USGA History: 1911 - 1930

1911
  • Johnny McDermott signals the end of dominance by Scottish-born professionals in early American golf by becoming the first native to win the U.S. Open. At 19, he's also the youngest winner ever.
  • Englishman Harold Hilton is the first player to win the British and U.S. Amateur in the same year.
  • The USGA increased yardage for determining par:
    Three - up to 225 yards
    Four - 225 to 425 yards
    Five - 426 to 600 yards
    Six - 601 yards and over



1912
  • John Ball wins his eighth British Amateur championship - still a record number of victories in a major event.
  • The USGA introduces a handicap limit of six on entrants for the U.S. Amateur.



1913
  • Twenty-year-old American amateur Francis Ouimet stages the game's biggest upset, beating English stars Harry Vardon and Ted Ray in a playoff to win the U.S. Open at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass. The resultant headlines spark a surge of interest in the game in America.
  • Jerry Travers wins his fourth U.S. Amateur.



1914
  • Harry Vardon wins his sixth British Open, one more than each of the other two members of the "Great Triumvirate," J.H. Taylor and James Braid.
  • Walter Hagen, a stylish 21-year-old professional, wins the first of his two U. S. Open titles, leading after every round.
  • Francis Ouimet becomes the first with career U.S. Open and Amateur titles, beating Jerry Travers in the final of the U.S. Amateur.



1915
  • Jerry Travers adds the U.S. Open to his four U.S. Amateur crowns, then retires at age 28.
  • All British and Canadian championships are suspended because of World War I. They resume in Canada in 1919 and Britain in 1920.



1916
  • The amateur run on the U.S. Open continues. Chick Evans is the third amateur to win in four years, shooting a record 286. He is also the first to capture the U.S. Open and Amateur titles in the same year.
  • Fourteen-year-old Bobby Jones makes his U.S. Amateur debut, reaching the quarterfinals at Merion Cricket Club.
  • The Professional Golfers' Association of America is formed in January. In October, Jim Barnes wins the first PGA Championship, taking the $500 first prize.



1917
  • The USGA championships (U.S. Open, U.S. Amateur, U.S. Women's Amateur) and the PGA Championship are suspended in 1917 and 1918 because of World War I.
  • Bobby Jones, 15, wins the Southern Amateur.
  • Par yardage is again changed:
    Three - up to 250 yards
    Four - 251 to 445 yards
    Five - 446 to 600 yards
    Six - more than 600 yards




1918
  • George Crump, founder and designer of Pine Valley Golf Club, dies; only 14 holes of the New Jersey course have been completed. The remaining holes open within a few years.
  • Among the fund-raising tours by professional and amateur golfers for the war effort, the Dixie Kids -- featuring Atlanta teenagers Perry Adair, Watts Gunn, Bobby Jones and Alexa Stirling -- raise $150,000 for the Red Cross.



1919
  • Pebble Beach Golf Links opens on California's Monterey Peninsula.
  • The first golf book to use high-speed sequence photography - Picture Analysis of Golf Strokes , by Jim Barnes - is published.



1920
  • Harry Vardon, 50, competing in his third U.S. Open, plays the last seven holes in even fives to finish second, one stroke behind his English countryman, 43-year-old Ted Ray. Ray becomes the oldest man to win the Open (a record that will stand until 1963).
  • Alexa Stirling wins her third consecutive Women's Amateur (1916, 1919, 1920 -- the championship wasn't held in 1917 and 1918).
  • The USGA creates the Green Section for turfgrass research.
  • The USGA and R&A agree to a standard ball - 1.62 inches in diameter and 1.62 ounces.



1921
  • Jim Barnes romps to a nine-stroke win in the U.S. Open and President Warren Harding, a USGA Executive Committee member, presents the trophy at Columbia Country Club near Washington, D.C.
  • Jock Hutchison wins the British Open using deep-grooved irons; they were banned four years later.



1922
  • A Cinderella story: 20-year-old Gene Sarazen, a sixth-grade dropout from a working-class family, wins the U.S. Open and PGA Championship.
  • An admission fee ($1) is charged for the first time at the U.S. Open.
  • Walter Hagen becomes the first American-born player to win the British Open.
  • Intended for all interested countries, the first Walker Cup match between amateurs from the United States and Great Britain (the only taker) is held at National Golf Links of America in Southampton, N.Y. The United States wins.
  • Public-course golfers get their own tournament - the USGA's Amateur Public Links Championship.
  • Glenna Collett wins her first of six U.S. Women's Amateur titles.
  • Walter Hagen is the first professional to found a golf equipment company under his name.



1923
  • Winged Foot Golf Club opens, with 36 holes designed by A.W. Tillinghast. Designers like Tillinghast, Alister MacKenzie and Donald Ross make the 1920's the Golden Age of golf architecture.
  • After several near-misses in the U.S. Open and U.S. Amateur, Bobby Jones, 21, claims his first major title by beating Bobby Cruickshank in a playoff for the U.S. Open.
  • The Texas Open, in its second year, has golf's biggest purse yet - $6,000. Walter Hagen wins. The tournament is part of a growing winter circuit for the professionals.
  • Gene Sarazen beats Walter Hagen in a classic 38-hole final at the PGA Championship when a tree stops Sarazen's ball from going out of bounds on the deciding hole.



1924
  • Steel-shafted clubs are permitted in the United States by the USGA as of April 11; the R&A continues to ban their use in Great Britain until 1929.
  • Bobby Jones wins the first of his five U.S. Amateur titles, at Merion Cricket Club in Ardmore, Pa.
  • Walter Hagen's unmatched reign begins in the PGA Championship - he wins the first of four consecutive titles.
  • The USGA introduces sectional qualifying rounds for the U.S. Open.



1925
  • Willie Macfarlane shoots a record 67 in the second round of the U.S. Open and goes on to defeat Bobby Jones in a playoff.
  • The first complete fairway irrigation system is installed at Brook Hollow Golf Club in Dallas, Texas.
  • The Havemeyer Trophy, which goes to the U.S. Amateur champion, is destroyed in a fire at Bobby Jones' home club, East Lake, in Atlanta.



1926
  • Bobby Jones is the first to win the U.S. and British Opens in the same year.
  • Walter Hagen beats Leo Diegel in the final of the PGA Championship. The night before, when a carousing Hagen is told his opponent had long since gone to bed, he replies, "Yes, but he isn't sleeping."
  • Walter Hagen wallops Bobby Jones, 12 and 11, in a 72-hole challenge match billed as the "World Championship."
  • Jess Sweetser is the first American to win the British Amateur since Walter Travis in 1904 - and the first United States native ever.



1927
  • Walter Hagen wins his fourth consecutive PGA Championship.
  • The United State Department of Agriculture says it has developed "the perfect putting green grass" -- creeping bent.
  • Bobby Jones wins the British Open and U.S. Amateur, and publishes Down the Fairway.
  • The United States whips Great Britain 9-1/2 to 2-1/2, in the inaugural Ryder Cup match at Worcester Country Club in Massachusetts.



1928
  • Cypress Point Golf Club opens in Pebble Beach, Calif.
  • Walter Hagen wins the British Open. He would take his final title in the championship the following year at Muirfield.
  • Bobby Jones and Glenna Collett continue to dominate amateur golf. Jones wins the U.S. Amateur final by a 10 and 9 margin. Collett claims the Women's Amateur, 13 and 12.



1929
  • Great Britain evens the fledgling Ryder Cup series by winning on its home turf at Moortown, England.
  • Twenty-year-old Horton Smith sweeps out of Missouri to win eight professional tournaments, including four in a row in the spring.
  • The world's two best women amateurs meet in the British Ladies Amateur. Great Britain's Joyce Wethered beats America's Glenna Collett, 3 and 1, at the Old Course in St. Andrews, Scotland, claiming her fourth British title.
  • The U.S. Amateur goes to the West Coast for the first time, at Pebble Beach Golf Links. Bobby Jones is the victim of a first-round upset.



1930
  • Bobby Jones wins the Grand Slam - the U.S. Open, U.S. Amateur, British Open and British Amateur - then retires at age 28.
  • Glenna Collett wins her third consecutive U.S. Women's Amateur.
  • The onset of the Depression brings a slowdown in golf-course construction, which lasts through the end of World War II.
  • Seventeen-year-old Ben Hogan registers as a professional at the Texas Open.



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