Walter Hagen putts on the Fort Dodge Nation Membership throughout an exhibition match in October of 1925. Severt Thompson (far left), FDCC professional Jack Canavan (foreground) and Bob McKee look on.
The subsequent time you’re standing over a shot on the Fort Dodge Nation Membership, contemplate this: Corridor of Fame golf legends Walter Hagen, Tommy Armour and Gene Sarazen did the identical some 90 years in the past.
Earlier than PGA professionals turned family names raking in multi-million greenback purses and famous person endorsement offers, they spent much more time within the trenches of our nation. That usually meant barnstorming excursions to assist complement revenue and even make ends meet, and through an eight-year time frame, three of the sport’s all-time finest rubbed shoulders with the residents of Fort Dodge.
“It could be like bringing Tiger Woods to our group,” stated Dave Sergeant, a neighborhood lawyer and Iowa Golf Affiliation Corridor of Fame member. “Simply having the possibility to see a few of the higher skilled golfers on the planet up shut … you’re standing subsequent to Walter Hagen the yr after he received the British Open and proper in the midst of his PGA Championship heyday (Hagen received 4 consecutive titles from 1924-27). The identical might be stated for Armour, who received the Open in ’31 and was right here in ’32, and Sarazen, who was within the prime of his profession.
“Proper in the midst of all this success, they’re teeing off right here on the Nation Membership.”
The small print of how and why the game’s icons made stops in Fort Dodge for exhibition matches throughout that time frame aren’t precisely identified. Sergeant and native historian Al Nelson deduced it had a little bit to do with location and loads to do with cash.
“You’ll be able to’t consider knowledgeable golfer from that period the identical manner you do with trendy (PGA Tour) gamers when it comes to fame or fortune,” the 75-year-old Sergeant stated. “In quite a lot of methods, the professionals had been even secondary actors in comparison with the amateurs of the time. The professionals had been simply making an attempt to place meals on the desk (a typical main winner from that period would solely acquire round $1,000).
“When the Nice Despair hit particularly (1929-33), they most likely needed to get much more inventive. Fort Dodge may’ve been a cease and a strategy to make some additional money in the event that they had been migrating west from Chicago on both (Freeway) 20 or 30.”
Hagen — a person who, to today, solely trails solely Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods on the profession main listing with 11 victories — performed in an exhibition on the FDCC on Oct. 1, 1925. He teamed with Nation Membership professional Jack Canavan to defeat Bob McKee of Des Moines and Severt Thompson of Fort Dodge — a state Kiwanis champion — 1-up.
Hagen carded a 36-33–69 on the par-34 format. Although newspaper information didn’t confirm, it must be assumed that the foursome performed the nine-hole course twice, given the FDCC didn’t change into an 18-hole format till the following yr. An estimated crowd of 400 adopted the motion.
Armour, who captured the U.S. Open in 1927, the PGA Championship in 1930 and the British Open in 1931, teed off on the FDCC on Sept. 8, 1932. Armour and Canavan, a professional from Des Moines, had been defeated by state novice champ Denmar Miller and Pete Jordan of Des Moines.
“Armour had simply received the British the yr earlier than,” stated Sergeant, who has lived in Fort Dodge since 1949. “Once more, it’s not like these guys had been coming to Fort Dodge after they’d retired or one thing. They had been within the prime of their careers. They had been headliners within the sport.”
The Messenger newspaper article on the Armour exhibition did be aware the gallery was paltry, drawing solely round 100 onlookers.
“(The group) was pitifully small regardless of the presence of the younger males who maintain Iowa’s two most glittering golf titles and an internationally-famous skilled,” the article stated. “The admission value ($1.10) was in charge for the paucity of the spectators, a greenback and a dime looming unnaturally giant by means of the Despair haze that fogs the horizon nowadays.”
Armrour carded an even-par spherical of 70, with only one birdie.
Sarazen, a seven-time main winner, is considered one of 5 gamers in historical past to personal a profession “grand slam” (victories in all 4 majors). Like Hagen and Armour, he got here to city in the course of the apex of each his ability and recognition — on Aug. 30, 1933.
“Sarazen had received each the U.S. and British Open in 1932, and the PGA in ’33,” Sergeant stated. Sarazen had been named Related Press Male Athlete of the 12 months in ’32 as properly.
Sarazen and Joe Kirkwood — a well-known trick-shot artist on the time — confronted Miller and fellow Des Moines standout Pete Jordan. The match — with 200 followers following — led to a draw. Sarazen shot 37-37–74.
The Fort Dodge Nation Membership formally opened as a brand new nine-hole course on Might 29, 1912. Famend golf designer and IGA Corridor of Famer Warren Dickinson of Des Moines was the lead architect and supervisor of the challenge. The unique clubhouse, which was additionally devoted in 1912, nonetheless stands right now.
A second 9 was added in 1926, when it turned a 6,498-yard, 18-hole course.
The present 18-hole Nation Membership format was accomplished in 1977.
“It’s simply an interesting look again into the historical past (of the FDCC) — each the course design and figuring out these iconic golfers had been right here,” Sergeant stated. “Once I performed (within the 2003 United States Senior Open) at Inverness (Membership in Toledo, Ohio), I observed that a few of the authentic designs from their clubhouse had been virtually similar to ours. And it was constructed at virtually the very same time.
“There’s simply a lot wealthy golf custom in our group. In my thoughts, figuring out Hagen, Armour and Sarazen performed right here solely provides to the mystique of all of it.”