Championship History / USGA Relationship
The relationship between the USGA and St. Louis Country Club can be traced back to the early formation of the USGA. Country Club members were among the earliest officials who served on the USGA executive committee. In 1915, George H. Walker, at the time golf chairman of St. Louis CC, was approached to serve on the executive committee. He later served as President of the USGA and in 1921, donated the Cup that bears his name to begin the Walker Cup, the premier men’s amateur international competition. Later, Prescott Bush and Hord Hardin, both Country Club members, also served on the executive committee before assuming the presidency of the organization.
In 1920, when the USGA sought out a club to host the 1921 U.S. Amateur, St. Louis stepped up, becoming the first club west of the Mississippi River to host a USGA championship. When the Club hosted the 1925 U.S. Women’s Amateur, it was also the first time that event had gone to a club in the western United States.
Here is a brief summary of the USGA championships hosted by the Country Club.
1921 U.S. Amateur
While Francis Ouimet remained one of the brightest stars in amateur golf, having become the first amateur to win the US Open when he did so at The Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts in 1913, it was a 19-year-old lad from Atlanta, Robert Tyre Jones, Bobby to the golfing public, that captured the attention of the golf world and the media. Though Jones set a record in his first round match, winning 13 & 12, he would fall in the quarterfinal round to Englishman William Hunter, the 1921 British Amateur champion. In the end, Jess Guilford of Rhode Island would defeat Chicagoan Robert Gardner 7 & 6 for the title.
1925 U.S. Women’s Amateur
Some of the brightest stars within women’s golf met in the finals of the 1925 US Women’s Amateur. Glenna Collett, who would ultimately capture 6 Women’s Amateur titles, met one of the famed Atlanta whiz-kids, Alexa Stirling – herself a 3-time Women’s Champion – to decide the winner. Collett proved why she remains among the USGA’s all-time champions with her 9 & 8 triumph.
1947 U.S. Open
With nearly all of the best players having returned to championship form in the post WWII era, it was felt that Sam Snead, Ben Hogan or even Byron Nelson would be one of the names etched on the trophy when play was completed. However, Nelson was in semi-retirement mode while Hogan had not yet reached his peak, leaving it to Snead to see his first US Open title. The final round saw Snead among the leaders before Lew Worsham shot one of the event’s best rounds, forcing Snead to birdie the 72nd hole to force a playoff. With the playoff all-even as the players arrived at the 18th green, both men left their third shot within three-feet of the hole, leaving spectators to believe that Snead and Mangrum would go still more holes to decide the championship. However, as Snead began to hole out Worsham stopped him and requested a measurement to see who was away. In 1947, the continuous putt rule was not in effect, with the player furthest from the hole required to putt first. As officials scrambled to find a tape measure – they ultimately measured the distance each player was away using a scorecard – the delay seemingly broke Snead’s concentration. When it was determined that Snead was away, he stepped over his ball, with his temper having gotten the better of him, and missed the 30 ½” putt. After plucking his ball from the hole after tapping in, Worsham calmly stroked his 29” putt into the cup and claimed the US Open trophy.
1960 U.S. Amateur
Defending champion Jack Nicklaus was the prohibitive favorite coming into the 1960 US Amateur. However, in one of the biggest upsets in USGA history, Charles Lewis of Little Rock, Arkansas downed Nicklaus in their quarterfinal match 5 & 3. In the final match Deane Beman defeated Robert W. Gardner 6 & 4 to claim his first Amateur title. Beman would win his second in 1963 before embarking on a brief professional career. He would go on to become commissioner of the PGA Tour, leading its growth in the 1970s and 1980s.
1972 U.S. Women’s Amateur
The field for the 1972 Women’s Amateur included defending champion Laura Baugh, in addition to Carol Semple, Amy Alcott, Pat Bradley, Beth Daniel, Mary Bea Porter, Polly Riley and Hollis Stacy along with a strong contingent of St. Louis players. Mrs. William Flenniken paced the qualifiers, posting a 148 with Baugh at 151. Reaching the quarterfinal round, Daniel, Baugh, Porter and Deborah Massey fell, leaving the championship up for grabs. Mary Budke, who has qualified at 160, would be matched against Cynthia Hill, who had qualified at 162, in the finals. In the sweltering heat of the July final, Budke played some of her best golf of the week, defeating Hill 5 & 4.