A Chronicle of the
Philadelphia PGA and its Members
by Peter C. Trenham
The Leaders and The Legends
1930 to 1939
Alexander “Alec” “Alex” Duncan
Born in Aberdeen, Scotland in 1886, Alex Duncan was the brother of the famous golf professional George Duncan who won the 1920 British Open. In 1911 he arrived in America on August 11, 1910 for a visit. The Philadelphia Cricket Club’s professional Willie Anderson died in late 1910 and Alex was hired to replace him. Duncan had been an assistant at the Hanger Hill Club in the suburbs of London where his brother George was the professional. On two occasions he was the professional and green superintendent at the Cricket Club. He was the professional at the Cricket Club from 1911 through 1915. In 1916 Duncan moved west and soon became the professional at the Chicago Golf Club. In 1920 he was back in Philadelphia teaching golf at Gimbels Department store in January and February. He returned to the Cricket Club in 1925 for another stay that lasted until his death 21 years later. He became a naturalized citizen on January 22, 1930. In 1929 he was the tournament chairman and handled a difficult problem with the rules at the Section Championship to the satisfaction of all involved. In 1930 he was elected second vice president of the Section and the next year he was elected president. He served two years as the Philadelphia Section’s seventh president. Duncan was elected because of the executive ability he had shown on the tournament committee and his skill as a witty after-dinner speaker. He had an endless supply of golf and Scotch stories along with an excellent baritone voice. He sang both opera and Scotch ballads. Duncan was the tournament chairman for two years and a delegate to the national PGA meeting in 1930. Duncan and the Philadelphia Cricket Club hosted what was probably the first national championship for senior professionals in 1930. They played for the Willie Anderson Trophy and the tournament attracted entries from most of the northeastern states. When Duncan died in 1946 he was the owner of the Oak Park Golf Club, which was later named the Limekiln Golf Club.
Herbert Frederick “Herb” Jewson
Herb Jewson, whose parents were English, was born in Ireland in 1890. He moved to the United States in 1913 to work as an assistant to Ben Nicholls at the Whitemarsh Valley Country Club. Jewson served as the head professional at the Woodbury Country Club and Huntingdon Valley Country before settling in as the professional at the Roxborough Country Club in 1920 for forty years. He served the Section as its third and eighth president, a period of six years 1924-1927 and 1933-1934. Also he was the secretary-treasurer for two years, the secretary one other year and the tournament chairman one year. Jewson did such an outstanding job as treasurer in the early years of the Great Depression, he was returned to the office of president. When the Section was formed in 1921 he was one of the founding members, member of the organizing committee and chairman of the membership committee. He served the PGA as a national vice president, later called director, four years in the 1920s. Four times in the 1920s he was the Section’s only delegate to the national PGA meeting and he was a delegate three more times in the 1930s. In 1926 Roxborough Country Club’s lease had run out and the decision was made to move from Philadelphia to Ridge Pike in Lafayette Hill. Jewson, the golf professional, green superintendent and manager, was given the task of designing a new course and overseeing the construction, which was done without hiring any outside contractors.Roxborough C.C. was later purchased by the Insurance Company of North America in 1946. Jewson was kept on as the professional and manager until his retirement in 1960. The name was changed to INA Country Club. The course was redesigned by Rees Jones in 1982 and the name was changed to Eagle Lodge Country Club. The Section Championship was played at the Eagle Lodge course for several years. Later the facility was purchased by the Ace Insurance Company and was renamed The Ace Club. It was completely redesigned by Gary Player’s architectural firm and reopened in 2003.
George W. Low, Sr.
Born in Carnoustie, Scotland in, George Low was one of many highly successful golf professionals who emigrated from Scotland. He arrived in the United States on St. Patrick’s Day, 1899 and began work as the professional at the Dyker Meadow Golf Club in Brooklyn. After that he was the professional at the Baltusrol Golf Club for 23 years. In 1928 Low left Baltusrol and returned to Scotland to live on his American investments. When the stock market crashed in 1929 he needed to go back to work and in late 1930 he came back to the states as the professional at the Huntingdon Valley Country Club. In 1899 he finished second in the U.S. Open and he won the Met Open in 1906. He also won the Florida Open three times. Low accompanied Harry Vardon for a portion of his 1900 American exhibition tour. In 1906 he was the first president of the old Eastern Professional Golfers’ Association, which predated the PGA of America. At the age of 60 Low qualified for the 1934 U.S. Open at Merion. For several years Low was appointed honorary president of the Philadelphia Section because of his vast experience as a professional golfer. After leaving Huntingdon Valley in 1937 Low operated a driving range near Flourtown for several years.
Louis Harvey “Leo” Diegel
Leo Diegel was born in Detroit, Michigan in 1899. Diegel was an all-around athlete. He attended the University of Detroit where he played football, basketball and baseball. At age 17 he was a golf professional working for Alex Ross at the Detroit Golf Club. At that time anyone who caddied or worked in a golf shop after the age of 16 was deemed to be a professional golfer. That year he won the Michigan Open as his employer, Ross, finished second. Three years later he won a second Michigan Open, this time by 19 strokes. In 1928 and 1929 he held the #1 ranking on the PGA Tour and he was ranked in the top ten every year from 1920 to 1934. He won consecutive PGA Championships (1928 and 1929) and four Canadian Opens. In winning the 1929 Canadian Open he put together what was considered the best 72-hole score up to that time, a 274. On the way to winning the 1928 PGA Championship at Five Farms in Baltimore he defeated Walter Hagen in the quarterfinals. Up to then Hagen had won 22 straight 36-hole matches and the four previous PGA Championships. Hagen’s 1926 PGA Championship had come at the expense of Diegel as he defeated him in the finals. Diegel also finished second in both the U.S. Open and the British Open. Diegel won a total of 29 tournaments on the PGA Tour and he was second 23 times. He was a member of the first four Ryder Cup teams. He arrived in the Philadelphia Section as the professional at the Philmont Country Club in late 1933 and stayed there through 1944. His national victories were behind him but he was a factor in the major championships for several more years. His first year at Philmont he finished second on the PGA Tour money list even though he only played in seven tournaments. Late that year he won two tournaments in Australia and tied for first in another one. Those wins didn’t figure in the PGA Tour money standings. Diegel was the PGA of America tournament chairman in 1934 and chairman of the PGA of America’s national rehabilitation program for wounded World War II veterans from 1944 to 1946. As the tournament chairman of the Philadelphia Section in 1943 he began raising money for wartime charities through the Section events. Out of that evolved the rehabilitation program for the wounded veterans at the Valley Forge General Hospital near Phoenixville. By the time the war had ended Diegel had the rehabilitation program at five veterans’ hospitals in the Philadelphia Section and every PGA Section in the country was doing something to rehabilitate the wounded veterans. Diegel was inducted into the PGA Hall of Fame in 1955, the Philadelphia Section PGA Hall of Fame in 2000. Diegel and many of the other members of the PGA Hall of Fame were made members of the World Golf Hall of Fame when it opened in 1998.
Clarence John Doser
Clarence Doser was born in Rochester, New York in 1909. He grew up near the Rochester Country Club where his uncle and Walter Hagen were the co-professionals. In 1925 Doser turned pro and became a PGA member at age 16. He was a PGA member for more than 70 years. In 1937 he came to Philadelphia as the assistant at the Merion Cricket Club where he stayed for three years. He tied for second in the 1937 Philadelphia Section PGA Championship. Doser played in 21 PGA Championships, 19 U.S. Opens and three Masters Tournaments. When the PGA Championship was still played at match play he made it to the semi finals once and the quarterfinals once. Doser won the Western New York PGA Section Championship four times, the Metropolitan Section PGA Championship three times and the Middle Atlantic PGA Section Championship twice. Because of the strength of the field his three Met Section titles were considered the equivalent of wins on the PGA Tour at that time. He is a member of all three of those PGA Sections’ Hall of Fame.
Zell Eaton, a native of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma was born in 1913. He worked as an assistant for Ralph Hutchison at the Saucon Valley Country Club in 1937. Before he turned pro he won the Western Amateur in 1934. He had one victory on the PGA Tour and he made a hole-in-one at the U.S. Open at Baltusrol in 1936.
George E. Griffin, Sr.
Born in the Germantown section of Philadelphia in 1893 George Griffin, Sr. began his career in golf at the Belfield Golf Club in Germantown as a caddy and then became a pro shop assistant. After that he was an assistant to Johnny McDermott at the Atlantic City Country Club. A charter member of the PGA of America Griffin worked as a golf professional in eastern Pennsylvania for over forty years. He was the professional at the Green Valley Country Club for thirty of those years. Griffin arrived at Green Valley with the opening of their new course that had been designed by Bill Flynn. He won the Philadelphia Section PGA Championship in 1931 and the Philadelphia Open in 1932. In 1910 Griffin played in the Philadelphia Open and the U.S. Open as a teenage shop assistant. He also finished second in the Philadelphia Open in 1929 and 1930. His son, George Jr., won the Pennsylvania Open in 1952 defeating a 23-year-old amateur, Arnold Palmer, in an 18-hole playoff and in 1953 he won the Philadelphia Open. His grandson, George Griffin III, tied for second in the Philadelphia Open in 1967 as an amateur.
Clarence W. Hackney
Clarence Hackney was born in Carnoustie, Scotland in 1894 and learned to play golf as a caddy at Carnoustie. At a young age he held the course record at Carnoustie Golf Links. Before immigrating to the United States he was employed as an apprentice club maker. His first golf position in the United States was as the assistant at the Pocono Manor Country Club in 1913. In 1914 he took a job with the Atlantic City Country Club as an assistant to the two-time U.S. Open champion Johnny McDermott. When McDermott suffered a nervous breakdown late that year and had to resign Hackney was made interim head professional. Soon after that the interim status was removed and Hackney stayed in that position until his death in early January of 1941. As the professional at Atlantic City, Hackney was a member of the Metropolitan Section when the PGA was formed in 1916. He became a member of the Section in late 1924 when the PGA added more Sections and all of the professionals working south of the 40th parallel in New Jersey became members of the Philadelphia Section. Hackney had three brothers who were also golf professionals in the U.S. James and William served several clubs in the Philadelphia Section as head professionals. He won the Canadian Open in 1923 and finished second in the Western Open in 1920. In 1921 Hackney was a member of a pre Ryder Cup Team that was defeated by a British team the week before the British Open was played. Hackney won two Philadelphia Section Championships, the Philadelphia Open three times and the New Jersey Open three consecutive years. In 1923 one week before winning the Canadian Open he won the Philadelphia Open at Pine Valley Golf Club by 13 strokes with a score of 298. He defeated the best pros and amateurs in the Philadelphia area along with a number of established national professionals. These victories were rated as PGA Tour victories based on the caliber of the players in the field. Hackney played in 14 U.S. Opens and 11 PGA Championships. He also served the Section as first vice president and tournament chairman for two years and the second vice president for one year. Five times he was a delegate to the PGA of America’s annual meetings from the Philadelphia Section. In 2013 Hackney was inducted into the Philadelphia PGA Hall of Fame.
George M. Izett
George Izett was born in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1906 and grew up in Gullane next to the Children’s Course at the Gullane Golf Club. He served his apprenticeship at the North Berwick Golf Club under the legendary Ben Sayers. He moved to the United States in 1928 to work at the Merion Cricket Club as an assistant pro and club maker for Ben’s son George Sayers. Izett said that he wanted to come to the states because he had seen pictures of people playing golf in short sleeves. After Merion he was the head pro at the Seaview Country Club. In late 1935 Izett opened a custom club shop in Haverford and in 1941 he formed a partnership with Bill Bailey. Bailey had managed the golf department at Wanamakers Department Store in Philadelphia. They named the business Bailey & Izett Inc. Izett had been trained in club making in his native Scotland by Sayers’ brother Ben and he soon gained an enviable reputation in the Philadelphia region for his clubs. He was an early pioneer in precision cast irons but he had his greatest success making drivers and fairway woods. Early in 1937 Henry Picard loaned Sam Snead a driver that Izett had made for him. The driver helped Snead get his hook under control. That year he won two of the first three tournaments on the PGA Tour using the driver. Snead used the driver for more than thirty years even though he was on the staff of the Wilson Sporting Goods Company. Wilson sent the driver to Izett to have him replace his soleplate with one of theirs. Because it had a different shape Izett had to hand carve the sole to make it fit. Izett made clubs for all the best golf shops in the country and several United States Presidents used Izett drivers. Bailey & Izett worked on a 40% markup with the professionals. Even if the customer walked in off the street they would ask them where they played and the professional’s account would be credited for the marked up amount. For many years Bailey & Izett sponsored the Section’s assistant pro championship each year.
Charles “Charley” Lacey
Charley Lacey was born in London, England in 1906 and worked there as an assistant to the legendary George Duncan. Lacey arrived in the United States during the winter of 1927 and went to work for George Duncan’s brother, Alec, at the Penn Athletic Club giving lessons indoors. In the spring he joined Duncan at the Philadelphia Cricket Club. In 1929 he moved over to the Pine Valley Golf Club for three years as the playing pro. In the mid 1920s a group of veteran British professionals headed up by J.H. Taylor banded together for the purpose of keeping their top young golf talent from immigrating to the United States. In spite of working for George Duncan, Lacey was allowed to leave without any bother. While working at Pine Valley he reached the semifinals of the 1930 PGA Championship where he lost 1-down to Tommy Armour who went on to win the championship. In 1930 Lacey also finished seventh in the U.S. Open. After leaving the Section Lacey returned in 1936 to finish in a tie for first in the Philadelphia Open, which he lost in a playoff to Ed Dudley. The next year he finished third in the 1937 British Open. Lacey played in nine U.S. Opens, three PGA Championships and the first Masters Tournament in 1934. During his career he had one win on the PGA Tour and he had one second place finish.
George W. “Tiny” Low, Jr.
George Low, Jr. was born in Springfield, New Jersey in 1912. When he was a young boy he returned to Scotland with his father, George, Sr., and received his introduction to golf at the St. Andrews Golf Club. He spent three years on the putting course at St. Andrews before he played on the golf courses. Due to that he became one of the greatest putters in golf. In 1931 at the age of 19 he arrived at Huntingdon Valley with his father as his assistant. That year he was the low qualifier in the Section for the PGA Championship and he qualified for the U.S. Open twice during the 1930s. In 1936 he was the head professional at the Plymouth Country Club and the next year he was the assistant at the Manufacturers Golf & Country Club. After that he assisted his father at a driving range in Jenkintown. Low was a very good player and could always make some money playing. In 1945 when Byron Nelson’s winning streak was broken at the Memphis Open he was the low professional winning first money with a 13 under par 275. He didn’t like to work very hard and found easier ways to make a living. For a weekly fee he became a putting instructor for many of the touring pros like Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Lee Trevino and Frank Stranahan. At one time he had a line of putters on the market with the George Low, Jr. name on them and with the help of golf writer Al Barkow he wrote a book titled “The Master of Putting”. Low was called “America’s Guest” because he traveled the PGA Tour and found ways to avoid having to pay for a room or rent an automobile.
Frank F. Moore
Frank Moore, a brother of Terry Moore the major league baseball player, was born in Alabama in 1909. He worked as an assistant for Byron Nelson at the Reading Country Club in 1939. In 1938 Moore led the 36-hole on site qualifying for the PGA Championship at the Shawnee Country Club with an eight under par 136. Moore won the Westchester Open in 1937 and 1938. He also finished in the top ten six other times on the PGA Tour. Moore played in twelve U.S. Opens, four PGA Championships and four Masters Tournaments. His best showing in a major was a tie for seventh at the 1938 U.S. Open.
John Byron Nelson, Jr.
Byron Nelson was born in Ft. Worth, Texas in 1912. He learned to play golf as a caddy at the Glen Garden Country Club in Ft. Worth. At the same time another young boy named Ben Hogan was learning to play golf as a caddy at Glen Garden. In 1935 Nelson had gone to work at the Ridgewood Country Club for George Jacobus on the recommendation of Ed Dudley. He arrived in the Philadelphia Section as the new professional at the Reading Country Club in 1937 a few days after winning the Masters Tournament. Nelson used his $1,500 prize from the Masters to stock his golf shop at Reading. During his three years at Reading he won the U.S. Open, the Western Open, the North and South Open, played on the Ryder Cup Team and finished fifth in the British Open. While at Reading he won eight PGA Tour events, and finished in the top 25 on 48 other occasions. In his career he won two PGA Championships, two Masters, one U.S. Open, a Canadian Open, a Western Open and he was the leading money winner four years. In 1945 he won eleven straight tournaments on the PGA Tour. This is a record that probably will never be touched. He played on two Ryder Cup teams and was the non-playing captain in 1965. He retired from the tour in 1946 at the age of 34 with fifty-two career victories and thirty-six second place finishes. Nine years later he won the French Open. Nelson was selected for the PGA Hall of Fame in 1953. Nelson and all of the other members of the PGA Hall of Fame were made members of the World Golf Hall of Fame when it opened in 1998.
Henry Gilford “Pic” Picard
Henry Picard was born at Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1906 and he learned to play as at caddy at the Plymouth Country Club. His name was pronounced pea-CARD, but most people including his fellow professionals pronounced it PICK-erd. His friends called him “Pic”. Picard turned pro in 1924 and accompanied his boss to a winter job in Charleston, South Carolina where he was the winter pro. Within a few years he was named head professional at the Charleston Country Club. As a result of that he spent his early and last years as a golf professional in Charleston. Even though he had won several important tournaments by the early 1930s he changed to an interlocking grip at the suggestion of the famous golf instructor Alex Morrison. In 1934 he picked up his first big win at the North and South Open. That summer he finished fifth at the Hershey Open while setting a course record in one of the rounds. That fall he signed on as the professional at the Hershey Country Club. His salary was $5,000 and Spalding Sporting Goods Company paid him $3,500 to play their equipment. He stayed for six years, 1935 through 1940. Due to his association with Hershey the sportswriters began referring to him as the “The Chocolate Soldier”. Picard left the Section for three years and returned as the professional at the Country Club of Harrisburg in 1944 and 45. After leaving Harrisburg he was the pro at the Seminole Golf Club in the winter and the Canterbury Golf Club in the summer. In the mid 1960s he returned to the Section as the professional at the new Blue Mountain Country Club near Harrisburg for two years. Picard put together an outstanding national tournament record during his six years in Hershey. He won the Met Open in 1935 and the Masters Tournament in 1938. Just four weeks before the 1938 Masters Picard had changed his interlocking grip in that he put his thumb behind the shaft like you would hold a baseball bat. Picard did this at the suggestion of Morrison because of an injury to his left thumb. In 1939 he won the PGA Championship defeating Reading’s Byron Nelson in the finals on the 37th hole. He was on the Ryder Cup team in 1935, 1937 and 1939 and the leading money winner on the PGA Tour in 1939. During his six years at Hershey he won 22 times on the PGA Tour and he finished in the top twenty-five 118 times. One can understand why he didn’t have time to compete in section events. In 1940 at the peak of his career he began to curtail his tournament schedule. In 1945 he made a rare tournament appearance, winning for the last time at the Miami Open. Picard made one last run at a tour title at the 1950 PGA Championship only to lose in the semifinals on the 38th hole to Henry Williams, Jr. By that time Picard had arthritis in his hands to such an extent that he wore a glove on each hand. Picard did continue to play in the Masters Tournament most years, reaching a total of 29. During his career he won twenty-six PGA Tour events and was elected to the PGA Hall of Fame in 1961. After leaving the Canterbury job he returned to Charleston where he continued to teach the Morrison method. One of his pupils was Beth Daniel who he gave lessons to as a young girl. She went on to be a star on the LPGA Tour. In 2006 Picard was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame and Daniel gave his induction speech. All of the other members of the PGA Hall of Fame were made members of the World Golf Hall of Fame when it opened in 1998, but somehow Picard was missed. He was elected to the Philadelphia PGA Hall of Fame in 2007.
Herman Densmore “Denny” Shute
Denny Shute, the son of a golf professional, was born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1904. He began playing golf at the age of three with a set of clubs that his father made for him. While attending Western Reserve University Shute won the 1925 West Virginia Amateur Championship and in 1927 he won the Ohio Amateur Championship. Before coming to the Philadelphia Section as the professional at the Llanerch Country Club he won the Ohio Open three straight years (1929-1931). Shute served as the professional at Llanerch in 1933 and 1934. He had a long list of playing achievements. While at Llanerch he was on the Ryder Cup team and he won the 1933 British Open. Shute won it on the Old Course at St. Andrews, which was where his father had learned his trade. During his two years at Llanerch Shute won four PGA Tour tournaments and on 20 other occasions he finished in the top 25. Shute won the National PGA Championship in 1936 and 1937. He played on three Ryder Cup teams in all and was runner-up in two U.S. Opens and a national PGA Championship. Shute won 15 PGA Tour events and was second 17 times in his career. He was inducted into the PGA Hall of Fame in 1957 and in 2008 he was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame.
George B. Smith
Born in 1906, George Smith grew up caddying at the Moorestown Field Club. He had two brothers, Bill and Horace, who also worked as professionals at Moorestown. Horace designed several golf courses in New Jersey. George was the professional at Moorestown from 1924 through 1933. He was also the professional at the Spring Hill Country Club and the Gulph Mills Golf Club and an assistant to Ed Dudley at the Philadelphia Country Club and the Atlantic City Country Club. In spite of weighing only 128 pounds Smith won three Philadelphia Section Championships from 1929 to 1932. He also won the Central Pennsylvania Open twice and the Wildwood Open. He qualified for the U.S. Open five times and the PGA Championship four times. In the 1960s he operated a driving range near Buffalo, New York where he sold more George Izett clubs than any other golf professional. Smith was a PGA member for more than sixty-five years.
James Wilfred Stevenson “Jimmy” Thomson
Jimmy Thomson was born in North Berwick, Scotland in 1908. His father Wilfred was the professional at the North Berwick Golf Club before they moved to the United States in 1920. Jimmy and his father arrived from Scotland on the same ship with Bobby Cruickshank. His father became the professional at the Hermitage Country Club near Richmond, Virginia and before long Jimmy was an assistant to his father. In 1925 Thomson qualified for the U.S. Open as a professional at the age of 17. He played out of the Shawnee Country Club (PA) from 1936 through 1939. After he left Shawnee he remained a Section member through 1943 while playing the PGA Tour and giving exhibitions for the Spalding Sporting Goods Company. Thomson converted many golfers to Spalding equipment, as he was the longest hitting professional on the PGA Tour at that time. In 1935 he was runner-up in the U.S. Open at the Oakmont Country Club. In 1936 while representing Shawnee he won the Richmond Open, finished second in the Western Open and was runner-up in the PGA Championship losing to Denny Shute in the finals. He also won the 1938 Los Angeles Open and finished second on the PGA Tour 16 times during his career.
Theodore Robert “Ted” Turner
Ted Turner was born in New Hampshire in 1909 and moved to the Philadelphia area in 1934. He was the playing pro at the Pine Valley Golf Club from 1934 to 1941 and the head pro at the Yardley Country Club in 1942 and 1943. Only a few inches taller than five-foot and very slender he was a stylist whose game was said to resemble that of Harry Vardon. During his ten years in Philadelphia he had an outstanding playing record. Turner won the Philadelphia Open twice and was second on another occasion. He won the Philadelphia Section championship in 1936 and the New Jersey Open in 1938. During his time in the Section he qualified for the PGA Championship five times and the U.S. Open four times. Turner finished second to Horton Smith in the 1935 Miami Open. In 1936 he played in the Masters and the British Open where he was the low qualifier. Before arriving at Pine Valley he had won the Massachusetts Open in 1933 along with the 1930 and 1932 New England PGA. During his career he made 20 hole-in-ones with four of them coming at Pine Valley. After Yardley he returned to New England and finished his career as the professional at a club on Cape Cod.