75, 75 and 74 for 306. Jack Hobens (309) finished second three shots off the winning pace. Willie Anderson and Fred McLeod tied for third with 311s. The fifth and last check went to Gil Nicholls at 313. First prize was $150 and a gold medal.
The U.S. Open was held at the Onwentsia Club near Chicago in late June. Alex Smith won by seven strokes with rounds of 73, 74, 73 and 75 for 295. His brother Willie (302) finished second three strokes in front of James Maiden (305) and Laurie Auchterlonie (305). Willie Anderson (307) finished fifth and Alex Ross (310), now working in Massachusetts, finished sixth. Donald Ball made the cut and withdrew after the third round. First prize was $300 and the total was $900.
George Low, Sr. won the Met Open at the Hollywood Golf Club in New Jersey in the second week of August. Low finished two strokes ahead of Isaac Mackie (296) with rounds of 71, 74, 75 and 74 for a 294 total. Jock Hutchison finished third at 297 and Dave Hunter was next with a score of 301.
Mt. Airy Country Club hosted the Philadelphia Open in mid September. Donald Ball, the runner-up from the previous year, won by defeating two-time winner Jack Campbell, who was now the professional at the Overbrook Golf Club, two-down in the 36-hole final. Ball won $90 and Campbell won $45. In the semifinals Ball beat James G. Campbell one-down and Jack Campbell defeated Bill Robinson 2&1. The losers in the semifinals each won $22.50.
In late October the Eastern Professional Golfers’ Association played their first championship at the Forest Hill Field Club in New Jersey. The club added $300 to the purse bringing it to $450. There were almost 50 entries of which 43 posted scores for the 36-holes. Alex Smith, the U.S. Open champion and Western Open titleholder won with two 73s for a 146 total. Smith took home $125 and a gold medal. Alex Campbell finished second at 149. David Hunter and George Thomson tied for third with 152s.
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The British Open was held in the third week of June at the Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, England. For the first time qualifying was held instead of having a cut after 36 holes. Half of the 193 entries played 36 holes one day for 30 places in the starting field and the other half played for 30 places the next day. The tournament was two days, 36 holes each day. There were strong winds each day. For the first time a non-Britain won. France’s Arnaud Massy put together rounds of 76, 81, 78 and 77 for a 312 total. J.H. Taylor finished two strokes back in second place at 314. Tom Vardon and George Pulford tied for third with 317 totals. First money was still 50 pounds.
In the third week of June a former Philadelphia area professional returned to capture the U.S. Open at the Philadelphia Cricket Club’s St. Martins Course. Alex Ross, professional at the Wilmington Country Club in 1903 won by two strokes over Gil Nicholls (304) who would later hold the professional position at Wilmington Country Club. The American Cricketer reported that the course was in really poor condition. The greens were rough and bumpy, making the putting results an uncertainty. Also there was long grass around the cups, which caused putts to hang instead of dropping. Ross’s rounds were 76, 74, 76 and 76 for 302 against a par of 73. Nicholls had the low round of the tournament, a 72 on the morning of the second day. Alex Campbell, the brother of Jack, finished third at 305 and a future Section member, Jack Hobens, ended up in fourth place with a 309. The weather was hot and humid and with 72 holes to play in two days many of the players wilted in the final round. With the help of a hole-in-one in on the 10th hole of the second round, the U.S. Open’s first, Hobens led with one round to play. Nicholls was in second place, one shot off the lead and one ahead of Ross. In the final round Ross continued to play steady golf as Nicholls slipped to a 79 and Hobens took 85 strokes. First prize was $300 and a gold medal with total prize money of $865. Alex Ross’s brother Donald (312), the famous golf course architect, finished 10th winning the last place money of $20. Jack Campbell (319) was the low Philadelphia area pro as he finished 19th and James G. Campbell (322) tied for 22nd. Bill Robinson (324) tied for 26th and William Ogilvie (325), Philadelphia Country Club professional tied for 30th. James R. Thomson (327), Aronimink Golf Club professional Bill Byrne (335) and Delaware County Field Club professional Jack Burke, Sr. (344) made the cut and completed the 72 holes. James Govan, who was back as the professional at the St. Davids Golf Club, Thomas B. Clark and Philadelphia Country Club assistant Joe Roseman missed the cut. Alex Smith, the defending champion, didn’t defend his title as he was playing in the British Open. There were 87 entries and after the second day the field was cut to the low 60 and ties for the final 36 holes. The course measured 6,002 yards. The total purse was $900. The host professional was Donald Ball, who made the cut with a 162. His play on the second day was not mentioned in any of the newspapers.
One week later in June the Western Open was played at the Hinsdale Golf Club. The winner was Robert Simpson with rounds of 84, 76, 73 and 74 for a 307. Willie Anderson and Fred McLeod tied for second at 309. Alexander Baxter and amateur Warren K. Wood tied for fourth at 313. First prize was $150 and Simpson picked up another $50 for having the low round of the tournament. Simpson and McLeod had both turned in 73s during the tournament, with McLeod’s coming in the second round. At the end of regulation play a nine-hole playoff was held between Simpson and McLeod for the $50.
In mid September the Philadelphia area pros and amateurs were back at the Philadelphia Cricket Club’s St. Martins Course for the Philadelphia Open. James G. Campbell won his second Philly Open as he defeated Bill Robinson two-down in the 36-hole final. Campbell won $95, which was 50 percent of the $190 purse. In the semifinals Robinson defeated Jack Burke, Sr. 3&2 and Campbell put out amateur Dr. Simon Carr one-down. Each of the losers in the semifinals won $47.50. Carr received his $47.50 in a gold medal. There were 18 entries, the weather was ideal and the golf course was in perfect condition.
In late October the Eastern Professional Golfers’ Association held their second annual championship at The Country Club near Boston. Again the host club added money to the purse. $100 of the purse and a gold medal stayed at the club as the host professional Alex Campbell, an older brother of Philadelphia’s Jack Campbell, won the title by seven strokes with rounds of 73 and 71 for a 144. Campbell also won another $50 for the low round. The total purse came to $420. Alex Smith and George Low, Sr. tied for second with 151s. Gil Nicholls finished fourth at 154. Willie Norton who would later be the professional at the Shawnee Country Club & Buckwood Inn was now the president of the EPGA.
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Willie Anderson won the Western Open in the third week of June at the Normandie Golf Club in St. Louis. Anderson earned his third Western Open title with scores of 76 and 74 the first day and 75-74 the second day. His 299 score nipped Fred McLeod (300) by one stroke for the $200 first prize and a gold medal. Only three strokes separated the top six players. Gil Nicholls and Alex Campbell tied for third with 301s. There were five money prizes.
The British Open was held at the Prestwick Golf Club in Prestwick, Scotland during the third week of June. Qualifying was held on site over two days with the entries playing 18 holes each day. One group played in the morning and then the afternoon the next day. The other group did the opposite. The low 30 and ties from each group qualified. The scoring was low from beginning to end. James Braid opened with a 70 the morning of the first day and followed it up with a 72 in the afternoon. The next day he slipped to a 77 and then shot a 72 in the afternoon. His 291 won by eight strokes. Tom Ball was second at 299. Ted Ray (301 and Sandy Herd (302) finished third and fourth. First prize was still 50 pounds.
Fred McLeod won the U.S. Open in a playoff over Willie Smith in late August. McLeod and Smith had tied with 322 totals and McLeod won the playoff with a 77 against Smith’s 83. McLeod’s rounds were 82, 82, 81, 77 and Smith’s were 77, 82, 85, and 78. Willie Smith’s brother Alex finished third at 327 and Willie Anderson was fourth with 330. First prize was $300 and a gold medal. Prize money totaled $846. The tournament was held at the Myopia Hunt Club, near Boston. Donald Ball (340) finished twelfth, Jack Campbell (349) finished 26th and Bill Robinson (359) tied for 44th. The golfers were greeted with gale force winds the first day. Smith with a 159 was the only player to score under 160 that day. All players who were not within 15 strokes of the 10th place player after two rounds were cut. Thirty-six hole scores of 182 and under made the cut. Missing the cut were The Springhaven Club’s professional Andrew Campbell, James R. Thomson, Bill Byrne, now the professional at the Delaware County Field Club and William C. Skelly, the professional at the Wilmington Country Club. Byrne and Jack Burke, Sr. had swapped jobs that year.
Twenty golfers paid a $5 entry fee to enter the sixth annual Philadelphia Open at The Springhaven Club in the second week of September. Jack Campbell won his third Philly Open in just six tries. Campbell defeated James G. Campbell, now the professional at the Whitemarsh Valley Country Club one down in the 36-hole final. Jack Campbell was six down after 16 holes in the morning round but he came back in the afternoon with a course record 73 that was seven under bogie. In the semifinals Jack Campbell defeated Donald Ball 3&2 and James G. Campbell beat Bill Robinson 4&2. Jack Campbell celebrated the victory by buying dinner for his fellow professionals that evening. The winner received $100 and the runner-up won $75. Four players won money and the total prize money came to $250.
In the fourth week of September Jack Hobens won the Met Open at the Baltusrol Golf Club. Hobens started with an 84 but he followed that up with a 74 in the afternoon and the next day he kept improving. He shot a 76 in the morning and came back with a 71 in the afternoon. His 305 total edged out Alex Campbell, who also turned in a last round 71, by one stroke. Gil Nicholls, Jock Hutchison and Isaac Mackie tied for third with 309s. First prize was $150 and a gold medal. This was the third Met Open, as the tournament wasn’t held in 1907.
Fox Hills Country Club on Staten Island, New York hosted the Eastern Professional Golfers’ Association championship in mid October. The host professional, Jack Mackie, won by three strokes with a (71-76) for a total of 147. Jock Hutchison the professional from St. Andrews Country Club, New York took second place with a 150. Jack Hobens, Englewood Country Club finished in a four-way tie for third at 151 with Herbert Strong, William Dow and Tom McNamara, a pro golf salesman who worked for Wanamakers. First prize was $100 from a purse of $350, which was divided into ten money prizes.
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The sixth annual North and South Open was held on the Pinehurst Country Club’s #2 Course in Pinehurst, North Carolina on the first Saturday of April. Fred McLeod won the one-day tournament with rounds of 77 and 71. His four over par 148 won the tournament and the $100 first prize by four strokes. McLeod also was presented with a gold medal. Gil Nicholls, who had just arrived in the Philadelphia area as the professional at the Wilmington Country Club, finished second at 152. The brothers Alex (155) and Donald (159) Ross finished third and fourth.
In mid May the Eastern Professional Golfers’ Association held their fourth annual championship at the Scarsdale Golf Club in New York. Wykagyl Country Club professional Alex Smith won the championship for the second time with two rounds of 73 and 74 for a 147 total. There were more than 20 professionals in the field. Gil Nicholls (152) finished second five strokes off the winning pace. H.H. Barker and Isaac Mackie tied for third with 154s. Smith received $125 along with a gold medal and Nicholls won $80. The association now had 93 members.
The British Open was played at the Royal Cinque Ports Golf Club in Deal, England during the second week of June. There were 204 entries with qualifying the two days before the tournament. The format was the same as the previous year except 30 professionals from each group would qualify. Playing steady golf , J.H. Taylor (295) won by six strokes with rounds of 74, 73, 74 and 74. James Braid and Tom Ball tied for second with 301 totals. Charles Johns was fourth at 302. Again top prize was 50 pounds.
Nine professionals from the Philadelphia region completed the 72 holes at the U.S. Open in late June. It was held at the Englewood Golf Club in New Jersey and won by George Sargent, a future president of the PGA of America. English born, Sargent set a tournament record by putting together four rounds of 75, 72, 72 and 71 for 290. First prize was $300. Prize money totaled $900. Tom McNamara finished second at 294 one stroke ahead of Alex Smith (295). Willie Anderson, Isaac Mackie and Jack Hobens, the host professional, tied for fourth at 299. Andrew Campbell, now the head professional at The Springhaven Club, finished in a five-way tie for seventh at 300 and picked up a check for $40. At the end of the first day’s 36-holes Andrew Campbell was in second place. A pair of 77s the next day left him ten strokes out of the winners circle. Gil Nicholls (306) finished 17th and Jack Campbell (309) was 22nd. Andrew Campbell and Jack Campbell were brothers. Aronimink Golf Club professional, Jack Burke, Sr. (313), tied for 30th and James R. Thomson (314) tied for 33rd. Merchantville Country Club professional Johnny McDermott, Bill Robinson and Bill Byrne also made the cut and played 72 holes. Sam White, the assistant at the Philmont Country Club and Fred N. Newnham, the professional at the Williamsport Country Club, missed the cut.
The Philadelphia Open, back at stroke play, was played at the Philadelphia Country Club’s Bala Course in early September. Gil Nicholls bested 23 other entries with a 36-hole score of 74 and 72 for a 146 total that took away the $100 first prize. Nicholls, twice a runner-up in the U.S. Open, finished two strokes ahead of James R. Thomson (148) and Jock Hutchison (148) now the professional at the Pittsburgh Country Club. Jack Burke, Sr. won last money by finishing fourth with a score of 154.The fourth annual Met Open was held at the Wykagyl Country Club in mid September. The course was described as being in deplorable condition. When asked what the course needed, Jack Campbell’s brother Alex said, “It ought to be visited by an earthquake”. In spite of that Alex Smith shot a 75 and a 74 the first day to lead by five strokes. He wasn’t quite as good the second day but a 78 and a 79 kept him in front of the field. His total of 306 bettered Gil Nicholls (308) by two strokes. First prize was $150 and a gold medal. Nicholls won $100. Orin Terry finished third at 309 one stroke ahead of James Maiden (310). There were eight money prizes along with cash for the low score in each round and for each day. Smith won all three the first day.
The Western Open was played at the same time as the Met Open and Jack Jolly was the only professional there from east of Ohio. Played at the Skokie Country Club near Chicago, Willie Anderson retained his title by a nine-stroke margin with a score of 288. His rounds were 73, 71, 72 and 72, which was an unparalleled score for that time on a course that was 6,125 yards long. It was Anderson’s fourth win in the Western Open, considered a major at the time, to go with his four U.S. Open titles. Stewart Gardner (297) finished second, Jack Croke (300) third and Fred McLeod (302) fourth. Anderson won $200 and a gold medal.
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Willie Anderson, the four-time U.S. Open champion, arrived in Philadelphia as the new professional at the Philadelphia Cricket Club. He wanted to be the pro there because the U.S. Open was being held in June at the Cricket Club and he wanted to know as much as possible about the course. Johnny McDermott applied for the job but they hired Anderson, the big name in golf. The club was paid $750 by the USGA to host the championship.
The North and South Open was held at the Pinehurst Country Club in Pinehurst, North Carolina on the fourth Monday of March. It was played on Pinehurst’s #2 Course. Former United States Open winner and Wilmington Country Club professional Alex Ross put together two great rounds of 73 and 68 to win the $100 top prize. His three under par 141 was three shots better than Gil Nicholls (144). Fred McLeod was third with a 148 total and Willie Anderson was fourth at 149.
When the U.S. Open was played at the Philadelphia Cricket Club in mid-June Alex Smith defeated his brother, Macdonald Smith, and Johnny McDermott in an 18-hole playoff for the $300 first prize. The three pros had tied with 298s. Their round-by-round scores were Alex Smith 73, 73, 79, 73; McDermott 74, 74, 75, 75 and Macdonald Smith 74, 78, 75, 71. The course measured 5,956 yards. The tournament was played on Friday and Saturday with 36 holes being completed each day. Due to the “blue laws” there was no tournament play on Sunday so the playoff was held on Monday. Alex Smith won with a 71 against a 75 for McDermott and a 77 for Macdonald Smith. Fred McLeod finished fourth at 299, just one stroke out of the playoff. Eleven local professionals made the cut as Gil Nicholls tied for fifth at 300. McDermott won $150 and Nicholls won $75. Willie Anderson (303) tied for 11th one stroke out of the money and Merion Cricket Club’s head professional Tom Bonnar (307) tied for 14th. James R. Thomson (310), now the head professional at the Philadelphia Country Club tied for 18th with Jack Campbell who was now working in northern New Jersey. Bill Robinson (317) and Jack Burke, Sr. (319) finished 26th and 27th. Robinson caddied for the winner, Alex Smith, in Monday’s playoff round. Sam White, Belfield Golf Club assistant George Griffin, Sr., James G. Campbell and William Hackney, who was unattached, also played all 72 holes. William N. Thompson made the cut and withdrew. Missing the cut were Bill Byrne, now the professional at the Overbrook Golf Club and James J. Dougherty, who was unattached. Anderson was also the green keeper at the Cricket Club and during the tournament he had the greens and fairways rolled each day. There were 73 entries. Prize money totaled $900.
The British Open was held at the Old Course in St. Andrews, Scotland during the fourth week of June. There was no qualifying as the 210 entries played the first two days paired in twos. A thunderstorm canceled play the first day so the tournament was extended one day. There was a cut after 36 holes with the top 60 and ties playing 36 holes the third day. James Braid won with rounds of 76, 73, 74 and 76. His total of 299 won by four strokes. Sandy Herd was second at 303. George Duncan (304) and Laurie Ayton (306) finished third and fourth. The top prize was still 50 pounds Prize money had been increased to 138 pounds with 11 professionals winning money.
The fifth annual Eastern Professional Golfers’ Association Championship was played in late July at the Garden City Golf Club on Long Island. James Maiden of the Nassau Country Club won defeating Tom Anderson, Jr., the brother of Willie Anderson and Innwood Country Club professional, 5 & 4 in the finals. Alex Smith did not defend his title because he disagreed with the format. In the semifinals Maiden beat Jack Hobens 3&1 and Anderson eliminated David Hunter in 19 holes. Hobens was now the president of the association.
Back at the Philadelphia Cricket Club in mid August, Johnny McDermott won the Philadelphia Open with a par score of 146. His rounds were 74 and 72. One stroke back in second place was the host professional, Willie Anderson with a 147. The defending champion Gil Nicholls finished third with a 152 and Jack Burke, Sr. came in fourth with a score of 157. It was thought that the mid-summer date worked against the success of the tournament as only ten pros and two amateurs entered. The entry fee was $5 and the Golf Association of Philadelphia added $100 to the entry fees to make the purse. The winner received fifty percent of the purse. The breakdown for next three places was 25%, 15% and 10%. There were only twelve entries so first prize must have been $80 from a purse of $160. The small number of entries was attributed to the August date, which was a time when some professionals who would have entered were in New England playing exhibitions.
Two weeks later in the fourth week of August Johnny McDermott finished second in the Met Open at the Deal Golf and Country Club. McDermott began with a course record 71 but he putted poorly after that. His second round was an 82. On the second day McDermott posted a pair of 75s. Once again Alex Smith edged him out for a major title, this time by two strokes with a 301 total. Smith finished the first day with 153 (76-77) strokes and the second day his rounds were 73 and 75. Smith won $150 along with a gold medal and McDermott (303) received $100 plus $10 for the low score in round one. Next in third place was H.H. Barker with a score of 306. Gil Nicholls finished fourth at 310, winning $50 and James R. Thomson also finished in the money as he tied for sixth and picked up a check for $25. The entry fee was $5 and the purse totaled $475.
In the beginning of September, five days after the Met Open ended, the Western Open was held in Chicago. The Beverly Country Club hosted the tournament. Willie Anderson who was the defending champion didn’t defend his title as he had just played in the Met Open. The tournament format was changed to match play. Amateur Chick Evans won the qualifying medal with a 71 and went on to take the title, becoming the first American born amateur to win a major open championship. The runner-up was George Simpson who lost by 6 & 5 in the 36-hole final.
Willie Anderson died in late October at the age of 31 and is buried near the Philadelphia Cricket Club at the Ivy Hill Cemetery in Chestnut Hill. The Philadelphia Cricket Club members arranged a subscription to create a monetary fund for Anderson’s widow and baby. The Eastern Professional Golfers’ Association provided a large monument for the grave site, which mentioned his four U.S. Open victories. He was elected to membership in the PGA Hall of Fame in 1941.
The second decade of golf in the United States came to an end and it was very much a rich-man’s game. There were only 24 public courses in the country. The only way a poor boy could learn the game was as a caddy and most of the better players were former caddies or immigrants from the British Isles.
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On an extremely windy day in late March Gil Nicholls won the North and South Open at Pinehurst. He won by seven strokes with two outstanding rounds of 68 and 73 for 141. Along with a check he received a gold medal for his victory. Donald Ross finished second with a 148 and his brother Alex Ross finished third at 151 in the one-day tournament. Boston’s Tom McNamara (153) finished fourth.
In the fourth week of June at the Chicago Golf Club Johnny McDermott became the first American born winner of the U.S. Open and the youngest at the age of 19. He was now the professional at the Atlantic City Country Club. After tying for first with rounds of 81, 72, 75 and 79 for a total of 307 he defeated Mike Brady and George Simpson in an 18-hole playoff. Because of the “Blue Laws” the USGA did not hold events on Sundays, so the playoff was not held until Monday (two days later). A representative from the St. Mungo Manufacturing Company, maker of the Colonel golf ball, offered the three players a playoff bonus. If the winner was playing a Colonel golf ball he would receive $300, which was equal to the first place prize. McDermott, who had been using a Rawlings Black Circle golf ball decided to use the Colonel Green X Cross ball. On the first hole of the playoff McDermott hit his first two shots from the tee out-of-bounds. He then made a birdie four with his third tee shot. The penalty for out-of-bounds shots at that time was just stroke and distance, so McDermott was able to escape with a bogey six. He also made a bogey on the third hole but was able to steady his game after that. The golf played by all three professionals that day was not stellar. When McDermott made a birdie four on the 18th hole for a score of 80 he was the United States Open champion and $600 to the better. Brady finished second with an 82 and Simpson shot an 86. For the second straight year Fred McLeod was fourth and one stroke out of the playoff with a 308 total. Gil Nicholls (309) and Jock Hutchison (309) tied for fifth and each won $65. Willie Hutchison (327), the brother of Jock and the new professional at Huntingdon Valley Country Club, tied for 36th. Total prize money came to $900.
The British Open was held at the Royal St. George’s Golf Club in Sandwich, England at the end of June. There were 226 entries and no qualifying. With too many players for one day of play it was decided to play the first two rounds over three days. The field was divided into three groups with group A playing Monday and Tuesday, group B on Monday and Wednesday and group C on Tuesday and Wednesday. Upon seeing that new holes had been cut on the second day some of the players filed a complaint stating that the course was easier on Tuesday. The tournament committee replied that it had been decided that it was better for all, to have freshly cut holes for each round. After everyone had completed two rounds there was a cut to the low 60 and ties. The tournament ended in a tie between Harry Vardon (74-74-75-80=303) and Arnaud Massy (75-78-74-76-303). Sandy Herd and amateur Harold Hilton tied for third at 304. In a playoff scheduled for 36 holes Massy, who was behind by 10 strokes (79-69), conceded to Vardon (74-64) during the play of the 35th hole. It was Vardon’s fifth British Open victory. First prize was still 50 pounds.
The week after the U.S. Open the Western Open was back in Grand Rapids, Michigan at the Kent Country Club. For a second straight year the tournament format was match play. James Simpson led the qualifying with a 152 and his brother Robert won the tournament defeating Tom McNamara in the finals by a margin of 2 & 1. Former Philadelphia Country Club head professional Walter Fovargue finished second in the qualifying with a 153. First prize was $200 and a gold medal.
The Met Open was played at the Englewood Country Club, New Jersey in the second week of July. Gil Nicholls brought back another major title to the Philadelphia district. He carved out an eight stroke margin over the host pro Jack Hobens. Nicholls and Johnny McDermott held the lead at the end of the first day with 144s. The second day Nicholls posted a 71 in the morning round and a final round of 66 to go with his earlier rounds of 70 and 74. That brought him home with a 281 total, which was considered a new world’s record for 72 holes in a tournament. James R. Thomson, Tom McNamara and Mike Brady tied for third at 293. McDermott tied for sixth with a 295. First prize was $150. Eight players won money and the total purse was $535.
The Eastern Professional Golfers’ Association championship was held in early August at the Rumson Country Club in New Jersey. The Rumson Country Club added $350 to the purse. The tournament was open to all pros from Pittsburgh to the East Coast and from Wilmington, Delaware to Maine. Alex Smith won the title for the third time. His two rounds of 77 and 74 for a 151 total earned him a check for $125 and a gold medal. James R. Thomson (153) and Gil Nicholls (153) tied for second two strokes back and split $150. Jack Dowling was next with a 154. Also there was a prize for the low senior at this tournament.
Two days later in August at the Whitemarsh Valley Country Club Johnny McDermott won his second consecutive Philadelphia Open with a pair of 75s. McDermott’s eight over par 150 total won by four strokes over George Sparling (154) of Brooklawn, Connecticut. For the first time the tournament was open to all comers. The tournament was open to any professional or amateur who was affiliated with a club that was a member of the United States Golf Association. In spite of this there were only 24 entries. The purse was increased in an attempt to attract the best pros. Gil Nicholls finished third with a 155, one stroke in front of James R. Thomson (156) and Andrew Campbell (156) who tied for fourth and split the last money, which was $30. Boston’s Mike Brady (157) finished sixth. McDermott won $150, $1 for each stroke he took. The purse totaled $300.
A committee headed up by A. W. Tillinghast, Howard W. Perrin, and George Crump decided to honor their homegrown U.S. Open champion, Johnny McDermott. They asked their golf buddies to each contribute $1. Over $300 was collected. A golf watch with golf chain and his expenses to travel to the British Open the next year were paid for with this money.
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Gil Nicholls won the Florida Open at Palm Beach on the second Friday of March with a one-day 36-hole score of 63 and 70 for a 133 total. His 63 was aided by a hole-in-one on the 10th hole. Fred McLeod and Tom McNamara tied for second at 136 two strokes in front of Tom Anderson, Jr. (138), who finished fourth.
On the fourth Thursday of June the Pennsylvania State Golf Association held the first Pennsylvania Open at the Oakmont Country Club in Pittsburgh. Tom Anderson, Jr. now the professional at Oakmont won the one-day event by eight strokes with rounds of 76 and 75 for a 36-hole total of 151. Westmoreland Country Club professional Norman Clark finished second at 159, one stroke in front of Allegheny Country Club’s Jock Hutchison (160). Fred Brand finished fourth at 161. First prize was $100, second $50, third $30 and fourth $20.
The British Open was played at Muirfield in Gullane, Scotland during the fourth week of June. Due to the number of entries qualifying was held over three days with the low 20 and ties advancing to the two-day tournament. With rounds of 71, 73, 76 and 75 Ted Ray won leading from wire to wire. His total of 295 won by four strokes over Harry Vardon (299). James Braid (303) and George Duncan (305) finished third and fourth. First prize was still 50 pounds and nine professionals won money.
The Met Open was played at the Apawamis Club in the second week of July. A homebred, Tom McNamara, won the tournament for the first time. For the two days McNamara put together rounds of 75, 74, 73 and 71 for a 293. McNamara won $150 and a gold medal as he finished four strokes in front of Gil Nicholls (297). Herbert Strong was next at 298 and the fourth money went to George Sargent at 300. James R. Thomson finished with a 298 but after his score was posted for the fourth round he noticed that he had signed for a three that his marker had put down for a hole where he had made a four giving him a 73 for 297. The committee had to disqualify Thomson but they gave him a check for $62.50, which he would have won if he had tied with Strong. In 1922 Thomson became the professional at Apawamis.
Gil Nicholls won his second Philadelphia Open in mid July. The tournament, played at the Huntingdon Valley Country Club in Noble attracted 28 entries. Nicholls carded a 72 in the morning round and a 77 in the afternoon and Johnny McDermott put together opposite rounds as he went around in 77 and 72 for his 149. When McDermott reached the 18th tee in the afternoon round he was informed that he needed a three to tie Nicholls. McDermott’s second shot was off line bouncing off the edge of the green into thick grass near a bunker. McDermott pulled off a brilliant recovery as he holed out from there to tie Nicholls. A playoff was needed to determine a winner but due to the upcoming Shawnee Open and U.S. Open it was 25 days before it could be played. The playoff was held on the second Saturday of August, McDermott was just back from Buffalo where he defended his US Open title. Even though it was a rainy day several hundred spectators followed the match. Nicholls won with a one under par 71 against McDermott’s 75. Nicholls and McDermott were all even after ten holes but Nicholls picked up five strokes on his opponent over the next five holes. Jack Campbell (152) now back in the Section as the professional at the Old York Road Country Club and James R. Thomson (154) grabbed the third and fourth place checks. Charlie Hoffner, a 16-year-old assistant from the Bala Golf Club, finished fifth and just missed the money with a 157. First prize was $145 and second was $72.50. Four players won prize money, which totaled $290.
In the early 1900s the professional golf tour had not been organized but there were professional tournaments. One of those, the Shawnee Open at Shawnee-on-Delaware, Pennsylvania, began in 1912 and except for a break for World War I and the Depression it lasted until 1937 when the twentieth one was played. The Shawnee Country Club & Buckwood Inn owned by Charles C. Worthington, who had made a fortune in pumps, had opened in 1906. In 1909 Worthington brought in A.W. Tillinghast, a good amateur golfer, to help redesign the golf course. This was the first golf course design work done by Tillinghast. The course completely redesigned by Tillinghast opened for play in 1911. Mr. Worthington also developed some of the first motor driven mowers for fairways and greens. Later on the Worthington Company built the first riding golf carts. Because of the hospitality of the Worthington family, who also owned the Buckwood Inn, the tournament always drew the best professional players. The biggest names in golf such as Fred McLeod, Johnny McDermott, Gil Nicholls, Walter Hagen, Jim Barnes, Eddie Loos, Willie Ogg, Willie Macfarlane, Johnny Farrell, Harry Cooper and Ed Dudley won there. Some of the other big names that played there were Gene Sarazen, Joe Kirkwood, Sr., Tommy Armour, Bobby Cruickshank, Leo Diegel, Joe Turnesa, Bill Mehlhorn, and the British players Harry Vardon, Ted Ray, George Duncan and Abe Mitchell.
Three days after the Philadelphia Open ended the first Shawnee Open was played at the Shawnee Country Club & Buckwood Inn. This was the first large open tournament sponsored by private capital. The Worthington family who owned Shawnee put up a purse of $500 and some of the best golfers in the United States entered, including two time U.S. Open champion Alex Smith, current U.S. Open champion Johnny McDermott, former U.S. Amateur champion Jerry Travers, Jock Hutchison, and Fred McLeod. McLeod won the two-day 72-hole tournament and the $200 first prize with a poor opening round of 85, which he followed up with three straight 76s for a score of 313. Gil Nicholls, rated as the longest driver in the country, finished second with a 315 total. The top eight professionals made money which included three other Philadelphia area pros. Wyoming Valley Country Club professional James Milligan finished third at 316 and the Morris County Golf Club professional, David Ogilvie, finished fourth at 318. James R. Thomson was seventh with a 323 score. Whitemarsh Valley Country Club professional Jack Park (324) finished one stroke higher and tied for eighth. Park was part of a famous golf family. His father Willie Park, Sr. won the first British Open in 1860 plus three more. His brother Willie Park, Jr. won two British Opens and his uncle Mungo Park won a British Open. All three were also very successful as golf course architects. The host professional was Alex Cunningham.
Thirteen Philadelphia area professionals were entered in the U.S. Open in early August at the Country Club of Buffalo. Due to Johnny McDermott’s victory in Chicago the previous year the homebreds felt like they had a chance. It brought out 131 entries, which was 42 more than the record entry at Baltusrol in 1903 and 79 more than the year before. McDermott successfully defended his title. He finished two strokes ahead of Tom McNamara (296) with rounds of 74, 75, 74 and 71 for 294. McDermott had trailed Mike Brady by three strokes entering the last round, but his 71 not only got him well in front of Brady but held off McNamara who finished with a 69. McDermott’s two under par 294 made him the first player to break par for 72 holes in the U.S. Open. Par came into official usage in 1911 as the USGA recognized it as perfect play allowing two putts on each green. Brady and Alex Smith tied for third at 299. First prize was still $300. Eleven professionals won money from the total purse of $940. Jack Campbell finished at 313 and tied for 23rd. James R. Thomson (320), Tom Bonnar (321), Merchantville Country Club professional James J. Dougherty (325) and Lehigh Country Club’s Thomas Edwards (329) also made the cut and turned in 72-hole totals. Gil Nicholls made the cut and withdrew after the third round. James Milligan, Bill Byrne, Andrew Campbell and Jack Park made the cut and withdrew. John Reid, who was now the professional at the Country Club of Scranton and William C. Skelly, the professional at the Williamsport Country Club, missed the cut.
The Western Open was held near Chicago at the Idlewild Country Club in late August. Macdonald Smith took the title and the $300 first prize with an eleven over par 299. His rounds on the 6,495-yard course were 75, 74, 77 and 73. It was the fourth victory in the Western Open for the Smith family. His brother Alex had won the tournament twice and another brother Willie had won the tournament once. There was a strong field of 100 entries due to the U.S. Open having been played in Chicago the week before. Alec Robertson finished second at 303 one stroke ahead of Johnny McDermott (304) who won $100 for a third place finish. McDermott posted a 70 in the third round, which was the low round of the tournament. Walter Fovargue and Tom McNamara tied for fourth with 305s. There were five money prizes.
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In the third week of June American born golf professionals were entered in the British Open for the first time. Johnny McDermott, Tom McNamara and Mike Brady were there. The tournament was held at the Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, England. Qualifying was again held over three days with the low 20 and ties qualifying each day. McDermott and McNamara qualified. McDermott (315) tied for fifth. Gale force winds caused high scores the second day. McDermott’s morning 77 tied for low for that round, but an afternoon 83 kept him from a much better showing. J.H. Taylor (73-75-77-79=304) won by eight strokes. Ted Ray was second at 312. Harry Vardon and Michael Moran tied for third at 313. First prize was still 50 pounds and prize money totaled 117.6 pounds. McDermott was the first American-born professional to win money in the British Open. He picked up a check for 7.10 pounds
The first international golf professional team match was played at Versailles, France at the end of June. Johnny McDermott was a member of the team of four American professionals. The team members were McDermott, Mike Brady and Tom McNamara who were homebreds and Alex Smith, was from Scotland. They thought they played well but the French played better and the Americans didn’t win a single point.
James R. Thomson won the second Pennsylvania Open in early July at the Philadelphia Cricket Club. A 74 and a 73 gave Thomson a one over par 147, which edged out the 1908 U.S. Open champion Fred McLeod (149) from the Columbia Country Club in Washington D.C. by two strokes. Western Pennsylvania professional Charles Rowe finished third with a 151. Gil Nicholls finished fourth at 152 and won last money. Jock Hutchison (153) was next and Ben Nicholls (156), Gils’s brother and the professional at the Whitemarsh Valley Country Club, finished sixth. The total purse was $265. Thomson’s victory earned him a check for $113.55.
One week later in July the Philadelphia Open was held at the Merion Cricket Club’s new course, which would soon be named the East Course. Johnny McDermott, who had just returned home by steamship from his trip to the British Open, won the tournament for a third time. Known as the Philly Open it was now two-days and 72-holes. McDermott was followed by a large and enthusiastic gallery. His four rounds of 73, 78, 79 and 75 for a 25 over par total of 305 won out over a field of 27 professionals. Jack Mackie of Staten Island, New York finished second (308), three strokes off the winning pace. Jock Hutchison was next at 310 and Fred McLeod ended up in the fourth position with a 317. George Sargent finished fifth at 322 and Ben Nicholls was next in sixth place at 323. The entry fee was $5 and $150 was added to the total of the entry fees to make up the purse. The winner received one-half of the purse with the next three pros receiving 25, 15 and 10 percent of the purse respectively. First prize came to $142.50.
In mid August Alex Smith picked up another major title as he won the Met Open for a fourth time. For the two days Smith had rounds of 75, 71, 70 and 75 for 291, which nipped Tom McNamara (292) by one stroke. Johnny McDermott was next with a 294. Jack Hobens and George Sargent tied for fourth with 296s. The tournament was played at the Salisbury Links on Long Island. There was a record entry of 58 pros and amateurs. The tournament paid eight places and there was money for the lowest score in each round and for the daily 36-hole scores. The entry fee was $5. The host professional and designer of the golf course was Jack Hagen, who had been the professional at the Philadelphia Country Club from 1903 to 1905.
On the third Friday of August Harry Vardon and Ted Ray arrived in New York for a month long exhibition tour of the United States leading up to the U.S. Open. As their ship was entering the harbor they received a cable from their tour agent announcing that he had booked a 36-hole exhibition for them at the Whitemarsh Valley Country Club in Philadelphia the next day. After clearing customs and meeting with reporters they took a train from New York to Philadelphia. They reached their hotel at 12:00 a.m., where more reporters greeted them. The next morning at Whitemarsh Valley Vardon and Ray met their opponents for the match, the head professional at Whitemarsh Valley Ben Nicholls and his brother Gil. They already knew each other as the Nicholls brothers had grown up in Scotland. When Vardon had toured America in 1900 he had lost only two head to head matches and both of those had been to Ben Nicholls. There was a gallery of 1,200 that grew as the day went on. In spite of still having their sea legs Vardon and Ray were five-up at the end of 18 holes and after lunch they held on ending the match on the 16th hole by a margin of 3 & 2.
In late August, the Shawnee Open drew an outstanding field as some of the greatest players in Europe, such as Harry Vardon and Ted Ray, were here for the U.S. Open. On the second and final day of the 72-hole event Johnny McDermott came from 5 strokes behind to win by eight. After a first day 76 and 73 McDermott trailed Alex Smith by five strokes, but he finished with rounds of 70 and 74 for a total of 293, to capture the $200 first prize. McDermott also picked up $10 for the 70 he shot. There was a gold medal for McDermott and medals for second and third place. Alex Smith (301) finished second as Mike Brady and Tom Anderson, Jr. tied for third with 305s. Vardon finished fifth at 306. Ben Nicholls and Gil Nicholls tied for 19th at 323. The host professional was Arthur Goss.
In the third week of September the U.S. Open was played at The Country Club near Boston. The number of entries had risen to 165 and qualifying was held for the first time. There were no exempt players, not even the defending champion Johnny McDermott, as half the field played 36-holes on day one for 32 spots in the championship. The next day the other half of the field played for another 32 places. There were no playoffs for the last places in the qualifying and all ties were in. James R. Thomson made it through the qualifying on the first day with a pair of 84s. On the second day McDermott qualified with 81-80 for 161 and Gil Nicholls made it through with 85-81 for 166 but the next day Nicholls didn’t start in the tournament. McDermott wasn’t able to hold on to his title but he made a creditable showing, finishing eighth. He shot 308 and finished four strokes out of a tie for first place, winning $50. Some the pros said that McDermott’s failure to score better there was because of the golf course being soft. His mashie shots were as accurate as usual but due to the cut he put on the shots the ball gathered mud when it landed on the green. Because a ball on the green could not be cleaned at that time McDermott was quite often putting a muddy ball. Thomson (328) tied for 41st. For the third consecutive year an American born won the U.S. Open. After finishing in a three-way tie amateur Francis Ouimet took the title by defeating Harry Vardon and Ted Ray in an 18-hole playoff. Ouimet’s rounds were 77, 74, 74 and 79 for 304. Ouimet won the playoff with a 72 against a 77 for Vardon and a 78 for Ray. There was a four-way tie for fourth at 307 among Jim Barnes, Walter Hagen, Macdonald Smith and Louis Tellier. First prize was again $300. Prize money totaled $902.
Johnny McDermott got back on the winning track in mid October at the Western Open. His one-under-par 295 at the Memphis Country Club was seven strokes better than his nearest competitor Mike Brady who finished at 302. McDermott’s rounds were 74, 72, 74 and 75. The final round was plagued by rain but McDermott reached the last green before the worst of it arrived. The defending champion Macdonald Smith finished third (305), three strokes farther back. Otto Hackbarth ended up fourth at 307. At that time the Western Open was next to the U.S. Open and the British Open in importance. It was the first time the Western Open had been won by a homebred professional. First prize was $300 and a gold medal.
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The golf professionals stopped off in Pinehurst in late March for the 12th annual North and South Open. Each year during the tournament the pros were guests of the Pinehurst Country Club and the Carolina Hotel. They were charged $1 for their room, which included breakfast and dinner. Gil Nicholls grabbed the title for a second time as he put together a 73 and a 72 for 145 in the one-day 36-hole tournament. He won $100 and a gold medal. Johnny McDermott finished second with 147, winning $50. Alex Ross (149) who was now in Massachusetts tied for third with Buffalo’s Bob MacDonald (149). Nicholls, McDermott, and MacDonald divided $25 for turning in 72s, the low rounds of the day.
The British Open was held at the Prestwick Golf Club in Prestwick, Scotland during the third week of June. Qualifying was over two days at Troon Golf Club’s Old Course and its number 2 municipal course. Johnny McDermott had crossed the Atlantic to play in the tournament, but due to some misunderstanding he missed his starting time for the qualifying event by a full day and was disqualified. He was offered a chance to play but turned it down. 100 players qualified. The tournament was played over two days. The course measured 6,122 yards. Harry Vardon won The Open for the sixth and last time. Due to World War I there were no more British Opens for five years and by then Vardon was in his 50s. Vardon put together rounds of 73, 77, 78 and 78 for a total of 306 to finish three strokes in front of J.H. Taylor (309). Harry Simpson finished third at 310. Abe Mitchell and Tom Williamson tied for fourth with 311 totals. First prize was still 50 pounds.
Johnny McDermott headed home on 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 the SS Emperator the next day.
The Shawnee Open, played in mid July, was now considered almost as important as the U.S. Open. Isaac Mackie, brother of Jack Mackie, and also from Staten Island, took home the title and the $200 first prize by two strokes over Jack Mitchell (307), of Upper Montclair, New Jersey. Mackie’s rounds were 73, 76, 77 and 79 for a 305 total. Whitemarsh Valley Country Club professional Jim Barnes finished three strokes back in third place with a 308. Tom Anderson, Jr. (312) ended up in fourth place with Mike Brady (313) in fifth place and Alex Smith (314) was sixth. Walter Hagen and Herbert Strong tied for seventh at 315. Charlie Hoffner, now the assistant to Johnny McDermott at the Atlantic City Country Club, finished tenth at 318. The host professional and green superintendent that year was Robert White, who went on to become the first president of the PGA of America in 1916.
In an attempt to revive the Eastern Professional Golfers’ Association a meeting was held at the Buckwood Inn the evening of the first day of the Shawnee Open. A letter written by Shawnee’s owner Charles C. Worthington was read to the assembled golf professionals. The thought was expressed in the letter that the pros should form a professional association. An organization called the Professional Golfers’ Association of the East was formed and they voted to hold their championship at Shawnee each year. That year they considered the Shawnee Open their championship as well and awarded money and medals to the top two pros that were members of their organization. As it happened the top two finishers in the Shawnee Open, Isaac Mackie and Jack Mitchell, were also members of the new association. They received the extra money in addition to their Shawnee Open winnings. Also Mackie received a gold medal and Mitchell received a silver medal.
Johnny McDermott was home from Scotland but did not defend his titles at the Shawnee or Western Opens. Also he did not play in the Met Open.
The Pennsylvania Open was played at the Oakmont Country Club at the same time as the Shawnee Open. Because of this there were no professional entries from eastern Pennsylvania. The host professional Macdonald Smith won the title with a 72 and a 75 for 147, beating Jock Hutchison (154) by seven strokes. Fred Brand finished third at 157 and Charles Rowe was next with a 161. The morning round was played in driving rain with pools of water on the greens.
A different Smith, Macdonald, won the Met Open in early August at the Scarsdale Golf & Country Club. His brother Alex had won four Met Opens. Smith put together a 69 and a 68 for 137 on the first day and came back with 68 and a 73 for 278. It was a new record but not just for the Met Open, as the best 72-hole score before that was a 279 by Harry Vardon at the 1911 German Open. Willie Macfarlane finished a distant second at 287 one stroke in front of Jock Hutchison (288). Jack Hobens finished fourth at 293. The winner received $150 and a gold medal and the total purse was $535.
The U.S. Open was at Midlothian Country Club near Chicago in the third week of August. Qualifying was held at the site on the two days before the tournament. Half the field qualified the first day for 32 places in the starting field and the other half played the next day for 32 more places. Jim Barnes led the first day of qualifying with (74-72) a 146. Also qualifying that day were James R. Thomson with (76-79) 155 and Andrew Campbell with (78-79) 157. The next day Charlie Hoffner qualified with 81-72 for 153 and Johnny McDermott made it safely with a 77 and a 78 for 155. Walter Hagen won the Open with rounds of 68, 74, 75 and 73 for a score of 290 that nipped amateur Chick Evans by one stroke. Fred McLeod and George Sargent tied for third with 297s. McDermott (290) finished ten strokes back and tied for ninth. Barnes and Hoffner ended up at 302 and finished in a seven-way tie for 13th. Campbell (318) and Thomson (325) also completed the 72 holes. Hagen won $300, McDermott picked up $45 and Hoffner won $2.85. The total purse was $900 and thirteen places were paid. The USGA paid the Midlothian CC $250 to help offset the expense of hosting the U.S. Open.
Four days after the U.S. Open the tournament players teed off in the Western Open at the Interlachen Country Club in Minneapolis. The defending champion, Johnny McDermott, was not entered. Jim Barnes added another major title to his resume with a one-stroke victory over William Kidd of St. Louis. His two-day 72-hole 293 total that featured rounds of 73, 75, 73 and 72 was three under par. William Kidd finished second at 294 two strokes in front of George Sargent (296) and Tom McNamara (296). Jack Burke, Sr. (302) now working in Thunder Bay, Ontario tied for fifth. First prize was $300 and a gold medal Prize money totaled $725.
Jim Barnes finished in a three-way tie for second at the Spring Lake Open in New Jersey. It was played at the Spring Lake Country Club in the second week of September. Barnes (304) tied with Tom McNamara (304) and Elmer Loving (304), three strokes off the winning pace of Fred McLeod. McLeod’s rounds were 76, 75, 78 and 72 for 301.The tournament was the beginning of what would become a tour for professional golfers. The final day drew a gallery of 1,000 including the Governor of New Jersey.
Tom McNamara won the Philadelphia Open in mid September. His 302 total on the par 71 Whitemarsh Valley Country Club course won the $160 first prize by seven strokes. McNamara’s rounds were 77, 76, 74 and 75. Isaac Mackie finished second (309), one stroke ahead of Walter Hagen (310). Louis Tellier, a French professional working at the Canoe Brook Country Club in north Jersey, finished fourth at 311. First prize was $160, the tournament paid six places and the total purse was $400. Johnny McDermott and Jim Barnes led the Golf Association of Philadelphia professionals tying for seventh with 72-hole 314 totals.
In October Johnny McDermott collapsed in the golf shop at the Atlantic City Country Club pro shop, where he was the professional. He had a mental breakdown. His parents came and took him home to West Philadelphia.
In early December Johnny McDermott resigned as the professional at the Atlantic City Country Club. He sent word to have his golf clubs and other items shipped to him. The New York Times reported that he had been in poor health for several months.
1915 presented a dilemma for the pros that competed regularly. Beginning in early June there were eight straight weeks of big money tournaments in the East including the U.S. Open that had been moved from August to June. The tournaments were scheduled like that to attract the best foreign and home professionals. Some of the sponsors doubled and tripled their purses but still saw their fields depleted because the pros could not be away from their clubs all of June and July.
There was war in Europe, so no British Open.
On the evening of the second Friday of January thirty Philadelphia golf professionals met at the St. Davids Golf Club for an informal dinner. Henry Govan, who had been the club maker at St. Davids for his brother James and was now the pro at the Bon Air Country Club, presided over the meeting. Bill Byrne was the host as he was now the professional at St. Davids. He and James R. Thomson were the scheduled speakers. Most of the pros shops were open for the winter months. Jim Barnes, Andy Campbell and Huntingdon Valley Country Club professional Dave Cuthbert were teaching in department stores in Philadelphia. Cuthbert had installed a nine-hole putting and chipping course at the Gimbel’s store. There was no effort made to form a trade organization but they discussed plans for future meetings along with a common scale of pricing for clubs and repairs.
In the second week in June Gil Nicholls won the Shawnee Open the week before the U.S. Open. He was still walking with a limp from a near fatal head-on automobile collision the year before. Nicholls began with a first round 74 and in the afternoon he broke the course record by two strokes, shooting a 68. His 142 score led by five strokes. The next day he tacked on rounds of 74 and 79 for a two-day total of 295 that defeated the second place finisher Walter Hagen (299) by four strokes. This score earned him $250 plus $25 for his second round, which was the lowest 18-hole score in the tournament. Seaview Country Club professional Wilfrid Reid finished third with a score of 302 and Mike Brady was fourth at 304. Jim Barnes finished eighth and won the last money with a score of 308. The host professional Albert Elphick and eighteen-year-old Charlie Hoffner tied for fourteenth with 318s.
The next week in June Philadelphia pros led the qualifying for the U.S. Open at the Baltusrol Golf Club. Everyone had to qualify except the defending champion Walter Hagen. The first day half of the field played for 32 places and James R. Thomson put together a 76 and a 75 to tie for low with Francis Ouimet at 151. Clarence Hackney was next with 77-75 for 152. Also qualifying that day as well were; Wilfrid Reid (79-75) 154, Charlie Hoffner (76-80) 156 and George Sayers (78-83) 161. The second day the other half also qualified for 32 places and Gil Nicholls led the qualifying by two strokes with 72-75 for 147 and Jim Barnes was second with (76-73) 149. Emmett French also passed the test with 76 and a 78 for 154. An amateur, Jerry Travers, won the Open with rounds of 76, 72, 73 and 76 for 297. Tom McNamara (298) took the $300 first prize as he finished second missing a playoff by one stroke. Bob MacDonald was in third place with a 300. Four professionals from the Philadelphia area finished among the top ten. Barnes (301) finished tied for fourth with Louis Tellier (301), four strokes off the winning score of 297, and picked up a check for $90. Country Club of York professional French, Reid and Nicholls finished in an eight-way tie for 10th at 306. They each won $6.25. Hoffner now the head professional at the Woodbury Country Club tied for 24th with a 312 total. Merion Cricket Club’s professional Sayers (314) finished 28th and Thomson (318) tied for 37th. Hackney, the new professional at the Atlantic City Country Club, withdrew after the first round. The field was not cut after 36-holes. The pros were allowed to dine in the men’s grillroom during the tournament. Total prize money was $900.
In early July the Met Open was at the Fox Hills Country Club Country Club on Staten Island. Johnny McDermott, trying to make a comeback, was entered. At the conclusion of the first day McDermott was in third place with a 146 only one stroke out of a tie for first. At the end of the two days Gil Nicholls and Bob MacDonald were tied at 292, which necessitated a playoff. McDermott tired in the afternoon of the second day posting an 81 that left him tied for 15th with a total of 305. More than 1,000 spectators came out the next day to see the 18-hole playoff as Nicholls won his second Met Open with a 73 against MacDonald’s 78. The defending champion, Macdonald Smith, caddied for Bob MacDonald in the playoff but Nicholls used the young caddy that had been with him in the earlier rounds. Nicholls’ rounds were 71, 76, 71 and 74. Walter Hagen finished third at 294 and Willie Macfarlane, Tom McNamara and Isaac Mackie tied for fourth with 299s. Jim Barnes tied for seventh with a 300 total and shared the last two money prizes. First prize was still $150 and the top eight players finished in the money.
The next week in July the Pennsylvania Open was contested at 36 holes in one day at the Shawnee Country Club & Buckwood Inn. Tom Anderson, Jr., now the professional at the Montclair Golf Club in New Jersey, had a putt to win on the 36th green. Anderson’s ball was in a cuppy lie and he had been asked to mark his golf ball by his fellow competitor. Albert W. Tillinghast, the designer of the Shawnee course and president of the club, was refereeing the match. Tillinghast watched very closely as Anderson replaced his ball. He placed it exactly where it had been even though he was sure to miss the putt due to the poor lie. Anderson missed the two-foot putt and was tied with Eddie Loos the professional at the Pocono Manor Golf Club with 149 totals. Anderson’s rounds were 78-71 and Loos had shot 79-70. On this same day, which was intensely warm, they played an eighteen-hole playoff, which ended with the two pros still tied with 76s. Then they returned to the first tee for a sudden-death playoff. Loos sliced his tee shot and Anderson won his second Pennsylvania Open with a par 4. The two professionals had agreed to split first and second money. First money was $100 and a gold medal. Second was $70. They completed the 55 holes at 8 p.m. It was the last competitive golf Anderson played outside his home club. He died later that year in an automobile accident on August 13. He had just purchased the automobile and was being instructed as to how to drive. He and his brother Willie had now both died while still in the prime of their golfing life. Emmett French missed being in the playoff by one stroke as he finished alone in third place with a 150. French won the last money of $40. One stroke farther back, Wilfrid Reid (151) and Gil Nicholls (151) tied for fourth. Nicholls had begun the tournament with an 8 on his first hole of the day.
Jim Barnes won the one-day 36-hole Connecticut Open on the fourth Sunday of July. The tournament was hosted by the Shennecossett Country Club, near New London. Barnes put together rounds of 72 and 76 for a 148 total that won by five strokes. Jock Hutchinson and Mike Brady tied for second at 153. Gil Nicholls, who was going along well until he made a 7 on the 14th hole of his second round finished fourth at 155. There was $900 in prize money. The golfers were paired in fours and most of the pairings played the 18 holes in two hours.
Boston’s Tom McNamara won his second straight Philadelphia Open at the Philadelphia Country Club in early August. Also his margin of victory was seven strokes, just as it had been the year before. His 77, 71, 73 and 75 for a 296 total was seven better than Jim Barnes (303) and Charlie Hoffner (303). First prize was $160 from a purse of $400. Barnes and Hoffner each won $85. James R. Thomson and Eddie Loos tied for fourth at 304, which was worth $30 apiece. Fred McLeod was next with a 305 total, which won the sixth and last money of $10. Johnny McDermott played the first day but withdrew from the final 36 holes. There were forty-four entries and it was probably the strongest field in the history of the tournament.
In the middle of August three pros made a big switch. After winning the Met Open in early July, Gil Nicholls had paid a visit to Sound View Golf Club on Long Island where he played and lost a friendly match to James Fraser. The members at Sound View, which was often referred to as Great Neck Golf Club, decided that a series of ten matches for $100 each was in order between Fraser and Nicholls. The ten rounds were all at Sound View. The members thought that if all the rounds were at Sound View it would be competitive. Nicholls won most of the matches. The members at Sound View had money and were willing to spend it. Even though the club had a professional in Fraser, Nicholls was offered the the largest contract that had ever been paid to any golf professional in the country. Nicholls accepted. At the same time Wilfrid Reid was parting company with Seaview Country Club and its owner Clarence Geist. With that Fraser left Sound View and was hired as the professional at Seaview. With the exodus of Nicholls, Wilmington Country Club needed a professional. Reid applied and was hired. One of Nicholls first assignments at Sound View was to design a nine hole course for the exclusive use of the ladies.
The Western Open was near Chicago at the Glen Oak Country Club in the third week of August. There were 110 entries. Tom McNamara won with scores of 75, 78, 76 and 75 for a 304 that won by two strokes over Alex Cunningham (306). Par was 75. George Sargent finished third at 307 two strokes in front of Walter Hagen (309) and Mike Brady (309). First prize was $300 and a gold medal. Jim Barnes was the defending champion.
Later in August Jim Barnes won the Connecticut Open against a very strong entry of professionals that held many open titles. The tournament was held at the Shenecossett Golf Club in New London, Connecticut. Barnes won by five strokes with a morning 72 and an afternoon 76 for 148. Jock Hutchison and Mike Brady tied for second with 153 totals. Gil Nicholls finished fourth at 154. Fred McLeod, George Low and Wilfrid Reid, who had recently left the Seaview Country Club, tied for fifth at 156.
A charity pro-am was held for the Red Cross on the last Tuesday of November at the Philadelphia Cricket Club. There were 38 teams entered. Spectator badges were sold. To add to the interest there were two ladies in the field. Mrs. Clarence Vanderbeck, the national champion, was paired with James R. Thomson and Mrs. Ronald Barlow, the WGAP champion, was paired with Jim Barnes. The format was better-ball of partners with no handicaps. It was said to be far from an ideal day but all of the contestants showed up and another $100 worth of spectator badges were sold the day of the event, even though it was a Tuesday. Wilfrid Reid and Huntingdon Valley Country Club amateur were low with a 70. Reid was the low pro with a 76. The Atlantic City Country Club team of Clarence Hackney and Maurice Risley finished second at 73. Baltimore professional Alex Campbell (brother of Jack and Andy) and Howard W. Perrin, who belonged to several clubs but was listed from Pine Valley GC, were third with a 75. The Thomson–Vanderbeck team tied for fourth with the St. Davids Golf Club team of Bill Byrne and Frank Mahan. Hackney was the second low pro with a 77. Thomson and Barnes tied for third with 78s. The amateurs weren’t given prizes but the professional did receive prizes. The tournament raised $600.
On Thursday December 2nd a group of eighteen Philadelphia area golf professionals met in Philadelphia to form a Philadelphia Professional Golfers’ Association. They met at the Adelphia Hotel, which was located at 1229 Chestnut Street. Some of the reasons for the association were; to supply Philadelphia area clubs with qualified professionals, hold meetings, put on tournaments, and form a benevolent fund to aid members in distress. A set of by-laws was drafted at the meeting Wilfrid Reid, Ben Nicholls, who was now the professional at the LuLu Country Club, and the professional at the Haddon Country Club James Starr, were appointed to a committee to determine the boundaries of the organization. Plans were made to meet again at the Adelphia Hotel on Monday December 13th, but it appears that the meeting was called off when the pros were informed that a national organization of golf professionals was being created.
On April 2nd Jim Barnes captured the last big tournament before the PGA was formed by winning the 16th annual North and South Open at Pinehurst, North Carolina. Barnes’s rounds were 71 and 73 for 144, which won by one-stroke. Twenty-one year old Clarence Hackney (145) came through with his first high finish in a major tournament tying for second with Tom Kerrigan (145). Alex Ross finished fourth with a score of 146. Barnes won $100 plus a gold medal and Hackney took home $37.50 plus $25 for the low tournament round, a final round 70.
Golf in America had changed in what was now just a little more than two decades since the first golf courses were opened. The Haskell wound golf ball was changing golf to more of a power game. Drives of 300 yards and more were not uncommon. There were no limits on the size or weight of the golf ball. The golf courses had been lengthened dramatically in order to keep up with the ball. At the same time the scoring by the expert golfers had gone from the 80s to the low 70s and now scores in the 60s were appearing. In late 1912 Johnny McDermott had broken the course record at Atlantic City by shooting a 66 and other course record rounds in the 60s were being reported. It was estimated that there were now nearly 5,000 active golfers in the Philadelphia region. As the golf courses became busier the golf professional’s job had changed. Before that the golf professional had been the golf instructor, the club maker and quite often the greenkeeper also. By the time the PGA was formed in early 1916 most successful golf facilities were employing a golf professional and a greenkeeper, who would become known as the green superintendent. There would have been a caddy master and there was also a club maker (or several) at the more prosperous clubs.