Texas Golf Association, Since 1906
Texas Golf Association, Since 1906

History Of The Texas Amateur

History Of The Texas Amateur

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When the Texas Golf Association was established on February 2, 1906, one of its primary objectives was to conduct the State Amateur Championship. With the exception of the war years (1918, 1943-45), the Association has done exactly that for more than a century.

The inaugural Amateur Championship was held at Dallas CC from April 19-21, 1906, just two short months after the Association’s founding. H. L. Edwards, a native Welshman who was also a founding member of the host club and the first TGA President, shared the medalist award at 87 with F.M. Lewis.

Edwards went on to defeat Lewis by 3 and 2 in the finals. A fitting result, as it was Edwards who is credited with introducing the game to Texas. In honor of its first president and champion, the TGA awards the winner of the each year’s Amateur custody of the H. L. Edwards Trophy.

Early on, format for the championship was a three-day tournament with 36 holes slated for each day. Qualifying was on the morning of the first day to determine the 16 golfers who advanced to match play, followed by first round matches in the afternoon then two matches the second day. The last day was twice around for the 36-hole championship final.  From 1906 through 1964 the format remained match play; since then the Amateur has been 72 holes, stroke play.

The Texas Amateur has produced a notable list of winners. The first four-time winner was a cross-handed player named R. H. Connerly of Austin (1908-1911), who also had been the state’s trap shooting champion. Harvey Penick recalled that after he started as a caddie at Austin CC in 1912, Connerly from time to time kept his hand in at trap shooting by engaging Penick to loft up niblick shots that Connerly would shoot out of the sky.

George V. Rotan also won four in a row from 1912-15, and then won his fifth in 1919. He was the first Texas amateur with a significant international reputation, was a member of the second U.S. Walker Cup Team in 1923, which won the Cup on the Old Course at St. Andrews. Rotan was also active in the TGA, serving as Secretary - Treasurer in 1920, President in 1933, and Vice-President in 1937-38.

Originally from Dallas, Gus Moreland, shown above right, won three in a row from 1931-33. Another Walker Cupper, Dallas’ Reynolds Smith, also won three titles but spread it out over a 15-year span (1934, 1937, and 1949). Ralph Guldahl won two U. S. Open championships in a row (1937 and 1938), but never won the Texas Amateur, although he was medalist in 1930.

Masters champions Charles Coody (1959) and Ben Crenshaw (1972), shown left, have won the Texas Amateur. So have PGA champion Mark Brooks (1979, 1981), British Amateur and Southern Amateur champion Joe Conrad (1951), and U.S. Amateur champion Scott Verplank in 1982 and then back-to-back in 1984-85.

Other PGA Tour players who have won the state title include: Earl Stewart, Jr. (1947), Don Massengale (1958), Bruce Lietzke (1971), Bob Estes (1988) and Brad Elder (1995). 

Since 1950, Verplank has been the only three-time champion. There have been a number of two-time winners recently, however, and include Plano's Richard Ellis (1980, 1990), Randy Sonnier of Kingwood (1986, 1991), Chip Stewart of Dallas (1992, 1998), Richmond’s Ryan Baca (2002-03) and Kelly Kraft of Denton (2008, 2011), who later that summer would go on to win the 2011 U.S. Amateur.
 

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