A Chronicle of the
Philadelphia Section PGA and its Members
by Peter C. Trenham
1950 to 1959
1950 Ben Hogan won the U.S. Open at Merion and Henry Williams, Jr. was runner-up in the PGA Championship.
1951 Ben Hogan won the Masters and the U.S. Open before ending his eleven-year association with Hershey CC.
1952 Dave Douglas won twice on the PGA Tour while Henry Williams, Jr. and Al Besselink each won also.
1953 Al Besselink, Dave Douglas, Ed Oliver and Art Wall each won tournaments on the PGA Tour.
1954 Art Wall won at the Tournament of Champions and Dave Douglas won the Houston Open.
1955 Atlantic City hosted the PGA national meeting and the British Ryder Cup team practiced at Atlantic City CC.
1956 Mike Souchak won four times on the PGA Tour and Johnny Weitzel won a second straight Pennsylvania Open.
1957 Joe Zarhardt returned to the Section to win a Senior Open put on by Leo Fraser and the Atlantic City CC.
1958 Marty Lyons and Llanerch CC hosted the first PGA Championship contested at stroke play.
1959 Art Wall won the Masters, led the PGA Tour in money winnings and was named PGA Player of the Year.
In early January Robert “Skee” Riegel announced that he was turning pro. Riegel who had grown up in eastern Pennsylvania had won the U.S. Amateur in 1947 while living in California. He was now playing out of Tulsa, Oklahoma. At that time the PGA rules prohibited him from accepting any money on the PGA Tour for six months.
After eleven months on the shelf Hershey Country Club’s professional Ben Hogan returned to tournament golf on the first Friday of January. Hogan had entered the $15,000 Los Angeles Open at the Riviera Country Club. It didn’t take long for the world of golf to realize that he wasn’t entered at Los Angeles just to make an appearance. In a tournament plagued by rain Hogan opened with a 73 and shot three 69s for a four-under-par 280. Sam Snead (71-72-71-66=280), who had been the playing professional from the Shawnee Inn & Country Club in the early 1940s, came through with a last round 66 to tie Hogan and force an 18-hole playoff. Jack Burke, Jr. finished third at 281 and Ellsworth Vines was next with a 285. The tournament started on Friday as scheduled and the second round was on Saturday. Sunday was rained out and the third and fourth rounds were played on Monday and Tuesday. The playoff scheduled for Wednesday was rained out and Hogan and Snead left for Pebble Beach and the Crosby Pro-Am. Seventy-five hundred spectators turned out one week later on Wednesday for the playoff. When Hogan was introduced on the first tee the announcer said he was from Ft. Worth, Texas and Hogan corrected him saying “Hershey, Pennsylvania”. Snead won by four strokes but Hogan was back. First prize was 2,600 and second was $1,900.
The Crosby Pro-Am at Pebble Beach, California consisted of three rounds played on three courses with celebrities. The field started at Cypress Point Golf Club, then played the Monterey Peninsula course and finished up at the Pebble Beach Golf Links. There was also a three-day pro-am with each professional paired with an amateur partner who was an invitee of Bing Crosby. At the conclusion of the three rounds there was a four-way tie for first place at 214. The four professionals were Wilmington’s Dave Douglas (71-73-70), Sam Snead (69-72-73), Jack Burke, Jr. (75-67-72) and Smiley Quick (72-69-73). There was no playoff and they were declared co-champions. The purse was $10,000 and each of the co-champions won $1,237.
The Senior PGA Championship was held at their PGA National Golf Club in Dunedin, Florida in the second week of January. Al Watrous won by three strokes with a 142. Bill Jelliffe finished second at 145. Jock Hutchison (147) and Bill Goldbeck (148) finished third and fourth. Langhorne Country Club professional Al MacDonald and Trenton Country Club professional George Milne were the low Philadelphia pros tying for 12th with 155 totals.
Dutch Harrison, who was playing the PGA Tour and still a member of the Philadelphia Section, won the Azalea Open in early April. The tournament was played at the Cape Fear Country Club in Wilmington, North Carolina. George Fazio led the first two days and he was tied for the lead with Harrison entering the final round. A one-under-par 71 the last day earned Harrison (68-72-69-71=280) the win and a check for $2,000. Fazio, who was now the professional at a club in Washington D.C., finished two strokes back at 282. Fazio had been second two weeks before that in Jacksonville also. Joe Kirkwood, Jr., a former assistant at the Huntingdon Valley Country Club who was now playing the PGA Tour, and Cary Middlecoff tied for third at 283. The total purse was $10,000.
George Fazio won $1,400 at the Azalea Open in Wilmington and this upped his winnings on the winter tour enough to get an invitation to the Masters Tournament along with the former North Hills Country Club professional Henry Ransom. At the completion of the Azalea Open the two professionals with the most money winnings on the PGA Tour, which had begun in early January, and who were not already invited to the Masters earned invitations.
In early April a group of about 25 touring professionals threatened to leave the PGA Tour and form their own organization. Among the 25 were all of the major tournament winners including Ben Hogan. They were seeking authority to handle the entire mechanics of the tour, controlling the funds and negotiating and signing all of the agreements. They stated that they didn’t want to resign from the PGA and hoped to remain members. Two of the players’ concerns were a change in the purse distribution and the wish of the 2,800 home pros to have autographed clubs sold only in pro shops. The tournament manager George Schneider, who had sided with the players, was dismissed by the PGA. There were several evening meetings between the players and the PGA officers at the Masters Tournament, some lasting three hours. The players were given the power to elect a committee of four tournament players to serve with the PGA officers and represent the players in the tournament negotiations. Dave Douglas was one of the PGA Tour members elected to the committee.
The Masters Tournament was held on its usual dates, the first full week of April at the Augusta National Golf Club. The first round leader was Philadelphia product Skee Riegel with a three under par 69. On Sunday Jimmy Demaret (70-72-72-69–283) picked up seven strokes on Jim Ferrier over the last six holes to win the Masters for a third time. Ferrier (285), who was suffering from a thyroid condition, finished second two strokes back and two ahead of Sam Snead (287). Ben Hogan (288), still on the comeback trail, tied for fourth with former Reading Country Club professional Byron Nelson (288). Joe Kirkwood, Jr. posted a 297 and won $261 as he tied for 14th. Riegel finished at 288, tied for 21st and won $$244. Riegel was allowed to win money at the Masters, because it was not run by the PGA of America. Other Section members Dave Douglas (309) and Henry Williams, Jr. (311), the professional at the Tully-Secane Country Club, were in the field but finished out of the money. Dutch Harrison withdrew. First prize was $2,400 from a purse of $10,000.
The Section’s spring meeting was at the Broadwood Hotel in Philadelphia on the second Monday in April. The guest speaker was Tom Crane, the Executive Secretary of the PGA of America. In attendance were 84 of the 181 Section members and there was a lot of news. The U.S. Open was going to be played at the Merion Golf Club’s East Course in June and the Reading Open was on the PGA Tour schedule again for a fourth year. Former Section president and pro at the Llanerch Country Club Marty Lyons, urged all the members to enter the qualifying rounds for the PGA and the U.S. Open so that the Section could have a large entry in both championships. Joe Kirkwood, Sr., world famous for his trick shot exhibitions, was leaving the Huntingdon Valley Country Club. He had so many shows booked he didn’t have time for his duties at the club and decided to go back on the road full time. A new member of the Section, Jerry Barber was now the professional at the Cedarbrook Country Club.
Ben Hogan proved that he was all the way back by winning the $10,000 Greenbrier Open in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia during the first week of May. He tied a PGA Tour record held by Byron Nelson with a twenty-one under par 259. Hogan’s rounds over The Greenbrier’s Old White Course were 64, 64, 65 and 66. Hogan shrugged off the accomplishment saying that he thought that he had played better at the Masters Tournament in April. The host pro, Sam Snead (269), finished second ten strokes back. Australia’s Norman von Nida (270) finished third and Skip Alexander (271) finished fourth. First prize was $1,250 from a purse of $10,000.
George Fazio, won the Middle Atlantic PGA Section Championship on the second Friday of May. Fazio toured the Elkridge Hunt Club course in 66 and 70 for a six under par 136. Fazio finished three strokes in front of Charlie Bassler (139). Johnny Bass, Jimmy Duke and Jack Isaacs tied for third with 140s.
Ed Oliver qualified for the PGA Championship at the Western Open in the third week of May. Any PGA member in good standing who finished in the top 25 at that tournament qualified. Sam Snead won the tournament and $2,600 with a score of 282. Dutch Harrison tied for second with a 283 and Oliver tied for fifth at 286.
Qualifying for the PGA Championship was held at The Springhaven Club on the fourth Monday of May. Rod Munday the professional at the Country Club of York was the medalist at three-under-par (66-71) 137. The 66 was a competitive course record. Munday’s score led the nation as the lowest score in all the PGA Sections. Two pros back from the PGA Tour for the qualifier, Dave Douglas and Ted Kroll the former assistant at the Philmont Country Club, tied for second with 140s. DuPont Country Club professional Terl Johnson (143) and Saucon Valley Country Club professional Ralph Hutchison (144) also qualified safely. Matt Kowal the professional at the Philmont Country Club and Bud Lewis the professional at the Manufacturers Golf & Country Club tied for the sixth and last spot with 145s. In a playoff on Sunday Kowal shot a 69 against a 75 for Lewis to earn a trip to the PGA. Henry Williams, Jr. was exempt for having been a quarter-finalist in the PGA the year before. Dutch Harrison was exempt as a member of the 1949 Ryder Cup Team. Even though he was exempt as a former winner of the tournament Ben Hogan didn’t enter due to his damaged legs, which made it difficult for him to walk what could be a possible 216 holes or more in seven days if he made it to the finals.
George Fazio qualified for the PGA Championship in the Middle Atlantic Section on the fourth Monday of May. Fazio tied for the medal in qualifying for two of the three available spots at the Country Club of Virginia’s James River Course. The third spot went to Charlie Bassler with a 143. Fazio and Chandler Harper both posted rounds of 70 and 71 for 141s. It was such a windy day that many of the players declined to post their scores.
On the fifth Monday of May qualifying was held for the U.S. Open at the North Hills Country Club and the LuLu Country Club. Because of the Open being at the Merion Golf Club there was a large entry in Philadelphia so two courses were needed. More than 140 pros and amateurs teed off at 8:45 AM in a pelting rain and finished in a mist twelve hours later. Jerry Barber and Mike Rooney the professional at the Cool Creek Country Club returned the lowest scores, 142s. Barber and Rooney both turned in 72s at North Hills in the morning and 70s at LuLu in the afternoon. Terl Johnson posted a 143. Henry Williams, Jr. and Cobbs Creek Golf Club’s Howard Wheeler an unattached African American professional, who played cross-handed, were next with 144s. Clarence Ehresman, the professional at the Ashbourne Country Club, George Fazio and amateur Jock Houdry had 145s. Bud Lewis, Ted Kroll and New England’s Bob Toski and amateur Don Weiland posted 146s and survived via a five-man sudden death playoff that only took one hole. Dave Douglas and Skee Riegel were exempt because they had finished in the top fifteen at the U.S. Open the year before. Ben Hogan was exempt from qualifying in several categories.
Al Besselink qualified for the U.S. Open in Detroit on fifth Monday of May also. Horton Smith was the low qualifier with a 144. There were nine spots there and Besselink (72-78–150) finished sixth.
Also on the fifth Monday of May Dutch Harrison and Joe Kirkwood, Jr. qualified for the U.S. Open at the Colonial Country Club in Ft. Worth, Texas. The medalist was Australian Norman Von Nida with a 135. Harrison (69-67–136) finished second and Kirkwood (71-71—142) tied for 12th. There were fifteen spots at Ft. Worth and the 143s played off. Henry Picard won the last spot in a sudden death playoff and Ed Oliver lost out, becoming the first alternate.
Merion Golf Club and Fred Austin hosted the 50th U.S. Open in the second week of June. It had been eleven years since the tournament had been in the Section. There were twelve Section members in the starting field. Sam Byrd, who had worked at Merion as the playing assistant for four years in the early 40s, was in the field. On the eve of the tournament the USGA decided to increase the purse from $10,000 to $14,900. Lee Mackey, Jr., a protegee of Sam Byrd, opened with a six-under-par 64 that was a tournament record for a single round. Former Philadelphia Country Club assistant Jimmy McHale had set the previous record at St. Louis in 1947. Mackey had grown up just ten blocks from Byrd in Birmingham, Alabama. He said that he hadn’t gotten anywhere in golf until Byrd started helping him with his game. He had worked for Byrd as an assistant in Detroit three years before. The course measured 6,694 yards. George Fazio, who had grown up caddying at the Plymouth Country Club, was the first player off the tee on Saturday for the last 36 holes. Fazio and Al Besselink were paired together at 8 a.m. At that time the lowest scores didn’t always tee off first. Besselink stood at 143 and Fazio was at 145, which was well below the cut score of 149. Fazio shot a 72 in the morning and came back with a 70 in the last round. His 287 total held up for quite awhile but when everyone was in he was in a three-way playoff with Ben Hogan (287) and Lloyd Mangrum (287). After starting with a 72 and a 69, Hogan shot 72-74 on Saturday for his 289. Hogan’s legs were still in such bad shape from the automobile accident sixteen months before it seemed like he might not finish. Hogan said that the most tiring part was getting over and under the gallery ropes. The spectators were still allowed in the fairways at that time. Mangrum with a third round 69 was the only player to break par in either round on Saturday. Dutch Harrison just missed the playoff as he ended up alone in fourth place with a 288, winning $800. Joe Kirkwood, Jr. was next at 289, winning $500 for his tie for fifth. Riegel (294) had a chance but a third round 79 put an end to that. Riegel and Besselink (294) finished in a tie for 12th, seven strokes off the pace. They each won $133.34. On Sunday Hogan fired a 69 for a comfortable margin of victory. Mangrum (73) was in contention until the 16th hole when he was penalized two strokes for lifting his ball on the green. He had marked and lifted his ball while the others putted and then replaced it to putt. As he prepared to putt he saw a bug on the ball and lifted it again to remove the bug. Because the rules did not permit a player to clean the golf ball he was assessed a two-stroke penalty. He holed the 12-foot putt. On the 17th hole Hogan holed a fifty-foot putt for a birdie to go four strokes ahead and clinch the playoff. First prize was $4,000 and for the first time every professional who returned a score for the 72 holes received a check. Fazio (75) won $1,000 for his third place finish. Many times the two losers in a three-man playoff would split the money but that was not the case at that U.S. Open. After 36 holes the field had been cut to the low 50 and ties. Ted Kroll (297), Henry Williams, Jr. (298), Terl Johnson (300) and Dave Douglas (301) made the cut and received the minimum checks of $100. All those who finished below 17th place won $100 each. Clarence Ehresman, Bud Lewis, Jerry Barber, Mike Rooney and Howard Wheeler missed the cut.
Jerry Barber won the Pennsylvania Open at the Manufacturers Golf & Country Club in mid July. A member of Manufacturers and a former assistant pro at the club Howard Everitt was first off the tee in a field of 84 pros and amateurs. He posted a 138 but Barber produced eleven birdies against six bogies to edge him out by one stroke with a five-under-par (68-69) 137. Barber, always a great putter, only needed 55 putts for the 36 holes to pick up the first place check of $500. Clarence Ehresman finished third at 139. Terl Johnson, Ralph Hutchison and Doylestown Country Club professional Charley Lepre tied for fourth with 140s. There were eleven money places and the total purse was $1,150.
The PGA Championship was at the Sciota Country Club in Columbus, Ohio during the third week of July. The Philadelphia Section members had had a lot of success in the tournament since it began in 1916. Eleven Section members had qualified or were exempt. There was on site qualifying of 36 holes for 63 places in the match play ladder. Even though he was exempt from qualifying as the defending champion, Sam Snead won the medal with a 72 and a 68 for 140. Henry Williams, Jr. tied for fifth at 145. George Fazio (147), Ted Kroll (149), Dave Douglas (150) and Rod Munday (150) all made it with ease also. The players with 153 totals played off for the last spots. Dutch Harrison, Ed Oliver, Ralph Hutchison, Terl Johnson and Matt Kowal failed to qualify. The stymie was still a part of the match play rules. The first two rounds of matches were 18-holes each and the rest were 36-hole matches. Fazio put out Frank Staszowski in the first round by the count of 4&3 and then lost in the second round one-down to Bob Toski. Munday defeated Joe Zarhardt in the first round one-down before losing to Jimmy Demaret in the second round 5&3. Kroll won two matches as he defeated Ray Hill 5&4 and Al Watrous 2&1. Kroll lost in the third round to Johnny Palmer one-down. Douglas won three matches before losing to Williams in the quarter-finals one-down. Douglas eliminated Marty Furgol 3&1, Jimmy Hines 5&4 and Elmer Reed 3&2. Williams went all the way to the finals before losing to the winner Chandler Harper 4&3. Before beating Douglas, Williams had beaten William Heinlein 5&3, Emery Thomas 6&5 and Claude Harmon in 38 holes. After getting by Douglas, Williams met former Section member Henry Picard in the semifinals. The 42-year-old Picard was playing in his first PGA since 1941 and had just beaten Johnny Palmer in the previous round 10 & 8. Williams was six down to Picard with eight to play, but Picard tired and they went to last hole even. They halved the 36th hole with birdies. Williams made two more pars and when Picard three putted the 38th green Williams was in the finals. In the other semifinal match Harper defeated Jimmy Demaret 2&1. First prize was $3,500 and Williams won $1,500. The total purse was $17,700.
Bud Lewis won his second Philadelphia Open on the last Monday in July. The tournament was played at the Cedarbrook Country Club in Mt. Airy. Lewis put together a 73 in the morning and a 68 in the afternoon for a one-under-par 141. That nosed out Terl Johnson, who equaled the par of 142. There was a three-way tie for third at 143 among Charley Lepre, Jack Ryan the teaching professional at the Shawnee Inn & Country Club and Ernie Pagnotta the professional at the Yardley Country Club. The tournament, scheduled for early July, had been postponed three weeks when heavy rains flooded the Cedarbrook course before anyone even teed off.
In late August the Section’s members were playing their Section Championship at the Shawnee Inn & Country Club for a third year in a row. A former Section champion and professional at the Woodcrest Country Club, Sam Davis, won the medal with a two-under-par 70, which earned him $50 and a gold watch. Seventy pros, a record entry, were competing for sixty-two places in the match play field. The defending champion, Henry Williams, Jr. and the host professional Harry Obitz, were exempt from qualifying. Another former Section champion and the professional at the Fox Hill Country Club Felix Serafin won two gold watches in the qualifying round. Serafin won one watch for being nearest the pin on the par three 16th hole and he won the other watch for having the longest drive, 307 yards, on the sixth hole. There were several upsets in the match play. Clarence Ehresman and Carmen Steppo the professional at the Brandywine Country Club met in the 36-hole finals with Ehresman winning one-up. Ehresman was never up until the 35th hole. At one point in the morning round he was four down and facing a two-foot putt that was perfectly stymied. He took a 9-iron and chipped over Steppo’s ball into the hole for a half. It was the second Section championship title for Ehresman. In the semifinals Steppo edged out Paul Midiri, who operated the Swing Rite Driving Range in Maple Shade, New Jersey by the slim margin one hole. In the other semifinal match Ehresman put out Serafin 4&3. The final was played on Sunday as it had been for many years. Fred Waring, the owner of Shawnee who was known for his music, presented the championship trophies.
On the fourth Monday of August Johnny Weitzel edged out Art Wall, Pete Cooper and host professional Felix Serafin to win the Anthracite Open. Weitzel posted a 68 against 69s for the other three at the Fox Hill Country Club. Serafin was on the last green with a fifteen foot putt to win. Finishing up in the rain, Serafin putted past the hole and then missed his putt to tie coming back.
The Wood Memorial tournament, which had been held at the Jeffersonville Golf Club for many years since 1934, was not played. A section of the golf course was closed for the construction of an underground gas line through several of the golf holes. The tournament was held in memory of Jeffersonville’s first golf professional Frank H. Wood, who had died of phenomena in 1934.
The fourth annual Reading Open moved back to the Berkshire Country Club with a new date, the second week of September. The host professional was Harry Markel. The purse was the same as the previous year, $15,000. Ted Kroll led the first day with a course record tying 64. Sam Snead grabbed the title and set a tournament record for the Berkshire course. He bettered Ben Hogan’s 1948 winning score with rounds of 68, 65, 65 and 72 for 268. First prize was $2,600. Jim Ferrier (276) finished second eight strokes back and Glen Teal finished third at 277 one stroke in front of Ralph Bloomquist (278). The low Section members were Kroll and Jerry Barber who tied for tenth with 282s and each won $452.50. Dave Douglas (286) finished 22nd and won $130. Art Wall (287) tied for 23rd and won $110. Even par scores of 288 didn’t win any money.
Joe Kirkwood, Jr. won the $5,000 Ozarks Open at the Hickory Hills Country Club in Springfield, Missouri. The tournament was played in two days and ended on the first Sunday of October. The pros played 18-holes on Saturday and 36-holes on Sunday. Kirkwood opened up with a 69 and finished with a pair of 66s on Sunday for an 18 under par 201. The defending champion Dave Douglas finished second with a score of 205. First prize was $1,000.
The Section’s annual meeting was held at the Riverton Country Club in mid October. The Section was the third largest in the country with 182 members. Al MacDonald was elected president in a four-man race. The past president and professional at The Springhaven Club, Ted Bickel, Jr., was not a candidate. Al Keeping the professional at the Gulph Mills Golf Club and Bud Lewis were elected first and second vice president. John Hayes the professional at the Riverton Country Club was reelected secretary and Walter Brickley the professional at the Burlington Country Club was elected treasurer for a sixteenth consecutive year. Ed Tabor was the sectional vice president. Hayes read a citation from the PGA of America lauding the Section for its work in golf. The Section’s junior golf program, involving 1,952 boys and girls, was the largest of any PGA Section.
Even though he didn’t play in many tournaments Ben Hogan won the U.S. Open and tied a PGA Tour record at the Greenbrier. The sportswriters selected him as the “PGA Player-of-the-Year” in early November. With 173 sportswriters and sportscasters voting, Hogan received 112 of the votes. This was the third annual PGA poll. The leading money winner was Sam Snead with $35,758.83 and he led the scoring with an average of 69.23 strokes per round to win the Vardon Trophy. Dutch Harrison was ninth on the money list with $11,267.92, Ed Oliver finished twelfth with $10,987.59, Ben Hogan was sixteenth winning $8,185, Dave Douglas was seventeenth with $7,355.71 and Ted Kroll won 7,277.33 which was good for 18th place. George Fazio was twentieth with $7,164.67. Joe Kirkwood, Jr., $3,876 in 13 events, Jerry Barber, $3,653 in 17 events, Skee Riegel, who wasn’t eligible for prize money until July, won just over $2,000. Under the PGA rules at that time a pro wasn’t able to accept any prize money in PGA co-sponsored tournaments until he had been a professional for six months. Al Besselink played in 9 tournaments, winning $754.16. Art Wall won $350.
The PGA of America’s annual meeting was held at the Sheraton Hotel in Chicago in mid November. All the officers were returned to office but not without opposition. Joe Novak was reelected president with 65 votes to 6 for John Inglis. Horton Smith was nominated for president but withdrew and was reelected secretary. Harry Moffitt was reelected treasurer. The delegates voted not to change the method of competition in their championship and they approved a resolution to give the tournament players greater power in directing their tournament affairs. The PGA Tour players had two delegates at the national meeting just like the Sections. One of the delegates was Lawson Little and he was made a vice president of the PGA. The PGA amended its constitution to recognize the USGA as the rules making body in the United States. The delegates voted down a resolution from the Southern California Section to sell the lease on their course at Dunedin which was losing money. As a compromise resolution the Michigan Section proposed charging PGA members to play the course and that passed. George S. May offered the PGA $5,000 to bring their meeting to Chicago again the next year and the delegates voted to accept. The delegates from the Philadelphia Section were Marty Lyons and Walter Brickley. The PGA paid the expenses of one delegate and the Sections had to pay the expenses for a second delegate. Ted Bickel, Jr. was a vice president of the PGA representing District II, which was composed of the Philadelphia Section along with the Metropolitan and New Jersey Sections.
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In mid January Al Watrous won the Senior PGA Championship (69-73–142) at the PGA National Golf Club in Dunedin, Florida. Sixty-eight year old Jock Hutchison almost shot his age in the second round as he put together a 69 to tie Watrous at 142. In an 18-hole playoff the next day Hutchison showed his age when he tired on the last nine and ended up with an 81. Watrous went around in 75 strokes to win by six. Hutchison had won the tournament twice, finished second six times and third three times. Charlie McKenna finished third at 146 and Eddie Williams was fourth with a 147.
In the second week of February Dutch Harrison won the $10,000 Texas Open at the Brackenridge Park course in San Antonio. There were 270 pros and amateurs in the starting field and play was over two courses the first two days. After 36 holes the field was cut to the low sixty pros and ten amateurs. Harrison (265) put together a pair of seven under par 64s on the last two days to catch Doug Ford (265) and force a playoff. Harrison’s first two rounds were 67 and 70. Harrison, who was in his seventeenth year on the PGA Tour, defeated Ford in an 18-hole playoff on Monday with a 67 against a 68 for Ford. Jack Burke, Jr. finished third at 267 and Al Brosch was next with a 268. First prize was $2,000.
At the conclusion of the Texas Open, Jimmy Demaret and eight other pros departed by plane for the Mexican Open. Two of them were Stan Dudas an assistant at the Shawnee Inn & Country Club and Al Besselink who was playing the PGA Tour full time. The PGA tournament supervisor, Howard Capps a former assistant at the Shawnee Inn & Country Club, had told them that they would be fined if they played in the Mexican Open because it was not co-sponsored by the PGA and it conflicted with the Rio Grande Valley Open. Demaret was fined $500, Vic Ghezzi $350 and the others $200. Dudas and Capps had worked together at Shawnee and Dudas had helped him get a job on the PGA Tour as an assistant to George Schneider. In the end only Demaret was fined due to his status on the tour as a current tournament winner.
The Masters Tournament was played at its usual time in early April at the Augusta National Golf Club. The Philadelphia Section had eight invitees and they made a good showing. George Fazio who was back in Philadelphia and playing the PGA Tour led the first day with a four-under-par 68 and Skee Riegel was the leader at the halfway point with 141. Ben Hogan was one stroke back. After three rounds it was still Riegel now tied for the lead with Sam Snead at 211. Hogan was still one stroke back at 212. On Sunday Riegel went out two hours ahead of Hogan and put together a solid round of 71. He made a three-foot putt for a birdie on #17 and then on #18 he faced another three-footer for a par. Saucon Valley’s Ralph Hutchison announcing at the last green informed the gallery that Riegel’s putt might win the tournament. He holed it for a 282 and an early lead that looked good enough to win. At that time the leaders weren’t always paired together and they didn’t always tee off last. An eight at the 11th hole ended Snead’s hopes while Hogan, who teed off later, was playing the front nine in 33. Playing very conservatively Hogan tacked on a back nine 35 for a winning 280 score. Hogan’s rounds were 70, 72, 70 and 68. This was Hogan’s seventh major title but his first win at Augusta. Lew Worsham and Lloyd Mangrum tied for third with 286s. Dave Douglas (288) finished fifth alone and won $750. Dutch Harrison (294) tied for 15th and won $338. Fazio (296) tied for 18th and won $315. Al Besselink (297) and Joe Kirkwood, Jr. (297) tied for 20th and they each won $308. Ted Kroll (298) tied for 25th and picked up $150. Henry Williams, Jr. (308), who was now the professional at the Berkleigh Country Club tied for 47th. He won $100, which was the minimum prize. Hogan won $3,000 and Riegel won $1,875. The course was still a symmetrical 3,450 yards out and 3,450 yards back. On Sunday the tournament officials announced a 50% bonus in the prize money. That made it a $15,000 purse and all the prizewinners received a 50% increase.
The Section’s spring meeting was on the first Monday in April at the Riverton Country Club. Honorary president Ted Bickel, Jr. was presented with a plaque for his years of service to the Section. Wiffy Cox and Al Houghton from the Middle Atlantic Section were the guest speakers. The Reading Open was on the PGA Tour schedule for a fifth straight year.
In May the USGA and the R & A announced that the stymie rule would be eliminated at the end of the year. There had been a great deal of conversation concerning the unfairness of the stymie. Most tournaments in the United States were already being played without the use of it so this didn’t mean much to the American golfer. The PGA Championship and the Philadelphia Section Championship were both played at match play. The stymie rule was still enforced in those tournaments because the PGA had agreed to follow the USGA’s rules.
On the last Monday in May the Section qualifying for the PGA Championship was held at the Bala Golf Club. For the second straight year Rod Munday was the low man and the low scorer in the country as well with his rounds of 65 and 66 for 131. The Section had seven spots to qualify for. The second place went to the head professional from the Colonial Country Club, Johnny Weitzel, who finished the day at even par 136. The next two places went to the professional from the Jeffersonville Country Club Angelo Paul (138) and the professional from the Country Club of Harrisburg Joe Ludes (138). LuLu Country Club professional Charles Schneider, Sr., Terl Johnson and Bud Lewis picked up the last three spots with 140s. Eight Section members were exempt from qualifying. Ben Hogan was exempt as a past PGA champion. Dutch Harrison, Ed Oliver, Ted Kroll, George Fazio and Joe Kirkwood, Jr. had exemptions based on their positions on the PGA Tour money list. The top thirty money winners from 1950 were exempt that year. Henry Williams, Jr., runner-up in the PGA the year before and Dave Douglas were exempt for having reached the quarter-finals. Hogan didn’t enter the PGA because his damaged legs couldn’t make it through 36-holes a day. Harrison and Kirkwood didn’t enter the tournament either.
Qualifying for the U.S. Open was held at the Llanerch Country Club on the first Monday of June. Dave Douglas (69-71) shaved four strokes off par with a 140 to lead a field of 57 pros and amateurs. Atlantic City amateur Bo Wininger, who would go on to win on the PGA Tour, was one stroke back at 141. Ken Gibson the head professional from the Huntingdon Valley Country Club grabbed the third spot with a 145. The fourth spot went to Reading amateur Buddy Lutz with a 146. Henry Williams, Jr., John Serafin, Air Force Sergeant Harold “Reds” Ridgely, and Howard Wheeler finished in a four-way tie for the last spot with 147s. Ridgely won the playoff for the last spot but then withdrew in favor of Williams who had finished second in the playoff. After Ridgely’s withdrawal Wheeler went on to defeat Serafin, who was the assistant to his father Felix at the Fox Hill Country Club, for the first alternate spot. Gibson withdrew from the Open and Wheeler got in as an alternate. Ben Hogan, George Fazio, Dutch Harrison, Joe Kirkwood, Jr., Skee Riegel and Al Besselink were exempt due to having finished in the top twenty in the previous U.S. Open.
The U.S. Open was held at the Oakland Hills Country Club near Detroit in the middle of June. At the end of 36 holes Dave Douglas was in second place one stroke out of the lead and after three rounds he was in fifth place, two strokes back. The defending champion Ben Hogan had started slowly with 76-73, but he had moved into contention with a 71. Entering the final round on Saturday afternoon Hogan was two strokes behind the leaders at 220. Hogan blew the field away in the last round with a 67. His 287 total won by two strokes. Hogan and Clayton Heafner (289), who finished second, were the only two players to break 70 in the tournament. Heafner had a last round 69. Robert Trent Jones had remodeled the course and only Hogan and Heafner finished under 291. When Hogan finished he stated that it was the hardest course he had ever played. First prize was $4,000. Bobby Locke finished third at 291 and Lloyd Mangrum was next at 293. Douglas (294) and Al Besselink (294) tied for sixth winning $387.50 apiece. Skee Riegel (295) tied for tenth and won $187.50. Joe Kirkwood, Jr. (299) tied for 21st, Ed Oliver (301) tied for 24th and Dutch Harrison (307) tied for 47th. They each won $100, which everyone who made the cut received. The total purse was $14,800. The tournament took in $110,892 in admissions and the program book which was sold at the course brought in another $75, 000 in advertisements. The USGA and the club shared the income. Howard Wheeler, George Fazio and Henry Williams, Jr. missed the cut.
On the day Ben Hogan won the U.S. Open the Hershey Country Club officials announced that Hogan’s contract, as the golf professional, was not being renewed. The club officials said that they no longer wanted to have a playing professional represent the club. For some time Hogan had been aware of this and he had recommended Walter Hall as his replacement. The club hired Hall as their new club professional.
After winning the U.S. Open for a third time Ben Hogan told the press that he had no plans to enter another tournament that year. That included the PGA Championship, which was coming up in two weeks. He said that he was not retiring but he was going to play exhibitions the rest of the year. His plan was to play one or two exhibitions a week at $1,000 a day.
The Pennsylvania Open was held at the Pittsburgh Field Club on the Monday after the U.S. Open. Most of the money stayed in western Pennsylvania. Westmoreland Country Club professional Johnny Bulla won by four strokes over Oakmont Country Club head professional Lew Worsham (145, with a 72 and a 69 for 141. George Griffin, Jr. (147), assistant to his father, George Griffin, Sr. at the Green Valley Country Club and the Highland Country Club professional Art Tucke (147) tied for third, six strokes off the pace.
In late June seven of the Section members made it through the on-site qualifying for the 64-man match play field in the PGA Championship. The host club, the Oakmont Country Club, became the first club to host the championship a second time. Claude Harmon, Lloyd Mangrum and Pete Cooper tied for medalist honors with 142s. Ed Oliver (144), George Fazio (145), Dave Douglas (147), Rod Munday (148), Henry Williams, Jr. (149), Johnny Weitzel (151) and Ted Kroll (151) all qualified safely. The 154 scores played off. Terl Johnson, Bud Lewis, Joe Ludes and Angelo Paul failed to qualify. Charles Schneider, Sr. withdrew before play began. The first two rounds of match play were 18-holes and the rest were 36-hole matches. Fazio, Douglas, Kroll, Williams and Weitzel all lost in the first round. Fazio lost to Toney Penna 4&2, Douglas lost to Buck White 2&1, Kroll lost to Ray Gafford on the 19th hole, Williams was beaten by former Section member Gene Kunes 4&2 and Johnny Weitzel lost to Lawson Little 3&2. Rod Munday and Ed Oliver were the only pros from the Section to win a match and they lost in the second round. Munday eliminated Bob Toski 5&3 and then lost to Vic Ghezzi 4&3. Oliver defeated Herman Keiser 5&4 before losing to George Bolesta 2&1. Sam Snead won his third PGA Championship defeating Walter Burkemo in the finals by 7&6. In the semifinals Snead beat Charlie Bassler 9&8 and Burkemo got by Ellsworth Vines with a one-hole victory. The PGA of America kept the stymie rule in play for their championship even though the USGA had decided that the rule would be abandoned at the end of the year. The purse totaled $17,700. All of the qualifiers won money. The losers in the first round each won $100, second round $200, third round $350, fourth round $500 and those that lost in the fifth round each received $750. Burkemo took home a check for $1,500 and Snead won $3,500.
In the third week of July Joe Kirkwood, Jr. won the $20,000 Blue Ribbon Open at the North Hills Country Club near Milwaukee. After an opening round of one over par 72 he posted rounds of 66 and 69 to trail by one stroke. On Sunday Kirkwood shot a 64, the low round of the tournament by two strokes, to win the first prize of $2,750. Sam Snead (273) finished second two strokes back and one in front of Lloyd Mangrum (274) and Jim Ferrier (274). Skee Riegel ended up in fifth place alone at 275 and won $1,150. George Fazio (280) tied for seventh and won $762. First prize was $2,750.
Ben Hogan went back on his vow to only play exhibitions for the remainder of the year. In the second week of August big money brought him back to tournament golf at the Tam O’Shanter Country Club in Chicago. The $50,000 World Championship of Golf gave Hogan a $10,000 appearance fee to play in the tournament. After opening with rounds of 68, 69 and 70 Hogan came from five strokes back of Jimmy Demaret (276) with a last round 66 to win by three. The 66, a course record, gave him a 15 under par 273. Pete Cooper (277) and Bobby Locke (277) tied for third one stroke behind Demaret. The first place $12,500 check and the appearance fee gave Hogan a $22,500 payday.
Terl Johnson won the medal at the Section Championship qualifying in late August. He shot a 68, missing the tournament record by one stroke. The defending champion, Clarence Ehresman, was exempt from the qualifying for 64 places on the match play ladder. Harry Obitz and Shawnee Inn & Country Club hosted the championship again. Two of the Section’s strongest players met in the finals with Rod Munday taking the measure of Henry Williams, Jr. The match was still even after the morning 18 but Munday, a notoriously poor putter, started making putts in the afternoon round and won the Bulletin Cup with a 2 & 1 victory. Munday putted right-handed, left-handed and cross-handed. Sometimes he did this all on the same green. In the semifinals Munday defeated Reading Country Club head professional Henry Poe 2&1 and Williams eliminated an old foe, Felix Serafin 6&4. The Philadelphia Section kept the stymie rule in effect for the tournament even though the USGA had decided to discontinue it at the end of that year. In the finals the stymie affected play on four holes with Williams being stymied three times. First prize was $500 and possession of the Evening Bulletin Trophy for one year. Williams won $300.
The Wood Memorial was held on the third Monday of September at the Jeffersonville Golf Club. The Eastern Open had just ended and the touring pros were passing by on their way to the Reading Open so the tournament drew a very strong field. There were nine touring pros entered. Dave Douglas birdied five of the first eight holes and went on to victory even though he hit his second shot out of bounds on the par five 16th hole and made a bogey six. He finished with a four under par 66 to edge out Charley Lepre (67) and California pro Jimmy Clark (67) by one stroke. Lepre made a birdie on the par three 18th hole to tie Clark. Johnny Moyer the head professional at the Schuylkill Country Club, Merion Golf Club assistant Bob DeHaven and Massachusetts’ Bob Toski tied for fourth with 68s. First prize was $300 from a $1,000 purse.
In the third week of September the fifth annual Reading Open had a new venue. The tournament was held at the Berkleigh Country Club and the host professional was Henry Williams, Jr. Jim Turnesa led all the way with rounds of 69-70-67 and even though he had a last round 74 his 280 total won by three strokes. Jack Burke, Jr. (283), whose father had been a professional in the Philadelphia area, finished second with a last round of 68. Skee Riegel and Jimmy Clark tied for third at 285 and each won $1,300. They finished one-stroke in front of Dave Douglas who tied for fifth with Ted Kroll at 286. They each and won $833.33. Rod Munday (293) tied for 15th and won $235. Williams (294) tied for 18th, winning $215. Buddy Heckman (297), the head professional at the Green Hills Country Club, finished 24th and won $150. Johnny Moyer (299) tied for 29th and won the last money prize of $50. Ed Oliver would have been in the money but he disqualified himself when he discovered that he had played a ball from “Out of Bounds” on the tenth hole. Johnny Moyer, Ed Tabor, Johnny Weitzel, George Fazio, Terl Johnson, Walter Hall, Bob DeHaven, Harlan Will and the host professional Henry Poe missed the money but played all 72 holes. The purse was still $15,000 but first prize was reduced from $2,600 to $2,400. As a result of the changes in the payout thirty players won checks, which was eight more than the year before. Three thousand spectators were on hand for the last round.
Even though he had just finished hosting and playing in the Reading Open at his own club Henry Williams, Jr. won the Philadelphia Open the next day in September at the Llanerch Country Club. Williams had his problems with the front nine each round but he mastered the back nine. On his two back nines, morning and afternoon, he had eight birdies and ten pars. When it was all over Williams had put together a 71 in the morning and a 70 in the afternoon for a three under par 141 and a two-stroke victory. Bud Lewis and Johnny Moyer tied for second with 143s. Amateur Jimmy McHale (144) was fourth, Charley Lepre (145) was fifth and amateur Francis “Bo” Wininger (146) finished sixth. The winner received $350 and the runner-ups each won $182.50. There were ten money places and the total purse was $1,005.
The annual fall meeting of the Section and election of officers was held in Philadelphia at the Broadwood Hotel on the third Monday of October. Al MacDonald was reelected president. Bill Boyle, the head professional at the Iron Rock Golf Club, was elected first vice president and Bud Lewis was reelected second vice president. John Hayes and Walter Brickley were reelected secretary and treasurer. Ed Tabor was the sectional vice president. Hayes reported that the Section had 187 members, third largest in the country. MacDonald appointed Hayes, Harry Obitz, Clarence Ehresman and Marty Lyons to a newly created advisory board. The tournament schedule that year had been the largest ever put together by the Section.
The Ryder Cup matches were played in Pinehurst, North Carolina on the Pinehurst #2 course in early November. Ed Oliver, Ben Hogan and Henry Ransom were on the team along with Sam Snead who was the playing captain. It was the only Ryder Cup not played on consecutive days. The teams attended a college football game in the middle of the matches. A strong American team lived up to expectations and won easily 9-1/2 to 2-1/2.
Three days later the North and South Open kicked off on the Pinehurst #2 course. The $7,500 purse was below the PGA’s minimum of $10,000 for a second straight year and thus unofficial in the PGA’s yearly records.. Even though the entrants were always charged a very low rate at the Carolina Hotel for room and meals, only four members of the US Ryder Cup team stayed around for the prestigious tournament which had been played since 1902. They were the defending champion Sam Snead, Henry Ransom, Skip Alexander and Clayton Heafner. Snead’s 1950 win was never recognized by the PGA as an official PGA Tour victory. Snead and Heafner withdrew after two rounds, Alexander missed the cut and Ransom played four rounds. All members of the British Ryder Cup Team were entered. Tommy Bolt won with a five under par 283. It was the last North and South Open ever held.
In mid November Ben Hogan was selected “PGA Player-of-the-Year” for the third time in four years. In 1949 when he didn’t win he was recovering from the automobile accident. The selection was made by a poll of sports writers and broadcasters. Hogan received 85 percent of the votes even though he only played in four tournaments. He won the Masters, U.S. Open, World Championship and he was fourth at the Colonial. In one other start he shot a 65 the first round of the Phoenix Open but had to withdraw due to illness. Hogan won $20,400 in official money and averaged 70.00 strokes per round. The leading money winner for the year was Lloyd Mangrum with $26,088. In eighth place on the money list was Skee Riegel with $10,882.17 and Ed Oliver finished tenth with $9,959.17. Dutch Harrison won $7,687.50 and ended up in the nineteenth place. Ted Kroll won $6,723.83 to finish twenty-fourth and Dave Douglas was 28th with $5,900. Joe Kirkwood, Jr. was in 31st place with $5,210. George Fazio won $4,026.67 for 37th place. Al Besselink won $2,803.33 to finish in 42nd place. Wall Wall won $589.66 for 78th place. Mangrum also led the scoring with 70.05 strokes per round because Hogan didn’t play enough tournament rounds to be eligible for the award.
The national PGA meeting was held at the Sheraton Hotel in Chicago at the end of November. There were now 30 PGA Sections. Horton Smith, an outstanding tournament player and club professional, was elected president. There was surprise opposition to Smith when the PGA Tour representative Dave Douglas nominated Harry Moffitt. Smith was elected by 57 votes to 19 for Moffitt. Moffitt was elected secretary over Harold Sargent and then Sargent was elected treasurer unopposed. Howard Capps resigned as the PGA Tour tournament supervisor. Capps had been an assistant at the Shawnee Inn & Country Club in the 1947 and 1948. The delegates from the Philadelphia Section were Al MacDonald and John Hayes.
The Philadelphia Section held an unusual mid-winter meeting on the third Monday of December, The Section’s delegates to the national meeting, Al MacDonald and John Hayes, reported on the meeting. The Section had been complimented at the meeting for its continuation of the veteran’s rehabilitation program and the success of the program. The Korean War was being fought and just like World War II there were wounded soldiers in need of rehabilitation. MacDonald had followed Leo Diegel as the chairman of the Section’s Rehabilitation Program and he jumped back into action. MacDonald, his co-chairman Angelo Paul and their committee of golf professionals instructed 200 wounded veterans from the Naval Hospital at the League Island Golf Course on how to hold and swing a golf club. They also instructed 400 wounded veterans at the Valley Forge Hospital where the golf course that the professionals and green superintendents had built was still in operation. Golf Association of Philadelphia president, J. Wood Platt, was in attendance and promised close cooperation with the PGA.
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The Senior PGA Championship was played at the PGA National Golf Club in Dunedin, Florida in the second week of January. Portland, Maine’s Ernie Newnham won with a 75 and a 71 for 146. Al Watrous, who had won the tournament the last two years, finished second at 147. Louis Chiapetta, Charley McKenna, Harry Schwab and Phil Turnesa tied for fourth with 148s. Ed Dudley tied for 17th with a 153. Harold Calloway (154), the head professional at the Skytop Club and Al MacDonald (153) tied for 23rd. There were 106 entries.
Ted Kroll won the $10,000 San Diego Open in the third week of January. Kroll put together rounds of 65, 69, 72 and 70 for a twelve under par 276. The 65 in the first round was a course record. The 65 was a remarkable score as Kroll played most of the round in a driving rainstorm. The course was waterlogged for all four rounds as the rain persisted. The other professionals in the tournament described the 276 score close to a miracle. Jimmy Demaret finished second at 279, three strokes off the winning pace. Jay Hebert and Jim Ferrier tied for third with 282s. Skee Riegel (283) and Ed Furgol (283) tied for fifth. Riegel’s last round of 70 was made up of eight birdies, six bogies and four pars. First prize was $2,000.
At the Phoenix Open in February Dave Douglas was reelected to the PGA Tour seven-man tournament committee. The next election was scheduled to be held just prior to the PGA’s annual meeting that fall.
Henry Williams, Jr. won the $10,000 Tucson Open at the El Rio Golf and Country Club in the first week of February. With a first round 68 he trailed the leaders by just three strokes and a second round 65 moved him within one stroke of the leaders. Skee Riegel was one of the leaders with 68-64. On Saturday he grabbed a two-stroke lead with a par round of 70 as thirty-five mile-per-hour winds made the scoring very difficult. Riegel posted a 74. Sunday was another windy day and Williams put together a steady 71 for a 274 total and a two-stroke victory. Cary Middlecoff came in with a 67, the low round by two strokes on Sunday, and finished second with 276. Riegel finished third at 278. Lloyd Mangrum, Joe Moore and amateur Frank Stranahan tied for fourth with 279s. First prize was $2,000. It was an accomplishment for a true club professional like Williams to win a PGA Tour event. The PGA Tour was now mostly composed of full time touring pros, some club professionals who joined the tour for the winter events and the local pros that played when the tour was nearby. Williams usually managed to win $800 or $900 in three months on the Winter PGA Tour but 1952 was certainly going to be better. He said that he usually didn’t quite break even but the experience was invaluable.
Al Besselink and Babe Zaharias won the International Mixed Two-Ball Open on the fourth Sunday of February. The tournament was played at the Dubsdread Country Club in Orlando. The format was selective drive-alternate shot. Some of the teams were both professionals, some were both amateurs and some were one of each. Qualifying was held on Tuesday for 32 spots in the championship flight. In a 36 hole final played through an all day rain the Besselink–Zaharias team prevailed by the slim margin of one-up over amateurs Dick Chapman, the British Amateur titleholder, and Edean Anderson. Both teams made birdie fours on the final hole. Two of the male name players in the field of 111 teams were Sam Snead and Gene Sarazen
Sam Snead picked up a second green jacket at the Masters Tournament in early April. Even though thirteen players broke par the first day only Snead was under par at the end of 72 holes. The last two days the wind blew and the scores soared. Snead won by four strokes with a 286. Snead’s rounds were 70, 67, 77 and 72. Jack Burke, Jr. finished second at 290. Merchantville’s Al Besselink tied for third with Tommy Bolt and Jim Ferrier at 291. First prize was $4,000 and Besselink won $1,366.66. George Fazio (297), now the playing pro from the Pine Valley Golf Club, Skee Riegel (297) and Ted Kroll (297) tied for 14th. They each won $442.50. Joe Kirkwood, Jr. (298) tied for 19th and won $420. Ed Oliver (304), who was now back playing the PGA Tour full time, and Dave Douglas (304) tied for 30th. They each won $200.
The Section’s spring meeting was held on the first Monday of April at the Riverton Country Club. There were now 3,032 PGA members in the country and 194 Section members. A pro-pro tournament with the pros being paired by blind draw preceded the meeting. The guest speaker was the treasurer of the PGA of America, Harold Sargent. Willie Polumbo, the tournament chairman and professional at the Kennett Square Golf & Country Club, presented the members with the tournament schedule. There were 35 events and Polumbo stated that there might be a few additions.
The week after the Masters Tournament Dave Douglas won the $10,000 Greensboro Open at the Starmount Forest Country Club. After a disappointing 73 in the opening round Douglas came through with a course record 64 in the second round. That put him in position to win as he trailed the leader Ed Oliver by just one stroke. He shot a steady round of 71 in the third round and a last round 69 produced a seven under par 277. This allowed him to edge out Bobby Locke by one stroke. Oliver, Sam Snead and Jim Ferrier tied for third at 279. Snead was in the lead playing the par-three 17th hole but a four over par seven ended his chance of winning. Snead played the hole in five strokes and he was also assessed a two-stroke penalty for taking a penalty drop from a lateral hazard that was nearer the hole than it should have been. Art Wall (280), who played the PGA Tour from the Pocono Manor Golf Club led after the third round and finished sixth alone, one stroke in front of Skee Riegel (281). First prize was $2,000.
Qualifying for the PGA Championship was at the Torresdale-Frankford Country Club on the third Monday in May. Charley Lepre brought in the low score with a 147. Lepre turned in a one under par 70 in the morning and he came back with a 77 in the afternoon. There were forty starters and Lepre had the only sub-par round. Rod Munday, Walter Brickley and Johnny Weitzel who was now the head professional at the Hershey Country Club tied for second with 148s. Henry Williams, Jr. turned in a 150 to win the fifth spot. Atlantic City Country Club head professional Buck Worsham also made the grade with a 151. There were seven openings (one for every 28 Section members) and three players tied for seventh with 152s. On the next Monday Bala Driving Range professional John Lewis (73) grabbed the last spot by defeating Felix Serafin (76) and Tony Midiri (79), who operated the Swing Rite Driving Range with his brother Paul, in an 18-hole playoff. Dave Douglas, Ted Kroll and Ed Oliver were exempt off having been in the top thirty on the 1951 PGA Tour money list.
Art Wall, Johnny Weitzel and Henry Williams, Jr. qualified for the U.S. Open at the Woodcrest Country Club on the first Monday in June. Wall was low with 71-70 for 141. Weitzel turned in a 144 and Williams posted a 145. There was a record 1,688 entries in the country, which meant about one in twelve would qualify to join the exempt players in Dallas. Dave Douglas, Al Besselink and Skee Riegel were exempt by having been in the top twenty in the U.S. Open the previous year.
Ted Kroll, George Fazio and Bo Wininger, who was now a professional playing out of the Atlantic City Country Club, also qualified for the U.S. Open in St. Louis on the first Tuesday of June. Wininger finished second with a 136 and Kroll tied for 6th at 142. Fazio got under the wire with a 145. The medalist was Fred Haas, Jr. with a 133.
Ed Oliver qualified for the U.S. Open on the first Tuesday of June also. Oliver grabbed one of eight spots at the St. Andrews Country Club near Chicago, with a 70 and a 72 for 142. Sam Bernardi led with a 140 and the 143s played off. There were eight spots in Chicago.
The PGA and Life Magazine cosponsored the first National Golf Day. As the defending U.S. Open champion Ben Hogan shot a target round at the Northwood Club in Dallas, site of that year’s championship. Golfers from all parts of the country paid $1 each for the opportunity to compete against Hogan using their handicaps on their own course. The ones who won received a badge saying, “I Beat the Champion”. Eighty thousand dollars was raised for charity.
In the first week of June Dave Douglas picked up his second win of year on the PGA Tour. It came at the $15,000 Ardmore Open at the Dornick Hills Country Club in Ardmore, Oklahoma. The touring pros called it the “Poor Boys Open” because it was usually scheduled with poor dates and leading money winners weren’t entered. Waco Turner, a wealthy oilman, owned the course and sponsored the tournament. First prize was $2,400 but before the tournament started Turner added another $3,000 to the first prize. He also paid out bonus money in the form of $10 for all birdies, $100 for daily low rounds, $5 for each stroke under par in a round and $250 for eagles. Douglas put together steady rounds of 70, 68, 69 and 72 for a one under par 279. The host pro Dutch Harrison, finished second at 281 just missing out on a large bonus. His employer, Turner, had said that he would pay a $6,000 bonus if his pro won the tournament. Lloyd Mangrum (282) and Julius Boros (283) finished third and fourth. Al Besselink, Ted Kroll and Roberto De Vicenzo tied for fifth with 284s. Harrison had been a member of the Philadelphia Section the year before.
Once again George Fazio and Ed Oliver put together very good U.S. Opens. The Open was played at the Northwood Club in Dallas during the second week of June. Fazio opened with a 71 and added on a second round 69. That put him in second place two strokes behind Ben Hogan going into the last day’s 36-hole finish. A pair of 75s left Fazio (290) in fifth place as Julius Boros handled the Texas heat better than everyone else. Boros won by four strokes with rounds of 71, 71, 68 and 71 for a 281. Oliver shot a 70 and a 72 the last day to place second by himself at 285. Hogan (286) finished third and Johnny Bulla (287) was fourth. First prize from the $14,900 purse was $4,000. Oliver won $2,500 and Fazio won $600. Ted Kroll tied for seventh at 292 and won $350. Bo Wininger (298), Henry Williams, Jr. (304), Johnny Weitzel (306) and Art Wall (308) made the cut and each won $100. Skee Riegel, Al Besselink and Dave Douglas missed the cut.
The PGA Championship was played in Louisville, Kentucky at the Big Spring Country Club and qualifying began four days after the U.S. Open ended. At that time the PGA always gave the host pro an exemption into the tournament. As the U.S. Open winner Julius Boros was invited to play in the PGA Championship even though he wasn’t a PGA member yet. To invite Boros the PGA by-laws were temporarily changed. Boros played a practice round but he then decided to withdraw because of the controversy his invitation had created among the pros. Henry Williams, Jr. shot a 138 to finish third in the qualifying and Dave Douglas was one stroke behind at 139. The medalist with a 136 was Dutch Harrison, who was now the pro at a club in Ardmore, Oklahoma. Ted Kroll (142) and Charley Lepre (145) also made it safely. There were 64 places on the match play ladder to qualify for and the 147 scores played off. It was the lowest qualifying cutoff score in the history of the PGA Championship. There were twelve players at 147 for nine spots and one of those was Johnny Weitzel, who was eliminated on the first hole. Rod Munday, Buck Worsham, John Lewis, Walter Brickley and Ed Oliver also failed to make it through the on-site qualifying test. The first two rounds of matches were 18 holes each and after that the matches were 36 holes. Lepre lost in the first round to Chandler Harper 6&5. Douglas won his first round match against Johnny Palmer 2&1 and lost in the second round to Walter Burkemo one-down. Williams won two matches as he beat Jim Gantz 5&4 and Jack Jones one-down. In the third round Williams was defeated 6&5 by Chick Harbert. Kroll made it all the way to the semifinals before losing to Jim Turnesa 4&2. To get to the semis Kroll defeated Lawson Little one-down, Lloyd Mangrum two-down, Ray Hansberger 2&1 and Cary Middlecoff in 38 holes. After 26 years of second place finishes in major professional tournaments by the Turnesa brothers Jim Turnesa came through with a victory. In the finals Turnesa defeated Harbert one-down. Harbert had beaten Bob Hamilton 2&1 in the semifinals. The purse was $17,700 and first prize was $3,500.
Another Philadelphia product, Al Besselink, won on the PGA Tour at the Sioux City Open in late July. It was the first win on the PGA Tour for Besselink. He opened with a 65 on the 6,506 yard Elmwood Country Club course to lead by two strokes. In the next two rounds Besselink added a 70 and a 67 to trail by three strokes. A last round eight under par 64, which included two eagle 3s and a back nine 31, brought him in with a four stroke victory over Jerry Barber (270). Besselink represented various clubs around the country from time to time but he always had a home in Merchantville, New Jersey. The tournament purse was $15,000 and first prize was $2,400. Jim Turnesa and Jimmy Clark tied for third with 272s.
Pat Tiso was the medalist at the Section Championship. His 67 tied the tournament record for the Shawnee Inn & Country Club as eight players finished under the par of 72. The tournament was played in the third week of August and Harry Obitz was the host pro again. There were 72 entries and the low 64 qualified for the match play rounds. An old name but a new face won the title. John Serafin, the 23-year-old son of Felix Serafin and the head professional at the Elk View Country Club, outlasted a former winner Matt Kowal in the final round that went 38 holes. Kowal made a 20-foot birdie putt on the 36th hole to send the match into overtime. In the sudden death playoff both players made pars on the first hole and then Serafin holed a four-foot birdie putt on the par five second extra hole to wrap up the win. In the semifinals Serafin eliminated Charley Lepre 3&1 and Kowal sent home the defending champion Rod Munday by the margin of 3&2.
On the first Sunday of September Ted Kroll caught and passed Skee Riegel to win the first Insurance City Open. On day one of the tournament Riegel and Art Wall had each posted five under par 66s over the Wethersfield Country Club to lead by one stroke. Riegel put together a 67 in the second round to lead the field by four strokes and he posted a steady 71 on Saturday, which allowed him to stay in front by two. On Sunday the remains of a hurricane blew in while the players were on the back nine. The winds were strong enough to uproot several small trees around the golf course. Kroll had played the front nine in 31 strokes and he got around the back nine in par 36 for an eleven under par 273. Riegel (276) turned in a 73 and finished tied for second with Lawson Little (276) and Earl Stewart (276). Kroll’s four rounds were 69, 70, 67 and 67. First prize was $2,400 and the purse totaled $15,000.
The 15th Frank H. Wood Memorial tournament was played at the Jeffersonville Golf Club on the second Monday of September. The one-day tournament attracted a strong field as the touring pros were on their way from Albany where the Empire State Open had just been played to the Eastern Open in Baltimore. The tournament ended in tie as Al Besselink and Tommy Bolt posted five under par 65s, just missing Ed Dudley’s course record of 64. There was no playoff and they were declared co-champions. Rod Munday finished third with a 66 and Terl Johnson was next at 67. Besselink and Bolt each picked up $275. The total purse was $1,000 and the tournament committee promised that it would be larger in 1953. There were 92 pros in the field and some of the other name pros were Ed Oliver, Dave Douglas, George Fazio, Jimmy Thompson, Marty Furgol, Bob Duden, Dow Finsterwald and Jimmy Clark. On Tuesday the amateurs competed in the amateur division. Eighteen-year-old Bob Schoener, Jr., who had won the Pennsylvania Public Links Championship that summer, produced a 65 of his own. Jimmy McHale and Leo Heller tied for second with 72s.
George Fazio won a second Philadelphia Open on the fourth Monday of September at the North Hills Country Club. Fazio started off with a four over par nine on the second hole but hung in to finish with a three over par 74 total for his morning round. In the afternoon Fazio put together a 69. Fazio’s 143 score gave him the Philly Open title by one stroke. That was Fazio’s first appearance in the tournament since he won in 1949. Ken Gibson and reinstated amateur Howard Everitt tied for second with 144s. Charley Lepre was next in fourth place with a 146. Rod Munday, Mike Souchak the playing professional from the Valley Forge Golf Club, and amateur Wes Steinman tied for fifth with 147s. The entry was one of the largest in the history of the tournament. First prize was $350.
The Pennsylvania Open was held at the St. Davids Golf Club and the Gulph Mills Golf Club on the first Monday of October. At the conclusion of the one-day 36-hole championship George Griffin, Jr. and a 23-year old amateur, Arnold Palmer, were tied at 143. Palmer was on a three-day leave from the Coast Guard. Griffin (69 GM-74 SD) and Palmer (71 GM-72 SD) both encountered problems at St. Davids on two holes that were thought by the members to be among the easier ones. Griffin came to the short 18th hole at St. Davids in position to finish with what looked to be a good chance to win, but it was difficult to tell with half of the field playing the other course in each round. Griffin put his second shot in the front bunker, played his third shot onto the green and then three-putted for a double-bogey six. In Palmer’s round he had made a double-bogey on the short par three 6th-hole. By the time that all of the scores were tabulated from the two courses it was dark. Griffin had the $500 first place money in hand and the next day he picked up the title as well by defeating Palmer in an 18-hole playoff at Gulph Mills with a 73 versus a 76 for Palmer. The 23-year-old Palmer wasn’t well known in eastern Pennsylvania but he had already won the West Penn Amateur five times. Ken Gibson was close again with a third place finish. George Fazio tied for fourth with the defending champion Johnny Bulla at 146. Art Wall, Mike Souchak and Leo Anderson tied for sixth with 147s.
In the second week of October the Valley Forge Cup was played at the Plymouth Country Club. The tournament format was selective drive from the first tee and alternate stroke from there on. The two-man teams were made up of pros and amateurs who had been paired by a blind draw. In one semifinal match the team of Tony Midiri and Aronimink’s George Rowbotham defeated Bill Boyle and Green Valley’s Sam Robinson 3&2. In the other match Mike Souchak and Newark’s Ellis Taylor eliminated Henry Poe and Plymouth’s Doug Bradley. In the 36-hole finals Midiri and Rowbotham soundly defeated Souchak and Taylor by the count of 6&4.
The annual meeting of the Philadelphia Section was held at the Atlantic City Country Club on the third Monday of October. There was a pro-pro event in the afternoon and dinner was served at 6:00. The meeting was held after the dinner. Henry Poe was elected president. The election of Poe was a little unusual since he had never been an officer or served on a committee in the Section but he had been handpicked by his predecessor Al MacDonald. Bill Boyle was reelected first vice president and Willie Polumbo was elected second vice president. John Hayes and Walter Brickley were reelected secretary and treasurer. Ed Tabor was the vice president at-large.
Bill Moran won the Section Stroke Play Championship in late October. The first round was played at the Tavistock Country Club on the fourth Friday of the month and the second round was at the Brandywine Country Club that next Monday. Moran (143) put together a two over par 74 at Tavistock and a three under par 69 at Brandywine to win by two strokes. He played the back nine at Brandywine in four under par, which which was jump started by three straight birdies. Terl Johnson and George Griffin, Jr. tied for second with 145s. Henry Williams, Jr. (147) and Bud Lewis (147) tied for fourth. The host professional was Carmen Steppo.
The national meeting of the PGA was in Chicago at the Sheraton Hotel during mid November. A proposal to change the PGA Championship was presented to the delegates. The change called for 72 holes of stroke play in two days with the low 15 going into match play with the defending champion. The club pros were opposed to this, as it would be more difficult for one of them to win. Dave Douglas, the national vice-president representing the PGA Tour thought it would be too much golf. The proposal was defeated 46 to 7. A vote, that did pass but by the slim margin of 33 to 32, was for authorization to move the national office from Chicago to Dunedin. A committee was appointed to revive the PGA Hall of Fame. Another committee was formed to work with the National Golf Foundation to encourage the construction of more golf courses. President Horton Smith, Secretary Harry Moffitt and Treasurer Harold Sargent were all reelected. Henry Poe and John Hayes were the Section’s delegates to the PGA meeting. They had been elected as the delegates to represent the Section at the fall meeting in October.
Julius Boros was voted the “PGA Player-of-the-Year” and he was the leading money winner on the PGA Tour with $37,032. He led Cary Middlecoff by more than $6,000. Ted Kroll led the Philadelphia Section pros with $17,500.00 as he placed fifth on the money list. Dave Douglas was seventh on the list with $15,173.33. Ed Oliver was in tenth place on the money list, Al Besselink finished fourteenth and Skee Riegel ended up in sixteenth place. Oliver won $13,359.17, Besselink took home $10,004.16 and Riegel earned $9,820.84. Art Wall won $3,730.99 for 33rd place. George Fazio won $3,542.50 in 9 tournaments. Joe Kirkwood, Jr. won $3,280 in 18 tournaments. Jack Burke, Jr. won the Vardon Trophy with an average of 70.54 strokes for 78 official rounds. The total prize money on the PGA Tour that year added up to more than $600,000.
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The PGA Senior Championship was won by Harry Schwab in mid January at Dunedin. A first round 66, which was a tournament record, gave him a commanding lead and a second round 76 gave him a total of 142 and the title. Schwab finished three strokes in front of Gene Sarazen (145), who was eligible for the tournament for the first time, and Charles McKenna (145). Harry Schwab was the father of Pat Schwab who would later win a number of tournaments in the Philadelphia Section in the early 1960s. Bill Goldbeck, Ralph Beech and John Watson tied for fourth with 146s. Al MacDonald tied for 16th with a 152.
As usual the Masters Tournament was played in the first full week of April at the Augusta National Golf Club. Ben Hogan won a second Masters in record fashion with a 274. He led by one at the halfway point with rounds of 70 and 69, and he never looked back. In the third round Hogan and Ed Oliver were paired together. Hogan shot a 66 and Oliver put together a 67. Their better-ball score for the round was 59. It was described by some as the greatest two-man competitive round in golf history. The 66 gave Hogan a four-stroke lead over Oliver. In the final round Oliver picked up one stroke with a front nine 35 but Hogan birdied the 13th after reaching the green in two and he led by four again. Hogan then birdied fifteen and eighteen for a 69 and a total of 274. Oliver finished with a 70, which put him in second place five shots back at 279. Lloyd Mangrum (282) and Bob Hamilton (284) finished third and fourth. Al Besselink finished in ninth place with a 288. Skee Riegel tied for 29th (297) and George Fazio tied for 51st (305) ended up below the top money places and received the guaranteed money of $200. At the presentation ceremony Bobby Jones announced that the prize money was being doubled which brought the total purse to $26,000. First prize was $4,000 and second was $2,500. Besselink won $600 and everyone who finished worse than 23rd received $200 each. Joe Kirkwood, Jr. withdrew after nine holes and he also received $200.
The Section’s spring meeting was held at the Broadwood Hotel in Philadelphia on the second Monday of April. The Section now had 217 members and 90 attended the meeting. The tournament chairman Willie Polumbo presented the tournament schedule to the members. They all signed a “get well” card for Babe Zaharias who was recovering from cancer surgery in a hospital in Beaumont, Texas. A representative from “Life” magazine attended the meeting to present the plans for National Golf Day that was on May 23.
In the fourth week of April Al Besselink won the $35,000 Tournament of Champions at the Desert Inn Country Club in Las Vegas. It was the first year that the tournament was held. The field was made up of 20 professionals, all tournament winners in the last twelve months. The only tournament winner who wasn’t there was Ben Hogan. Besselink’s rounds of 72, 68, 68 and 72 for an eight under par 280 won by one stroke. He holed a six-foot par putt on the last green to edge out Chandler Harper (281). Besselink was paid off with a wheelbarrow filled with silver dollars. He also had bet $500 on himself at 25 to 1, which put another $12,500 in his pocket. Because he had just heard that Babe Zaharias had been diagnosed with cancer he donated half of his $10,000 first prize to the Damon Runyan Cancer Fund. Besselink and Zaharias had won the International Two-Ball Championship at Orlando in February 1952. Cary Middlecoff, Johnny Palmer, Lloyd Mangrum and Lew Worsham tied for third at 285.
On the last Monday in May George Fazio toured the Reading Country Club twice in 69-66 for a seven under par 135 to qualify for the PGA Championship. Henry Williams, Jr. finished one stroke higher at 136 and Johnny Weitzel shot 139. Next in line was Charley Lepre, the new head professional at the Tavistock Country Club, with a 142. Stan Dudas ended up in fifth place with a 144. The last two places went to Rod Munday and Angelo Paul who both turned in 145s. Ed Oliver and Dave Douglas were exempt off having been among the top 30 money winners on the PGA Tour in 1952.
Qualifying for the U.S. Open was held at the North Hills Country Club and the Manufacturers Golf & Country Club on the first Monday in June. The USGA had come up with a new qualifying method. Twice as many qualifying places were up for grabs at the local level. A total of 299 exempt players and local qualifiers would advance to Pittsburgh for a second qualifier at the site of the Open. There were 1,649 entries. The Philadelphia region had fifteen spots. Dave Douglas (136) set a hot pace with a 69 at North Hills and a 67 at Manufacturers to lead a large field by five strokes. Amateur Harry Haverstick and amateur Lynn Creason grabbed the second and third spots with a 141 and a 143. Three other Section members who made the grade were Johnny Weitzel at 144, Charley Lepre at 146 and Henry Williams, Jr. at 147. Paul Midiri and Bud Lewis posted 148s to tie for eighth. Bob Schoener, Jr., assistant to his father at the Green Pond Golf Club, Walter Brickley and a future Section member, amateur Joe Hoch, were at 149. John Serafin, who was working for his father at the Fox Hill Country Club, along with amateurs Don Weiland and Alex Sott, tied for the last three spots with 150s. They survived a sudden-death playoff with three other players. The first alternate was amateur Dick Chapman, who later got in as an alternate. Ed Oliver and George Fazio were exempt off their 2nd and 5th place showings in the 1952 Open as the top twenty and ties were exempt. The entry fee was $10. John Lewis, who had shot a 151 in the qualifying round, got in as the fourth alternate when the USGA allotted another spot to Philadelphia. Lewis received a wire from the USGA the afternoon before the U.S. Open was getting under way. He was able to make it to Pittsburgh in time for the on-site prequalifying event that was beginning the next day.
On that same first Monday of June Art Wall and Al Besselink qualified in St. Louis for the U.S. Open. With the help of an afternoon 65 Wall qualified with a 142, which was just one stroke off the leader. Gardner Dickinson led the qualifiers with a 141. Besselink also made the grade with strokes to spare with a 143. A score of 148 qualified there. The PGA Tour had been in St. Louis so the players were competing for 25 places in the Open.
Mike Souchak also qualified for the U.S. Open on the first Monday of June at the Winged Foot Golf Club in New York. He posted scores of 72 and 78 for a 150 that tied for 11th on Winged Foot Golf Club’s East and West courses. There were 22 spots in New York. Mickey Homa led with a 140 and the 152 scores played off.
The U.S. Open was held near Pittsburgh at the Oakmont Country Club in the second week of June. The 299 professionals and amateurs who had either qualified locally or had exemption status were all now required to play a second 36-hole on-site qualifier. The qualifier was held on Tuesday and Wednesday and play in the championship began on Thursday. They played one round at Oakmont and one round at The Pittsburgh Field Club. The 150 lowest scores and ties qualified and all scores of 156 or better made the grade. The ties were not played off and 157 players advanced to the championship. California pro Jimmy Clark led with a 136. Eight professionals from the Philadelphia region qualified. Al Besselink and Ed Oliver led the Philadelphia contingent with 146s, one stroke ahead of Johnny Weitzel (147). George Fazio posted a 150 and Mike Souchak was next at 151. Dave Douglas and Henry Williams, Jr. turned in 155s and Art Wall made it on the cut number at 156. Walter Brickley, Charley Lepre, Bud Lewis, John Lewis, Paul Midiri, Bob Schoener, Jr. and John Serafin didn’t make it through the on-site second qualifying rounds.
When the U.S. Open got under way Ben Hogan went right to the front with a five-under-par 67. George Fazio was in second place with a 70. After two rounds Fazio was still in second place two strokes behind Hogan who around in 72 strokes. With the usual double round on Saturday Hogan stayed close to par with a 73 and a 71 to win a fourth U.S. Open by six strokes with a score of 283. Sam Snead (289) ended up in second place and Lloyd Mangrum (292) finished third. Fazio had another solid Open with a tie for fourth at 294 with Jimmy Demaret and Pete Cooper. The prize money was increased by $5,000 to $20,400. First prize was $5,000 and Fazio won $816.67. Art Wall (301) tied for 26th, winning $150 and Ed Oliver (316), who was near the end of the money list won $150 also. Johnny Weitzel, Mike Souchak, Henry Williams, Jr., Dave Douglas and Al Besselink missed the cut.
The Pennsylvania Open was held at the Hershey Country Club on the Monday after the U.S. Open ended. The town of Hershey was celebrating its 50th anniversary. For the first time since 1938 there were entries from outside Pennsylvania. There were seven full or part time touring pros entered among the 80 entries. The first prize left the state as Bo Wininger, now playing out of Oklahoma City, grabbed the title with a 71-72 for a three-under-par 143. It was his first victory as a professional. The defending champion, George Griffin, Jr., and Jim Coleman, an assistant at Oakmont Country Club, tied for second at 144. Lew Worsham finished fourth one stroke farther back at 145. Smiley Quick, playing out of Los Angeles and the host professional Johnny Weitzel tied for fifth with 146s. The purse was $2,300 and first prize was $1,000.
The PGA Championship was played near Detroit at the Birmingham Country Club in the first week of July. Seven of the nine Philadelphia Section pros qualified for the match play as Johnny Palmer led with 134. George Fazio and Rod Munday qualified with 143s. Ed Oliver posted a solid 145. Dave Douglas, Stan Dudas and Johnny Weitzel all posted 148s. Henry Williams, Jr. (149) squeezed in through a seven-man for four places playoff. Angelo Paul and Charley Lepre missed qualifying. The first two rounds of matches were 18 holes and matches after that were each 36 holes. Oliver, Dudas, Munday, Fazio and Weitzel were put out in the first round and three of them lost in extra holes. Dudas went out at the hand of Iverson Martin by 6&5. Munday lost to Leonard Dodson 3&1. Fazio went extra holes with Broyles Plemmons and lost on the 22nd hole. Weitzel also went extra holes and lost to Ed Furgol on the 20th hole. Williams put out Oliver in the first round on the 20th hole and he defeated Charlie Bassler 3&1 in the second round before losing by 4&3 to Jimmy Clark in the third round. Douglas won three matches to advance to the quarterfinals and all three went extra holes, which tied a tournament record. In the first round Douglas took out Lew Worsham in 20 holes, in the second round he defeated Sam Snead on the 19th hole and in the third round he eliminated Jackson Bradley in 37 holes. Douglas lost two-down in the quarter-finals to Walter Burkemo. The new PGA champion was Burkemo who had lost in the finals in 1951. This time he stepped up and grabbed the major title by defeating Felice Torza 2 & 1. In the semifinals Torza beat Jack Isaacs in 39 holes and Burkemo defeated Claude Harmon one-down. The purse was $20,700 and first prize was $5,000.
One day after the PGA Championship came to a conclusion the British Open got under way at the Carnoustie Golf Club in Angus, Scotland. The people that Ben Hogan trusted had been telling him that his career would be more complete if he could win the British Open so he decided to enter for the first time. Since the PGA Championship was more golf than his damaged legs could manage it made his decision to enter much easier. Hogan arrived ten days early in order to get to know the course, which was considered to be the most difficult of the British Open venues. Also he needed to adapt his game to the smaller 1.62 British golf ball versus 1.68 inch American ball. Hogan began with a one over par 73 in the first round and he turned in a lower score in each round. The second day he shot a 71 and the third day, which called for 36-holes, he was around in 70-68. His 282 total brought him home four strokes in front of four players. Peter Thomson, Antonio Cerda, Dai Rees and amateur Frank Stranahan tied for second at 286. First prize was 500 British Pounds. The victory made Hogan the first player to win three modern major titles in one season.
The week after the U.S. Open Dave Douglas won the Canadian Open at the Scarboro Golf Club in Toronto. He started with a 68, 70 and 69 to trail the leader by four strokes entering the last round. With three holes to go he was still trailing but a birdie, birdie, birdie finish for a 66 gave him a 273 and put him one stroke up on Wally Ulrich (274). First prize from the $15,000 purse was $3,000. Dutch Harrison finished third at 276. Gardner Dickinson and Canadian Pat Fletcher tied for fourth with 277s. This was the forty-fourth Canadian Open and it was the fifteenth time that a professional who either was or would be a Philadelphia Section member won the tournament.
Ed Oliver won the $17,500 Kansas City Open near Kansas City, Missouri in the fourth week of July. The tournament was played near Kansas City at the Milburn Golf & Country Club. Oliver led the first day with a seven under par 65. The next two days he tacked on a 69 and a 70. On Sunday Oliver turned in another 65 for 269 and a two-stroke win over Marty Furgol (271). Oliver had shot a 62 in the tournament on the same course in 1950. First prize was $3,000. Earl Stewart finished third at 273. Bo Wininger, Lloyd Mangrum and Jim Turnesa tied for fourth with 274s. Art Wall (276) made seven birdies on the front nine to help himself move up to seventh place with a 67.
In the second week of August a golf tournament was televised to a national audience for the first time. George S. May’s World Championship, which was held at his Tam O’Shanter Country Club in Chicago, was televised by ABC. The TV viewers were treated to an unbelievable conclusion when Lew Worsham holed out a pitching-wedge shot from 140-yards on the 72nd hole to edge out Chandler Harper by one stroke. Harper had just holed a two-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole to finish with a total of 279, which looked like the winning score. Worsham, playing right behind Harper, then holed his wedge shot for an eagle two, to finish at 278. First prize was $25,000, which was more than the total purse at any PGA Tour event that year. Second place paid $15,000. Al Besselink, who was paired with Harper, ended up in third place at 281 and won $5,000. Cary Middlecoff, Jim Ferrier and Fred Haas, Jr. tied for fourth with 282 totals. Coincidentally Lew Worsham also won the first televised golf tournament when he won the 1947 U.S. Open, which was aired locally in St. Louis. The tournament carried a total purse of $75,000 of which $12,000 went to the women’s division that was being held at the same time.
The Wood Memorial, held on the last Monday of August, had another strong field. It was played one day after the Insurance City Open, which was in Hartford, Connecticut. Several touring professionals stopped off on their way to the National Celebrities Open in Rockville, Maryland. Former Jeffersonville assistant pro George Fazio, who played the tour off and on and owned an auto dealership in Conshohocken, put together six birdies and one bogey for a 65 to take the midday lead. Michigan professional Max Evans, who had driven in from Hartford and was in need of sleep, took a four hour nap in the locker-room. He teed off in the afternoon, played even par on the front nine and then shot a five under par 31 on the back nine to tie Fazio for the lead at 65 which held up. There was no playoff and they each won $275. The defending co-champion Al Besselink arrived late and joined the Evans pairing on the eighth hole. After putting out on the 18th hole Besselink played the first seven holes and was the last player off the course, finishing near dark. He posted a 66 and won third money. Bob Schoener, Jr. (67), the low amateur from the previous year and now an assistant to his father Bob Sr. at the Green Pond Golf Club, tied for fourth with League Island Golf Club professional Charlie Weiler (67). The purse of $1,000 was the same as the year before.
The Ryder Cup team was named in early August. The Philadelphia Section’s Ed Oliver and Dave Douglas were selected along with former Section members Sam Snead and Ted Kroll. There was concern that the U.S.A. wasn’t sending its strongest team. Dutch Harrison and Ben Hogan earned places on the team but declined the invitations. Harrison didn’t want to travel that far and Hogan didn’t feel that he could play 36 holes in a day. The executive committee of the PGA replaced them with Jim Turnesa and Walter Burkemo, the 1952 and 1953 PGA champions.
Art Wall picked up his first win on the PGA Tour at the $15,000 Ft. Wayne Open in mid August. He played his first nine on the Elks Country Club in 30 and put together rounds of 66, 66, 68 and 65 to tie Cary Middlecoff for the top spot at the end of 72 holes. In the last round Wall had two eagle twos when he holed out his second shots on short par fours and he made a ten-foot birdie putt on the last hole to get the tie. Their 265 totals were twenty-three under par. The next day Wall shot a 70 in the playoff against a 72 for Middlecoff to win by two strokes and earn the $2,400 first prize. Dave Douglas was alone in third place with a 267 one stroke ahead of Jimmy Clark (268). Ed Oliver finished fifth at 269.
The Section Championship was at the Shawnee Inn & Country Club again, in the third week of August. George Griffin, Jr., the son of the 1931 Section champion George Griffin, Sr., was the medalist with a five-under-par 67. This was the first year that he was eligible for the Section Championship. There were 78 entries and the low 64 qualified for the match play. The host was Harry Obitz who won two matches. The finalists were Pete DeAngelis, the head professional at the Plymouth Country Club, and Henry Williams, Jr. In the semifinals DeAngelis made a hole-in-one with a #5 iron on the “punch bowl” twelfth hole and a birdie 2 with a four-foot putt on the long eighteenth to defeat Jack Robinson one-down. Robinson and Griffin were assistants at the Green Valley Country Club. In the other semifinal match Williams played sub-par golf to defeat a former Section champion Terl Johnson 4&3. In the 36-hole finals DeAngelis won the first four holes but Williams came back to defeat DeAngelis by 3&2. Williams was six-under-par for the day. It was the second Section Championship title for Williams. The Philadelphia Bulletin trophy was presented by the singing star Jane Froman.
In late August the PGA Hall of Fame was revived and three of the greatest golf professionals of all time were selected. The nation’s sportswriters and sportscasters picked Ben Hogan, Sam Snead and Byron Nelson from a list of eleven nominees.
On the second Monday of September George Griffin, Jr. added the Philadelphia Open crown to his victory at the Pennsylvania Open the previous year. The tournament was played at his home course where his father, George Griffin, Sr. was the head professional. Griffin, Sr. had won the Philadelphia Open in 1932. High winds and firm greens made the scoring difficult for the 101 entries. There were only two rounds of par 71 shot all day. Griffin’s 75-71 for 146 nipped George Fazio (147) by one stroke. Bud Lewis and Ralph Hutchison tied for third with 152s. The purse was $1,000 and first prize was $350. Eight pros received checks.
Johnny Schuebel won the first Philadelphia Section Senior Championship ever held, on the second Thursday of September. The tournament came to be when Teacher and Son’s, a scotch whiskey company from Scotland, began sponsoring the PGA of America Senior Championship. Part of the agreement with the PGA was that the low qualifier from each PGA Section would have their expenses paid to the championship in Dunedin, Florida. It included the cost of travel and living expenses. The tournament was held at the Old York Road Country Club. At the end of the 18 hole round Schuebel, the professional at the Oak Terrace Country Club, and Harold Calloway were tied with four over par 73s. A sudden death playoff was held, beginning on the 245-yard par three first hole, which Schuebel won with a par. Charlie Schneider and A.B. Thorn, the professional at the Lancaster Country Club, tied for third with 78s. Two representatives of the Teacher Scotch company were on hand to congratulate the winner. Even though a senior was not the low qualifier, he could still play in the PGA Senior Championship at his own expense.
On the third weekend in September the ten-man Ryder Cup team played a challenge match at the Reading Country Club. The event was put together to raise money for the trip to Great Britain and to reimburse the pros for lost paydays. Dave Douglas and Ed Oliver were on the Ryder Cup team. There was a strong team of challengers captained by Jimmy Demaret and made up of pros that almost made the team. George Fazio, Henry Williams, Jr. and Al Besselink played for the challengers. The 20 pros participated in a pro-am at the Berkshire Country Club the day before the challenge match. On Saturday they played five better-ball matches. The next morning they played five scotch foursomes matches and in the afternoon there were ten singles matches. The Ryder Cup Team defeated the challengers 12 1/2 to 7 1/2 but the fundraiser was the focus. The Ryder Cup Team members each received $850 and the challengers were paid $400 apiece. Another $2,500 was raised to help defray the team’s expenses. The team members were then off to the Concord Hotel in the Catskill Mountains for practice and a farewell dinner before taking a flight to London.
The Ryder Cup matches were held at the Wentworth Golf Club in early October. The American team was thought to be a little weak since Ben Hogan and Dutch Harrison who had made the team were not there. Harrison declined to travel overseas and Hogan declined, saying that the 36-hole matches were too much for his legs. The British team had a great opportunity to win but two four-foot putts that were missed on the final green gave the Americans a 6-1/2 to 5-1/2 win. Ed Oliver and Dave Douglas were paired together in the foursomes the first day and they won an important point. On the second day in the last match on the course Douglas picked up a tie in his singles match as a result of one of the missed putts on the home green. Sam Snead and Ted Kroll were also on the team.
The annual meeting of the Philadelphia Section was at the Atlantic City Country Club on the first Monday of October. A pro-pro tournament was held in the afternoon and the meeting was in the evening. There was a scratch pro-am the next day. Henry Poe was reelected president. Bill Boyle was reelected first vice president and Leo Fraser, owner and president of the Atlantic City Country Club, was elected second vice president. John Hayes was reelected secretary and Walt Silkworth, the head professional at the Rydal Country Club, was elected treasurer. Walter Brickley, who had been first elected in 1935, stepped down after nineteen years as the treasurer. Brickley was also the secretary for the first five of those years. Ed Tabor and Harry Obitz were vice presidents at-large.
Dave Douglas was reelected to the PGA Tournament Committee in the second week of October. He had been on the committee for three years. For three years he had been the chairman of the committee which made him a vice-president of the PGA of America. As the vice-president he represented the PGA Tour at the PGA of America’s national meeting.
The PGA of America’s annual meeting was held in Detroit at the Sheraton-Cadillac Hotel during the second week of November. President Horton Smith, Secretary Harry Moffitt and Treasurer Harold Sargent were reelected without opposition. The delegates voted down a proposal to change their championship from match play to stroke play. Ben Hogan received the “PGA Player-of-the-Year” award. It was the fourth time he had won the award in the six years of its existence. Harry Radix, who the scoring average trophy had been named for at one time, accepted the award for Hogan. The PGA announced that $68,000 had been raised and given out to various charities and golf projects. Henry Poe and John Hayes were the delegates to the national meeting.
The leading money winner on the PGA Tour was Lew Worsham with $34,002.00. Ed Oliver was seventh on the list with $18,125.14 and Dave Douglas was 17th with winnings of $13,363.25. Art Wall finished 20th winning $10,839.05 and Al Besselink was 21st with winnings of $10,386.33. Skee Riegel won $5,285 in 21 tournaments, making the cut in all 21. George Fazio won $1,436.66. Mike Souchak won $845 for 86th place. The scoring leader for the Vardon Trophy was Lloyd Mangrum with 70.22 strokes per round.
The year ended with 5,026 golf courses in the country. Of those courses 2,970 were private. There were 665 less courses than there were in 1931 and there were also 1,458 less private courses. The Great Depression and World War II had taken a toll on golf.
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In late January a familiar name, Gene Sarazen, won the Senior PGA Championship at Dunedin, Florida. The tournament had been expanded to three rounds and Sarazen won with a two-under-par 214. Sarazen won with rounds of 67, 72 and 75 at the PGA National Golf Club. Perry Del Vecchio and Al Watrous tied for second with 216s. John Watson finished fourth at 219. The purse was $5,000 and Sarazen won $1,000. The pros didn’t realize it but that week the PGA Merchandise show was born. Section senior champion Johnny Schuebel missed the cut. That year the PGA Winter Tournament Program was in its first year so many of the younger PGA members were at Dunedin along with the seniors. During the Senior Championship the pro-golf salesmen set up card-tables and displayed their goods between the clubhouse and the first tee.
Skee Riegel was back home in the Philadelphia area as the professional at the Radnor Valley Country Club. Riegel was 39 years old and after a number of years on the tournament trail as an amateur and professional it was time to settle down.
Dave Douglas won the $30,000 Houston Open in early March at the Memorial Park Golf Course. Douglas began with a 70 and a 71 to trail by three strokes. A third round 69 and a last round 67 gave him a 277 total and the $6,000 first place check. The purse was one of the largest of the year. Cary Middlecoff finished second at 279. Ed Oliver, Ted Kroll, Fred Haas, Jr. and Shelly Mayfield tied for third with eight under par 280s.
Johnny Weitzel was back at the Hershey Country Club after a successful winter on the PGA Tour. Weitzel had third place finishes in both the Phoenix Open and the Mexican Open. He had won $1,678 on the Winter Tour and $1,387 at the Mexican Open.
In the second week of April Dave Douglas, Al Besselink, Ed Oliver, Skee Riegel and George Fazio represented the Philadelphia Section in the Masters Tournament. An amateur, Billy Joe Patton, had a great chance to win but in the end it was Ben Hogan and Sam Snead tied at the top with 289s. Patton finished third one stroke back with the help of a last round 71 that included a hole-in-one. Dutch Harrison and Lloyd Mangrum tied for fourth with 291s. The next day Snead got by Hogan to win the title with a 70 against a 71. Besselink (24) led the Philadelphia pros with a tie for ninth and won $781. Oliver (299) finished tied for 22nd and won $443. Fazio (302) tied for 33rd, Riegel (303) tied for 38th and Douglas (307) tied for 53rd. They all won the minimum prize, which was $250. The purse was $33,500 and first prize was $5,000.
The Section’s members met for their spring meeting on the second Monday of April at the Broadwood Hotel in Philadelphia. The officers announced that a Philadelphia PGA Caddie Scholarship Fund had been instituted. Holding tournaments at the professionals’ clubs and other means would raise money for the fund. Each year the Section’s professionals could nominate boys from their clubs for consideration. Leo Fraser had pushed the idea and Henry Poe appointed him chairman of the committee. There were fourteen other caddie scholarship funds in place in the United States but this was the first one sponsored by a PGA Section. Marty Lyons, who had been the tournament chairman in the 1930s, Section president in the 1940s and national secretary in 1949, was now the Section’s tournament chairman again. The Section presented Walter Brickley with a wristwatch in appreciation of his nineteen years of service as the treasurer of the Section.
Art Wall won the Tournament of Champions at Las Vegas in late April. The $35,000 purse and the $10,000 first prize were the second largest of the year. Wall started fast at the Desert Inn Country Club with a 69 and a 66 and coasted home with a 70 and a 73. His 278 total won by six strokes. Al Besselink and Lloyd Mangrum tied for second with 284s. The tie for second was worth $3,750 and Besselink picked up a bonus check of $1,000 for the low round the last day, a four under par 68. Besselink was the defending champion. Cary Middlecoff finished fourth at 285.
In May Ben Hogan announced that his line of golf clubs would soon be on the market and that they would be sold only through PGA pro shops. He said that he had enough faith in his fellow golf professionals to believe that it would work. Hogan had tried to hire George Izett as his club designer but when Izett decided to continue with his custom golf club company in Ardmore Hogan hired Izett’s top club maker.
Section qualifying for the PGA Championship was held on the first Monday of June at the Llanerch Country Club. The scores were low and Stan Dudas set a hot pace with a 65 in the morning round and a 73 in the afternoon for 138. Henry Williams, Jr. grabbed the next spot with a 140. George Fazio, Angelo Paul and George Griffin, Jr. now the co-head professional at the Green Valley Country Club along with his father George, Sr., tied for third at 141. The last two places went to Johnny Weitzel and Rod Munday with one-under-par 143s. Dave Douglas and Ed Oliver were exempt as Ryder Cup team members and for have finished in the top 30 money winners on the PGA Tour in 1953. Art Wall and Al Besselink were in the top 30 on the money list also but they not PGA members as they had not yet completed their five-year apprenticeship. Fazio didn’t go to the PGA Championship. The first alternate Ralph Hutchison, who had finished with a 144 at Llanerch, replaced Fazio.
One week later on Monday qualifying was held for eight places in the U.S. Open. Two courses, North Hills Country Club and Sandy Run Country Club, were needed, as there were 130 entries. Sam Penecale, who was new to the professional ranks and unattached, posted the only sub-par score. He was two under par at each course with a morning 69 at North Hills followed by a 70 at Sandy Run for 139. Next was Al Besselink at 143. Skee Riegel, Bud Lewis and Al Nelson, an assistant at the Shawnee Inn & Country Club, all had 147s. The last three places went to Henry Williams, Jr., Johnny Weitzel and John Vasco the professional at the Lehigh Country Club with 148s. John Serafin had tied with them at 148 and been eliminated in a playoff that lasted only one hole. George Fazio, who had tied for fourth the previous year didn’t have to qualify, as the top twenty were exempt.
Also on the first Monday of June Art Wall qualified in Cincinnati for the U.S. Open with a 136. There were fifteen spots in Cincinnati and the medalist was Bob Duden with a 131. The 138 scores played off for the last two spots.
Mike Souchak led the qualifying for the U.S. Open in Pittsburgh on the first Monday of June with a 136. Qualifying in Pittsburgh was on the first Monday also. There were seven spots in Pittsburgh and the 142 scores played off for the last spot.
In the second week of June the U.S. Open was held at the Baltusrol Golf Club’s Lower Course. The winner was the pro with the withered left arm, Ed Furgol. After a bad tee shot on the seventy-second hole, Furgol played his second to the 18th fairway of Baltusrol’s Upper Course. From there he was able to make a par five and finish one stroke ahead of Gene Littler (285). Furgol put together four steady rounds of 71, 70, 71 and for a score of 284. Lloyd Mangrum and Dick Mayer tied for third with 286s. First prize was $6,000 out of a total purse of $23,280. There were eleven pros from the Philadelphia Section in the starting field but only three of them survived the cut of the low 50 and ties. Johnny Weitzel shot a 296 with the help of a first round hole-in-one and a third round 69 which got him a tie for 21st. George Fazio tied for 27th and Skee Riegel tied for 42nd. Weitzel won $240. Fazio and Riegel each won $180, which each player who made the cut received. Mike Souchak, Henry Williams, Jr., Sam Penecale, Al Nelson, Art Wall, Bud Lewis, John Vasco and Al Besselink missed the cut. The tournament was televised to a national audience for the first time by NBC.
Henry Williams, Jr. missed the cut on Friday at the U.S. Open but on Monday he outlasted more than 100 pros and amateurs to win the Pennsylvania Open. The tournament was played at the Hershey Country Club for the second straight year. There were a few entries from outside the state. Williams put together a three under par 70 in the morning and a 71 in the afternoon for a total of 141. With a second place finish, first year pro Sam Penecale (143) picked up his first tournament check, $350. Stan Dudas and the host professional Johnny Weitzel tied for third with 144s. Alabama’s Harold Williams (146) won fifth money. Rod Munday, Utah’s Dick Lundahl, and amateur Arnold Palmer, a former Pennsylvania High School champion, tied for sixth with 148s. First prize was $750 from a purse of $1,600. The course measured 6,990 yards.
In the fourth week of June George Fazio lost a sudden death playoff for the Carling Open. The tournament was played at the Manakiki Country Club near Cleveland, Ohio. Fazio put together an eight under par 280 to tie Julius Boros (280). In the playoff Fazio’s second shot on the par four found a greenside bunker. From there he made a bogey five which lost to a par by Boros. Jerry Barber, Tommy Bolt and Bo Wininger tied for third with 281s. First prize from the $25,000 was $5,000. Fazio picked up a check for $2,780.
In the third week of August Ed Oliver was the medalist at the on-site qualifying for the PGA Championship. The championship was held at the Keller Golf Club in St. Paul, Minnesota. The St. Paul Open had been held there for several years so many of the players were familiar with the course. Oliver led the first day with a 66 and came back with a 70 the second day. His 136 total was low by just one stroke. Dave Douglas (144) and Johnny Weitzel (145) also qualified safely. Henry Williams, Jr. made it right on the number with a 147. No playoffs were needed as all of the players at 147 were in the match play. Ralph Hutchison, Angelo Paul, George Griffin, Jr., Stan Dudas and Rod Munday failed to qualify. The first two rounds of the match play were 18-hole matches and the next four rounds were 36-hole matches. In the first round Douglas lost to Walter Burkemo 4&2 and Weitzel lost 3&2 to Ed Furgol, who had just won the U.S. Open. Williams won his first round match over Frank Commisso 3&2 and lost his second round match to Elroy Marti two-down. Oliver won two matches. In the first two rounds he eliminated Jackson Bradley 4&3 and Bill Nary one-down. Oliver lost in the third round to Chick Harbert 3&1. Harbert went on to win the PGA Championship as he defeated the defending champion, Walter Burkemo, in the finals 4&3. In the semifinals Burkemo got past Cary Middlecoff by winning the 37th hole and Harbert edged out Tommy Bolt by a one-up margin. The purse was $20,700 and first prize was $5,000.
At the end of August the Section Championship was back at the Shawnee Inn & Country Club for a seventh consecutive year. There was a three-way tie for the medal with Pete DeAngelis, John Serafin and Ken Gibson posting one-under-par 71s. Sixty -four players qualified for the match play ladder. The semifinals came down to Serafin versus Country Club of Harrisburg professional Jim Gantz and Johnny Weitzel versus Rod Munday. Serafin eliminated Gantz 3&2 and Weitzel defeated Munday 3&2. The tournament took a two-day break and the 36-hole final was played on Sunday as usual. Serafin won the Section Championship for the second time in three years. Weitzel was four up after 21 holes but from that point on Serafin played five-under-par golf. The two pros came to the 36th hole with Serafin holding a one-hole lead. Serafin closed out the match with a birdie two on Shawnee’s long par three 18th hole for a two-up win. This also gave him possession of the Evening Bulletin Trophy for a year.
Ralph Hutchison won the Philadelphia Open at the Torresdale-Frankford Country Club on the second Monday of September. Hutchison had finished second in the tournament 23 years before in 1931. His winning score of 72-70 for 142 matched par and won by three strokes. Fast greens and deep rough made the scoring difficult. Johnny Weitzel and amateur John Dyniewski tied for second with 145s. George Fazio was fourth alone with 146. There were 114 starters but only 54 posted scores for 36 holes. First prize was $350 from a total purse of $1,038.
The one day Wood Memorial was played at the Jeffersonville Golf Club on the third Monday of September. The tournament had another strong field as the National Celebrities Open was being held later that week at the Congressional Country Club near Washington D.C. There was no tournament on the PGA Tour the week before, so Ed Oliver had stopped in for a practice round at Jeffersonville. It paid off. Oliver got off to a fast start, with birdies on the first three holes. He finished the front nine in four under par 30. A birdie and an eagle on the back nine’s par five holes put him seven under par. He was in position to break Ed Dudley’s Wood Memorial course record 64, shot in 1939. On the 190 yard par three 18th hole Oliver chunked his three-iron tee shot, then played a wedge shot to eight feet of the hole and lipped out his putt for a par. In spite of playing in rain throughout most of the day, his 64 had equaled the tournament record in winning the $500 first place check. George Fazio and Bill Bishop, an unattached professional who played out of Cobb’s Creek Golf Club, tied for second with 68s. Six professionals tied for fourth. Rod Munday, Jack Robinson, Jim Gantz, Bill Weber, Charlie Sifford and Milon Marusic, a touring pro from Herkimer, New York, all posted 69s. Robinson was now the head professional at the Spring Ford Country Club and Weber was the professional at the Cedarbrook Country Club. Sifford was also an unattached professional, who played out of the Cobb’s Creek Golf Club. The prize money had been increased and now totaled $1,200.
On the fourth Friday of September, Clarence Ehresman won the Philadelphia Section Senior Championship at the Langhorne Country Club. He posted a par 70 round to edge out the defending champion Johnny Schuebel (71) and George Milne (71). Charley Hoffner (72), who was now the teaching professional at the Atlantic City Country Club, and Philmont Country Club professional Joe Lally (72) tied for fourth. This was also qualifying for the PGA Senior Championship with travel and lodging paid for the winner.
On the second Monday of October the Philadelphia Section members met at the Atlantic City Country Club for their annual meeting. There was a pro-pro tournament in the afternoon and the meeting was held after dinner. Henry Poe was elected president of the Section for a third year. Leo Fraser and Walter Brickley were elected first and second vice president. Ken Gibson was elected secretary and Walt Silkworth was reelected treasurer. The Philadelphia Section now had a legal adviser in Francis Sullivan who represented Ben Hogan as his attorney and was a member at Merion Golf Club. The Section had also hired a publicist to appear on radio and television for promotion of the PGA professionals.
The national PGA meeting was held in St. Paul, Minnesota at the Lowry Hotel in early December. Harry Moffitt was unanimously elected president after Harold Sargent withdrew his name from the ballot. Sargent was elected secretary. There were five candidates for treasurer and after five ballots Wally Mund was elected with 43 of the 74 votes cast. A plan was proposed to arrange exhibition matches for the British Ryder Cup team on its way to Palm Springs next year. The possibility of setting up a second, or Class “B” PGA Tour, was discussed. Ed Furgol was honored as the PGA Player of the Year and the late Macdonald Smith was inducted into the Hall of Fame. Leo Fraser and Ken Gibson were the Section’s delegates to the meeting.
The leading money winner on the PGA Tour was Bob Toski with $65,891.24. Most of that came at the World Championship in Chicago where he won $50,000. Dutch Harrison led the scoring for the Vardon Trophy with 70.41 strokes per round and Ed Furgol was voted the “PGA Player-of-the-Year”. Dave Douglas won $12,120.00, which put him in 19th place on the money list. George Fazio finished 23rd with winnings of $$9,777.82 and Ed Oliver was next in 24th place with $9,365.95. Mike Souchak won $5,344.95 for 35th place. Al Besselink won $4,300..53 which put him in 31th place. Art Wall won $3,930.75 for 43rd place.
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The Senior PGA Championship was played in late January at the PGA National Golf Club in Dunedin, Florida. Mortie Dutra won by four strokes with three steady rounds of 70, 71 and 72. His 213 total finished four strokes in front of Denny Shute (217), Gene Sarazen (217) and Mike Murra (217). Al MacDonald tied for 14th with a 223. Clarence Ehresman, the Section senior champion was out of the money. First prize was $1,000 from a total purse of $5,000.
At the Texas Open in San Antonio in mid February Berwick’s Mike Souchak, who was now playing the PGA Tour full time won his first tour event and at the same time he broke all of the PGA Tour’s scoring records. The first day he put together a 33-27 for an eleven under par 60 over the Brackenridge Park course. His round included a three-putt-green and the back nine 27 was a new record for nine holes on the PGA Tour. He followed that up with a 68 and a 64 to lead by two. A final round of 65 played in near freezing weather gave him a 257 total and a seven-stroke win. The 257 score was also a PGA Tour, record breaking the previous record by two strokes. Fred Haas, Jr. (264) finished second, five strokes ahead of Gene Littler (269), Bob Rosburg (269) and Shelly Mayfield (269). The purse was $12,500 and first prize was $2,200.
The next week Mike Souchak set another tournament record in winning the Houston Open at the Memorial Park Golf Course. His first two rounds were 70 and 71, which left him five strokes out of first place with 22 players between him and the lead. In the last two rounds Souchak shot a 67 and a 65 for an eleven under par 273 that broke the tournament record of 277 by four strokes. Even though Souchak set a tournament he only won by two strokes over Jerry Barber (275). Jack Burke, Jr. and Shelly Mayfield tied for third at 278. First prize was $6,000 out of a purse of $30,000.
The Section held its spring meeting on the last Monday of March at the Barclay Hotel in Philadelphia. The main topic of discussion concerned the national PGA meeting that the Section would be hosting in Atlantic City that December. Henry Poe and Ken Gibson were named the co-chairmen of the event for the Section. Leo Fraser and Gibson gave the Section members a report on the previous year’s national meeting. Marty Lyons, who always seemed to be in harness in some capacity for the PGA, was the tournament chairman. He presented a golf schedule consisting of 36 events.
Five Philadelphia Section professionals were in the Masters Tournament in the first full week of April. With the aid of a second round 65 Cary Middlecoff (279) won his second major title. His four rounds of 72, 65, 72 and 70 gave him a seven stroke margin over second place Ben Hogan (286) and eight over Sam Snead (287), who finished third. First prize was $5,000. Mike Souchak (289) tied for fourth winning $1,333.33 and Skee Riegel (294) tied 13th, winning $593.75. Everyone who finished worse than 25th won $250. That included Johnny Weitzel (310, tied for 49th), Ed Oliver (311, tied for 53rd) and Al Besselink (318, tied for 63rd).
On the fourth Monday in May John Serafin led the qualifying for the PGA Championship at the Rolling Green Golf Club. In his morning round he shattered the course record at Rolling Green by five strokes. He had three birdies on each nine and eagled the par 5 eighteenth hole for a 63. The previous record of 68 was shot by Johnny Farrell in the 1927 Philadelphia Open. In the afternoon he shot an 80 and edged out Henry Williams, Jr. (144) for the medalist honors by one stroke with his 143 total. Serafin called the morning round his greatest round and the afternoon round the worst round he had ever played. He birdied two of the last three holes to salvage the 80. George Griffin, Jr. (145) and Ralph Hutchison (145) tied for third one in front of Skee Riegel (146). Rod Munday and Toby Costanza the head professional at the Sunnybrook Golf Club posted 147s and picked up the last two spots in a four-man sudden death playoff. Dave Douglas, Ed Oliver and George Fazio, who was now operating the Fairmont Park Driving Range, were exempt off having been in the top 30 on the PGA Tour’s money list from the previous year.
At the end of May Art Wall qualified for the PGA Championship on the PGA Tour. He was one of five pros who earned entry into the PGA Championship at the Ft. Wayne Open. The qualifying spots were there for the PGA Tour players who were not already exempt for the PGA Championship. Wall shot a last round 66 on the Elks Country Club course, for a 276 total. He finished fifth in the tournament and he was the low qualifier for the five spots. Dow Finsterwald won with a 269
Art Wall and Dave Douglas led the qualifying for the U.S. Open on Philmont Country Club’s North Course on the first Monday in June. Wall was around in 66 strokes in the morning round and he came back with a 77 in the afternoon for 143. Wall’s 66 tied the course record that had been set by Jimmy Thomson in 1940. Douglas was more consistent as he put together a 72 and a 71 for his 143. There were forty players and five spots open. Sam Penecale who was now the assistant at the Bala Golf Club was one stroke back at 144. Al Besselink and Charley Lepre tied for fourth and picked up the last two places with 145s. Skee Riegel won the first alternate position in a sudden death playoff after a 146. He made it into the tournament in place of Penecale who withdrew.
Mike Souchak qualified for the U.S. Open on the first Monday of June also. He was at the Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, New Jersey where both the Upper and Lower courses were used. There were 168 entries for 22 spots. Souchak made the grade with a 72 and a 70 for 142. Bob Rosburg won the medal with a 138 and a score of 147 qualified.
Also qualifying for the U.S. Open on the first Monday of June was Ed Oliver. Oliver and Erie Ball tied for first at the Lincolnshire Country Club in Chicago with identical rounds of 72-71 for 143 totals. There were seven spots in Chicago and it took a score of 148 to make it. Little known Jack Fleck also qualified there and went on to win the U.S. Open.
Due to poor scheduling the Pennsylvania Open was held on the Monday of U.S. Open week, but only Skee Riegel was missing because of it. The Hershey Country Club was again the host and the home pro won, although it didn’t come easy. Johnny Weitzel needed a second day and 36 extra holes to win the tournament. On a windy Monday Weitzel (72-73) and the defending champion Henry Williams, Jr. (69-76) ended up tied at 145. The next day they met in an 18-hole playoff and at the end of the round they were still even with 74s. They went back out in the afternoon for another 18 holes and Weitzel wrapped things up with a two-under-par 71 against a 75 for Williams. Clarence Doser, a former Merion Golf Club assistant working in Maryland, finished third with a 149. There was a four-way tie for fourth among John Serafin, Buddy Heckman, who was now leasing the Manor Country Club, and amateurs Jim Sykes and Bob Davies who all posted 150s. First prize from the $2,300 purse was $1,000. There were 105 entries. The Philadelphia Open also required two 18-hole playoffs to determine a winner at Merion in 1941.
The U.S. Open was played in San Francisco in the third week of June at the Olympic Club. On Saturday Ben Hogan put together a 72 and a 70 for 287 and NBC announced on TV that Hogan had won his fifth U.S. Open but Jack Fleck had other ideas. Fleck birdied two of the last four holes for a 67 to tie Hogan and the next day he won with a solid 69 versus a 72 for Hogan. Ironically Fleck played with Hogan clubs and he was a Hogan staff member. Fleck’s rounds were 76, 69, 75 and 69. Sam Snead and Tommy Bolt tied for third with 292s. Mike Souchak tied for tenth with a 297 that earned him $390 and Art Wall tied for 16th winning $226.15 with his total of 301. Skee Riegel (310) tied for 40th and Dave Douglas (313) tied for 47th. They each received the minimum prize money of $180. Al Besselink, Ed Oliver and Charley Lepre missed the cut.
The PGA Championship was at the Meadowbrook Country Club near Detroit in the third week of July. The day before the tournament began a driving contest was held, which Mike Krak won with a drive of 300 yards. Skee Riegel (67-70) qualified for the match play with a 137 and was tied with three other pros for the second spot. Doug Ford won the medal with a 135. Ed Oliver (140), George Fazio (144) and Dave Douglas (144) also qualified. The 147 scorers ended up in an eleven-man playoff for the last seven spots. Art Wall, Rod Munday, Henry Williams, Jr. and John Serafin all posted 148s and just missed the playoff. George Griffin, Jr., Toby Costanza and Ralph Hutchison also didn’t make it through the on-site qualifying. The first two rounds of the match play were 18-holes and the next four rounds were 36 holes. Riegel lost by 3&2 in the first round to Fred Haas, Jr. and Fazio lost in the first round by 2&1 to the eventual winner Doug Ford. Douglas won his first round match by defeating Herman Scharlau 4&3 and then he lost in the second round to Jack Burke, Jr. 8&6. Ford, the hare, won defeating Cary Middlecoff, the tortoise, in the finals 4&3. In the semifinals Middlecoff beat Tommy Bolt 4&3 and Ford beat Shelly Mayfield by the same 4&3 margin. The total purse was $20,700.
The Section Championship had a new home, The Springhaven Club. A past president of the Section, Ted Bickel, Jr., was the host professional. The qualifying round was eliminated and all 90 entrants were placed in the match play. The defending champion, John Serafin, was seeded #1 and 38 players received byes in the first round. The tournament was held in the third week of August but the final wasn’t played until the last Sunday in the month due to a scheduling conflict at Springhaven. The youngest player in the field, Stan Dudas, took home the title defeating Charley Lepre in the finals 4&3. In the semifinals Lepre put out John Futerer the head professional at the Brandywine Country Club 2&1 and Dudas defeated two-time Section champion Henry Williams, Jr. 2&1. First prize was $500 and possession of the Bulletin Cup for one year. The runner-up received $300. The losers in the semifinals each won $150, the quarterfinal losers won $100 each and the losers in the round before that won $50 each. The total purse was $1,900.
Henry Williams, Jr. (69-70) and George Fazio (71-68) finished in a tie for the Philadelphia Open title with five-under-par 139s. The tournament was played at the Atlantic City Country Club on the fourth Monday of August. An 18-hole playoff was held on Sunday with Williams outlasting Fazio 69 to 71. First prize was $350 and the runner-up won $225. Third place went to amateur William Hyndman III with a 142. Walter Brickley and amateur Jim McHale tied for fourth at 143.
In mid September the PGA Tour was back in the Philadelphia Section for the Daily News Open at the Cobbs Creek Golf Club. The PGA Tour hadn’t been in the Section since the Inquirer Invitation in 1949. The host professional was Andy Pettineo, Sr. The unofficial host was George Fazio. Fazio suggested and supervised some changes and tightening up of several holes at Cobbs Creek. The Daily News also used Fazio to help attract a strong field. A qualifying round was held at the Iron Rock Golf Club in Pennsauken, New Jersey on Monday. Mac Hunter led the qualifying by five strokes with a 65. Fifty-one players, who scored 76 or less, made it into a starting field of 126 players. Twenty-eight Philadelphia Section members qualified. Six members of the current Ryder Cup team were entered. A former assistant pro at the Philmont Country Club, Ted Kroll, won the $20,000 tournament. Par at Cobbs Creek was reduced to 68 and the course measured 6,243 yards. Kroll and Doug Ford had finished in a tie at 273 and Kroll bagged the $4,000 first place check with a thirty-foot putt for a birdie 3 on the first extra hole. Marty Furgol (274) shot a 64 in the last round to tie Doug Higgins (274) for third one stroke back. Art Wall (277) won $710 as he led the Section’s pros with a tie for eighth. Dave Douglas (280) tied for 15th and won $420. Johnny Weitzel (281), Henry Williams, Jr. (281), George Fazio (281) and Al Besselink (281) tied for 16th and they each won $322. Skee Riegel (282) tied for 21st and won $230. Stan Dudas (283) and Ed Oliver (283) tied for 24th and each won $145. There were 30 money places. There was an additional purse of $1,000 for the Philadelphia Section pros. Wall received another $400 from the $1,000 extra purse. Douglas picked up a second check for $300. Weitzel, Fazio and Williams picked up the rest as they each won $100. The field was cut after two rounds to the low 60 pros and 5 lowest amateurs. John Serafin, Sam Penecale, Ed Tabor, the professional at the West Shore Country Club, Howard Wheeler, John Hayes, Dave MacCleary, the assistant at the Concord Country Club, Harlan Will, the professional at the Lebanon Country Club and Don Stough, the assistant at the Country Club of York, made the cut but finished out of the money.
On the third Monday of September, the day after the Daily News Open at Cobbs Creek Golf Club ended, the Wood Memorial was played at the Jeffersonville Golf Club. The scheduled 18 holes ended in a tie as Johnny Weitzel birdied the par three 18th hole with a 20 foot putt for a 66 and later in the day Terl Johnson holed a four foot par putt to finish in 66 strokes also. A sudden death playoff was held beginning on the first hole. Johnson was on the green with his second shot and Weitzel was over the back of the green. Weitzel chipped to four feet of the hole, but missed his putt and Johnson holed his second putt for a par to win. Weitzel had made a bogey on that same hole at the beginning of his 18 hole round. George Fazio, John Serafin and John Vasco tied for third with 68s. The total prize money was still $1,200, but first had been reduced from $500 to $400, with the lower places paying more.
Due to that, the touring professionals may have decided to head for the Carling Golf Classic in Massachusetts rather than playing at Jeffersonville. Ed Oliver did not defend his title.
Clarence Ehresman successfully defended his Philadelphia Section Senior Championship title at the LuLu Country Club on the first Friday of October. This earned him a trip to the PGA Senior Championship in Dunedin, Florida with travel and lodging paid for him. He put together a two under par 70 to win by four strokes. Ted Bickel, Jr. posted a 74 to finish second. Charles Schneider, Sr. and Al MacDonald tied for third with 75s.
The fall meeting of the Philadelphia Section and election of officers was held at the Atlantic City Country Club on the second Monday of October. A pro-pro tournament was held in the afternoon before the meeting. Art Wall and Dave Douglas won with a better-ball 65. At the meeting Harry Obitz received the Bob Harlow Award as the Philadelphia Section “Golf Professional of the Year”. He was selected for ten years of work developing Swing Clubs at veterans’ hospitals throughout the country. This was the first year for the award and made him eligible for the national award. Henry Poe was reelected president. Leo Fraser was reelected first vice president and Harlan Will was elected second vice president. Angelo Paul now the professional at the Meadowlands Country Club was elected secretary and Walt Silkworth was reelected treasurer.
In October the British Ryder Cup team stopped off in Atlantic City on their way to California for the matches. The team was greeted in New York by several PGA of America officials, including President Harry Moffit. They were escorted to Atlantic City, where they were guests of Leo Fraser at his Atlantic City Country Club. The British team played practice rounds there before continuing on to California.
Late that summer Henry Poe had received a telephone call from Harry Moffitt, the president of the PGA of America. He asked Poe how far it was from Reading to Gettysburg. He told Poe that the PGA wanted to build a putting green for President Eisenhower at his farm in Gettysburg. Poe enlisted the green superintendents from the Country Club of York and the Lancaster Country Club to help him. They designed and built a 9,000 square foot green with an approach for chipping. By the time the green was completed it was getting late in the year. Poe didn’t want the President to wait nine months for a seeded green to grow in but he didn’t have the proper sod. Poe then received a telephone call from Eugene Grace, the president of Bethlehem Steel. He said I understand that you are building a putting green for President Eisenhower. Grace said that Bethlehem Steel, which owned the Saucon Valley Country Club, would like to donate the sod. Their men would install it at no charge but they couldn’t get there until the next day. The only stipulation was that the PGA couldn’t tell anyone who had provided the sod. One of the major golf course equipment companies donated the mowers. The putting green turned out to be a timely donation. The President had suffered a heart attack in September and he had spent seven weeks in the hospital. After leaving the hospital he went to his Gettysburg farm to recuperate. His doctor reported that it was quite likely that the President would eventually get back to regular rounds of golf and hopefully he would be able to get in some practice on the new putting green at his farm before the end of the year. The next year Eisenhower was reelected President.
The Ryder Cup matches were played in early November at the Thunderbird Ranch and Country Club in Palm Springs. Former Section members Sam Snead, Jerry Barber, Ted Kroll and a future Section member Marty Furgol were members of the team. For the first time the players could choose between playing the 1.68 inch American ball or the 1.62 inch British ball. They were even allowed to choose a different size ball on each hole. The smaller ball went farther and the American ball was easier to chip and putt. The British put up a battle but the Americans prevailed by a count of 8 to 4.
In mid November former Philmont Country Club professional Leo Diegel was elected to the PGA Hall of Fame. He edged out Craig Wood in a ballot of the nation’s press and golfing officials. Diegel received 107 votes to 102 for Wood.
Al Besselink won the 54-hole West Palm Beach Open in late November. After two rounds of 77 and 72 at the West Palm Beach Country Club Besselink was in a five-way tie for sixteenth and trailing by eight strokes He came through in the final round with the low round of the day, a three-under-par 69, which gave him a total of 218. That allowed him to catch Don Fairfield (218) and then he birdied the par five first hole with an 18-foot putt to win a sudden-death playoff. Besselink took away $1,000 from the $5,000 purse. George Bigham, Ed Furgol, Frank Stranahan, Walter Burkemo, amateur Martin Stanovich and the host pro Clyde Usina tied for third with 219s.
In early December at the PGA’s national meeting in Atlantic City President Harry Moffitt, Secretary Harold Sargent and Treasurer Wally Mund were reelected. Henry Poe and Ken Gibson were the co-chairmen of the meeting held at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel. Leo Fraser represented the Philadelphia Section as the host and made the opening remarks. Three times more people showed up for the convention than had ever attended before. The highlight of the meeting was the teaching program that was attended by nearly 600 people. The program featured Ben Hogan and Bobby Jones on the same platform explaining the golf swing. Fred Austin’s father-in-law, Ernest Jones, and Marty Lyons’ student and former U.S. Women’s Amateur champion, Dorothy Germain Porter were also on the teaching program along with others. Many called it the greatest golf instruction program ever assembled. For the first time an award named “PGA Professional of the Year” was bestowed on one of the association’s members. The decision was made to move the PGA national office from Chicago to Dunedin. The PGA was moving to Dunedin due to the popularity of the winter tournament program and the merchandise show. The Section’s official delegates were Poe and Fraser but many of the Section’s members attended and worked to make the meeting a huge success.
In the first week of December the Philadelphia Section made a strong showing at the $15,000 Havana Invitational tournament in Havana, Cuba. Mike Souchak won with rounds of 65, 69, 70 and 69 on the Havana Country Club course. Souchak’s 273 edged out Ed Oliver (275) by two strokes. Bo Wininger (278) finished third one stroke ahead of Ted Kroll (279) and Billy Maxwell (279) who tied for fourth. Art Wall finished alone in sixth place with a 280. First prize was $2,000.
The leading money winner on the PGA Tour was Julius Boros with $63,121. Mike Souchak was fourth with $29,462.07 and Art Wall, his old Duke University roommate, finished eleventh with $17,250.52. Ed Oliver ended up in 17th place with winnings of $14,229.67. George Fazio won $11,698.50. Al Besselink won $4,824.45 which put him in 43rd place on the list. Dave Douglas was in 39th place with $4,677.58. The scoring leader for the Vardon Trophy was Sam Snead with 69.86 strokes per round and the “PGA Player-of-the-Year” was Doug Ford, the PGA champion. Ford had played a record 121 competitive rounds on the PGA Tour that year.
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The PGA Senior Championship was won by Pete Burke (215) at the PGA Golf Club, Dunedin, Florida in late January. His three rounds on the PGA National Golf Club course were 70, 70 and 75. First prize from the $6,500 purse was $1,000. Ock Willoweit was a close second at 216. A former winner of the Philadelphia Section Championship and the Philadelphia Open, Joe Zarhardt, finished third at 217. Bill Black and Frank Strazza tied for fourth with 219s. Ted Bickel, Jr. (225) tied for 18th and won $10. First prize was still $1,000 but the purse had been increased to $6,500. Clarence Ehresman, the Philadelphia Section senior champion, missed the money along with eight other Section members. Teacher and Son’s, a scotch whiskey company from Scotland sponsored the tournament.
Mike Souchak won the $12,500 Caliente Open in late January at Tijuana, Mexico. He opened with a 65 on the 7,400-yard Tijuana Country Club course and then added rounds of 71, 74 and 71 to edge out Tommy Bolt (283) by two strokes. Marty Furgol, Mike Fetchik and amateur Rod Funseth tied for third with 284s. This was the first time the Caliente Open had been played since 1935. First prize was $2,200.
On the first of April Mike Souchak won the Azalea Open at the Cape Fear Country Club in Wilmington, North Carolina. After a pair of 70s Souchak had an eight-birdie 65 in the third round and then he birdied the last hole in his final round for a 68. His score of 273 won the tournament by one stroke. The course measured 6,795 yards and par was 72. Dick Mayer (274), Gene Littler (276) and Doug Ford (277) finished second, third and fourth. The purse was $12,500 and first prize was $2,200
The next week in April Jack Burke, Jr. won the Masters Tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club. His first three rounds were 72, 71 and 75 but in the final round when most players were posting high scores Burke shot a 71 to come from eight strokes behind and finish at 289. Entering the final round amateur Ken Venturi had led Cary Middlecoff by four strokes. Venturi (290) shot 80 and finished second. Middlecoff faltered also with a 77 and finished third at 291. Except for Burke only Sam Snead (292), who shot 71 and tied for fourth, broke 73. Mike Souchak (300) tied for 17th and won $655. Art Wall (305) tied for 34th and Skee Riegel (307) tied for 40th. They each won the minimum check of $300. This was the last year that there was not a cut and all the entries were allowed to play the 72 holes. First prize was $6,000. For the first time the Masters Tournament was on TV. Holes 15 through were televised.
On the second Monday of April the Section professionals held their spring meeting at the Drake Hotel in Philadelphia. After two years of raising money for their caddie scholarship fund the Section announced their first caddie scholar. He was a caddie at the Mahoning Valley Country Club, where Henry Moyer was the professional, and a student at Penn State University. The tournament chairman, Harlan Will now the professional at the Fairview Golf & Country Club presented the tournament schedule to the members. After the meeting the pros were dinner guests of the United States Rubber Company.
In the first week of May Mike Souchak won the $25,000 Ft. Worth Colonial Invitational. After a slow start with 74 and 72 on the Colonial Country Club, Souchak tied the course record with a third round five-under-par 65. The tournament was played under USGA rules and the ball could not be cleaned on the greens. On the 18th hole Souchak had a six-foot putt to break the record but there was mud on his ball and he just missed the putt. Byron Nelson, who was making a rare appearance on the PGA Tour, was penalized two strokes on the first green of the third round when he forgot the rule and cleaned his ball. On Sunday Souchak broke par again with a 69, which gave him a total of 280. That nipped Tommy Bolt (281) for the title by one stroke. Gardner Dickinson finished third at 285. Stan Leonard and George Bayer tied for fourth with 286s. First prize was $5,000.
The next week in May Ed Oliver won the White Sulphur Open, at the Greenbriar Resort in West Virginia. After rounds of 69 and 67 on the Greenbrier’s Old White Course Oliver took over the lead in the third round with a 64. A 66 in the last round gave Oliver (266) a three shot margin over the host pro, Sam Snead (269). Skee Riegel put together a seven under par 63 in the last round and moved into a tie for third with Vic Ghezzi at 273. The tournament an invitational for 41 pros offered a purse of $10,000. Al Besselink (278) and Mike Souchak (278) tied for eighth. George Fazio (279) and Henry Williams, Jr. (280) finished tied for 11th and tied for 13th.
Henry Williams, Jr. (142) led the qualifying for the PGA Championship on the third Monday in May. A pair of one-over-par 71s at the Concord Country Club nipped Mike Rooney (142), Terl Johnson (142) and Stan Dudas (142) now the professional at the North Hills Country Club by one stroke. The last two spots went to Skee Riegel and Buddy Heckman who each posted a 145 for the day. The first alternate was Charley Lepre (146) and he got into the PGA Championship in place of Heckman who didn’t go to the tournament. Ed Oliver and Art Wall were exempt for having been one of the top 25 money winners on the 1955 PGA Tour money list. Oliver was also exempt as the resident pro at the Blue Hills Country Club where the PGA Championship was being held. Mike Souchak had finished fourth on the 1955 money list but he wasn’t eligible for the tournament as he had not completed his five-year apprenticeship for PGA membership.
Joe Kirkwood, Jr. qualified for the PGA Championship in Southern California. Qualifying was at the Hillcrest Country Club on the third Monday of May. Former tennis star Ellsworth Vines led with a 142. Vines and Ralph Hutchison had roomed together at the University of Southern California. Kirkwood shot a 70 and a 77 for 147 to finish fifth. There were six spots at Hillcrest.
Al Besselink qualified for the PGA Championship at the $30,000 Dallas Centennial Open at the end of May. Don January won the tournament with a score of 268, which was helped by three eagles in the last round. Doug Ford and Dow Finsterwald tied for second with 269s. Besselink was one of six pros that were not already in the PGA Championship who qualified there. In order to qualify a non-exempt PGA member had to finish 25th or better in the tournament or qualify in his PGA Section. Besselink shot a 66 in the last round for a total of 281 and tied for 29th, which wasn’t good enough for him to qualify according to the guidelines of the PGA. Besselink complained to the PGA officials, saying that some of those who finished in the top 25 weren’t eligible for the tournament as they were not members of the PGA. The PGA officers must have agreed with him as Besselink and Bob Toski who also tied for 29th were later listed as having qualified for the PGA Championship at the Dallas Open. It may have helped that Toski was the chairman of the “Players Committee”.
Two courses, North Hills Country Club and Whitemarsh Valley Country Club, were required for the U.S. Open qualifying rounds in Philadelphia. Qualifying was held on the first Monday of June. The USGA reported a record entry of slightly less than 1,800. The top 15 at the U.S. Open the previous year were exempt and the rest qualified at 25 sites for 146 more spots in the starting field. Johnny Weitzel led with a 69 at North Hills and a 70 at Whitemarsh Valley for a four-under-par 139. Sam Penecale finished second with a 141 and amateur Billy Hyndman was next at 143. Skee Riegel nipped Ralph Hutchison by one stroke with a 144 to earn the fourth spot. Hutchison picked up the last spot with a 145. Mike Souchak was exempt for having finished in the top fifteen at the Open the year before.
Also qualifying for the U.S. Open on the first Monday of June were Art Wall and Dave Douglas. They qualified in Dallas the day after the Texas Open ended. Qualifying was held at the Dallas Athletic Club and the Lakewood Country Club. Bill Trombley led the scoring with a 137 as 37 players earned spots in the U.S. Open at Dallas. Wall tied for seventh with a 143 and Douglas got under the wire with a 147. The 148 scorers played off and Al Besselink (148) lost out becoming the first alternate.
The next day, the first Tuesday of June, Ed Oliver qualified for the U.S. Open at Falmouth, Massachusetts. Oliver was the medalist at Falmouth with a 142. There were three spots there.
The U.S. Open was at the Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, New York in the middle of June. There was a record entry of 1,934 pros and amateurs. There were 146 players in the starting field. Three of the eight Philadelphia Section professionals, who were in the tournament, made the cut. Mike Souchak made the best showing with score of 298 that gave him a tie for 29th, winning $200. Dave Douglas (299) finished one stroke higher tying for 34th and Ed Oliver (302) also played all 72 holes, tying for 41st. They each received the minimum check of $200. Cary Middlecoff won by one stroke over Ben Hogan (282) and Julius Boros (282) with a score of 281. First prize was $6,000. Ted Kroll, Peter Thomson and Ed Furgol tied for fourth with 285s. Johnny Weitzel, Ralph Hutchison, Art Wall, Skee Riegel and Sam Penecale missed the cut.
The next week the PGA Tour was in Philadelphia for the second annual Daily News Open. Cobbs Creek Golf Club and their professional Andy Pettineo, Sr. were the hosts again. The tournament week began with a qualifying round at the Iron Rock Golf Club for the non-exempt players. There were 58 spots and a score of 76 made it. Tom Nieporte led with a 67. Twenty-seven pros from the Philadelphia Section qualified. There were 134 in the starting field at Cobbs Creek. The course was played at 6,243 yards with a par of 68. The field was cut to the low 90 and ties after two rounds and it was cut to the low 60 and ties after three rounds. The winner was Dick Mayer who beat Bud Holscher on the second hole of a sudden-death playoff. First prize was $4,000. They had tied at three-under-par 269. Mayer started the tournament with a 70 and finished with a 71 but in between he shot a 65 and a 63. Tommy Bolt, Fred Hawkins and Gardner Dickinson tied for third at 272. Charlie Sifford (276) led the Philadelphia pros as he tied for eighth and won $650. He played out of the Fairview Golf Association, which was a group of golfers that played their events at Cobbs Creek. Al Besselink, who was coming back from a broken wrist, tied for 16th at 278 and won $311. George Fazio at 280 tied for 22nd and won $220. Art Wall with a 281 tied for 24th and won $170. Henry Williams, Jr., Sam Penecale, Dave Douglas, Charley Lepre, Terl Johnson, Jack Robinson, Bill Bishop and Stan Dudas made two cuts and played all 72 holes. There was a special purse of $1,000 for the Philadelphia Section members, with the top ten who made the cut each receiving $100.
The Pennsylvania Open was held in Hershey the day after the Daily News Open ended. Because of a large entry the tournament was played on the Hershey Country Club and the Hershey Park Course. The Philadelphia Section pros won most of the money. The host professional, Johnny Weitzel, won the tournament for a second straight year. Weitzel (143) had a two-under-par 69 on the Park Course in the morning and a one-over-par 74 at the Country Club in the afternoon to win by one stroke. Dick Sleichter the professional at the Gettysburg Country Club and Henry Williams, Jr. tied for second with 144s. Sam Penecale finished fourth at 146. First prize was $1,000 and the two runner-ups each won $400. The total purse was $3,000 and it paid fifteen places.
The PGA Championship was at the Blue Hill Golf & Country Club in Canton, Massachusetts. Ed “Porky” Oliver was the host professional even though he continued to play a pretty full schedule on the PGA Tour. On-site qualifying had been eliminated and all 128 who had either qualified on tour, in their PGA Sections or were exempt went directly into match play. The tournament was played in the third and fourth weeks of July. The first four rounds were 18-hole matches and the next three rounds were 36-holes. In the first round Henry Williams, Jr. lost to Chick Harbert in 20 holes, Stan Dudas was sent home by Ed Furgol to the tune of 5&4 and Ed Oliver lost to Mike Krak 3&2. Al Besselink and Joe Kirkwood, Jr. each won a match. Besselink beat William Doll 3&2 and then lost to Claude Harmon 3&1. Kirkwood edged out Pete Burke on the 19th hole and then lost to Tony Fortino one-down. Art Wall, Skee Riegel, Charley Lepre and Mike Rooney each won two matches before losing. Wall beat Warren Smith 5&4 and Robert Moore 5&4 before losing to Fred Hawkins in 19 holes. Riegel beat Albert Maus 5&4 and Harbert one-down before losing to Lionel Hebert 3&1. Lepre beat Emery Thomas two-down, and upset Jimmy Demaret on the 21st hole before losing to Toby Lyons 3&2. Rooney edged out Jim Milword in 20 holes, beat Leo Biagetti 2&1 and lost to Ted Kroll 3&2. Terl Johnson won four matches and reached the quarterfinals. Johnson got by Warren Orlick one-up, beat Al Smith 2&1, beat Charles DuPree 4&2, eked by Lyons in 19 holes and lost to Ed Furgol one-down. Jack Burke, Jr. won his second major of the year by defeating Kroll in the finals 3&2. In the semifinals Kroll stopped William Johnston 10&8 and Burke got by Furgol in 37 holes. The purse was $40,000, first prize was $5,000 and the entry fee was $10.
On the second Monday of August George Fazio won the Philadelphia Open for a third time. The tournament was played at the Overbrook Golf Club’s five-year-old course in Bryn Mawr. Fazio flew in from the World Championship in Chicago and with three hours sleep he went out and won the tournament. In the morning he shot a 73 while playing the course for the first time and in the afternoon he brought in a course record 64. The 64 included an eagle 2 on the sixteenth hole. His three-under-par 137 gave him a five-stroke victory over Al Nelson (142) who was now the professional at the Oak Terrace Country Club. Sam Penecale and Charley Lepre tied for third with 145s. Amateur Billy Hyndman finished alone in fifth place at 146. Bob Schoener, Jr. and Dave MacCleary, who was now the assistant at the Main Line Golf Club tied for sixth with 147s. First prize was $500.
Mike Souchak won his fourth title of the year on the PGA Tour at the St. Paul Open in late August. After rounds of 70, 69 and 70 at the Keller Golf Club Souchak trailed the leader by seven strokes when he teed off on Sunday. A course record tying score of 62, in the last round, put Souchak in the top position with a 271. Jerry Barber (272), who was known for his putting, missed a five-foot putt for an eagle on the last green for a tie. In the record tying round Souchak bogied the par 5 twelfth hole and then birdied the last six holes for his ten under par 62. Tommy Bolt and Bob Rosburg tied for third with 273s. First prize from the $20,000 purse was $4,000.
Al MacDonald won the Philadelphia PGA Senior Championship on the first Friday of September at the Old York Road Country Club. MacDonald, the oldest man in the 15 man field at age 65, posted a one over par 71. This earned him a trip to the PGA Senior Championship in Dunedin, Florida with travel and lodging paid for him. Clarence Ehresman, the senior champion for the past two years, was second with a 73. Northampton Country Club professional Ken Milne, Harold Calloway and Brookside Country Club (A) professional Steve Grady all tied for third with 74s.
Johnny Weitzel died in mid September from injuries suffered in an automobile accident. The accident had taken place nine days earlier. Weitzel was on the way home from a pro-am tournament at the Conestoga Country Club. Two Hershey Country Club head professionals, Ben Hogan and Weitzel, had been involved in terrible auto accidents.
In mid September Art Wall won the $15,000 Ft. Wayne Open in a three-way playoff. This was his second win at Ft. Wayne and the other one in 1953 had come in a playoff also. Wall’s first three rounds at the Elks Country Club were 70, 64 and 70. A last round 65 put Wall in a tie for first with a nineteen-under-par 269 total. Wall then made a birdie 3 on the first extra hole to beat out Gardner Dickinson (269) and Bill Trombley (269). Gardner Dickinson tied for fourth with 270s. First prize was $2,400.
The Wood Memorial was played at the Jeffersonville Golf Club on the third Monday of September. Jack Robinson toured the par 70 course in 68 strokes and at the end of the day he was the only one of the 100 golf professionals entered that was able to finish under par for the day. Walter Brickley, Harold Kneece, the assistant at the Woodcrest Country Club, and unattached pro Joe Laughlin tied for second money with 70s. First place paid $350 out of a prize pool of $1,250. Sixteen professionals won checks.
The fall meeting of the Section was held on the second Monday in October at the Atlantic City Country Club. It was announced that Marty Lyons was the Section’s “Golf Professional of the Year”. He had been president of the Section six years, national secretary one year and host of the Section Championship eight times. Also he had been a pioneer in the development of junior golf. Henry Poe stepped down after four years as president and Leo Fraser was elected as his successor. Harlan Will and Al Keeping were elected first and second vice president. Angelo Paul was reelected secretary and Walt Silkworth was reelected treasurer. Poe was selected to serve as a national vice president representing District II. National PGA president Harry Moffitt attended the meeting. The new PGA line of merchandise for the coming year was on display.
The Section Championship was held at the Jersey shore for the first time since 1924. Leo Fraser, PGA member and owner of the Atlantic City Country Club hosted the tournament in mid October. The championship went back to a qualifying round and Henry Williams, Jr. earned medalist honors with a five-under-par 67. The defending champion, Stan Dudas, and the host professional, Fraser, were exempt from qualifying. Williams’ father, Henry Williams, Sr., had been the host pro in 1924 when the tournament was played at the Linwood Country Club. One of the strongest fields in the 35-year-old history of the championship was on hand with three PGA Tour winners among the entries. After qualifying, the 64 players went into match play. For the second straight year Charley Lepre was a finalist. Lepre met PGA Tour player Art Wall, Jr. in the finals with Wall winning the Section Championship for the first time. The match was even through 28 holes but Wall played the next five holes in three under par to close out the match 5&3. Two former champions lost in the semifinals as Wall defeated Henry Williams, Jr. 2&1 and Lepre put out Rod Munday by the same 2&1 margin.
The national PGA meeting was held in Clearwater, Florida at the Fort Harrison Hotel in early December. The PGA now 40-years old, was composed of 31 PGA Sections and 3,798 members. President Harry Moffitt, Secretary Harold Sargent and Treasurer Wally Mund were reelected without opposition. The move of the national office from Chicago to Dunedin had been completed during the year. Craig Wood was inducted into the PGA Hall of Fame. The delegates to the national meeting were Leo Fraser and Walt Silkworth. Henry Poe was also in attendance and sworn in as the new vice president for District II.
In the second week of December Al Besselink won the $17,400 Havana Open in Havana, Cuba. Besselink put together rounds of 69, 67, 70 and 70 at the Havana Country Club for a twelve under par 276 that earned him the $2,500 first prize. Ed Furgol finished second two strokes back at 278. Dave Douglas and Dutch Harrison tied for third at 280. A 54-hole better-ball pro-am was held during the first three rounds.
The “PGA Player-of-the-Year” was Jack Burke, Jr. who had won the PGA Championship and the Masters Tournament that year. Burke received 118 of the 326 votes cast by PGA officials, sports writers and golf officials. Cary Middlecoff received 82 votes and Ted Kroll was close behind with 80 votes. Middlecoff won the Vardon Trophy with a scoring average of 70.35 strokes for his 66 competitive rounds. Kroll was the leading money winner taking home $72, 835, which was more than anyone had ever won on the PGA Tour. $50,000 of his winnings came in the World Championship at Tam O’Shanter. Mike Souchak was eighth with $21,486. Dave Douglas won $9.926.26. Art Wall won $9,316.72 to finish 32nd. Ed Oliver won $8,701.54. Al Besselink won $5,442.83 which put him in 43rd place on the money list for the second straight year. George Fazio, who was playing a very limited schedule while running his automobile business, won $1,070.83.
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In the second week of January the first Assistants Training School was held at Dunedin. The classes were held at the Lions Club and ninety-three attended. The 93 assistants were housed in private homes or the Ft. Harrison Hotel, which provided a special rate. Three golf professionals and an expert in business conducted the five-day school. PGA professional Emil Beck from the Michigan Section was the school chairman. Three other PGA members; Joe Devaney, George Aulbach and Bill Hardy lectured each day.
Al Watrous won the Senior PGA Championship for a third time at Dunedin in early February. After three rounds of 71, 68 and 71 at the PGA National Golf Club Watrous (210) was in a tie for the title with Bob Stupple (210). Watrous won in an 18-hole playoff with a 72 against a 75 for Stupple. Ed Dudley (216) tied for sixth. The purse was now $8,000 and first prize was still $1,000. Al MacDonald, the Philadelphia Section PGA senior champion led the Philadelphia pros, tying for 45th at 226, which was out of the money.
Art Wall won the $15,000 Pensacola Open in early March. Wall (273) added a last round six-under-par 66 to his earlier rounds of 70, 68 and 69 on the Pensacola Country Club for a two-stroke win. Australia’s Peter Thomson (275) who led after three rounds finished second and Marty Furgol (278) finished third. Dow Finsterwald and Walter Burkemo tied for fourth with 279s. First prize was $2,000.
In the first week of April Doug Ford won the Masters Tournament by three strokes over Sam Snead. Snead (286), who led going into the last round, shot a 72 but Ford (283) came in with a 66 to win easily. Ford’s first three rounds were 72, 73 and 72. Jimmy Demaret finished third at 287 and amateur Harvey Ward was next at 288. First prize was $8,750. Skee Riegel (300) tied for 31st and won $300, which is what each professional received even if they didn’t make the cut. Art Wall, Mike Souchak and Terl Johnson missed the cut. Johnson was invited for having been a quarter-finalist in the PGA Championship in 1956. For the first time the Masters Tournament cut the field after 36 holes.
The spring meeting of the Section was at the Barclay Hotel in Philadelphia on the second Monday in April. More than 100 professionals attended. Henry Poe and Leo Fraser gave a report on the PGA national meeting that they had attended in November. Walter M. Schmidt, president of the Golf Association of Philadelphia, was in attendance. He expressed interest in the Section’s Caddie Scholarship Fund and pledged the support of his organization. That evening the golf professionals were the guests of the United States Rubber Company at a dinner.
George Fazio led the qualifying for the PGA Championship at the Kennett Square Golf & Country Club on the third Monday in May. Fazio (134) had an even-par 70 in the morning and a 64 in the afternoon to finish three strokes ahead of Art Wall (137). Next in line was Skee Riegel with a 140. John Serafin finished fourth at 142. The last two spots went to Dick Sleichter and Rod Munday who each posted a 145. Terl Johnson was exempt for having been a quarter-finalist the year before. Mike Souchak was exempt for having been in the top 25 on the 1956 PGA Tour money list.
In late May Al Besselink picked up another PGA Tour victory in Missouri by winning the Kansas City Open. With rounds of 70, 67 and 67 he led by six strokes entering the last round. On Sunday Besselink (279) shot a conservative 75 at the Hillcrest Country Club to win by three strokes. Dow Finsterwald and George Bayer tied for second at 282. Gay Brewer and Paul Harney tied for fourth with 284s. Besselink won $2,800 from the $22,000 purse.
While Al Besselink was winning the Kansas City Open with his 279 total he was also leading the qualifying for the PGA Championship. During the Kansas City Open the PGA members playing the PGA Tour, who were not already exempt for the PGA Championship, were competing for five open places at Dayton.
Joe Kirkwood, Jr. qualified for the PGA Championship in the Southern California Section. When he wasn’t playing the PGA Tour he was working as an actor playing Joe Palooka in the movies. Kirkwood was the second low qualifier with a 141. Earl Martin was low with a 138. There were seven spots there.
On the first Monday of June George Fazio led the qualifying for the U.S. Open in Philadelphia. Fazio had led the qualifying for the PGA just two weeks before. Seventy-eight pros and amateurs competed for six spots at the St. Davids Golf Club and the Radnor Valley Country Club courses. Fazio beat the field by five strokes with a four under par 67 at Radnor Valley and a two under par 69 at St. Davids for a total of 136. Amateur Billy Hyndman earned the second spot at 141. Sam Penecale and amateur Bob Batdorff posted 143s while Art Wall and Charley Lepre grabbed the last two places with 144s.
Also on the first Monday in June Ed Oliver led the qualifying for the U.S. Open in Massachusetts with a 146. Qualifying was held at The Kittansett Club in Marion. There were only two spots to qualify for at that location.
Dave Douglas also qualified for the U.S. Open on the first Monday of June. Douglas passed the test in St. Louis as he and Dutch Harrison tied with 142s and won the only two passes to the Open offered at that site.
Mike Souchak made it through the qualifying test for the U.S. Open on the first Monday of June at White Plains, New York. Sam Snead was low with a 141 and Souchak shot 146 to make it by two strokes. There were 18 spots in New York and a score of 148 was the cut off score.
The U.S. Open was at the Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio during the second week of June. At the end of the regulation 72 holes Dick Mayer and Cary Middlecoff were tied at 282. Mayer and Middlecoff both birdied the 72nd hole to edge out Jimmy Demaret who was in the clubhouse at 283. Julius Boros and Walter Burkemo tied for fourth with 284s. Mayer won his first and only major championship in an 18-hole playoff on Sunday with a 72 versus a 79 for Middlecoff. Mayer’s four tournament rounds were 70, 68, 74 and 70. Ed Oliver with a 294 tied for 22nd and Sam Penecale finished with a 295 and tied for 26th. Oliver won $260 and Penecale won $240. First prize was $7,200 and the total purse was $28,560. George Fazio, Mike Souchak, Art Wall, Dave Douglas and Charley Lepre missed the cut.
Skee Riegel won the Pennsylvania Open in Hershey on the Monday after the U.S. Open. There were 144 entries so both the Hershey Country Club and the Hershey Park Course were used. A 69 in the morning at the Park Course and a 76 in the afternoon at the Country Club were good enough for Riegel (145) to win the $1,000 first place check by two strokes. The afternoon temperature reached the high 90s and only 75 players finished. There was a four-way tie for second among Stan Dudas, Lew Worsham, and amateurs Art Barni and Andy Stofko at 147. Dudas and Worsham each won $400. Rod Munday, Don Stough and amateur John Guenther tied for sixth with 148s. Only four players broke the par of 71 at the Park Course and no one broke the par of 73 at the Country Club.
In late June Llanerch Country Club received notice via letter from Tom Crane, executive secretary of the PGA of America, that their club had been awarded the 1958 PGA Championship. At the invitation of Llanerch professional Marty Lyons, PGA President Harry Moffit and Secretary Harold Sargent had visited the club in May. Llanerch, longer and more difficult when it hosted the PGA Tour for 1945 and 1946 Inquirer Invitations, was going to be lengthened some more for the PGA. The course yardage was going to increase from 6,580 to 6,700 yards and the par changed from 72 to 70. The par five 9th and 14th holes would be played as par fours. The formal signing of a contract would be done during the PGA Championship being played in Ohio at the Miami Valley Golf Club, by Llanerch CC President Frank Eichman.
In the third week of July the last PGA Championship contested at match play was played in Dayton, Ohio at the Miami Valley Golf Club. For the first time in the history of the PGA Championship a non-PGA member, Gene Littler, played in the tournament. The top 25 from the 1956 PGA Tour money list were exempt from qualifying, whether they were a PGA member or not. The quarter finalists from the previous year were exempt along with 5 more who had qualified at the Kansas City Open in May. The remainder of the 128-man field was determined through qualifying in the various PGA Sections. Julius Boros had been invited to play in the 1952 PGA Championship but he had accepted and then declined due the controversy his participation was causing. Like the year before there was no on-site qualifying and all 128 players were paired for the match play. The first four rounds were 18-hole matches and the last three rounds were 36-hole matches. The day before the tournament got under way the contestants took part in a driving contest. Mike Souchak won the contest with three drives that averaged 243 yards. Sam Snead was second with an average of 240 yards and Mike Krak had the longest single drive, 254 yards, 10 inches. John Serafin, Dick Sleichter, Rod Munday and Terl Johnson lost in the first round. They had a tough draw. Sleichter lost to Dow Finsterwald after being even with two holes to play. On the par three 17th hole Sleichter’s tee shot spun back into its own pitch mark. At that time players were not allowed to repair their pitch marks before putting. When Sleichter putted his ball it popped up and his putter struck the ball again. Sleichter was the only one who knew that he had hit the ball twice and he promptly reported it to his opponent. Finsterwald two putted for a par to go one-up and when they halved the 18th hole in pars the match was over. Johnson lost to Jack Fleck 4&3, Munday lost to Al Watrous in 22 holes and Serafin lost to Snead 4&2. John Serafin’s father Felix had lost to Snead in the third round of the PGA at Shawnee in 1938. George Fazio beat Frank Gelhot 4&2 and lost in the second round to Tony Holguin one-down. Art Wall beat Monti Norcross in 22 holes and lost in the second round to Skee Riegel 3&2. Al Besselink beat Joe Greer in 19 holes and lost in the second round to Souchak in 19 holes. Riegel won twice by beating Chick Harbert in 19 holes and Wall in the second round before losing in the third round to Warren Smith 3&2. Joe Kirkwood, Jr. also won two matches by beating John Spencer 3&2 and Bob Watson in 19 holes. In the third round Kirkwood lost to Finsterwald 2&1. Souchak won three matches by beating Charles Johnson 5&3, Besselink and Brien Charter 4&3. Souchak lost to the tournament winner Lionel Hebert in the fourth round 2&1. Hebert defeated Finsterwald in the finals 3&1 and won $8,000. In the other semifinal match Finsterwald put out Don Whitt 2&1. The purse was $42,100.
After the PGA Championship the ten-man Ryder Cup team was named. Art Wall and Ted Kroll were on the team. The PGA had a rule that a professional had to have entered the last two PGA Championships to be eligible for the team. Due to that Cary Middlecoff and Jimmy Demaret were eliminated because they had not entered the PGA Championship that year.
The Wood Memorial was played in June for the first time. Since its beginning in 1934 it had been played later in the year. It was held on the fourth Monday of the month. It was right after the PGA Championship and several of the professionals entered had been in Dayton playing in their national championship. George Griffin, Jr. posted a three under par 67, which held up for the win. Two unattached professionals from Cobbs Creek Golf Club, Howard Wheeler and Bill Bishop, tied for second with 68s. Skee Riegel, Angelo Paul, Terl Johnson, Mike Rooney and Ed Ginther, the professional at the Hercules Country Club, all finished with 69s and tied for fourth. Wheeler was a five time winner of the Negro National Championship and Bishop later became a member of the Philadelphia PGA as the professional at the Freeway Golf Club. First prize form the $1,500 prize pool was $400. Fifteen professionals won money.
Jerry Pisano, an assistant at the Overbrook Golf Club, won the Philadelphia Open at The Springhaven Club in mid August. Pisano birdied the first three holes in the morning and posted a 68. In the afternoon he was around in 71 strokes for a one-under-par 139. Pisano edged out amateur Billy Hyndman (140), who had just been selected for the Walker Cup Team, by one stroke. Jack Helms the head professional at the Outdoor Country Club finished third at 141. Stan Dudas, Willie Polumbo and Mike Rooney tied for fourth with 142s. Pisano, who was working on a law degree, took home $500 and eight other pros picked up a check from the $1,535 purse.
Steve Grady won the Philadelphia Section Senior Championship on the first Friday of September in a sudden death playoff. Grady and Ted Bickel, Jr. had finished in a tie with one over par 70s on the Old York Road Country Club. The playoff was held on the first hole, a 245-yard par three. Grady’s tee shot was on the green and Bickel’s was off to the right. Bickel made a bogey and Grady two-putted for a par and victory. This earned him a trip to the PGA Senior Championship in Dunedin, Florida with travel and lodging paid for him. A.B. Thorn and the defending champion Al MacDonald tied for third with 73s.
Leo Fraser hosted the Section Championship again in late September at his Atlantic City Country Club. Jack Helms, Mike Rooney and John Lewis now the professional at the Holmesburg Country Club tied for the medal with 68s. Par had been lowered from 72 to 70 but ten pros were under par. There were 73 entries and 64 started in the match play. The defending champion Art Wall was not entered because he was a member of the Ryder Cup Team that was competing in England. Dick Sleichter won the championship defeating Walter Brickley in the 36-hole finals 7&6. The final wasn’t held until mid October due to a scheduling conflict. The conflict was a Senior Open tournament that Leo Fraser was hosting at the Atlantic City Country Club. Brickley put out two-time Section champion Henry Williams, Jr. in the semifinals on the first extra hole and Sleichter eliminated touring pro Al Besselink 3&2.
The Section’s annual meeting was held at the Atlantic City Country Club on the evening of the Section Championship qualifying round. There were seventy-three Section members in attendance. The manufacturers’ reps displayed their new equipment before and after the meeting. All the officers were reelected. The president was Leo Fraser. The first and second vice presidents were Harlan Will and Al Keeping. The secretary was Angelo Paul and the treasurer was Walt Silkworth. The Section named Fraser Philadelphia Section “Golf Professional of the Year” and national vice president Henry Poe presented him with a plaque. Fraser had hosted many events for the Section, including the 1955 PGA national meeting which he chaired. In 1948 he had hosted the U.S. Women’s Open which was five years before the USGA took over the tournament and finally recognized women’s professional golf. In 1954 Fraser had instituted a caddie scholarship fund in the Philadelphia Section.
The Ryder Cup matches were played in Yorkshire, England in early October. The American team was missing some of its best players. Ben Hogan and Sam Snead declined to make the trip and the PGA had left Cary Middlecoff and Julius Boros off the team because they hadn’t played in the PGA Championship. Also a touring pro could not qualify for the team until he was a PGA member, which meant a five-year apprenticeship on the tour or in a pro shop. Art Wall and Ted Kroll were members of the team. Going into the singles matches the Americans led by two points and when the day was over they had lost by 7 1/2 to 4 1/2. It was the first win for the British since 1933.
In early October Leo Fraser hosted a Senior Open tournament at the Atlantic City Country Club. The three-day tournament was sponsored by the city of Atlantic City and Fraser the president of the host club. Forty-six professionals over the age of 50 showed up to try and win the $650 first prize. Most of them were from outside the Section and some were former Section members. A former Section champion Joe Zarhardt returned from Greensboro, North Carolina where he had been since 1947 to win the tournament. At the end of regulation play Pete Burke, the 1956 Senior PGA champion, and Zarhardt were tied. Burke (212) would have won in regulation if not for a carelessly missed one-foot putt on the last hole. Zarhardt played the last nine holes in 31 strokes to get the tie. His last round 67 and first two rounds of 75 and 70 gave him his 212 total. That same day the two pros went back out for an 18-hole playoff, which, Zarhardt won by two strokes with a 69 against a 71 for Burke. Three more former Section members Charlie Sheppard (213), Denny Shute (215) and Bill Goldbeck (217) finished third, fourth and fifth. Clarence Ehresman (223) and Ted Bickel, Jr. (225 led the Section pros winning the ninth and tenth place checks.
The national PGA meeting was held in Long Beach, California at the Lafayette Hotel in the second week of November. Harold Sargent was elected president. He was the son of George Sargent, the third president of the PGA who held the office from 1921 through 1926. Lou Strong was elected secretary and Warren Cantrell was elected treasurer. Marty Lyons, who was hosting the PGA Championship at Llanerch Country Club the next year, had started a campaign to change the tournament from match play to stroke play. Lyons had been at the PGA Championship that year and he had witnessed a well run tournament with an attractive purse lose money. Because you never knew who would be playing in the finals television wasn’t interested in the tournament. After 41 years of match play the decision was made by the delegates to change the format of their national championship to stroke play. More news for Philadelphia was that the 1959 Ryder Cup had been awarded to Leo Fraser’s Atlantic City Country Club. A proposal was made to build a new clubhouse at the PGA National Golf Club in Dunedin, Florida. $1,000 was appropriated for preliminary drawings and the study of a plan. Henry Poe, who was Philadelphia’s national vice president representing District II, was appointed chairman of the project. Herb Graffis reported for the National Golf Foundation that 160 new golf courses had opened that year and that 289 more were under construction. Denny Shute was inducted into the PGA Hall of Fame. The Philadelphia Section’s delegates were Leo Fraser and Angelo Paul.
On the first of December the Philadelphia Inquirer’s sports editor, Fred Byrod, mentioned in a column that the Atlantic City Country Club was adding 400 yards to the golf course for the Ryder Cup matches, which were to be played in late October 1959.
On the first of December Al Besselink won the Venezuelan Open at the Valle Arriba Club in Caracas. At the end of 72-holes Besselink and Bob Rosburg were tied with five-under-par 279s. Besselink made a birdie three on the first extra hole for the win. Besselink’s rounds were 70, 67, 69 and 73. Marty Furgol and Julius Boros tied for third at 281. First prize was $4,000 from a total purse of $20,000. The next week Besselink lost the Havana Open to Al Balding in a playoff.
At the conclusion of the PGA Tour’s schedule Dick Mayer was the leading money winner with $65,835.00 and the “PGA Player-of-the-Year”. Art Wall was in seventh place with $20,831.72 and Mike Souchak finished eleventh with $18,297.34. Al Besselink won $13,041.25 and ended up in 20th place on the money list. Ed Oliver finished in 33rd place with $7,714.84 and George Fazio was 59th with $3,085.00. Dow Finsterwald won the Vardon Trophy with a 70.30 average for his 108 competitive rounds. Art Wall finished third with an average of 70.93 for his 117 rounds and Mike Souchak was next with a 71.03 average for 70 rounds. Al Besselink played 90 rounds and was sixth with 71.08 stokes per round and Ed Oliver was ninth with a 71.50 average for his 62 rounds.
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The Senior PGA Championship was extended to 72 holes and there was a 36-hole cut for the first time with the field being cut to the low 100 and ties. The age-group winners were determined in the first two rounds. The purse was increased to $10,000. Gene Sarazen won the championship in early February at the PGA National Golf Club in Dunedin, Florida. Sarazen put together rounds of 73, 71, 74 and 70 for an even par 288. Charlie Sheppard finished second three strokes back at 291. Bill Black and Eddie Burke tied for third with 293. Jack Patroni tied for sixth with a 295. Sheppard and Patroni had worked at the Section at one time. The first round was played in near freezing rain and Section senior champion Steve Grady withdrew. First prize was raised to $1,200. The professional and manager at the PGA National Golf club was former Section member Frank Sprogell.
On the fourth Sunday of February Ed Oliver came through with the low round of the tournament to win the Houston Open by one stroke. After rounds of 68, 73 and 73 on the Memorial Park Golf Course Oliver had trailed the leader by five strokes but a five under par 67 in the last round put him in first place with a 281. Roberto De Vicenzo and Jay Hebert tied for second at 282. Marty Furgol, Dave Ragan and Jimmy Demaret tied for fourth with 283s. First prize from the $30,000 purse was $4,300.
In the first week of April it was the beginning of Arnold Palmer’s domination of the Masters Tournament. It was not a year for low scores. Palmer put together three solid if not spectacular rounds of 70, 73, and 68 at the Augusta National Golf Club to get a share of the lead after three rounds. After an all night rain the players were allowed relief from embedded balls “through the green”. This saved Palmer when his tee shot on the 12th hole plugged in the bank above the left hand bunker Palmer played the original ball and scored a five and he played a second ball making a par three and asked for a ruling. On the 15th green Palmer received word that his three on #12 was official. He finished with bogies on #16 and #18 for a 73 but he was in with the lead at 284. Doug Ford and Fred Hawkins came to the last green with makeable birdie putts to tie but they both missed and tied for second with 285s. Stan Leonard and Ken Venturi tied for fourth at 286. First prize was $11,250. Art Wall (287) tied for sixth at 287 winning $1,518.75 and Mike Souchak (291) won $1,050 for a tie for 14th. After eleven straight years of playing in the Masters Skee Riegel was not in the field.
At 9:00 AM on the second Tuesday of April the Section’s spring meeting was held at the Sheraton Hotel in Philadelphia. The main topic of discussion was the PGA Championship, which was being hosted by the Section for the fourth time. Their championship was being contested at stroke play for the first time after having been played at match play for 39 years. There were now 238 golf professionals on the Section’s rolls.
Later on that second Tuesday of April at 1 p.m. the Section’s pros kicked off the golf season with their first “PGA Golf Show” at the Sheraton Hotel. The show was the brainchild of Leo Fraser. More than one thousand people paid $1 each to see the show that was open until 10 PM. Over 100 golf professionals from the Section participated in the program. There were 30 exhibitors displaying their golf equipment and two shot-making clinics. Henry Poe, Bud Lewis, Henry Williams, Jr., Skee Riegel, George Fazio, Joe Aneda the professional at the Newark Country Club and Ed Tabor conducted a teaching program. Shelly Mayfield and Jimmy Thomson, a former touring pro from the Shawnee Inn & Country Club, took part in the clinics and promoted Spalding golf equipment. There were driving nets set up for the public to hit shots and receive advice. The professionals took turns working the nets. That evening 500 dinner guests honored the area’s 1957 champions, pro and amateur of both sexes. The master of ceremonies was Henry Poe and the guest speaker was Harold Sargent, the president of the PGA of America.
Skee Riegel led the qualifying for the U.S. Open at the Philmont Country Club’s North Course on the first Monday in June. Two solid rounds of 69 and 68 brought him in with a 137, which was two strokes less than Sam Penecale (139), who was now the professional at the Whitemarsh Valley Country Club. Tony Longo the professional at the Glen Oak Country Club picked up the third spot with a 141. The fourth and last spot went to Stan Dudas with a 143. To sew up the spot he beat out Eddie Merrins (143) the playing professional at the Merion Golf Club, with a par four on the second hole of a sudden-death playoff.\
Also on the first Monday of June Al Besselink just squeezed through in the U.S. Open qualifying at Detroit. Most of the touring professionals were in Detroit so there were 29 spots at that location. Massachusetts’ Paul Harney led with a 139. Because of the strength of the field there were 29 spots in Detroit. Besselink tied with thirteen others at 148 for the last six spots. In the sudden death playoff he captured the last spot. Besselink’s rounds were 77 and 71. Mike Souchak (148) Art Wall (148) were also in the playoff and ended up as alternates. Souchak got into the tournament. The Western Open had been played in Detroit and ended the day before.
The U.S. Open was played at the Southern Hills Country Club, Tulsa, Oklahoma in mid June. In what was called “The Blast Furnace Open”, due to the heat, Tommy Bolt led from wire to wire to capture his only major championship. Bolt opened up with a pair of one over par 71s to take a one-stroke lead into Saturday’s 36-hole grind. On Saturday Bolt put together a 69 and a 72 for 283 and finished four strokes in front of Gary Player (287). Julius Boros was next at 289 and Gene Littler finished fourth with a 290. Stan Dudas led the Philadelphia Section pros as he tied for 27th with a score of 300, which earned a check for $200. Sam Penecale (304) tied for 41st and picked up $200 also. Every pro that finished from 23rd through 52nd won $200. Mike Souchak, Al Besselink, Skee Riegel and Tony Longo missed the cut.
Ed Oliver qualified for the PGA Championship by finishing in the top 25 at the Buick Open. The tournament, held at the Warwick Hills Country Club in Grand Blanc, Michigan, ended on a Monday in the fourth week of June. The second round was rained out on Friday. Any PGA member who had not entered qualifying for the PGA Championship in his PGA Section would qualify if he finished in the top 25 at the Buick Open. Oliver did just that by posting a 295 to tie for 21st. Billy Casper won the $50,000 tournament with a three under par 285. First prize was $7,000. Former Section member Ted Kroll and Arnold Palmer tied for second with 286s. Art Wall tied for sixth at 289 and won $2,000.
Dick Sleichter added the Pennsylvania Open title to his Section title on the third Monday in June. There were 130 pros and amateurs competing over the Hershey Country Club and Hershey Park Course. He won in spite of incurring five penalty strokes for the day, two shots out of bounds and a ball in a creek. In the morning Sleichter started his round at the Park Course with two bogies and he was fortunate that it wasn’t worse. On the first hole his tee shot hit a railroad car parked on a siding and bounced back onto the fairway. He followed that up with four straight birdies and finished with a one-under-par 70. In the afternoon he put together another one-under-par round, 72, at the Country Club for a 142. Two strokes back in a second place tie were Mike Rooney (144) and Pittsburgh’s Dale Andreason (144). Amateur John Guenther finished fourth at 147 and the defending champion Skee Riegel was next with a 148. First prize was $750.
On the fourth Monday of June Skee Riegel led the sectional qualifying for the PGA Championship just like he had led the qualifying for the U.S. Open earlier in the month. Riegel set the pace for the 87 Section members who were competing for nine spots at the Riverton Country Club. The Section had been allotted extra spots in the starting field because the PGA was being played in the Philadelphia Section at the Llanerch Country Club. Riegel turned in a 139 to nip Chet Munson (140), the professional at the Concord Country Club, by one stroke. Next in line were Henry Williams, Jr., George Griffin, Jr. and George Fazio with 142s. They finished one stroke in front of Charley Lepre and John Serafin who posted 143s. The last two spots went to Ken Stear, the assistant at the Huntingdon Valley Country Club, and Jim Gantz at 144. Dick Sleichter was exempt as the Section champion. It was the first time that the PGA had given each Section champion an exemption. Art Wall, Mike Souchak and Al Besselink were exempt off having been in the top 25 on the 1957 PGA Tour money list. Wall was also exempt as a member of the 1957 Ryder Cup Team. Marty Lyons had an exemption as the resident pro at Llanerch Country Club, but he didn’t play in the tournament.
Art Wall won the $22,000 Rubber City Open in early July at Akron, Ohio. Three times that year he had finished second on the PGA Tour but this time he grabbed first place by defeating Dow Finsterwald on the second hole of a sudden death playoff. Wall began the last round with a four-stroke lead after rounds of 65, 67 and 68 at the Firestone Country Club. Wall shot a 69 in the last round but Finsterwald birdied the last three holes for a 65 and a tie at 269. The birdie on the 18th hole was accomplished with a 45-foot putt. They both made pars on the first extra hole of the sudden death playoff and Wall birdied the next hole for the win. Bob Goalby (270) finished third two strokes in front of Mike Souchak (272) and Jack Burke, Jr. (272) who tied for fourth. First prize was $2,800.
In the third week of July the PGA Championship returned to the Section. The host was Marty Lyons and Llanerch Country Club. Lyons, who had been the secretary of the PGA of America in 1949, was very influential in bringing the championship to Philadelphia. Llanerch had already hosted the Section Championship eight times. Only because of Lyons the tournament was being played at Llanerch.
Sam Snead, Arnold Palmer and Gene Sarazen put on a golf clinic at the Wanamaker department store in Philadelphia on Tuesday and Wednesday before the PGA Championship commenced. They appeared through the sponsorship of the Wilson Sporting Goods Company, which they represented.
This PGA, the 40th, was being played at stroke play instead of match play for the first time. Par at Llanerch had been reduced from 72 to 70 for the tournament. The par five 9th and 13th holes were played as par fours. To enter the tournament a professional had to be a PGA member, which meant that a professional had to have played the PGA Tour for five years or worked at a golf club under a Class “A” PGA professional for five years. Dow Finsterwald had made 72 consecutive cuts at one point and won several times on the PGA Tour, but never a major. He had finished second seventeen times in the last 31 months including the PGA Championship the previous year but this was his week. Finsterwald shot a 67 for a first round lead and added a 72 to hang onto the lead at the halfway point. After 36 holes the field was cut to the low 90 and ties. A third round 70 kept Finsterwald in the hunt in third place behind Sam Snead and Billy Casper. The field was cut to the low 60 for the final round. A last round 67 earned Finsterwald (276) the first place check of $5,500 by two strokes and put his name on the Wanamaker trophy. Billy Casper (278), Sam Snead (280) and Jack Burke, Jr. (281) finished second, third and fourth. Mike Souchak and Ed Oliver led the Philadelphia pros tying for eighth at 287. They each won $$1,300. One stroke back in a tie for 11th Art Wall (288) won $$1,016. George Fazio finished tied for 25th with a 293 and won $425. Skee Riegel tied for 40th at 298 and won $110. Henry Williams, Jr. tied for 49th (301), Jim Gantz tied for 59th (306) and George Griffin, Jr. finished 64th (311). They each won $100 along with everyone else who made the cut after the third round. Charley Lepre made the second round cut but he missed the third round cut. Dick Sleichter, Al Besselink, Chet Munson and John Serafin missed the 36-hole cut. Ken Stear withdrew just before the tournament began. CBS Television and CBS Radio broadcast the tournament live for the first time. The last three holes of the tournament and the Wanamaker Trophy presentation were televised to a nationwide audience. The two days of televised golf totaled just 2 and 1/2 hours. The host professional was Marty Lyons.
When the PGA Championship was awarded to the Llanerch Country Club it was scheduled for match play. That was until Marty Lyons took a trip to Dayton, Ohio to observe the playing of the PGA’s national championship. He went to Dayton to see what he could learn about hosting the tournament but he came away with something more important. What he saw was a tournament that offered almost $14,000 more in prize money than the U.S. Open and was expertly managed in every way, but some of the top professionals were not entered. The tournament didn’t draw as well as expected and it lost money. First Lyons sold the members on the concept of stroke play versus match play and then he gave his pitch to the national officers and executive committee. His pitch included the fact that the field could start with 150 players instead of the 128 players that the match play format began with in 1957. More of the elite players might enter if the tournament were four rounds instead of the seven that it would be if a player went all the way to the match play final. Lyons also thought that the first two days would draw better. He felt that with his contacts at CBS he might be able to interest the broadcasting company in televising the last two rounds of the tournament for the first time. In the past the TV stations had not wanted to commit to a match play final that might not be of any interest to the golf fans. At the national PGA meeting in November the delegates voted to change their championship to stroke play. With that change John Facenda along with Frank Chirkinian and Jack Whittaker, who were young golfers and employees of the CBS station on City Line Avenue, sold the parent company on televising the tournament. Lyons spent many hours promoting the tournament. He made 70 talks to civic groups and the media. He sold advertising for the program book and tickets to the tournament. He arranged for extra police protection and set up a first aid station staffed by doctors all seven days of the tournament week. He organized the local golf professionals for marshalling duty. Before it was all over Lyons had attended more than 100 planning meetings at his club. After the tournament was over and all the counting had been done the PGA officers announced that their championship had turned a profit for the first time in recent years. Attendance for the week was 45,000 and the receipts from the ticket sales were $81,557. Revenue from advertising in the program book came to $43,919. The PGA and their tournament manager received 60% of those monies and the other 40% went to the Llanerch Country Club. The PGA paid out $39,400 in prize money and other expenses from its share. Llanerch kept all the money from concessions such as food and parking. As a bonus the PGA and its championship received a great deal of added publicity.
The next week Art Wall won the $20,000 Eastern Open in Baltimore. At the end of 72 holes on the Mount Pleasant Golf Course Wall was tied with Jack Burke, Jr. and Bob Rosburg at 276. All three had shot five-under-par 67s in the last round. Wall made a birdie four on the first extra hole for the win and a check for $2,800. Wall’s rounds were 69, 69, 71 and 67. Wall had now been in the top 10 in the last 14 tournaments he had entered. Gary Player led going into the last round and finished fourth with a 277.
On the fourth Monday of July the Anthracite Open was played at the Elkview Country Club. Art Wall, who had won the Eastern Open one day earlier, was entered. Henry Williams, Jr. took the first money with a one under par 71. Skee Riegel and Henry McQuiston, an assistant at the Chester Valley Golf Club, tied for second at 72. Wall, Tony Longo and Jim Gantz tied for fourth with 73s.
In mid August Mike Souchak won the $25,000 St. Paul Open. It was his first win in two years and his last victory had been in that tournament. Souchak (263) broke the tournament record of 266 by three strokes while winning by four over Sam Snead (267) and Julius Boros (267). Snead was trying for a second win at St. Paul, his first coming 21 years earlier. Souchak’s rounds of 66, 64, 68 and 65 totaled 25 under par. Art Wall finished fourth. First prize was $3,500.
The Philadelphia Open was played at the Merion Golf Club’s East Course on the third Monday in August. There were 105 pros and 36 amateurs entered. Due to the large number of entries the field was cut to the low 50 and ties after the morning round. It required a morning score of 80 or better to play the second round. In order to determine who made the cut the afternoon didn’t begin until all of the morning rounds were completed. Because of that the last players didn’t tee off for their second round until 5:40. George Fazio picked up his fourth Philadelphia Open title but not without a few problems along the way. In the morning round he broke his putter in anger after three-putting the tenth green. On the next eight holes he putted with his three-wood and posted a 78 to make the cut by only two strokes. During the prolonged break Fazio picked out a mallet type putter in Fred Austin’s pro shop and in the afternoon he proceeded to shoot a 69 for a 147 total. Just before dark amateur Jack Penrose came in with a 147 to tie Fazio. A playoff was scheduled for early September but Penrose couldn’t make himself available and the title went to Fazio. Henry Williams, Jr. played the morning round in 69 strokes but an afternoon 80 for 149 landed him in third place. Bob Schoener, Jr. finished fourth at 150. First prize was $500 and eight pros won money from the $1,500 purse.
Howard Wheeler won the United Golfers Association’s national championship in late August at Pittsburgh’s North Park Golf Course. This tournament was the Negro National Championship. On the last day Wheeler came from off the pace to win by one stroke. His 66 in the final round was a course record. That gave him a total of 282 which edged out Dick Thomas (283). Charlie Sifford, who had won the tournament five straight times from 1952 to 1956, finished third at 284.
Stan Dudas was the host pro and the medalist in the Section Championship with three under par 68. The tournament was played at the North Hills Country Club in the second week of October. There were 94 entries with 64 starting in the match play. All of the matches were 18 holes except the finals. In the 36-hole final Henry Williams, Jr. won the Section Championship for a third time by defeating Dudas with a conceded birdie on the second extra hole. It appeared that Dudas was going to win his second Section title when he stood two-up with three holes to play. Williams won the 34th hole with a par and the 36th hole with a birdie, holing a tricky downhill three-foot putt, to even the match. A gallery of about 250 followed the match. First prize was $700 and for a third time Williams took one-year possession of The Evening Bulletin Trophy. In the semifinals Dudas eliminated Skee Riegel with a birdie on the 19th hole and Williams knocked out the defending champion Dick Sleichter 3&1.
On the first Friday of October Tony Longo and Clarence Ehresman tied in the qualifying for the Senior PGA Championship in January. They tied with one over par 70s at the Old York Road Country Club. A playoff was scheduled for the following Friday, but finding out that he would not be able to play in the championship Ehresman conceded the qualifying spot to Longo. Along with qualifying and being the Section senior champion, Longo’s travel and lodging expenses were taken care of for him. Charles Schneider, Sr. finished third with a 72. Al Keeping, Al MacDonald and John Vasco tied for fourth with 73s.
The Section’s annual meeting and elections were held on the first Monday in October. It was at the North Hills Country Club on the evening of the Section Championship qualifying rounds. The president Leo Fraser and the other four officers were reelected for a third time. The first and second vice presidents were again Harlan Will and Al Keeping. The secretary was Angelo Paul and the treasurer was Walt Silkworth who was now George Fazio’s professional at the Flourtown Country Club. For a second time Marty Lyons was honored as the Section’s “Golf Professional of the Year”. Lyons had used his influence as a national officer to bring the PGA Championship to Llanerch Country Club and the Philadelphia Section. Next he had lobbied the PGA to change the format to “stroke play” from “match play”, which they did. Under the “stroke play” format the tournament had turned a big profit for the PGA of America instead of a loss.
The second annual Atlantic City Senior Open tournament was back at the Atlantic City Country Club in third week of October. The defending champion Joe Zarhardt came close to keeping the title. Zarhardt shot a three under par 67 in the last round to catch Virginia’s Jack Isaacs at 214 but he lost a sudden death playoff on the first hole. Isaacs won with a par four versus a five for Zarhardt. Isaacs’ three tournament rounds were 72, 72 and 70. The year before Zarhardt had won the tournament in an 18-hole playoff. First prize was $600 from a purse of $2,350. Harry Cooper was third with a 215 and Charlie Sheppard finished fourth at 221. The low Section member was Tony Longo (227) who tied for eighth and won $87.50. Steve Grady (229) and Ed Tabor (229) tied for 10th, each winning $37.50. Ted Bickel, Jr. (230) tied for 12th, winning the last money of $25.
The Philadelphia Section defeated the New Jersey Section in a team match at the Atlantic City Country Club in late October. Each team was composed of 28 Section members. The pros were paired in fours. With two singles and a better ball match they were competing for nine points in each four-man pairing. Due to heavy rains the last six holes of the course were closed. Because of that they played the first twelve holes and then replayed the first six holes to get in 18 holes. The Philadelphia Section won by 79 ½ points to 46 ½ points. There was also money for the low individual scores, which Henry Williams, Jr. led with a 68. Jerry Pisano, Ralph Hutchison, Jim Gantz and New Jersey Section member Bud Geoghagen posted 71s.
In the middle of November the PGA of America announced that the 1959 Ryder Cup matches has been moved from Atlantic City Country Club to the new Eldorado Country Club in Palm Springs, California. Leo Fraser had agreed to release the PGA from its previous commitment. Two consecutive Ryder Cups were now going to be held in Palm Springs, which was very unusual.
President Harold Sargent, Secretary Lou Strong and Treasurer Warren Cantrell were reelected without opposition at the national PGA meeting in early December. The meeting was held near the national office at the Fort Harrison Hotel in Clearwater, Florida. A report on the PGA Championship, which had been held in Philadelphia, was presented to the delegates. The financial report from the championship showed that the change to stroke play would insure its future success. The delegates were informed that the 1959 Ryder Cup matches would be played at the new El Dorado Country Club in California. In order for the matches to be played at El Dorado Leo Fraser and the Atlantic City Country Club had to release the PGA from a prior commitment. A dinner for all past national officers was held and a former Section member Frank Sprogell addressed the group as the representative of the past secretaries. Also it was announced that Sprogell had been rehired as the professional and manager of the PGA National Golf Club. Horton Smith was voted into the PGA Hall of Fame. The PGA now had 4,200 members and there were 20 employees in the PGA national office. Leo Fraser and Angelo Paul were the Section’s delegates to the meeting and for the first time the Section had an alternate delegate at the meeting, Walt Silkworth. Henry Poe was there also as the national vice president from District II.
Arnold Palmer was the leading money winner for the year with $42,607. Art Wall finished fifth with $29,841.45 and Mike Souchak was twelfth with $18,137.94. Ed Oliver finished 26th on the money list with earnings of $13,311.11. Al Besselink won $3,855.27 to finish 62nd. George Fazio won $1,341.66. Bob Rosburg won the Vardon Trophy for leading the scoring with an average of 70.11 strokes per round. Dow Finsterwald was the “PGA Player-of-the-Year”.
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In mid January Art Wall arrived on the Monterey Peninsula for the Bing Crosby National Pro-Am at the peak of his game. Two weeks before he had led the L.A. Open with one round to go but a last round 63 by Ken Venturi left Wall with the second place check. At Pebble Beach Wall really got his year on the right track by winning the Crosby. Wall put together a 69 at Cypress Point, a 66 at Monterey and a 70 at Pebble Beach to take a four-stroke lead over Jimmy Demaret into Sunday’s final round. An up and down last round at Pebble Beach got the job done. Wall proceeded to birdie the first three holes and he finished the front nine with a 34. On the back nine he had two more birdies but he was seven over par on the other holes. Wall teed off on the last hole with a one-stroke lead over Gene Littler who he was paired with. They both reached the fairway with their drives but Littler hooked his second shot over the seawall into the Pacific Ocean. Wall made a bogie for a 75 and won by two strokes. His winning score of 279 earned him $4,000. Littler and Demaret tied for second with 282s. Bob Rosburg and John McMullen tied for fourth at 283. Wall also won the pro-am. He was paired with the United States amateur champion Charley Coe and that earned him another $2,000. The total purse was $50,000.
On the first of February Willie Goggin won the PGA Senior Championship at Dunedin, Florida. His 284 at the PGA National Golf Club won by one stroke over Denny Shute (285), Duke Gibson (285) and Paul Runyan (285). Clarence Doser (286) tied for fifth. Section senior champion Tony Longo (299) tied for 36th and also finished in the money, winning $20. The purse was $10,000 and first prize was $1,200. Nine former members of the Philadelphia Section finished in the money.
Ed Oliver won the Jamaica Open on the fourth Sunday of February in Kingston, Jamaica. Oliver put together rounds of 69, 70, 70 and 68 to win by four strokes. His eleven under par 277 was a tournament record. Bob Watson finished second at 281 and Ernie Vosler was third at 285. Pete Cooper and Johnny Pott tied for fourth with 287s. First prize was $1,000.
For several years the pro golf salesmen had been showing their merchandise on card tables at Dunedin during the PGA Senior Championship. That year Frank Sprogell, the golf professional and club manager at the Dunedin Golf Club, rented a tent from the Clyde Beatty Circus for the convenience of the salesmen. One of the most profitable PGA programs, the PGA Merchandise Show, was now a fixture on the winter schedule at Dunedin. Sprogell had been a professional in the Philadelphia area when the PGA was formed and the Secretary of the PGA of America for five years in the early 1940s.
The Section’s spring meeting was held at the Sheraton Hotel in Philadelphia on the third Monday in March. The president Leo Fraser announced that five caddies were now attending college through the aid of the Section’s Caddie Scholarship Fund. The Golf Association of Philadelphia had now formed a scholarship fund and had two caddies in college. Henry Poe congratulated the Llanerch Country Club on having put on the most successful PGA Championship ever held. On behalf of the Section he presented jeweled awards to several of the Llanerch members who formed the backbone of the committee. Plans for the Section’s second annual golf show on April 13 were discussed at the meeting. The tournament schedule was presented to the members and it was noted that due to the large entry the year before two golf courses would be used for the Philadelphia Open.
At the end of March Art Wall won the $15,000 Azalea Open at the Cape Fear Country Club in Wilmington, North Carolina. The first round was rained out and with three days of rain the course was so difficult that a fourteen over par score of 302 tied for 30th and made the money. Wall began with a 72 and an eight birdie second round of 66 gave him a four-stroke lead. Wall wrapped up the win with a 71-73 finish for a total of 282. Wall’s former college teammate from Duke University, Mike Souchak, finished second three strokes back at 285. Dow Finsterwald finished third with a 287 and Bert Weaver was next at 290. First prize was $2,000. The tournament didn’t end until Monday causing some of the players a day of practice at Augusta.
On the first Tuesday of April Art Wall arrived at Augusta, Georgia for the Masters Tournament as the leading money winner on the winter portion of PGA Tour, having won the Azalea Open the week before and the Crosby Pro-Am in January. On Sunday he left the Augusta National Golf Club with his first major title. His first two rounds were 73 and 74, which made the cut by only two strokes. A third round 71 left him six strokes back of the defending champion, Arnold Palmer, in 13th place. Wall’s final round back nine turned out to be a Masters finish that was only exceeded by Gene Sarazen’s double-eagle in 1935. After a front nine 34 he three putted #10 for a bogie and made pars at #11 and #12. Wall reached the par five 13th hole with a four-iron and two putted for a birdie. He then birdied #14, reached #15 with a two-iron where he two putted for another birdie, made a par at #16 and birdied #17. A nine-iron shot on the last hole left him a twelve-foot putt, which he holed for his eighth birdie of the day. Wall’s last round 66 for 284 edged out Cary Middlecoff (285) by one stroke for the green jacket and the $15,000 first place check. Arnold Palmer (286) shot a last round 74 to finish third one stroke behind Middlecoff. Stan Leonard and Dick Mayer tied for fourth at 287. Ed Oliver tied for 14th at 291 and won $1,425. Mike Souchak shot 294 and tied for 25th, winning $1,200.
In April the Philadelphia Section followed up on the PGA of America’s Assistants Training School by conducting a school of its own at the North Hills Country Club. Sixty-three assistants and several Section members attended. Al MacDonald and Ed Tabor were responsible for putting the school together and arranging the program. The instructors were the Shawnee Inn & Country Club professional team of Harry Obitz and Dick Farley on merchandising along with Marty Lyons on teaching and group instruction. George Izett showed the pros how to handle club repairs in their pro shops. Stan Dudas spoke on preparing for tournament golf, Henry Poe informed the assistants about the PGA and its programs and Tabor closed the session by stressing the importance of courtesy on the job.
In mid April the Section held its second annual Golf Show at the Sheraton Hotel in Philadelphia. More than 2,800 attended the Monday show, which ran from 1:00 PM to 10:00 PM. Three driving cages were kept busy as fifty professionals alternated in giving advice and demonstrations. The PGA honored four of Philadelphia’s women golfers for their accomplishments, Glenna Vare, Dot Porter, Helen Wilson and Edith Flippin. The pro-golf salesmen displayed all of the new golf equipment, clothing and accessories. The equipment hit of the show was a kangaroo golf bag priced at $125. The bag was lightweight and orders for the bag had far exceeded the supply. The hotel set up a 19th hole on the ballroom floor where everyone could meet and exchange stories.
Mike Souchak won the Tournament of Champions in Las Vegas in late April. He withstood a last round challenge from his former Duke University teammate, Art Wall, to win the $10,000 first prize. Souchak’s first three rounds at the Desert Inn Country Club were 66, 70 and 68, which gave him a five-stroke cushion going into the final round. The last round was played in 30 mile-per-hour winds and Souchak (281) struggled to a 77. In spite of four-putting the fourteenth green, his closest competitor Art Wall, finished two strokes back at 283. Gene Littler finished third at 285. Doug Sanders, Julius Boros and Stan Leonard tied for fourth with 289s. It was thought that Souchak received another $12,000. It was the custom for the person who purchased a professional in the calcutta auction to give him 10% of anything that the purchaser won. Frankie Lane, the singer, had bought Littler for the fifth straight year and Littler’s finishes had now brought Lane more than $300,000. The total purse was $46,620.
For the first time qualifying for the U.S. Open was made up of two stages. The non-exempt entries were now required to pass a local qualifying test and then compete in sectional qualifying. There was a record entry of 2,385 pros and amateurs. Local qualifying was held at 57 sites and then two weeks later qualifying moved on to thirteen sectional qualifying locations. Local qualifying in Philadelphia was held at The Springhaven Country Club and the Rolling Green Golf Club on the third Monday in May. Philadelphia was allotted fourteen places. Skee Riegel and Al Besselink led the scoring with 140s. Besselink was home after finishing fourth in the Sam Snead Festival on the PGA Tour the day before. Besselink turned in a pair of 70s. Riegel had a 69 at Springhaven in the morning and a 71 in the afternoon at Rolling Green. It required a score of 149 to pass this first test. Sam Penecale and amateurs Jimmy McHale and amateur Bill Robinson finished in a tie for third with 142s. Stan Dudas and Charley Lepre were next with 143s. George Griffin, Jr. ended up alone in eighth place with a 145 and Bud Lewis was two strokes farther back with a 147. Jerry Pisano, Bernie Haas, an assistant at the Philadelphia Country Club, and the host pro at Rolling Green, Huey Crawford, tied for tenth at 148. Eddie Merrins, George Fazio, who was now operating the Flourtown Golf Club, and amateur Art Barni posted 149s to make it through a five-man sudden death playoff that earned them the last three spots. As exempt players on the PGA Tour, Mike Souchak and Art Wall were exempt from local qualifying for the U.S. Open.
Also on the third Monday of May there was another U.S. Open qualifying site in the Section. Qualifying was held in Central Pennsylvania at the Country Club of Harrisburg. Henry Williams, Jr. was the medalist with a pair of par 71s. His 142 total finished five strokes ahead of the other three qualifiers. Jimmy Johnson, a new Section member and the professional at the Country Club of Harrisburg, Don Stough and amateur Bob Batdorff all turned in 147s. The fifth spot went to John Wudnoski, the professional at the Wyoming Valley Country Club, with a 148 total.
On Monday June 1 sectional qualifying was held for the U.S. Open. Nineteen golfers were exempt from local and sectional qualifying. The nineteen included the top 15 from the 1958 U.S. Open, former U.S. Open winners, the PGA Championship winner and the U.S. Amateur champion. Some of those were exempt in two ways. That left 477 players competing throughout the country for the other 131 places in the starting field. Most of the Philadelphia Section professionals were at the Baltusrol Golf Club in northern New Jersey. Mike Souchak shot a 68 and a 69 for 137 to lead a strong field by three strokes. George Fazio (144), Stan Dudas (144), Sam Penecale (144) and Skee Riegel (145), who had all qualified in Philadelphia, also got under the wire at Baltusrol. Another Philadelphia qualifier, Charley Lepre (147), won the fourth alternate spot at Baltusrol and wound up making it into the starting field.
On that same Monday Jimmy Johnson, a former Michigan Section PGA champion and Don Stough made the grade for the U.S. Open in Washington D.C. at the Congressional Country Club. Johnson put together rounds of 71 and 68 to qualify with ease. Stough tied for the last place with 72-70 for 142. Walker Inman was the medalist at Congressional with a 135. There were twelve spots at that site. The Eastern Open was being played later in the week in Baltimore so with touring pros in the field there were extra spots.
Art Wall, the leading money winner on the PGA Tour for the year at that time and Masters champion was required to qualify for the U.S. Open. He made it in Cincinnati with a 137. Since the USGA had instituted two-tier qualifying it was even more difficult to qualify for the Open. Stars like Palmer, Snead and Wall were exempt from local qualifying but they were required to pass the sectional test. Gary Player was exempt off having finished in the top 20 at the 1958 US Open.
The 21st and last Wood Memorial tournament was played at the Jeffersonville Golf Club on the second Monday of June. Some of the greatest golf professionals, like Tommy Bolt and Dow Finsterwald had played in the tournament. It had been held nearly every year, starting in 1934, in memory of Jeffersonville Golf Club’s first head professional, Frank H. Wood, who died from pneumonia in May of that year. Wood was from Massachusetts, having come to Philadelphia with Joe Capello to be his assistant at the Aronimink Golf Club’s new Donald Ross course. Wood and Capello were the same age and had grown up together in Manchester. Wood’s real name was Francois Dubois. His family, of French ancestry, had moved to the United States while he was a young boy. The tournament had the strongest field in several years, as the PGA Tour had been in Baltimore for the Eastern Open the week before and the U.S. Open was being played that week. For those that were not in our Open, they had an open week. One of those was Al Besselink and he took full advantage of it. Out in 33 and back in 32, he finished with a five under par 65, to win by one stroke. Sam Penecale, playing the same pairing with Besselink, had a good chance for a 65 also, but he missed a short putt on the seventeenth hole and took 66 strokes for the round. Five players tied for third. Ed Carman, Clint Kennedy, Monte Norcross and Ed Kringle from northern New Jersey along with Chandler Harper, the 1950 PGA champion who was from Virginia, all posted 67s. Carman was the head professional at the Buena Vista Country Club and Kennedy was the teaching professional at Rock Manor Golf Club. First prize was $500 from a prize pool of $1,510. Ten players won money. Twenty player equaled or broke par that day.
The U.S. Open was held on the Winged Foot Golf Club’s West Course in New York in the second week of June. The winner was Billy Casper who outputted everyone. He had 114 putts for the four rounds, 31 one putts and one three putt. Heavy rain and thunderstorms on Saturday made it impossible to play two rounds that day as scheduled so the final round was moved to Sunday. For the first time the U.S. Open was contested over four days. Due to New York law a sporting event could not start before 2:00 PM on Sunday but they got it in with the last players finishing at dusk. The leaders teed off shortly after two o’clock. After three rounds of 71, 68 and 69 Casper began the last round with a three-stroke lead and after playing the first six holes one under par he led by six. After that he struggled and finished with a 74 for a two-over-par 282. Bob Rosburg left a thirty-foot putt short on the last green and finished second at 283. Mike Souchak, who had worked at Winged Foot as an assistant pro, had a chance but he bogied the last hole. Souchak wound up tied for third at 284 with his former employer and host professional, Claude Harmon. First prize was $12,000 from a purse of $48,000. Souchak won $3,600. Jimmy Johnson (302) tied for 43rd and Stan Dudas (304) tied for 49th. They each won $240, which everyone from 25th to 55th received. George Fazio and Art Wall each played three rounds and withdrew. Skee Riegel, Don Stough, Sam Penecale and Charley Lepre missed the cut.
Joe Kirkwood, Jr. qualified for the PGA Championship in the Southern California PGA Section. Qualifying was held at the Wilshire Country Club on the third Monday of June, which Jerry Barber led with a 137. Kirkwood won the fifth and last spot with a 74 and a 75 for 149.
Qualifying was held in the Philadelphia Section at the North Hills Country Club for the PGA Championship on the fourth Monday of June. There were 45 entries and the Section was allotted six spots. Ken Stear teed off first and posted the lowest score, a five-under-par (70-67) 137. The host professional, Stan Dudas finished second two strokes off the pace at 139. Skee Riegel, Tony Longo and Al Nelson now the professional at the Whitford Country Club came in with 140s and were safely in. The last spot went to the Louviers Country Club professional John Long, who posted a 142, but he had to win a playoff to get it. Long eliminated Sam Penecale in a sudden-death playoff that lasted one hole. Henry Williams, Jr. had an exemption as the Philadelphia Section champion. Ed Oliver, Mike Souchak, Art Wall and George Fazio were exempt for having finished in the top 32 at the 1958 PGA Championship at Llanerch Country Club. Wall and Souchak were also exempt for being in the top 25 on the 1958 PGA Tour money list. Wall was exempt as a member of the 1957 Ryder Cup Team also.
Skee Riegel won another title, the Pennsylvania Open, in Hershey at the end of June. The tournament attracted the largest entry in its forty-three year history, 154 pros and amateurs. The Hershey Country Club and the Hershey Park courses were both needed to accommodate such a large field that was playing 36 holes in one day. Riegel began the day with a two-under-par 69 at the Park Course and added a two-over-par 75 in the afternoon at the Country Club for 144. The temperatures were near 100 degrees, which wasn’t unusual for the state open at Hershey. Fifty-nine players failed to finish. Henry Williams, Jr. and Robert Kinard an assistant at the Saucon Valley Country Club tied for second at 145, one stroke back of Riegel. First prize was $750 and the total purse was $2,500. Andy Stofko, an unattached non-PGA professional who was now playing out of the Colonial Country Club, finished fourth with a 146. Ken Stear and amateur Bob Batdorff tied for fifth with 147s.
Art Wall picked up his fourth win of the year on the PGA Tour at the Buick Open. The tournament was played at the Warwick Hills Country Club in early July. After tying with Dow Finsterwald, Wall won an 18-hole playoff with a 71 against a 73 for Finsterwald. They had tied with six-under-par 282 scores. Wall’s four rounds were 71, 67, 72 and 72. Wall added to his money lead by earning $9,000 from the $52,000 purse. Jerry Barber and Cary Middlecoff tied for third with 283s. Wall had now finished first or second in eleven of the twenty-one tournaments played up to that time in 1959.
The next week in July Mike Souchak won the $25,000 Western Open. After rounds of 67, 67 and 73, Souchak trailed by five strokes entering the final round at the Pittsburgh Field Club. A last round 65 gave him an eight under par 272 and earned him the $5,000 first prize. Arnold Palmer missed a two-foot putt for a par on the last green and finished second one stroke back at 273. George Bayer (274) finished third and Ted Kroll (275) was fourth.
Twelve professionals from the Philadelphia Section were entered in the PGA Championship at Minneapolis at the end of July. With three rounds of 71, 72 and 68 Bob Rosburg started the last round six strokes behind Jerry Barber, but a 66 for a three-under-par 277 brought him his only win in a major. Barber and Doug Sanders tied for second one stroke out of a first place tie with 278s. Dow Finsterwald finished fourth at 280. Mike Souchak tied for fifth at 281, winning $2,000. Ed Oliver (285) won $1,250 for an 11th place tie and Art Wall (288) tied for 25th and won $510. Henry Williams, Jr. (293) tied for 44th and George Fazio (296) tied for 56th. They each won $200, which everyone below 34th place received. The total purse was $51,175 and Rosburg won $8,250. Joe Kirkwood, Jr. missed the cut after the third round. Stan Dudas, Al Nelson, Skee Riegel, Ken Stear, Tony Longo and John Long missed the second round cut.
At the PGA Championship the PGA Tour members elected Art Wall to the four-man PGA Tournament Committee. He and Don Fairfield were elected by the PGA Tour members. The terms were for two years. Wall beat out Gene Littler by one vote and Arnold Palmer by five votes.
After many years the Philadelphia PGA Assistant Championship was revived. The tournament had been held from 1925 to 1933 and again in 1933. Now it was back and played at the Philadelphia Country Club on the fifth Friday of July. Henry McQuiston came away the winner with a steady one under par 70. He birdied all three of the par 5 holes. Philmont Country Club assistant Eddie Conklin finished second one stroke back with a 71. Shawnee Inn & Country Club assistant John Chimenti and Don Stough tied for third with 72s.
In August the Philadelphia Section had a new member on the PGA Tour. Jon Gustin was playing out of the Philadelphia Country Club. The Country Club’s professional Loma Frakes and two of the members were financially backing him. His ball striking ability was legendary. He was one of the few players that Ben Hogan would pause to watch hit balls on the practice tee. While serving in the marines Gustin had been in President Eisenhower’s Color Guard at the White House.
In mid August Mike Souchak won the $25,000 Motor City Open at the Meadowbrook Country Club near Detroit. Souchak put together rounds of 69, 63, 67 and 69 for a sixteen-under-par 268, which was a tournament record. Souchak won the first prize of $3,500 by nine strokes. Doug Ford and Billy Casper tied for second with 277s. Art Wall, Dutch Harrison and Arnold Palmer tied for fourth at 279.
The next day in August George Fazio made history by winning the Philadelphia Open for a fifth time. In the last eleven years Fazio had won the tournament five times and finished second twice. There were 108 entries and for the first time the competition was held on two courses, the Aronimink Golf Club and the Overbrook Golf Club, both having a par of 70. Fazio began with a 68 at Overbrook and ended with a 74 at Aronimink for a total of 142. He edged out two amateurs, Billy Hyndman (143) and Howard Everitt (143), by one stroke. Jay Weitzel the professional at the Hershey Country Club finished fourth and won second money with a 144 that included the day’s low round at Aronimink, an afternoon 71. Sam Penecale finished alone at 145. First prize was $500 and eight pros won money from the $1,500 purse.
Steve Grady won the Section Senior Championship which also meant that he would receive his travel and living expenses for the 1959 Senior PGA Championship. It was the second time that Grady was the Section senior champion. The event was played at the Northampton Country Club on the third Friday of September. Grady posted a one under par 71 to win by three strokes. Ted Bickel, Jr. and Colonial Country Club professional Doug Orr tied for second with 74s. Johnny Moyer and Walter Brickley tied for fourth with 75s.
After a 31-year absence the Section Championship was back at the Philmont Country Club’s North Course. The tournament was played in late September and the host professional was Joe Lally. For the second straight year the medalist was Stan Dudas. He shot a two-under-par 68 to win the $75 prize. For the third time in five years Dudas made the finals and he came through with his second Section Championship title. Dudas holed an 18-foot putt for a par on the 36th hole to win the hole and defeat Sam Penecale one-down. First prize was $500 and possession of the Bulletin Cup for one year. Penecale, who was playing in his first Section Championship, reached the final by coming from behind in the semi-finals to defeat Skee Riegel 3&2. The other semi-final match brought together two former assistants who had worked together for two years at the Shawnee Inn & Country Club, Stan Dudas and Al Nelson. Dudas edged out Nelson one-down.
In October the PGA announced three new members of the Hall of Fame, Jock Hutchison, Paul Runyan and Harry Cooper. Hutchison received 555 votes in balloting of the PGA members. Runyan received 528 votes and there were 504 votes for Cooper.
Leo Fraser was reelected Section president at the fall meeting on the first Monday in October. The meeting was at the Atlantic City Country Club. First vice president Harlan Will and second vice president Al Keeping were reelected along with the secretary Angelo Paul. The Section had a new treasurer, Al Nelson. The meeting was held at the Atlantic City Country Club. It was followed by a pro-pro tournament that day and a dinner in the evening. A pro-am tournament was played the next day. Henry Poe was honored as the Section’s “Golf Professional of the Year”. He had been the Section president for four years and chaired the national PGA meeting for several years. When the PGA decided to build a practice putting green and chipping area for President Eisenhower at his Gettysburg farm Poe handled the project. When the PGA wanted to build a new clubhouse at its national course in Dunedin, Florida Poe was selected to be the chairman of the project.
The British Ryder Cup team stopped off in Atlantic City on their way to California for the matches, just as they had in 1955. On the fourth Thursday of October the British team members participated in a pro-am at Atlantic City Country Club. They played in pelting rain and heavy winds, but everyone stuck it out and finished. After golf the team, British PGA officials, the British press, U.S. PGA officials and the pro-am participants were treated to a five course dinner. From there the team went to Washington D.C. and then Augusta National Golf Club, before heading to California.
The Ryder Cup matches were played in Palm Springs, California in early November at the Eldorado Country Club. The American team was much stronger than the one that the PGA had sent to England in 1957 but the British team had larger problems than that. The airplane carrying the British team from Los Angeles to Palm Springs suddenly plunged 4,000 feet before the pilot could steady the plane and return to Los Angeles. The British captain Dai Rees refused the airline’s offer of another flight and made the 140-mile trip by bus. Art Wall and Mike Souchak were members of the team and Sam Snead was the playing captain. It was Snead’s seventh and last Ryder Cup appearance. His record was ten wins, two losses and one halved match. The Americans won by the wide margin of 8-1/2 to 3-1/2.
The PGA of America held its 43rd annual meeting at the Fort Harrison Hotel, Clearwater, Florida in early December. President Harold Sargent, Secretary Lou Strong and Treasurer Warren Cantrell were reelected to a third one-year term without opposition. Henry Poe stepped down as he had completed his three-year term as the vice president representing District II. Jock Hutchison, Harry Cooper and Paul Runyan were inducted into the PGA Hall of Fame. The delegates from the Section were Leo Fraser and Angelo Paul.
Art Wall was the “PGA Player-of-the-Year” and the leading money winner on the PGA Tour with $53,167.60. He led the second place professional, Gene Littler, by almost $15,000. Wall also won the Vardon Trophy as he led the scoring with 70.35 strokes per round. Mike Souchak was sixth with $31,807.69. Al Besselink won $7,277.73 to finish 50th. Ed Oliver won $6,928.50. Jon Gustin made the cut in 18 tournaments, but he only won $3,803. George Fazio won $912.
The larger tournaments were now on TV and the purses were rising. In 1950 the purses on the PGA Tour totaled $564,372 and in 1959 they added up to $1,354,597. The PGA had grown from 2,716 members at the beginning of the decade to 4,500 members at the close of 1959. The professional game had changed. Now more than a few professionals could make a living just playing tournament golf. There were now professional golfers and golf professionals. Even though some of the club professionals played on the PGA Tour in the winter months most of the professionals were either full time touring pros or club pros.