Scioto Country Club

Scioto Country Club Golf Tournaments

Site of five Major Tournaments

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1926 U.S. Open

The Open Comes to Scioto
July 8-10, 1926

1926fullsize.jpgGeorge Sargent, Scioto's head golf professional from 1919 to 1932, was invited to attend an Executive Committee meeting of the United States Golf Association on October 29, 1925 and it was at this meeting that Scioto Country Club was awarded the 1926 U.S. Open Championship.  Not only was Sargent a previous winner of the U.S. Open, in 1909 at Englewood, he also served as President of the PGA of America from 1921-1926 and his considerable influence helped pave the way for Scioto to secure the country's most important annual golf event.

While just 10 years old in 1926, the young Donald Ross designed layout was ready to host the world's best players.  The rough was high and the fairways were firm and fast.  A record 694 players tried to qualify for championship play and the final field was set at 147 starters, with 18 holes to be played on July 8 and 9 and then the 62 low scorers playing 36 holes on July 10.

The pre-tournament hype all centered on 24 year-old Bobby Jones of Atlanta, for Jones had just won the British Open Championship two weeks earlier.  No one had ever won both Open Championships in the same year and all eyes were on young Jones to see if he could accomplish this feat.


Day One

The USGA used the same starting times for both July 8 and 9 and on each day the early players had a decided advantage.  Hot July weather prevailed and an afternoon wind came up each day making the scoring conditions much tougher on those with the afternoon tee times.

The leader after one day of play was Wild Bill Melhorn, the flamboyant Texan who had gone out early and posted a 68.  Though Bob Jones got the worst of it with a late starting time, he nevertheless fashioned a fine 70 to sit just two off the pace tied for second place.  Also positioned well at 71 was Joe Turnesa and Al Espinosa.  Will MacFarlane, the defending champion, was also in the hunt with 72 as was Leo Diegel.

LEADERBOARD after round one: 

Bill Melhorn 68
Bobby Jones 70
John Junor 70
Joe Turnesa 71
Al Espinosa 71
Leo Deigel 72
Willie MacFarlane 72

Day Two

One a day when scoring would prove most difficult, Bill Melhorn still held on to the lead despite a second round 75 for a 143 total.  Joe Trunesa was hot on Melhorn's heals with a 74 for 145 to trail by two shots.  With large galleries following Jones in the afternoon, the young Georgian skied to a 79, calling a one stroke penalty on himself on the 15th green when the ball moved and finishing with two three-putt greens.

Scioto had proved to be a real challenge with former Open Champions Fred McLeod, Jim Barnes and Jock Hutchinson all missing the cut.  In all, 62 players advanced to the final day, with 58 eventually finishing.

LEADERBOARD after round two:

Bill Melhorn


Joe Turnesa


Dan Williams


Leo Diegel


George McLean


Bobby Jones


Jack Forrester


Walter Hagen


Al Espinosa


Chick Evans


Willie MacFarlane


Final Day

On a hot and muggy July 10 the third round began.  First and second round leader Bill Melhorn started to wilt under the heat and pressure, carding a 76 for a 219 total.  Joe Turnesa fired a 72 for a 217 total to take the lead by two shots.  But Bob Jones, who had been quite sick before teeing off, managed a fine 71 and 220 score to put himself right back in contention.

The leaders going into round four were:

Joe Turnesa


Bill Melhorn


Bobby Jones


After the lunch break, Melhorn faded further and Turnesa increased his lead to four shots with Jones, his closest pursuer.  Turnesa was playing two groups in front of Jones and when Turnesa bogeyed the 12th hole and Jones birdied it, the lead was now just two strokes.  With a gallery estimated to number 10,000, Turnesa could hear the roars from behind and he bogeyed the 13th, 16th and 17th before finishing withal closing birdie and 294 total.  Jones knew he would need to birdie the (then) par 5 18th hole to win and newspaper accounts credited Jones with 310 yard tee shot, into the wind, followed by a brilliantly struck long iron to 18-20 feet of the hole.  A two-putt birdie ensued and Bobby Jones became the first man in golf history to win both the U.S. and British Opens in the same year.

1931 Ryder Cup
Scioto Hosts 1931 Ryder Cup
June 26-27, 1931

1931Fullsize.jpgThe PGA of America set the dates for the third Ryder Cup competition, a true "rubber match" with both sides having scored a victory, for June 26 and 27, 1931.  With the U.S. Open scheduled for Inverness in Toledo the following week, Scioto officials formally invited the PGA in the fall of 1930 to host the matches and on November 24, 1930, the PGA notified the club that Scioto would indeed be awarded the 3rd Ryder Cup Matches.

For the second time in only five years Scioto Country Club would be in the center of the golfing world stage.  With various qualifying events and exhibitions, there was a great deal of interest that spanned a 10 day period.

The highlight of the Ryder Cup week was a gala banquet held at Columbus' finest hotel, the Neil House, on the eve of the matches.  Some 200 PGA pros were there as part of a PGA convention.  Both teams were in attendance as were various dignitaries, including boxing champion Jack Dempsey and Grand Slam golfer Bobby Jones.  The competition was ready to begin!

The Teams

The Americans were determined to win back the Cup they had lost at Moortown in 1929 and the PGA chose the first six players to represent the U.S.-they were, Walter Hagen, Gene Sarazen, Horton Smith, Al Espinosa, Johnny Farrell, and Leo Diegel.  The remaining four spots would be filled from 13 players competing in a special qualifying event at Scioto.

On Monday June 22, these 13 hopefuls played 36 holes with the low six players advancing to another 36 hole qualifier the next day.  Billy Burke, who would win the next week at Inverness, Wiffy Cox and Craig Wood made the team after Tuesday but it took another day and another 18 holes to determine the final player for the U.S. team-Denny Shute.

While the U.S. team had a straightforward, albeit rigorous, method of selecting its team, the British were have a controversial and terrible time of it.  Two of its star players, Percy Alliss and Aubrey Boomer, had obtained club jobs outside of Britain and were deemed ineligible.  Herbert Jolly, who had qualified for the team, pulled out at the last minute citing recent poor playing.  And finally, Henry Cotton, another qualifier, had made his own travel arrangements and refused to abide by team rules which called for splitting exhibition revenue equally.  So he sat out the matches too.

Nevertheless the British team was formidable anchored by former Open Champions Arthur Havers and George Duncan.  Archie Compston, William Davies, Syd Easterbrook, Bert Hodson, Abe Mitchell, Fred Robson and Charles and Ernest Whitcombe rounded out the team.

Day One-Foursomes

Playing conditions for the first day of action in the 1931 Ryder Cup were remarkably similar to those when Scioto hosted the 1926 U.S. Open.  Despite a temperature that approached 100 degrees, the course still had plenty of thick rough.  Though a little wind and rain accompanied play in the morning of the foursome matches, the British were unaccustomed to such heat and their heavy wool clothes added to their discomfort. 

The format for the first day of competition would be four 36-hole matches with two players to a side playing alternate shots.  The winning team would score one point for its side.

The U.S. team got off to a quick start.  The pairing of Gene Sarazen and Johhny Farrell overwhelmed Archie Compston and William Davies and Walter Hagen and Denny Shute rolled over the two Open champions Duncan and Havers.  Abe Mitchell and Fred Robson got the British on the board with a close 3 and 1 win over Leo Diegel and Al Espinosa but when Billy Burke and Wiffy Cox closed out Syd Easterbrook and Ernest Whitcombe, the U.S. had a 3-1 lead going into the singles matches the next day.

Final Day- Singles Matches

Another very hot day greeted the golfers for the 36 hole singles matches and the U.S. quickly stretched it's lead to 5-1 when Billy Burke and Gene Sarazen both whipped their opponents by 7 and 6.

William Davies beat Johnny Farrell to narrow the gap to 5-2 but shortly thereafter, Wiffy Cox beat Abe Mitchell to make it 6-2 and Walter Hagen scored the clinching point for the U.S. team by defeating Charles Whitcombe 4 and 3.  Denny Shute and Al Espinosa both won their matches of the U.S. and the final point for Great Britain came from and Arthur Havers victory in the final match.

Final score, 9-3, U.S. over Great Britain and Ireland.

Gene Sarazen's Greatest Shot

Golf fans are constantly told that Gene Sarazan's greatest golf shot was the one "heard around the world" - the famous four wood to the 15th green at Augusta National Golf Club for a double eagle in the 1935 Masters Tournament.

But according to Sarazen himself, his greatest shot occurred here at Scioto in his singles match against Fred Robson in the 1931 Ryder Cup.  What is undisputed is that Gene's tee shot on the par three fourth hole wound up in the in the shelter/concession stand beyond the green.  After moving boxes and cartons and finding his ball,  the thought he could play it off the concrete floor and play it he did - right through a window and onto the green. 

The stories about whether or not he made the putt differ from several accounts, but he did go on to win the match 7 and 6!

1950 PGA Championship
PGA Championship
June 21-27, 1950

Then Mayor, Jim Rhodes, was instrumental in bringing the 32nd PGA Championship to Scioto Country Club in June, 1950.  Scioto hosted a field of 109 golfers on it's 7,032 yard, par 72 layout.  The field was whittled to 64 after a 36 hole qualifier on Wednesday and Thursday.  The PGA was still a match play tournament in 1950 (it would change to medal in 1958 on cries of "Remember Scioto").  A purse of $40,000 was offered to the players with a first place prize of $3,500.  The charitable sponsors of the tournament were the mayors favorite organizations: the Columbus Zoo and the Columbus Boys Club.

Slammin' Sammy Snead was the defending PGA champion and leading money winner.  Ben Hogan, still recovering from his 1949 auto-bus accident, and exhausted from his U.S. Open victory at Merion earlier in the month, passed up the Championship at Scioto.  Other notables were Lloyd Mangrum, 1946 Open champion and runner-up to Hogan at the 1950 Open, Jimmy Demaret, Jim Ferrier, two-time PGA champion Denny Shute, and George Fazio.

  On the first day of play, the defending champion Snead squeaked by Sam Byrd 1-up.  Snead's defense came to a screeching end that afternoon when Eddie Burke rolled in a 30 foot chip for eagle on the 18th green(then a par 5).  After the first day, the matches were 36 holes played in a morning-afternoon format. 
Days 2 & 3

Snead's exit from the tournament set up what everyone thought would be a Mangrum-Demaret semi-final in the lower half of the draw.  The Open runner-up blew Chick Harbert out 6&5 in the third round after shooting 66 in the morning round and a 32 on the front side in the afternoon.  Mangrum had only to get by relative unknown Chandler Harper to make it to the semi-finals.

In the top half of the draw, Henry Picard, winner of the 1938 Masters and 1939 PGA, had dominated his matches, beating Johnny Palmer in the quarter-finals 10&8.  Picard, now 43 and head pro at Cleveland Canterbury, suffered from severe arthritis and played in the tournament only because of an invitation from former assistant pro, now Scioto's head professional: Jack Grout.   The seven day grind in the central Ohio heat would catch up with Picard in the semi-finals against club pro Henry Williams.  Six down with eight holes to play, Williams won six of the next seven holes to square the match coming to the 36th hole.  Both players birdied eighteen to send the match into overtime.  Both Williams and Picard parred the first hold but Picard three-putted the second for a bogey to hand the match to Williams.

Trailing by two after the morning quarter-final against Harper, Lloyd Mangrum would describe Harper: "God gawdamighty, what a putter!" Harper extended his lead to four after 20 holes only to let Mangrum square the match on the 30th hole.  On the par 3 17th, with the match still square, Mangrum hit his tee shot to within 12 feet, only to have Harper hit it to six feet.  Mangrum missed his birdie putt and Harper converted to take a 1 up lead to eighteen.  Harper made a 10 foot birdie at the last to take the match.

Days 4 & 5

Most spectators felt that Jimmy Demaret, the last touring pro in the field, would make short work of the public course pro from Portsmout, Virginia.  Harper's hot putter was not to be denied and he upset Demaret 2&1. 

The Harper-Williams final was not exactly the dream of the the PGA organizers- two club pros duking it out on a Tuesday in front of only 2,000 spectators in the morning and 4,000 in the afternoon.  Harper, 36 years old, shot an unspectacular 75 in the morning to Williams' 79 and closed his opponent out 4 and 3 in the afternoon to become the oldest PGA champion and the second Virginian in a row to win the Championship.  Less sensitive about his receding hairline than Snead, Harper exclaimed at the trophy ceremony "I'm going to do something that Sam Snead would never do, I'm taking off my hat!"

Low scores were typical at the 1950 PGA causing one magazine to comment "perhaps never again will PGA spectators see so much sub-par golf in a single week".  Dave Douglas shot a seven under 65 in a practice round to set the unofficial course record, equaled in 1968 by Vinnie Giles a the the U.S. Amateur.  Finally, few people recognized Henry Picard's young assistant from Canterbury who dutifully followed his boss around Scioto that week, and who was unaware of his future at Scioto Country Club: Walker Inman.

1968 U.S. Amateur
U.S. Amateur Championship
August 28-31, 1968

1968fullsize.jpgOf all the championships played at Scioto, the 1968 U.S. Amateur might have been played on the most difficult golf course.  The greens were very firm, almost too hard and the rough was typically thick USGA rough making shots to the green virtually impossible to hold.  The course was set up as a par 70, with the eighth playing as a 465 yard par 4.  The field of 150 was full of collegians: Bruce Fleisher, Tom Watson, Hubert Green, Lanny Wadkins, Andy North, Doug Tewell, Leonard Thompson, Rod Curl, Barry Jaeckel and Jim Simon, as well as well-known amateurs Michael Bonallack, the British Amateur Champion, Dale Morey, Jack Hesler, Vinnie Giles and Gary Cowan, Canadian Amateur champion.

Nineteen year old Bruce Fleisher, a surprise winner of the National Junior College Championship earlier in 1968, brought a personality seldom seen at USGA events of the time.  "Broads, great broads are all over the place.  Broads about drove me crazy." remarked Fleisher after one round.  Donning white tape around his wrist ( "for the fans") and fringed, tightly-fitted golf pants ( "it's the Florida look"), Bruce Fleisher backed up his attitude with solid golf, firing 73-70 to share the lead after two rounds with Southern Amateur champion from Florida State, Hubert Green.

Fleisher took a two stroke lead after the third day with a 71-214.  Green shot 73 to finish at 216.  Many players were critical of the USGA's set-up of Scioto, especially the conversion of number 8 from a 510 yard par 5 to a 450 yard par 4.  Said 1964 Amateur champion Bill Campbell, "The way they have set it up now, it is a U.S. Open course- a pro-type course- and we're all amateurs."  Of all the rounds played during the tournament, only five were under par.

The final day began with Giles (220) six back of Fleisher.  Giles cut the lead to four shots, birdieing the par three ninth, to shoot a front-side 32 to Fleisher's 34.  The lead was cut to three when Giles birdied eleven and valuable birdie putts were barley missed by Giles at fourteen and fifteen.  Fleisher stumbled at fifteen with a bogey and watched Giles trickle his birdie putt in at seventeen.  His lead was now down to one stroke.

Fleisher hit an amazing 9-iron over the willow trees from the rough at sixteen and two-putted for par.  Giles ripped his second iron shot at the flag on eighteen, only to see the ball fall some 35 feet short of the cup.  His two-putt for a competive course record 65 gave him a 285 total.

Fleisher stood on the eighteenth tee with a one stroke lead.  His drive was right down the middle and second shot to within 15 feet.  A two-putt gave him his 70 and an Amateur record 284.

"I feel great!" grinned the new champion in his checked slacks with their frayed bottoms.  "I was more nervous yesterday than today, but I was a wee bit nervous on that second shot on 18 - and on the first putt."

1986 Senior Open
U.S. Senior Open Championship
June 23-29, 1986

1986fullsize.jpgThe 7th U.S. Senior Open Championship came to Scioto riding a wave or popularity for senior golf.  Some 1225 golfers attempted to qualify for 89 open spots, ultimately creating a field of 150 pros and amateurs.  Scioto held one of the 34 sectional qualifiers in which host pro Walker Inman and perennial club champion Jack Hesler figured to have a natural edge on the other qualifiers.  Both shot 77's and were placed in a six-man playoff for the one available spot.

Hesler drove into the bunker left of the first fairway with Inman right down the middle.  Jack Hesler hit a phenomenal shot to within two feet while Inman knocked his to five feet left of the hole.  The club champ cashed his birdie putt to claim the 150th position.  Walker went on to beat pro George Bayer on three to become the first alternate.  When Sam Snead pulled out on the eve of the Open, head pro and Scioto favorite Walker Inman was in.

The Senior Open was full of prominent players from the past, many of whom were ecstatic about competing for purses that far exceeded what they earned in the 60's and 70's.  They were also happy to leave the competition on the PGA Tour to the younger "flatbellies".  Gary Player, Jim Ferree, defending champ Miller Barber, Harold Henning, Peter Thomson, Bruce Crampton, and the legendary Arnold Palmer brought their "A" games to a spectacular Scioto Country Club in June, 1986.  Dale Douglass, having turned 50 in March came to Scioto with a first, second and first place finishes from his three most recent Tour events.

                                                                  Day One & Two

On a perfect-for-scoring day June day, Douglass opened the championship with a 66 making a string of birdies on holes 6-10.  Douglass bogied the 18th to miss tying Vinnie Giles' course record 65 at the 1968 U.S. Amateur.  He held a two-shot lead over Lee Elder (68) and three over Ken Still, Jim Feree and Jim Hatchfield, all at 69.  Benign weather conditions enable 10 golfers to extract sub-par rounds on the par 71 course.  Walker Inman shot a disappointing 75 while Jack Hesler carded a 79.

A gusting southwest wind toughened the Scioto course on the second day for virtually everyone except one pro: Walker Inman.  Scioto's pro shot a 67 to pull within four shots of Douglass' 36-hole lead at 138.  Douglass shot a 72 in round two to hold a three shot lead over Ferree and Still.  Inman joined Henning, Workman, and Crampton at 142.  Unfortunately, the Cinderella ride of Jack Hesler came to end after the second round as a 76-155 total missed the cut by two shots.  Arnold Palmer barely made the cut at 152, giving the weekend ticket sales a much-needed shot in the arm.

Day Three & Four


The popular Gary Player lit up Scioto on the third day of play with an impressive 66 for a three round total of 210.  Dale Douglass widened his margin to four shots with a 68.  His 206 total led Henning and Ferree who kept their Open hopes alive at 212.  Walker Inman's hopes unraveled on Saturday with a 77.

Sunday's finale was essential a dual between Douglass and the holder of 9 major championships, Gary Player.  By the time the players had reached fifteen, Player had cut Douglass' lead to one.  Douglass had a buried lie in the greenside bunker while Player's second shot rested comfortably 20 feet from the hole.  Player's attempt for three caught the lip of the cup and spun past six feet.  As Player stood over his putt for par, a screech of tires from a nearby auto accident forced him to back off and re-focus.  He missed the par putt and a chance to even the match.  Douglass made a wonderful sand shot and canned the putt to widen the lead to two strokes.

Player bogied sixteen from the sand while Douglass made par and the championship was effectively over.  Player birdied seventeen, Douglass bogied eighteen and Dale Douglass limped in with a 73-279 to Player's 70-280.  Douglass' total set a new Senior Open record, by 3 strokes.  Player expressed bitter disappointment later, "If I make two pars with 9-irons (15 & 16), I win the tournament.  There are no excuses.  I hit bum shots".  Dale Douglass pocketed the winner's check for $42,500 and his first national championship.  Scioto's own, Walker Inman, recovered on Sunday with a 72 to finish at 291 twelve strokes back of Douglass- still a great performance from a man whose priorities were taking care of his members, running a pro shop and hosting a major USGA championship.