A Chronicle of the
Philadelphia PGA and its Members
by Peter C. Trenham
The Leaders and The Legends
1950 to 1959
Theodore Jules “Ted” Bickel, Jr.
Born in 1905 in Philadelphia, Ted Bickel began his career as a caddy and club cleaner under Horace Gamble at the Cobbs Creek Golf Club in 1918. He worked as an assistant at Cobbs Creek until 1933 when he became the head professional at the Beverly Hills Country Club in Upper Darby. In 1943 Bickel took over the professional position at The Springhaven Club when Andy Campbell died. He stayed at Springhaven until he retired in 1964 at which time his son Ted III succeeded him. Bickel was a vice-president of the Section five years and the president for three years, 1948-1950. He was the eleventh president of the Philadelphia Section. In 1948 he was selected by the Section to complete the last two years of Marty Lyons’ term as a national vice-president for District II. Bickel attended the national PGA meeting twice as a Philadelphia Section delegate and he attended the meeting as a vice president of the PGA twice. Bickel was voted into the Philadelphia Section PGA Hall of Fame in 1998.
Walter P. Brickley
Walter Brickley was born in New Jersey in 1908. He learned to play golf as a caddy under professional Bill Leach at the Merchantville Country Club. At the age of 17 Brickley became the professional at Merchantville where he stayed for five years and then he was the professional at the Riverton Country Club for fourteen years. After Riverton he moved over to the Cooper River Golf Club for one year before becoming the professional at the Burlington Country Club in 1945. Brickley stayed at Burlington until he retired 35 years later. It all added up to 55 years as a head professional in the Section. He served as the Section’s treasurer for nineteen years, 1935 to 1953. He was also the secretary for the first five of those years and he was the second vice president in 1955. As a Section officer he represented the Section at the national PGA meeting three times. Brickley hosted the Section Championship at the Riverton Country Club in 1931 and 26 years later at the age of 49 he was runner-up in the Section Championship. He qualified for the 1932 U.S. Open and two PGA Championships.
Albert E. “Al” MacDonald
Al MacDonald was born in Scotland in 1890. He grew up in golf working for his father Edward who was the professional at the Bolton Golf Club. His two brothers were also golf professionals. MacDonald was wounded while serving in World War I. In 1922 MacDonald immigrated to the United States. After working in the New Jersey and Metropolitan Sections he arrived in the Philadelphia Section as the professional at the Yardley Country Club in 1935. In 1939 he moved over to the Langhorne Country Club where he stayed for 22 years. MacDonald was always one of the leading promoters for the Philadelphia Section. He gave many hours of his time to the promotion of Philadelphia Golf Week and the World War II wounded veterans who were recuperating at the military hospitals in the Delaware Valley. He was the chairman of the Section’s veterans’ rehabilitation committee and a member of the PGA of America’s veterans’ committee. MacDonald was the Section’s tournament chairman in 1949. Without ever having held an office in the Philadelphia Section MacDonald was elected president of the Section in the fall of 1950 and served two years as its 12th president. MacDonald represented the Philadelphia Section as a delegate to the national PGA meeting three times. He qualified for the PGA Championship in 1945 and in 1956 at the age of 65 he won the Section senior championship and represented the Section at the PGA Senior Championship. In 1959 MacDonald and Ed Tabor took a cue from the PGA of America and ran a school for the Section’s assistant professionals under the banner of the Philadelphia Section.
Harry “Jake” Obitz, Jr.
Harry Obitz was born in California in 1913. He held head pro positions in California and was a vice president of the PGA before moving to the Philadelphia Section in 1940. Obitz came to the Section as the assistant to Joe Kirkwood, Sr. at the Huntingdon Valley Country Club. He spent the war years in the navy and soon after that he became the pro at the Shawnee Inn & Country Club in the Poconos. One rainy day in 1945 at Shawnee there were about 250 guests in the hotel with nothing to do. To keep them entertained Obitz gathered them into the lounge and demonstrated golf shots off the carpet by hitting celluloid balls. The clinic was so well received that they decided to make it a regular show. The clinic was staged on the driving range as a regular 90 minute show on Sundays and took on the name “The Swing is the Thing”. Obitz soon began receiving requests to take the show to other sites. He quite often donated his fee to charity. In 1955 Obitz was selected as the Philadelphia Section’s first “Professional Golfer of the Year”. He was selected for ten years of service developing Swing Clubs at veteran’s hospitals throughout the country. Obitz hosted the Section Championship at Shawnee for seven straight years. In 1977 he and his associate professional, Dick Farley, wrote an instruction book called “Six Days to Better Golf”. For 36 years he was an instruction editor for Golf Digest magazine. He spent the winters in his wife’s home state, Nebraska, and helped design a number of golf courses there. He could be called the father of the “shotgun start”. At Shawnee he devised a way to start players off several tees and within 40 minutes he had 144 players on the golf course. A number of assistants who worked under Obitz became successful head professionals in the Philadelphia Section. In 2014 Obitz was inducted into the Philadelphia PGA Hall of Fame.
Henry Clay Poe
Henry Poe was born in Durham, North Carolina in 1915. When he was seven years old his father, who had been a barber, took over the management of the Hillandale Golf Course in Durham and the family moved into the clubhouse. He mowed greens in the morning before school and at night he helped his father make and repair golf clubs. He attended Duke University and turned pro in 1937. In his first tournament, played at Pinehurst on the #2 course, he tied for first with Dutch Harrison and lost in an 18-hole playoff. For the next two years he played in the PGA Tour tournaments when they were held east of the Mississippi River. In 1939 he worked at the Winged Foot Golf Club for Craig Wood. That fall the Reading Country Club hired Poe when Byron Nelson left for the professional position at the Inverness Club in Ohio. Except for three years during World War II when he worked in defense plants Poe was the professional there until the end of 1966. Poe taught LPGA Hall of Fame member Betsy King how to play as one of his junior golfers at Reading CC. In the fall of 1952 he was elected as the 13th president of the Section without ever having been an officer or having served on a committee. He was the Section president for four years and a national vice president representing District II for three years after that. From 1952 to 1970 he was the chairman of the annual meeting for the PGA of America. In 1955 the PGA enlisted Poe to supervise the construction of a practice putting green for President Eisenhower at his farm in Gettysburg. When the PGA decided to build a new club house at its course in Dunedin, Florida Poe was appointed chairman of the committee. He was the Philadelphia Section’s “Professional of the Year” in 1959. In late 1966 he left the Section and Reading to work for the Vanity Fair Corporation in Alabama where he oversaw the design, construction and operation of three golf courses for the company. After holding the office of treasurer and secretary he was elected president of the PGA of America for 1975 and 1976. In 1979, with the support of Jack Nicklaus, he spearheaded the change in the Ryder Cup matches to include golf professionals from all the European countries. Before that only professionals from Great Britain and Ireland opposed the U.S. team and the matches had become quite one-sided. As a result the matches became very competitive and attract almost as much attention as golf’s four major championships. When the PGA of America hosts the Ryder Cup every fourth year, the matches are one of the association’s largest income producers. In 1996 Poe was inducted into the Philadelphia Section PGA Hall of Fame. He is also a member of the Carolinas Golf Hall of Fame and the PGA of America Hall of Fame.
Carl Jerome “Jerry” Barber
Jerry Barber was born in Woodson, Illinois in 1916 and learned to play golf as a caddy. He spent most of his career either in California or on the PGA Tour. In 1950 he was the head professional at the Cedarbrook Country Club. That was his only year in the Philadelphia Section but he made the most of it by winning the Pennsylvania Open and tying for the medal in the U.S. Open qualifying. In spite of being only 5 foot 5 inches tall Barber had a very successful career as a professional golfer. The highlight of his career was winning the PGA Championship in 1961 at age 45. On the last three greens he holed putts of 18, 36 and 60 feet to tie Don January and beat him by one stroke the next day with a 67. That year he was voted PGA Player of the Year and appointed playing captain of the Ryder Cup team. He also played on the 1955 Ryder Cup team. Barber had seven wins on the PGA Tour and finished second 15 times. In the 1950s he designed a golf glove for the Parker Glove Company and he manufactured the Golden Touch golf clubs in the 1960s and 70s. He was one of the founders of the PGA Senior Tour.
William R. “Billy” “Bill” Collins
Bill Collins was born in the Western Pennsylvania town of Meyersdale in 1928 and grew up in Baltimore, Maryland. He served in the Marine Corps and turned pro in 1951. That year he joined Matt Kowal’s staff at the Philmont Country Club. Collins won four times on the PGA Tour and finished second seven times. He was a member of the 1961 Ryder Cup team and won one event on the PGA Senior Tour.
David “Dave” Douglas
Dave Douglas was born in Philadelphia in 1918. His grandfather, David Douglas, had managed a golf course near Edinburgh, Scotland. In early 1911 Dave’s father Alexander D. Douglas immigrated to the United States at the age of twenty-two. Alex came to the United States to be the club maker for James R. Thomson, the professional at the Philadelphia Country Club. Alex was employed as a golf professional at clubs in the Philadelphia area for almost 50 years. Dave learned to play golf at the Rock Manor Golf Club in Wilmington where his father was the professional during his formative years. Dave and Ed Oliver grew up in Wilmington at the same time and played many rounds of golf together. Dave Douglas was the professional at the Newark Country Club in his early 20s before joining the United States Army for a two-year stint in 1945. After he left the army he assisted his father at the Rock Manor Golf Club in Wilmington, Delaware and began to play some tournaments on the PGA Tour. He was one of the tallest touring pros at 6 foot 3 inches and he weighed only 165 pounds. His first PGA Tour win came in his third start at the Orlando Open in late 1947. Among his eight victories of the PGA Tour was a win at the Canadian Open in 1953. That year he earned a spot on the Ryder Cup team where he partnered with Oliver to win their foursomes match. The next day Douglas won the last hole of the last match on the course that gave the USA a victory instead of a tie. At the 1953 PGA Championship Douglas tied a record for that tournament by winning three straight extra hole matches. In 1950 he was elected to the PGA tournament committee that met with the PGA officers to manage the PGA Tour. He was selected as the PGA Tour’s vice president of the PGA and represented them at the national PGA meetings for three years. In 1957 he left the PGA Tour for a head professional job in St. Louis.
E. Clarence Ehresman
Clarence Ehresman was born at Wissahickon, Pennsylvania in 1904. Ehresman was one of many young men who grew up in the East Falls section of Philadelphia and was introduced to golf at the Philadelphia Country Club. Like many other boys from East Falls Ehresman became a golf professional, but he rarely caddied. He learned the game as a club maker under the Country Club’s professional, James R. Thomson. When Ehresman had finished his work Thomson would take him out on the golf course and show him how to play the game. Ehresman also worked for Thomson at the Overbrook Golf Club in 1921 and for the next five years he was with Thomson at The Apawamis Club in New York. He returned to the Philadelphia Country Club in 1927 where he would spend five years as an assistant under Ed Dudley. In 1932 he took over the head professional position at the Eaglesmere Country Club and stayed there six years before returning to Philadelphia as the head professional at the Ashbourne Country Club, where he served for thirty-four years. Ehresman had two sons who became golf professionals. His son Jack succeeded him as the professional at Ashbourne when he retired in 1971. Ehresman won the Philadelphia Section Championship in 1944 and 1950 and he finished second in the Philadelphia Open in 1944. In 1935 the Section champion was the winner of the match play event but there was a stroke play championship held as well, which Ehresman won. He qualified for the U.S. Open four times and the PGA Championship four times.
George Jerome Fazio
George Fazio was born in Norristown, Pennsylvania in 1912. He had a varied and outstanding career in golf. He worked as a golf professional, leased courses and driving ranges, won golf tournaments and designed golf courses. His career in golf began as a caddy at the Plymouth Country Club. He worked as a professional at six different golf courses in the Philadelphia area including the Pine Valley Golf Club in New Jersey and he played the PGA Tour on and off during the late 1940s and most of the 1950s. For a number of years Fazio owned a Ford automobile agency in Conshohocken that was set up for him by William Clay Ford. Locally Fazio won the Philadelphia Section Championship in 1941 and from 1949 to 1959 he won five Philadelphia Opens along with finishing second twice. In 1950 while working in the Middle Atlantic Section Fazio won their Section championship. He won twice on the PGA Tour, which included winning the Canadian Open in 1946, and finished second seven times. In 1950 he tied with Ben Hogan and Lloyd Mangrum for the U.S. Open title at Merion Golf Club and lost in an 18-hole playoff. He also finished fifth in the 1952 U.S. Open and tied for fourth in 1953. During his career he played in 14 U.S. Opens, 14 PGA Championships and 7 Masters Tournaments. Fazio also knew golf talent. When Gary Player first ventured to America to try his hand on the PGA Tour he wasn’t very successful. Fazio gave Player some money, which allowed him to stay on the tour. At the time Fazio was leasing Flourtown Golf Club and Langhorne Country Club so to return the favor Player agreed to represent Langhorne on the PGA Tour. In the mid 1950s television was in its infancy and a young Jack Whitaker was doing ten minutes of sports at 11:00 pm on WCAU TV. Whitaker could see that golf was becoming very popular so he invited Fazio to be a guest on his show each Wednesday evening. The Wednesday show with Fazio was a hit as hundreds of viewers sent in postcards and letters with golf questions. Some of the shows featured Fazio demonstrating various golf shots at the Presidential Course, which was what remained of the Philadelphia Country Club’s original course. In 1955 the city of Philadelphia hired Fazio to make changes that would tighten up its Cobbs Creek Golf Club for the PGA Tour’s Daily News Open that the course was hosting that year. That got him started in course design and in 1960 he shifted his career over to building golf courses. Fazio gained more fame as a golf course architect than he had from playing tournaments. He designed 64 courses and redesigned 20 more. Nine of the courses he created were in the Philadelphia Section. Several of his courses quickly made Golf Digest’s list of “America’s 100 Greatest Golf Courses. A number of golf courses that Fazio designed and golf courses that he redesigned hosted national championships and PGA Tour events. The list included the 1972 Masters, six U.S. Open courses and the 1968 U.S. Women’s Open. Fazio was inducted into the Philadelphia Section PGA Hall of Fame in 2008.
George E. Griffin, Jr.
George Griffin, Jr. was born in 1926 two years after his father had become the professional at the Green Valley Country Club. George Sr. was a legend in the 1930s when he won the Philadelphia Section Championship and the Philadelphia Open. George Sr. held the job at Green Valley for thirty years. George Jr. worked as an assistant to his father for seven years. After his father retired he held the job for over twenty years and his son George III worked for him as an assistant in the 70s. George Jr. won the Pennsylvania Open, defeating Arnold Palmer in a playoff, in 1952. The next year he won the Philadelphia Open and finished second in the Pennsylvania Open.
William Ben Hogan
Ben Hogan was born in Dublin, Texas in 1912 and grew up caddying with Byron Nelson at the Glen Garden Country Club in Ft. Worth. He turned pro in 1931 and tried the PGA Tour without success. Several times he failed to make expenses on the tour and came home to work on his game some more while his contemporaries, Nelson and Sam Snead, were winning tournaments. In 1938 he finally began to win enough money to stay on the tour. That year Henry Picard invited Hogan to play in the Hershey Four-Ball. He was the only entrant without a tournament win and most of the field had won majors but Hogan and his partner Vic Ghezzi won the event by a large margin. Hogan had his first win but it took until 1940 for him to gain his first individual win, when he won the North and South Open. He went on to win two more times that year and he led the tour in money winnings. The next year he signed on with the Hershey Country Club as their golf professional. Milton Hershey, the president of the Hershey Chocolate Company that owned the golf course, only required Hogan to be at Hershey for certain special occasions. He won 11 times in 1941 and 1942 and led in money won each year but then his golf career was interrupted for almost three years. In late 1942 he quit the tour to enroll in a private flight school and then he enlisted in the Army Air Corps. In the late summer of 1945 Hogan was discharged from the army in time to win five tournaments and the next year he won thirteen times and topped the money list again. After that he cut his schedule some but he still won 18 tournaments in the next two years. In early February of 1949 Hogan and his wife were involved in an accident with a bus and the doctors didn’t expect him to ever play golf again much less win tournaments. One year later Hogan entered the Los Angeles Open and finished in a tie for first with Sam Snead, only to lose an 18-hole playoff. Later that year in June he won the U.S. Open at Merion Golf Club and showed the golf world that he was back. The next year he won the Masters and the U.S. Open. The day after winning the 1951 U.S. Open his contract with the Hershey C.C. ran out. If Milton Hershey had still been alive Hogan would have probably been with Hershey for a few more years. Hogan had problems with his legs and his tournament schedule was quite limited after that but he picked his spots and went on to win the Masters, U.S. Open and the British Open in 1953. Soon after that he started the Ben Hogan Golf Equipment Company, which was a big success. Hogan won 63 times on the PGA Tour with 53 of those coming while he was Hershey’s professional. Nine of his wins came in the majors. He won four U.S. Opens, two PGA Championships, two Masters Tournaments and the British Open. He was a member of four Ryder Cup teams and the captain of two of them. Hogan won the Vardon Trophy five times, topped the money list five times and he was the “PGA Player-of-the-Year” four times. In 1953 Hogan was elected to the PGA Hall of Fame and in 2003 he was inducted into the Philadelphia Section PGA Hall of Fame. Hogan and all of the other members of the PGA Hall of Fame were all made members of the World Golf Hall of Fame when it opened in 1998.
Sterling C. “Terl” Johnson
Terl Johnson’s given name was Sterling and he was born in 1911. He began his career as a professional at the Valley Country Club in 1928 where he stayed until 1934. One of his brothers, Jerry, followed him as the professional at Valley CC, In the mid 30s Terl worked in Illinois for two years as a head professional, before returning to the Section as the professional at the Plymouth Country Club in 1937. Johnson won the Philadelphia Open in 1941 at the Pine Valley Golf Club and the Pennsylvania Open in 1948. The next year he wasn’t able to defend the PA Open title because he had relocated to the DuPont Country Club. He stayed there for over 20 years until he took over as the professional at the new Bidermann Golf Club near Wilmington. His brother Fred was an assistant to Byron Nelson at Reading Country Club and then assistant to Alex Duncan at the Philadelphia Cricket Club. When Duncan died in 1946 Fred moved into the head professional at the Philadelphia Cricket Club for twenty years. Terl lost in the finals of the Philadelphia Section Championship twice, finished second in the Philadelphia Open three times and lost the Pennsylvania Open in a playoff. Slight of build, Johnson weighed 120 pounds in the prime of his playing career. Four times he finished in the top ten in PGA Tour events with a second place finish at the 1935 True Temper Open and a third place finish in the 1939 Anthracite Open. At the age of 45 he won four matches in the national PGA Championship to reach the quarterfinal round. He qualified for the PGA Championship nine times and the US Open three times. Two times he made the cut at the US Open, tying for 34th and 38th.
Harold L. “Catfish” Kneece
Harold Kneece was born in Georgia in 1934 and he grew up in Aiken, South Carolina. He and Bobby Kinard, who also went on to become a member of the Philadelphia Section, learned to play golf as caddies at the Palmetto Golf Club in Aiken. Kneece worked for Sam Davis as an assistant pro at the Woodcrest Country Club in 1956. During the 1960s he was a steady money winner on the PGA Tour where he finished second once and third three times. In 1963 he won the Carolinas Open.
Matthew J. “Matt” Kowal
Matt Kowal a native of Utica, New York was born in 1914 and arrived in the Philadelphia Section as an assistant to Leo Diegel at the Philmont Country Club in 1937. He was an assistant at Philmont until June of 1941 when the Draft Board called him for duty in the United States Army. He served for more than four years in the Pacific and Europe with the Fourth Armored Division. When war was declared he was sent to Hawaii for sixteen months where he didn’t play much golf but he did win the Hawaii Service Championship. When the war ended in 1945 Army Special Services sent Kowal, Lloyd Mangrum, Rod Munday and Horton Smith on a tour playing exhibitions for the servicemen. Kowal won the Third Army Championship and also played well at some other tournaments in France and Scotland. Kowal and the other servicemen were all issued identical seven-club sets of golf clubs. They had one ball for each round and if it was lost they were done for the round. In 1946 he took over as the head professional at Philmont and held the position until the early 1950s. In spite of losing more than four years in the prime of his career Kowal had an outstanding playing record. In 1940 he won the Philadelphia Section championship at the Llanerch Country Club and was the medalist with 136 in the 36-hole qualifying round. In 1946 he won the Philadelphia Open and two other years he finished second. He finished second in the Pennsylvania Open in 1939 and the Section Championship in 1952. In 1947 Kowal made an outstanding showing in the Inquirer Invitation at the Cedarbrook Country Club when he finished second to Bobby Locke. In 1940 he and his boss Leo Diegel were invited to the Masters Tournament but they didn’t enter and in 1946 Kowal qualified for the U.S. Open and the PGA Championship but didn’t go to either one.
Thadeus John “Ted” Kroll
Ted Kroll was born in New Hartford, New York in 1919 Kroll turned pro at age 17. His professional career was delayed by WW II. During the war he was wounded four times and was awarded three Purple Hearts. He came to Philadelphia in 1947 as an assistant to Matt Kowal at the Philmont Country Club. He worked at Philmont from 1947 to 1949 and was still a Section member while playing the PGA Tour in 1950 and 1952. While in the Section he won his first tour tournament, the 1952 Insurance City Open and he was a semifinalist in the PGA Championship that year. In 1948 Kroll finished second in the Philadelphia Open and the Pennsylvania Open. Kroll’s best year on the tour was 1956 when he won the World Championship in Chicago and finished the year as the leading money winner with $72,835. First prize at the World Championship was $50,000, by far the largest of the year, and a guarantee of fifty exhibitions at $1,000 each. That year he was also runner-up in the PGA Championship and fourth in the U.S. Open. Kroll was a member of three Ryder Cup teams. At one time he shared the PGA Tour 18-hole scoring record of 60, which he made in the 1954 Texas Open. His last win came at the Canadian Open in 1962. He won eight times on the PGA Tour and finished second in twenty events.
Joseph J. “Bud” Lewis
Born in 1908, Bud Lewis grew up in West Philadelphia. His given name was Joseph but everyone called him Bud. At age 12 he was introduced to golf as a caddy at the Llanerch Country Club. In order to caddy he had to take the trolley to 69th Street and then the elevated railroad to Llanerch. By the time he was 15 he was working in the pro shop for the professional John Edmundson. Lewis turned pro in 1925 and became a PGA member in 1931. After working at five different clubs as an assistant and head professional he became the head professional at the Manufacturers Golf & Country Club in 1943 and settled in for a tenure of 37 years. For many years he was one of the leading players in the Section and at the same time he was one of the leading instructors. His most famous pupil was Bill Hyndman III who was runner-up in the U.S. Amateur and the British Amateur. When he retired he probably had given more golf lessons than any other golf professional in the history of the Section. He spent 30 years giving lessons indoors during the winter months. After he retired he stayed on at Manufacturers as the pro emeritus and gave lessons there for another 20 years. Lewis won the Section Championship in 1943 and 1948 and he was runner-up to his boss Gene Kunes in 1934. He won the Philadelphia Open in 1942 and 1950 and he finished second twice. Lewis qualified for the PGA Championship four times and the U.S. Open three times. He served as a vice president of the Section from 1948 to 1952. For nine years Lewis was the Section’s pro-junior chairman and he initiated a pro-junior tournament, which was held each year at Manufacturers. In 1996 Lewis was inducted into the Philadelphia Section PGA Hall of Fame. Lewis celebrated his 101st birthday in August 2009 and at that time he was not only the oldest PGA member but the longest tenured PGA member, having been a member for more than 78 years. He was a member of the Philadelphia PGA all of those years. When Lewis died in November 2011 he had been a PGA member for 80 years and he was the first to be a member for that many years.
Edward Stewart “Porky” Oliver, Jr.
Born in Wilmington, Delaware in 1916, Ed Oliver was called Snowball as a kid. When he grew up he became known as Porky. During his career he was the professional at several golf facilities around the country and represented some others on the PGA Tour but Wilmington was always his home. He showed signs of greatness at an early age winning the Golf Association of Philadelphia caddy championship. Portly but powerful, Oliver played with a 44-inch D-9 driver that weighed 16 ounces. In 1936 at age 19 he won the Central Pennsylvania Open and finished third in the 72-hole Philadelphia Open. The next year he finished second in the Pennsylvania Open. In 1938 he won the Central Pennsylvania Open again and the South Jersey Open. At the Atlantic City Country Club in the South Jersey Open he tied the course record of 64 on a windy morning and led by seven strokes. Leo Diegel was paired with him and he called it the greatest round of golf he had ever seen. Oliver had an outstanding record in the major tournaments even though he didn’t win one. In 1941 he won the Western Open, which had been a major at one time, and finished second another time. He was runner-up in all three U.S. majors, the 1946 PGA Championship, the 1952 U.S. Open and the 1953 Masters Tournament. In 1940 Oliver tied for first in the U.S. Open but he was disqualified along with five others for starting their final round before their scheduled starting times. Oliver served five years in the United States Army during World War II, which was more than any other professional athlete who was drafted. He was so well liked in his hometown of Wilmington that they named one of their municipal golf courses for him, Ed “Porky” Oliver Golf Course. That municipal course was the Wilmington Country Club’s former course where Oliver had begun his career in golf as a caddy. In 1961 the PGA made Oliver the “Honorary Captain” of the Ryder Cup team but he died before the matches were played. He was a member of three Ryder Cup teams. Oliver won eight times of the PGA Tour and finished second 22 times.
John E. Serafin
John Serafin was born in 1928 and the son of Felix Serafin who was a Section legend in the 1930s. He worked at the Fox Hill Country Club for his father for a number of years as his teaching pro and later he was the head professional at Elkview Country Club and Colonial Country Club. He won two Section championships, 1952 and 1954. In the qualifying round for the PGA Championship in 1955 he shot a 63 at the Rolling Green Golf Club, which was a course that always played quite difficult. His 63 broke Johnny Farrell’s 28-year-old course record by five strokes. With the pros playing 36 holes that day the next lowest score was a 70.
John Russell “Johnny” Weitzel
Johnny Weitzel was born in 1923. He grew up in Reading, Pennsylvania and fought in World War II. Weitzel was a veteran of the Anzio Beach campaign among other battles. He went to work as an assistant pro at the Manor Country Club for Buddy Heckman when he returned from the service. After that he was the head professional at the Colonial Country Club for three years before becoming the professional at the Hershey Country Club in 1952, one year after Ben Hogan left. In the 1950s he was one of the leading players in the Section. In 1950 he began to show that he could compete with the touring pros when he won the Anthracite Open while competing against a number of touring pros that were here for the Reading Open. In a three-week period in early 1954 Weitzel finished third in both the Phoenix Open and the Mexican Open. That year he won $1,678 on the PGA Tour plus $1,387 at the Mexican Open while holding the head pro position at Hershey. Weitzel qualified for four PGA Championships and four U.S. Opens and he played in the 1955 Masters Tournament. In 1955 and 1956 Weitzel won the Pennsylvania Open on his home course and in 1954 he finished second in both the Section championship and the Philadelphia Open. In September of 1956 Weitzel died from injuries suffered in an automobile accident on the way home from a golf tournament. After Johnny’s death his brother Jay came back to the Section to take over as the head professional at Hershey. He had been working for Jack Grout at the Sciota Country Club. Jay held the position at Hershey for over 30 years.
Howard “Butch” Wheeler
Howard Wheeler was born in Atlanta, Georgia in 1911. He learned how to play golf at the Brookhaven Country Club where he began caddying before he was a teenager. He grew to a height of 6’ 2” and he was a beanpole. One man that knew him said that his back pockets almost touched each other. During his prime he was one of the longest drivers in golf. Wheeler played cross-handed, which was the case with many black men who were left-handed, as they had little access to left-handed golf clubs. There were no club professional positions available for black professionals other than working as caddies. There was an organization for black professional golfers called the United Golfers Association (UGA), which had a loose arrangement of golf tournaments, but the prize money was meager. Wheeler won his first professional tournament in 1931 and he won the Negro national championship (UGA National) in 1933 for the first time. In the late 1930s, Eddie Mallory, who was a bandleader and the husband of Ethel Waters, hired Wheeler to as a chauffeur for his wife. He lived in Los Angeles for awhile before moving to Philadelphia. He found a home at the Cobbs Creek Golf Club where there was a steady supply of money games with black and white golfers. Two of those who found Wheeler to be a difficult challenge and would go on to many successes on the golf course were Bud Lewis and Charlie Sifford. Other than the UGA he played in tournaments on the PGA Tour on the rare occasions that he wasn’t barred. Wheeler held course records at several courses. He was the Negro national champion six times (1933, 1938, 1946, 1947, 1948 & 1958). His 1947 victory took place at Cobb’s Creek Golf Club. Wheeler qualified for the U.S. Open in 1950 and 1951.
Francis G. “Bo” Wininger
Born in Chico, California in 1922 Wininger moved to the Philadelphia area in 1951 and joined the Atlantic City Country Club. In 1952 he decided to try his luck on the PGA Tour and played out of the Atlantic City Country Club. The next year he returned to win the Pennsylvania Open. Wininger won six times on the PGA Tour, which included victories at New Orleans two straight years. He finished second fourteen times.