News From Terre Haute, Indiana

August 4, 2007

On and Off the Course: When did the Masters and PGA Championship become majors?

By Jennifer Myers

When I begin working on one of these Sunday columns for the Tribune-Star, there is usually some amount of research I do to get me started, usually through the Internet but I also use magazines or books.

For this weeks’ column I had a question in mind that I wanted to find an answer to, but I have drawn a blank. When did the Masters’ and The PGA Championship replace the U.S. Amateur and the British Amateur as golf’s majors? Seems like a perfectly viable question to me.

Sure, I can go to the History section of the PGA Championship web site and find out when the first PGA Championship was played (1916), but that’s not when it became a major. The Masters Tournament was first played in 1934, four years after Bobby Jones won what was then the grand slam of golf. So was 1934 the year when the major championships changed?

From what I can decipher from all the different histories I’ve read, it would be hard to pinpoint a year when the majors changed.

What we today consider the “modern” majors, might be a media invention, or maybe a PGA tour invention, as the popularity of events changed. Although four golfers are credited with having won the four current majors in their lifetimes: Ben Hogan, Gene Sarazen, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and Tiger Woods. Gene Sarazen capped his off in 1935 with his Masters win, so perhaps that is the beginning of the modern majors.

• What to know about the PGA Championship — The PGA Championship was the result of a meeting held on January 17, 1916, hosted by department store magnate Rodman Wanamaker, with Walter Hagen and 34 other golf professionals in attendance. Wanamaker said he would provide a trophy for the event and a purse of $2,580 for the match play event.

In 1958 the PGA Championship changed format to a stroke play event. In the 1920’s Walter Hagen won five PGA Championships. That record held until it was tied by Jack Nicklaus. The Golden Bear won his first PGA in 1963 and his fifth in 1980.

The PGA Championship is for professional golfers only, specifically, members of the PGA of America. This means club pros can play alongside PGA Tour players.

At one time the PGA Tour was a branch of the PGA. In order to play on tour, a pro had to get a PGA card, which meant he had to serve an apprenticeship working at a golf club. Then he needed letters of recommendation attesting to his playing ability. If he was approved by the PGA he could go on tour. He had to then make his way into events by going through Monday qualifying. That is how Lee Trevino made it onto the pro tour. He didn’t go through Q-school.

When the 1960s came and Arnold Palmer increased the popularity of golf, the tour pros tired of the club pros telling them what they could do. Club pros, for instance, could take up spots on tour events because they happened to sell a lot of sweaters that year. In 1968, the tour players revolted and formed the Tournament Players Division, giving them more control over schedules and entries. In 1975, they called themselves the PGA Tour and broke completely away from the PGA of America.

• More lore — Golf is full of interesting stories and lore, and one of my favorites happened during the PGA Championship in 1921 at Inwood Country Club.

In the first round, Walter Hagen played the 17th hole by hitting his drive down the fairway of the parallel 18th hole. Doing so, he had a more open shot for his second into the right-hand side of the green.

That evening, while golfers were gathered in the men’s grill talking about their rounds, several officials decided that a tree should be planted to thwart that strategy. So Jack Mackie, the golf professional, and Morton Wild, a landscaper, uprooted a 15-foot weeping willow tree that they found in the woods. They planted it strategically between the 17th tee and 18th fairway.

When Hagen arrived at the tee the next day he said, “I never saw such fast-growing trees in my life.” Within minutes of his remark, the wind caught the wires that were holding the willow tree in place, and the tree fell, opening up the eighteenth fairway for Hagen’s drive. He went on to win the championship that year.

• More golf — An interesting note about the PGA: the weather and elevation. Temperatures are expected to be very hot next week, which has an affect on ball flight and distance. Tulsa’s elevation is 700 feet, which combined with hot weather and humidity can cause shots to go similar distances to balls hit at 5,000 feet. … Congratulations to Cara Stuckey for winning her 8th Women’s City Championship! … The Terre Haute Women’s Golf Association’s Rally for the Cure/His & Her Golf Tournament will be at Hulman Links on Aug. 26 at noon. Registration and lunch begin at 11:00. Cost is $50 per player. Men will tee off from the green tees, ladies from the first cut. Sign up at Hulman Links, 812-877-2096. Hole sponsors are welcome.

• Quote of the Day — “It’s a compromise between what your ego wants you to do, what experience tells you to do, and what your nerves let you do.” — Bruce Crampton, on tournament play.

Jennifer Myers is a golf columnist for the Tribune-Star.

Vigo County golf leagues

Rea Park First Financial Bank Ladies 9-hole — Standings: Shepard’s Gas 555, VFW No. 2 497, VFW No. 1 470, Elliotts Jewelers 469, Bratt Animal Hospital 448, Tabco 425. Low gross: Kay Gard, V. Talkington 49. Low net: Wanda Delauter 35. Play of the day: Gard, Anderson, Delauter. Chip-ins: Sawtelle (8), Miller (2), Pestoff (4). Birdies: Talkington (1), Delauter (3).

T.H. Elk’s Ladies 9-hole — Low gross: Mary Shake. Low net: Vivian Niemeyer. Low putts: Betty McKee, Mid Wills, Frances Curley. Play of day: Niemeyer. Chip-ins: Mary Silvers, Carol Hermann, Naomi Summerlot.

Paitson’s Roofing Eastside Ladies — Standings: Mowbray Consulting 542, Sandy’s Touch of Magic 514, Coach’s Corner 506, Daphne’s Beauty Shop 491, Baesler’s Market 487, Turner Coach 481, Advanced Chiropractic 422, Page’s Market 368. Low gross: Barb Kelley 38. Low net: Kelley 27. Play of the day: Sue Tipton. Chip-ins: Phyllis Pestoff (11). Birdies: Pestoff (11).

Mark’s Par Three Men’s Senior — Standings: Mattingly Collision (second half champions) 349, Midwest Gas 324, Tabco 307, Dew Drop Inn 306, Old National Trust 304, Vigo Bowl 298, Fuson Cadillac 289, Don Wills Cash Register 282. Low gross: Ray Boatman 36. Low net: Lloyd Boston 28. Closest to the pin: Frank Hettlinger (12). Longest drive: Boatman (18). Longest putt: Lee Higginbotham (17).

Rea Park Wednesday Ladies — Week 12 results: Cannon-Bocard 28, Honselman-Long 26, Padgett-Johnson 23, Anderson-Spurr 23, Hamilton-Hiatt 21, Durand-Petty 21, Horrall-Mozley 20, Meyer-Atterson 20, Lanke-Pair 20, Mann-Mahalek 19, Hyde-Rusk 18, Swalls-McAleese 18, Newton-Bedwell 17, McCord-Clements 16, Harden-Snow 16, Ugo-Whitaker 14. Low gross: Candy McCord 40. Low net: McCord 33. Chip-ins: Stacey Bocard (1), Sharon Hamilton (3), Mary Jean Petty (4).

Charlie’s Tuesday Night Men at Hulman Links — Low gross: Gregg Kluesner 36. Low net: Larry Tackett 33. Standings: Fleschner Law 446, Charlie’s No. 2 409, Charlie’s No. 1 355, Charlie’s No. 4 348, Charlie’s No. 3 275.

Rea Park Tuesday Ladies — Low gross: Linda Pair 82. Low net: Pair 64. Birdies: Carolyn Hyde (1), Myra Eble (1), Shelva Gaither (3), Shawn Durand (3), Beth Lowe (4, 13), Sharon Hamilton (7), Pair (8). Chip-ins: Verla Talkington (6), Pat Wardell (7), Virginia Anderson (8), Mary Jean Petty (12), Lowe (13), Sandy Stabler (17). Play of the day: Pair.

Idle Creek Wednesday Evening — Low net: Brad Burns 32. Longest putt: Sean Brinkman (1). Closest to pin: Ron Forster (9).

Idle Creek Home Builders — Low gross: Mark Tarrh 36. Low net: Steve Hutton 27. Longest putt: Tarrh (4). Closest to pin: Charlie Smith (3), Hutton (5).

Idle Creek Tuesday Ladies — Low gross: Sandy Sato 37. Low net: Susie Colligan 45. Longest putt: Katy Drummy (9). Closest to pin: Mary Cahill (3).

Terre Haute Savings Bank Senior Men — National Division standings: Complete Kitchen and Bath 103, Pizza Hut 95, Page’s Market 87, Fore Seasons Golf Complex 85, Terre Haute Savings Bank 83, SMC and Lough Bros. 79, Paitson Bros. 75. Low gross: Jim Gormong, Terry Liffick 39. Low net: Thomas Seibert, Robert Buckingham 32. American Division standings: Pabst Painting 101, Poplar Flower Shop and Spring Clean Car Wash 93, Gurman Container 87, VFW No. 972 86, Salt of the Earth 81, Callahan Funeral Home 77, Lee Appraisal Service 74. Low gross: Don Cuiksa 37. Low net: Cuiksa 32.