MUSEUM
Egan's 1904 Golf Medals Part of Olympic Display at USGA Museum May 13, 2016 | Far Hills, N.J. By David Shefter, USGA

H. Chandler Egan's 1904 golf medals are just part of a special Olympic golf display at the USGA Museum through June 8. (Jonathan Kolbe) 

Three years after purchasing his childhood home – a farmhouse 25 miles southeast of Cleveland in Chagrin Falls, Ohio – Morris Everett Jr. made a startling discovery.

His 101-year-old mother, Eleanor, the only child of two-time U.S. Amateur champion and 1904 Olympic silver medalist H. Chandler Egan, had died in 2012, but what she left behind was a treasure chest of rare golf memorabilia, including what historians believe is the first discovery of an individual medal from golf’s last appearance in the Olympic Games.

With golf returning to the Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro this August following a 112-year hiatus, Egan’s silver medal, plus a team gold medal he earned in the 1904 competition at Glen Echo Country Club in St. Louis, offers rare tangible proof of the game’s brief Olympic history.

Thanks to Everett’s discovery and generosity, visitors to the USGA Museum at Golf House in Far Hills, N.J., will have the opportunity to see the two medals, along with two Olympic golf trophies from the 1904 Games, in a limited-time exhibit from May 11-June 8.

When their display time at the USGA Museum ends, the medals will head to Oakmont (Pa.) Country Club, site of the 116th U.S. Open Championship, for some media opportunities before being transported to the World Golf Hall of Fame in St. Augustine, Fla., to be displayed from June 23 until the Olympics in mid-August.

“When you look at something this rare, the chance to look at silver and gold medals that have only been a part of the Olympics twice, it is a very unique opportunity for golf,” said Mike Trostel, director of the USGA Museum. “This exhibit is a great opportunity to connect golf’s Olympic past to its future and celebrate its return to the Games this summer in Rio.”

A Chicago native, Egan entered the 1904 Games as one of the favorites. A week earlier at Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, N.J., he claimed the first of two consecutive U.S. Amateur titles, defeating Fred Herreshoff in the championship match, 8 and 6. In 1902, he won the NCAA individual championship while a student at Harvard.

Although the modern Games were revived in 1896, golf did not make its debut until 1900 in Paris, where both men’s and women’s competitions were contested. St. Louis resident Albert Lambert won an unofficial third event – the USGA Museum has his trophy – involving handicaps. Lambert’s father-in-law was Col. George McGrew, the founder and president of Glen Echo Country Club. When St. Louis landed the 1904 Games, McGrew, who had proposed a world championship golf event at his club, was eager to conduct the Olympic competition at Glen Echo. He even designed the medals and trophies.

This time, only a men’s competition would be contested and it began Sept. 17 with a 36-hole team event, featuring 10-man squads. Egan captained the Western Golf Association team, which included his brother, Walter. The Trans-Mississippi Golf Association also fielded a team, while a late addition comprised of players from USGA Member clubs called themselves the USGA team. The WGA team won gold, with Trans-Mississippi earning silver and the USGA team finishing a distant third to claim bronze.

A few days later, the individual match-play event commenced, but not before a driving and putting contest was held, with trophies awarded to the winners.

Olympic medalist and two-time U.S. Amateur champion H. Chandler Egan helped renovate Pebble Beach for the 1929 U.S. Amateur. (USGA Archives)

The individual competition included 36 holes of qualifying followed by a 32-player match-play draw. Due to travel logistics, all of the golfers were from North America: 72 Americans and three Canadians. Each match was 36 holes, and Egan defeated putting contest winner Burt McKinnie, 4 and 3, in the semifinals to set up a championship showdown against Canadian George Lyon, who edged Francis Newton, 1 up. The next day, Lyon beat Egan, 3 and 2, for the gold medal. The whereabouts of Lyon’s gold medal is unknown, but his trophy remains in possession of Golf Canada.

Egan, a member of the victorious 1934 USA Walker Cup Team who helped redesign Pebble Beach with noted architect Alister MacKenzie in preparation for the 1929 U.S. Amateur, died in 1936 from lobar pneumonia.

Alice Barrett Scudder, Egan’s second wife, preserved his memorabilia, a collection that includes medals from Harvard and the Western Golf Association, letters, photos, scorecards and scrapbooks, most of which are still in pristine condition, according to Susan Wasser, the USGA Museum’s assistant director and curator. His U.S. Amateur gold medals are on loan at his former home club, Exmoor Country Club in Highland Park, Ill.

Scudder eventually shipped Egan’s collection to Eleanor in Ohio, where they went untouched for years until Everett’s discovery last year. He found the Olympic medals packed separately in a tin box.

Everett told Golf Digest that his mother likely forgot she possessed these items. He told Wasser before handing off the Olympic medals to the USGA that the extent of the collection was mind-boggling. Everett insured the two medals for $350,000 and it’s unclear where they will permanently reside after it is displayed at the World Golf Hall of Fame.

Since Egan’s medals were discovered, another gold medal from 1904 has been located. It belonged to WGA team member Robert Hunter, but Wasser said it’s not part of the current Olympic display. The USGA also obtained Egan’s second-place trophy on loan from the LA84 Foundation, and has Francis Newton’s third-place Olympic trophy.

Lyon, a fire insurance salesman, was the runner-up in the 1906 U.S. Amateur. In 1908, he traveled to London to defend his Olympic gold medal. Organizers planned a 108-hole stroke-play event at Royal St. George’s and Prince’s Golf Club in Sandwich, and Royal Cinque Ports in Deal, venues that have hosted a combined 17 Open Championships (14 times for Royal St. George’s, twice for Royal Cinque Ports and once for Prince’s) and other competitions conducted by The R&A.

However, The R&A and the Olympic golf organizers got into a dispute over eligibility requirements. When an agreement could not be reached, the British contingent withdrew. The event was canceled due to lack of entries, and Olympic golf died.

These medals have helped revive its brief place in the game’s history.

David Shefter is a senior staff writer for the USGA. Email him at dshefter@usga.org.

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