Jack Grout began working at Hershey Country Club on March 6, 1937. Its rolling fairways were so beautiful that Dad rated the layout as the finest he’d ever seen. Photo #1: An image of a Dunlop Gold Cup driver (circa 1935-1940) with the name Henry Picard stamped on the sole plate. As luck would have it; Photo #2, is an image of Jack Grout teeing off in the 1939 Hershey Open and using one of those same drivers. Photo #3: A letter on Hershey Country Club stationery signed by Jack Grout giving Alex Morrison “permission” to use photographs taken of him in the book “Better Golf Without Practice” by Alex J. Morrison Simon and Schuster New York * 1940.
108 HOLE WESTCHESTER OPEN AT FENWAY GOLF CLUB IN 1938
Picture taken on 9/23/38
Golf stars who took part in the richest golf tournament at that time:
(Left-Right) Front Row: Jack Grout, Frank Moore, Sid Brews, Paul Runyan, Ben Hogan & Dick Metz
(Left-Right) Rear Row: Byron Nelson, Jimmy Hines, Vic Ghezzi, Sam Snead, Jimmy Thomson,
Harry Cooper, Frank Walsh, Horton Smith, Johnny Revolta & Harold McSpaden.
During the third week of September 1938, my father arrived in Westchester County, New York just in time to experience two days of torrential rain and powerful winds. The tempest was so intense that electric power and telephone service was cut off for most people in the area. Dad and other pros were there to play in the $13,500 Westchester Open at Fenway Country Club. It was that year’s richest PGA Tour event. On September 23, when the tournament finally got underway there was storm debris practically everywhere.
For some reason, the tournament was 108 holes instead of today’s customary 72-holes. The pros played 18 holes for the first two days then, 36 holes each of the last two days. Dad said, “It was more like a marathon.” Byron Nelson was quoted as saying; “Maybe, they wanted to make sure the fans got their money’s worth.” (For those inquiring minds -Sid Brews was from Johannesburg, South Africa).
In this rare photo taken (April 26, 1946) at the Palmetto Golf Club in Aiken, South Carolina just prior to the Masters, are many of the leading players Jack Grout competed against in the 1930’s and early 1940’s. (Grout is seated eighth from the left in the middle row).
August 1948 Exhibition Match at Harrisburg Country Club with Gene Sarazen, Jack Grout, Rod Munday and Ben Hogan. Rod Munday the pro at York (PA) Country Club was a close friend of Jack Grout. He was a fun-loving character and a joy to be around. Munday intrigued the galleries wherever and whenever he played by putting right-handed at long range, cross-handed for those putts in the 10 – 15 foot middle distance and left-handed on the short ones. When his system worked he’d turn in some good, low scores. Munday was a very good player but well known for his putting problems. He might putt right-handed, left-handed, cross-handed right handed, and cross-handed left handed all in one 18-hole round.
During the summers of 1948 and 1949 Jack Grout had exhibition matches at Harrisburg Country Club with Hogan, Sarazen and Munday. Then, the next year in came Snead, Sarazen and Munday. These wonderful players were able to use their fine reputations to their advantage in these exhibitions. As Sam Snead said, “You have to make hay while the sunshines.” Naturally, these events were popular with his membership. Spectators were able to watch some of the best players who ever lived play their home course. Dad always made sure that his friends were well cared for while they were in Harrisburg.
In August 1949, sportswriter Tom Shriver wrote in the Harrisburg (PA) Patriot News: Those brave golf enthusiasts who defied the direct rays of a hot sun yesterday to tramp around the well-kept fairways of the Harrisburg Country Club were treated to some fine golf as four outstanding professionals made Old Man Par look ridiculous.
Sam Snead, the current holder of the PGA Championship and Rod Munday teamed up against veteran Gene Sarazen and host professional Jack Grout to win a four-ball match 4-up with three to play. In the match, Snead alone had a 65, seven under regulation figures, and Munday posted a 66 with a couple of conceded putts. The duo posted a best-ball score for the 18 holes of 11-under par. Even against this brand of golf, the team of Grout and Sarazen were far from disgraced. Grout had a 67, with a 32 on the front nine and a 35 on the back layout, while Sarazen was listed for a 69. After it was all over the Squire announced that he would play one more exhibition and then quit golf until the weather was a trifle cooler.
- On November 15-16, 1938 Jack Grout and Henry Picard were victorious in the Mid-South Professional Four-Ball. The Hershey (PA) professionals were twelve-under-par for thirty-six holes at Pinehurst #2 Course. Grout and Picard shot 67-65-132 and tied for first-place with Scottish veterans Tommy Armour and Bobby Cruickshank (66-66-132). The winning teams divided $700 four ways with each pro coming away with $175.
From 1942-45, a number of exhibition matches to raise money for the Red Cross were staged by the PGA; with Ben Hogan, Sam Snead, Byron Nelson, Jack Grout, Henry Picard, Jimmy Demaret and other star players participating and taking their expenses in war bonds. Bob Hope and Bing Crosby showed up at various stops on the Tour to give a boost to the fund-raising efforts.
One of these celebrity events took place in September 1942 at the former IBM Country Club in Endicott, New York. That day, Jack Grout’s partner was Bing Crosby. Clad in grayish-brown trousers, shirt and sweater, wearing a cap and smoking a pipe; Crosby the born entertainer captured the crowd of about 4,000 people the instant he stepped out onto the first tee. Throughout the round, he sang in his inimitable manner and did his usual clowning to the great delight of the throng.
By day’s end, Grout and Crosby teamed up to win the match 4 & 3 over their adversaries. The scorecard read: Jack Grout (Head Pro at Fox Hill Country Club) 36-34-70; Bing Crosby (Multimedia Singer/Actor) 38-42-80; Linn Higgs (Assistant Pro at IBM Country Club) 35-39-74; Bill Henning (Amateur Champion of Binghamton Country Club) 37-38-75.
The first-playing of the Texas Cup was held at Brook Hollow Country Club (Dallas) in 1933. In that inaugural match a randomly selected team of lesser-known Texas professionals went up against one of the great Texas amateur aggregations of all time. At the top of the amateur heap was Gus Moreland, who won every big tournament short of the U.S. Amateur. Other tough and talented competitors included O’Hara Watts, Reynolds Smith, Charley Dexter, Spec Goldman and some others. These fellows were so good and had already carved out such stellar reputations that many folks believed them to be better players than the local professionals.
Oh. By the way, the assemblage of “ragtag” pros, which happened to include the likes of Ben Hogan, Byron Nelson, Jack Grout and Harvey Penick, gave the “upstart” amateurs their comeuppance, 12 points to 3!
Without a doubt, the Texas Cup pro team’s most extraordinary competition came two years later when the Japan Golf Association sent a six-man team of leading Japanese professional golfers to the United States.
From April 9 ~ August 15, 1935
JGA sent a team of their best Japanese professional golfers to the United States for 4 months, to participate in a number of team events. They competed against various American Pro teams and in some exhibition matches.
The Photograph: (from left to right)
Back row on the far left: Rokuzou Azami, Dick Grout, Graham Ross, Tom Sockwell, Tony Butler, Jimmy Demaret, Jack Grout, Kanekichi Nakamura.
Front row on the far left and crouching down: Seisui Chin (from Taiwan), Koukichi Yasuda (Japan Team Captain), Yutaka Kanuma (standing, he was Supervisor/Interpreter), Toichiro Toda, Tomekichi Miyamoto.
- The Japanese professionals played 42 matches against U.S. professional teams.
- The record shows that they won 25, lost 13 and drew 4 matches.
- The entire team participated in 1935 U.S. Open at Oakmont Country Club. Kanekichi Nakamura made the cut and tied for 59th.
- In December, 1935, JGA sent Seisui “Chick” Chin and Toichiro “Torchy” Toda to the United States to compete on the Winter Circuit. Toda finished runner-up in the Hollywood Open, in March, and Chin finished 20th in the Masters that year!!
My sincere gratitude goes to Chairman Yokoyama and other historians at Tokyo Golf Club for helping me to identify all the players. In addition, special thanks go to my friend Bennett Galloway, Director of Golf at Gotemba Golf Club in Shizuoka, near Mt. Fuji for his assist in this matter.