Passing The Torch

Round 1 of the 2013 PGA Championship will commence tomorrow morning (8/8/13 at 7:10 am) at the Oak Hill Country Club in Pittsford, New York, a suburb southeast of Rochester. Oak Hill has a rich history of golf. In fact, it’s the only club in the United States to have hosted all six of the men’s major championships.

In an interview that appeared a number of years ago in the Ohio Golfer Magazine, Jack Grout told Columbus (OH) sportswriter Paul Hornung, “The last tournament I played was the U.S. Open at Oak Hill in Rochester, New York. It was the year before Jackie (Nicklaus) played in his first Open up at Inverness in Toledo.” To be precise, on June 4, 1956 my Dad (at the age of 46) shot a 36-hole score of 145 and earned his playing credentials into the United States Open Championship (scheduled June 14-16) for his sixth and final time.

His two rounds in the qualifier that day at Clovernook Country Club in Cincinnati were 75-70-145. At the time, the golf course at Clovernook played as a par 72. My father’s 70 in the second round was one of only five sub-par rounds. At day’s end, three players were forced to go extra holes for the final two qualifying spots. The playoff involved my father plus accomplished Walker Cup amateur Dale Morey of Indianapolis and Richmond, IN professional Sam Drake. On the third extra hole, Morey was eliminated when he made a bogey five while the others got their pars.

At the time, the most notable name in the qualifier that day was Gay Brewer Jr., who went on to win the Masters in 1967. He shared medalist honors with a total of 144. In those days, Brewer was an assistant golf professional at Cincinnati Country Club. Other contestants in the talented field included William Campbell of Huntington, WV; Donald D. Shock (my old boss from my days as the assistant professional at Columbus Country Club), who shot 73-74-147; heralded course architect Pete Dye, with scores of 77-75-152 and, my father’s sixteen year-old protégé Jackie Nicklaus. With rounds of 75-76-151, young Nicklaus finished in a tie for seventeen.

However, just one year later, the torch would be passed from teacher to student. On June 3, 1957 at Kenwood Country Club in Cincinnati OH, while Dad shot rounds of 74-74-148 and just missed qualifying, the young phenom Nicklaus fired 68-71-139 and gained admittance into the first of his total of forty-four U.S. Open Championships.

For the record, during his playing career, Jack Grout participated in 6 U.S. Open’s: 1934 at Merion Golf Club; 1935 at Oakmont Country Club; 1940 & 1946 at Canterbury Country Club; 1947 at St. Louis Country Club, where he finished fifty-first (tie); and, 1956 at Oak Hill Country Club. If, you were to add Grout’s total of six to Nicklaus’ total of forty-four then, respected teacher and renowned student’s grand total would equal an extraordinary 50 appearances in our country’s national championship.

Finally, some real trivia: If you’d allow me (your not-so-humble blogster) to kick-in my one-time shot in 1979 at Inverness Golf Club in Toledo, that would make it 51! Oh boy.

3 thoughts on “Passing The Torch

  1. Hey Dickie, I thought you would enjoy it my father played in the Member Guest at Canterbury for about 25 years. The first day he played it in the mid 70’s the tees were al the way back on all holes and he played his best round ever there. Duff Lawrence the golf Professional asked how he did on his first time around the Course and Dad said he shot 69 and Duff said Nicklaus couldnt shoot 69 the way it was set up today. But Dad said it was one of those Perfect days where everything went right. We had a standing bet that if i pared the last 3 holes there from the back tees i would get a new set of clubs, but alas 4 trips i came as close as +1, Bummer. have a great summer

    Rob Mac

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