Beman narrowly escaped his early matches, winning, 1 up, against Claude Wright in the first round and outlasting William Deemer, 2 up, in Round 2. He then settled down and won his next three matches by big margins; 6 and 5 against James Dolan; 7 and 5 against John Suisman; and a 4-and-3 toppling of Frederick Paine.
Then Beman faced Bill Hyndman III, the Huntingdon Valley, Pa., standout who had played on two Walker Cup Teams and had lost in the 36-hole final to Beman at Royal St. George’s. Their quarterfinal encounter was a battle. Beman took a three-hole lead after the fourth, but Hyndman countered by hitting the ball to within 2, 6, 10 and 3 feet for four birdies to tie the match after nine.
Hyndman was working very hard to stay up with his opponent. On the 16th, the effort finally took a toll when he shanked his approach shot into the 17th fairway and lost the hole to square the match. The next two holes were tied with pars, and the match ended at the 19th when Beman sank a 15-footer.
Beman got past John Farquhar, of Amarillo, Texas, in the semifinals, 5 and 4. Now he would face 39-year-old veteran Bob Gardner, the California and New York Metropolitan champion, in the 36-hole final.
Gardner had knocked Charles Lewis out of the championship in the semifinal. It was his third consecutive match against a 19-year-old and Gwilym Brown wrote in Sports Illustrated that after Gardner won the match on the 19th hole, the older campaigner said, “I’m all worn out.”
Beman’s advance was no less remarkable in that his attention to his family and career gave him little time for practice. Much of the year he traveled, setting up new accounts for his business, although many of the trips coincided with appearances in major amateur events.
But the finale against Gardner was Beman’s chance to advance into golf’s elite championship circle and he shot 68 in the morning for a 3-up lead that he never relinquished. Gardner, too, was playing good golf. After a diet of steak, cottage cheese and coffee the winter before, he had trimmed 32 pounds off his fighting weight. In the final against Beman he was the equivalent of 2 over par (with concessions), but Beman cut two more strokes from par in the afternoon and won decisively on the 32nd hole, 6 and 4.
The golf press took note. “The nation’s hat is again held aloft in salute to Deane Beman, who just a little more than a year ago was an unheralded golfer,” according to Golf World.
His U.S. Amateur crown put Beman in another class. In September, he joined Nicklaus, Gardner and Hyndman in representing the USA in the World Amateur Team Championship at Merion Golf Club outside of Philadelphia. The USA blasted past second-place Australia by a 42-stroke margin after the four rounds.
The following year at Pebble Beach, Beman, seeking to successfully defend his title, ran up against Harry Allers in the first round. Both players grew up in Maryland, so they knew each other from junior and amateur golf.
Beman was poised and Allers, the less heralded player, was naturally nervous as the match began.
“His (Beman’s) reputation was that of a fierce competitor who was a little standoffish and aloof, and he was all those things including a little arrogance thrown in for good measure,” Allers said. “But he had won an American and British Amateur and I suppose he had a right to have an attitude.”
Allers knew he was in the big leagues against Beman and he prepared by reminding himself of his own victories in junior and amateur golf.
“I was getting ready to do battle with him by convincing myself I’d be a worthy opponent, and I was,” said Allers. Four holes down after six, Allers fought back to take Beman all the way to the 18th hole, where Beman finally prevailed, 1 up. But Beman’s hopes were dashed when he lost in the next round, 2 down, to Billy Joe Patton.
In 1961, Nicklaus, Hyndman, Gardner and Beman were all selected to the USA Walker Cup Team and the four won all of their matches, including a noteworthy 6-and-5 foursomes win by Beman and his partner Nicklaus.
Shortly after the Walker Cup, Gwilym Brown wrote another story about Beman for Sports Illustrated, a full-length feature that enhanced his legend.
Beman, Brown wrote, “is the prospering proof that amateur golf can yield up a spectacular living to the sportsman energetic enough and shrewd enough to play the angles as well as he plays his shots.” For Beman, business was booming.
Beman came back in 1963 to win a second U.S. Amateur title, defeating R.H. Sikes in the final at the Wakonda Club in Des Moines, Iowa. From 1958 through 1963, he had a glowing 24-4 match-play record in the U.S. Amateur.
He turned professional in 1967 and won four tournaments on the PGA Tour, also finishing in a tie for second in the 1969 U.S. Open at Champions Golf Club in Houston, Texas, site of the 2020 U.S. Women’s Open.
Then, at the age of 35, he began the career for which he is most noted. As the commissioner of the PGA Tour starting in 1974, Beman became a master of innovation. The Tournament Players Championship (now simply The Players Championship), the Champions Tour (now PGA Tour Champions) and the Nationwide Tour (now Korn Ferry Tour), as well as increasing income from television contracts, are all products of his tenure. Before his retirement in 1994, he also conceived the World Golf Village, which is not far from PGA Tour Headquarters in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. The Village is home to the World Golf Hall of Fame, into which Beman was inducted in 2000 in the Lifetime Achievement category.
Beman’s eye-opening two decades as an innovator of American professional tournament golf could cause his career as one of the top amateurs in the world to pale. But for Beman, the memories endure.
"As an amateur, I'd like to be remembered as being at the top of my competition," he said of his amateur playing days. "I was right there with the best of them."
Indeed he was.