Toledo, Ohio – The cathedral chime clock proudly displayed in the front foyer of the clubhouse at Inverness Club not only keeps the time but also represents one of the great historical markers in golf.
In essence, it is a timeless treasure, one that remains so on the eve of the 32nd U.S. Senior Open, the seventh United States Golf Association championship to be held at this venerable club.
Think about how much the game has changed since the imposing 7-foot clock was presented to the members of Inverness by the visiting professional golfers who competed here in the 1920 U.S. Open. Think how much that clock represents the change that was brought to the game in that championship won by Britain’s golf great Ted Ray.
There are not many golf courses that have such an iconic piece of history in their clubhouse, that ties in to the heritage and traditions of the game, said Eric Rhodes, Inverness Club general manager and chief operating officer.
The story of that proud timepiece is always worth retelling.
Prior to the 1920 Open – the national championship that saw the debut of two men who would become giants of the game, Bob Jones and Gene Sarazen – golf professionals were not held in high esteem, and they were not welcome inside the clubhouses of the various establishments they visited for tournament competition.
The members of Inverness changed all that by inviting all the competitors into the club to use the locker room facilities and eat their meals in the dining room.
It was a tectonic shift in attitude. No longer were professionals treated as interlopers. No more changing their shoes outside the club or enduring other inconveniences that come from being on the road, visiting a new city or playing an unfamiliar golf course.
Walter Hagen, the undisputed giant of American golf at the time and the first full-time touring professional, had been at the forefront of trying to change attitudes about him and his peers. The breakthrough came at Inverness Club. But the members did more than just open their clubhouse doors. Their hospitality extended to finding rooms for the players, providing them with cars or assisting in their transportation and other daily needs.
In appreciation of such warm hospitality, Hagen spearheaded a collection among the players that went toward the purchase of the cathedral chime clock that still keeps perfect time and stands as a monument to a perfect gesture in the history of the U.S. Open and golf in general, a gesture long overdue and yet consistent with the spirit of the game.
The inscription on the clock reads:
God measures men by what they are
Not by what they in wealth possess
This vibrant message chimes afar
The voice of Inverness
Dave Shedloski is an Ohio-based freelance writer whose work has previously appeared on USGA websites.