Brewer Thankful For Bob Jones Honor

Family travels to see two-time Senior Amateur champ receive USGA's top honor; Texan Rundle gets Joe Dey Award


February 7, 2009

By Ken Klavon, USGA

Newport Beach, Calif. - O. Gordon Brewer Jr. didn't take the moment lightly. Neither did his family - each and every one of the nine who made the trek from Arizona, North Carolina and Texas.

O. Gordon Brewer addresses the audience after receiving the Bob Jones Award Saturday at the Annual Meeting in Newport Beach, Calif. (John Mummert/USGA)

On Saturday night in Newport Beach, Calif., Brewer accepted the Bob Jones Award with a poignant speech that focused on the merits of golf. Since 1955, the list of previous winners reads like a who's who in the annals of golf. The likes of Babe Didrikson Zaharias, Gary Player, Arnold Palmer, Byron Nelson, Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus, Gene Sarazan and Nancy Lopez have been honored.

"We're really thankful for him," said son Chip Brewer, 45, prior to the ceremony. "To have his name on an award with [Francis] Ouimet, Bill Campbell, [Tom] Watson, it's pretty special. My dad's been my hero and introduced me to golf. It's been a real honor for the entire family."

The tribute wasn't lost on the former USGA Executive Committee member, who served from 1996-2001.

"It's beyond my wildest dreams," said the 72-year-old Brewer. "It doesn't get any better than being identified with the man who set the standard, a man of the highest integrity."

The Bob Jones Award is the USGA's highest honor, given in recognition of sportsmanship in golf. The Award, selected from nominations across the golf community and chosen by a diverse and distinguished committee, seeks to recognize a person who emulates Jones' spirit, his personal qualities and his attitude toward the game and its players.

Brewer, a two-time USGA Senior Amateur champion, became passionate about golf at Guilford College in Greensboro, N.C., after playing basketball there. It was also where he met his wife, Gail, of 49 years. Brewer acknowledged her with adoration, calling her his "partner and lifelong mate" who has been with him the whole way.

Brewer's ties with the USGA began with the 1968 U.S. Amateur, his first national championship as a player. Along the way he competed in more than 40 USGA championships. He started his career as a top amateur golfer in 1967, culminating in the first of his two Philadelphia Amateur Championships. He won the second in 1976.

Before tasting victory at the national level, he had to endure his lumps. In 1985, he finished runner-up to Jay Sigel at the U.S. Mid-Amateur. Sigel came away impressed with Brewer's sportsmanship that year.

"If you defined gentleman golfer, it would be Gordon Brewer," said Sigel.

It wasn't until 1994 that he earned his first USGA title, winning the USGA Senior Amateur. Two years later he captured the championship again.

Outside of the ropes, Brewer got involved as a committee member with the USGA in 1981 before ascending to the Executive Committee. He over saw the Implements and Balls Committee at one point. The current president of Pine Valley Golf Club, he was the president of the Pennsylvania Golf Association, chairman of the J. Wood Platt Caddie Scholarship Trust Fund and served on the PGA Board of Directors from 2001 to 2003.

Brewer has remained committed to amateur golf in the Philadelphia area, so much so that the Golf Association of Philadelphia created the Brewer Cup, a competition among senior players, in 2008. In a bit of just desserts, Brewer defeated Charles McClaskey to win the inaugural cup.

After a five-minute introductory highlight video that featured comments by family, friends, including Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer, Brewer spoke ardently about the game. He challenged the golf dignitaries in the gathering to continue finding ways to grow golf before segueing onto the subject of equipment and technology.

"One fact remains: the primary factor in golf is skill," he said.

Brewer lobbied hard to keep caddies a part of the sport. The core values of golf essentially mimic life, he stressed, adding that integrity is an essential quality of good character.

"If you want to know something about someone's character," he said, "spend some time on the golf course with them."

Rundle Also Honored

Dick Rundle, right, receives the Joe Dey Award from USGA President Jim Vernon, left, and Executive Committee member Pat Kaufman. (John Mummert/USGA)

Unbeknownst to Dick Rundle, more than 20 letters from friends and colleagues had been sent to the USGA Awards Committee nominating him for the Joe Dey Award. So when he took to the stage to receive his plaque, he came off gracious and elegant in his remarks, saying, "I accept this award with a mix of emotions: pride, humility and gratefulness."

The 78-year-old Rundle of Texas was battling a cold. No way that was going to get the best of him as he beamed with unbridled delight.

Rundle has been serving on the USGA Regional Affairs Committee for the past 15 years. He's contributed countless hours to many USGA championships as a committee member, organizer, rules official and referee.

The Joe Dey Award has been given since 1996 and recognizes an individual's meritorious service to the game as a volunteer. The award is named after the late Joseph C. Dey Jr., who served as USGA executive director for 35 years, from 1934 to 1969, and was later the first commissioner of the PGA Tour.

"As most of us do when something like this happens, you say, 'What did I do?'" said Rundle between photo takes with his award.

What will he do with the award? He paused.

"I haven't thought about that," he laughed.

Ken Klavon is the Editor of Digital Media for the USGA. E-mail him with questions or comments at kklavon@usga.org.

 

  





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