From the Golf Journal Archives - World is Winner In Team Event

Sep 21, 2012

By Joseph C. Dey, Jr., USGA Executive Director and Secretary, World Amateur Golf Council

(Note: This article originally appeared in the November 1958 issue of Golf Journal.)

The young man from Australia leaned across the dinner table and won the ear of the elderly gentleman from Japan: “Don’t spill any soup on my tie!” he admonished. For the Australians and the Japanese had agreed to exchange team neckties.

This small incident was not on the bills of the great dinner in the wonderful old Town Hall of St. Andrews, but it epitomized the spirit of the occasion. The Australian player, Douglas Bachli, and the Japanese official, Shun Nomura, were, without knowing it, expressing what everybody felt on this eve of the first World Amateur Golf Team Championship.

This was the temper that also pervaded the days which followed – sunny but wildly wind-blown days in which 115 players from 29 countries came to realize their essential unity, not just as golfers but as fellow-humans and, finally, as friends. If a contrast be needed to point it up, imagine what might have happened if Doug Bachli had met Shun Nomura about 15 years ago.

The impulses for good which went out from old St. Andrews in the second week of October, 1958, exceeded the fondest hopes of those who first dreamed the dream of a World Championship.

As for numbers, the dreamers had first dared to envision about 15 countries participating; but 29 were represented at St. Andrews, and a 30th entered before having to scratch.

As for competition, it could hardly have been keener, with Australia finally winning the Eisenhower Trophy by two strokes after a playoff with the United States.

The timetable was quick even for this age of speed; it went like this:

January 23, 1958 – A World Championship plan was first presented to the USGA Executive Committee and was immediately approved in principle. It was conceived in part as a means of enabling the USGA to deal constructively with recurring requests for matches from individual countries, the latest of which had come from Japan in December, 1957, through the good offices of Juan T. Trippe, of New York.

March 6-8 – USGA representatives (John D. Ames, president, and the writer) met at St. Andrews, Scotland, with representatives of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club, invited them to join hands with the USGA, and proposed St. Andrews – Mecca to knowing golfers – as the location of the first championship. The R&A cooperated to the full.

May 2-3 – Representatives of national amateur golf associations in 35 countries met in Washington; airplane transportation was provided by American friends of golf. They created the World Amateur Golf Council with 32 Member Organizations and planned the first championship. President Eisenhower received the delegates at the White House.

October 8-11 and 13 – First championship held at St. Andrews.

The championship was richly blessed with a number of other strokes of good fortune. President Eisenhower endorsed the plan and allowed the championship trophy to be named in his honor. Bob Jones accepted the non-playing captaincy of the United States team; his presence at St. Andrews was magnetic.

Even with all these favorable factors, there was needed the positive interest of countries where golf is not nearly as popular as in most English-speaking lands. This, too, was evoked. Countries with only a handful or two of golf courses took just as keen interest as the major golf nations.

Seymour Marvin, non-playing captain of Brazil’s team, expressed a wonderful point of view when he said: “We came not with the expectation of winning but rather to contribute what we could to the occasion merely by being present.” Magnus Gudmundsson, captain of Iceland’s team, said: “We don’t have an earthly chance of winning, but we have come to show that we exist.”

And so the hopeful inscription on the Eisenhower Trophy has come to life:

TO FOSTER FRIENDSHIP AND SPORTSMANSHIP AMONG THE PEOPLE OF THE WORLD

It is regrettable that Communist lands were not represented. Every country in the world had been officially invited, but golf simply does not exist within the Communist orbit except in very isolated cases.

The Old Course in Tricky Mood
The R&A and the Town Council of St. Andrews provided warm hospitality and a perfect setting. Flanking the first and the 18th fairways of the Old Course were 29 tall white flagpoles, specially erected, where flew the ensigns of the participating countries. Just before 8 a.m. on the first day – Wednesday, October 8 – a bagpiper in kilts heralded the raising of the 29 flags, parading up and down the road which crosses the two holes.

And then they were off, into the teeth of a breathtaking westerly wind which averaged between 35 and 40 miles an hour the first day and moderated only slightly thereafter.

The Old Course has a bottomless bag of tricks, with many hidden bunkers of varying sizes but invariably deep, and the wind is its greatest ally. The course is two holes wide; it winds straight out for seven holes, has a loop of four, and comes straight home for the last seven. Double greens of considerable acreage serve 14 holes. Most trouble is on the right, where there are tall, prickly, unplayable gorse (whins) and occasional out of bounds.

The greens were glazed by the wind. On the par-3 11th of 173 yards, where the green faces sheerly toward the tee and the wind was against and across, it was not unusual to see a golfer land his tee shot on the green, then run to it before the wind had a chance to blow it off.

Taking a stance with a putter was hazardous, especially that gusty first day. Dr. Frank M. (Bud) Taylor of the United States twice sustained a penalty stroke in the first round when his ball moved on the green after address. Once, as he started his putter backwards, the ball simply followed the path of the clubhead – in the wrong direction!

Fortunately, the week was gloriously sunny except for two brief showers. Had play been rained on, the conditions would have been appalling. As it was, the strong, chill wind and the glazed greens made play terribly difficult. Anything under 80 was a fine score. The fairways were slow, after evening showers and a summer of excessive rain.

The form of play was unusual and, as it turned out, thrilling in the extreme. It was 72 holes stroke play one round a day. Each team’s score each day was the total of its three best individual scores (four players were allowed to a side). The sum of the daily totals was the team total for the championship. This formula gave all four players an opportunity to “make the team” at some time or other; in fact, only one player of the entire 115 failed to participate in his team’s final score. The formula also contributed vastly to the uncertainty of how the teams stood during play; for instance, Mr. Smith might go out in 41 and appear to be out of it, but a spurt coming home could enable him to displace some teammate who finished weakly. The system was borrowed from the old American Intercollegiate team championship.

The victory of Australia’s team was completely deserved. They had a horrible start, and were 17 strokes behind the leader after the first round, not one of their four players doing better than 81. They whittled their deficit to nine strokes after 36 holes, four strokes after 54, and made a fine finish which tied with the United States.

The Old Course is never open for play on Sunday, and so the playoff was put over to Monday morning. This was the least windy and the warmest day of the week, and it brought out some splendid golf. Australia’s margin was two strokes, 222 to the United States’ 224.

Two Birdies on Home Hole
The contest came right down to the home hole. There the difference consisted of two birdie 3s by Bruce Devlin, who holed from 18 feet, and Robert Stevens, Australia’s captain, who holed from eight.

Australia’s other representatives were Peter Toogood and Douglas Bachli, the 1954 British Amateur champion. They were a splendid team, not only as players but especially as ambassadors.

The United States side consisted of Charles R. Coe (National Amateur champion), William Hyndman III, William J. Patton and Dr. Frank M. Taylor, Jr.

Throughout the first two rounds the leader was the team representing Great Britain and Ireland – Joseph B. Carr (British Amateur champion), Reid Jack (1957 champion), Arthur Perowne and Guy Wolstenholme, all Walker Cup alumni. The key score was a remarkable 72 by Reid Jack in the blustery first round. The British total after one round was 227, with the United States second at 233; tied for third at 236 were Argentina and New Zealand. Australia had an uninspiring 244.

New Zealand spurted the next day, with left-handed Robert Charles having his second consecutive 74. After 36 holes New Zealand was one stroke behind the British, 462 to 461; the United States was now third with 465, and Australia next with 470.

The four leading teams were shuffled in the third round, and New Zealand shot ahead with a 54-hole total of 687; a 72 by E.J. McDougall showed the way. The United States was second, three strokes off the pace. Australia produced the best three-man one-day score of the championship, 221, thanks largely to Peter Toogood’s 71; Australia was now only four strokes from the lead, and was tied at 691 with Great Britain-Ireland.

Nothing was settled until the last putt was holed in the fourth round. The leaders were grouped at the end of the day, and there was a climactic finish. Australia eventually set up a leading score of 918 for the 72 holes. It looked just good enough to win until the Americans literally came from nowhere to tie.

In the last group of the day, Billy Hyndman holed a great 3 at the 17th (the 453-yard “road hole”), where par would be 4 and the British “standard scratch score” is 5. Then he had a solid 4 at the home hole for a grand round of 72 that brought the American total to 918, tying Australia. Great Britain-Ireland was one stroke away. New Zealand was fourth with 921. Argentina broke a string of English-speaking countries by finishing fifth.

Australia’s ability to deliver in the pinch decided the playoff. Her three best scores included brilliant last nines of 35 by Bruce Devlin, 35 by Robert Stevens and 36 by Peter Toogood, culminating in the decisive birdie 3s at the 18th by Devlin and Stevens. Charlie Coe’s final nine of 35 for a 73 could not quite pull things out for America.

The lowest individual scores for 72 holes were 301s by Bruce Devlin of Australia, Billy Hyndman of the United States, and Reid Jack of Britain. There were six rounds below 73, headed by the 71 which Peter Toogood scored for Australia. The 72s were made by Devlin, Hyndman, Jack, E.J. McDougall of New Zealand, and Gunnar Carlander of Sweden. Par, by our standards, would be 72; the British “standard scratch score” is 73.

The Return of Bob Jones
It has been 28 years since Bob Jones scored golf’s only “Grand Slam” and 22 since he had last visited St. Andrews, but the Scots’ appreciation of his former skill and their love of his personality are still deep and warm. He was the focus of interest wherever he went, and, despite his physical limitations, he went about the Old Course pretty freely thanks to the electric buggy he shipped from home. It was the first such conveyance ever used at St. Andrews.

Bob Jones has won many honors in his life, and an especially significant one was awarded him during the World Championship week when the Town Council made him a Freeman of the Burgh of St. Andrews. He was the first American to be so honored since Benjamin Franklin. His family – Mrs. Jones, Miss Mary Ellen Jones and Bob Jones III – were present when Provost Robert Leonard made the award.

The night before the championship began all the visitors were guests of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club at a most memorable dinner in the Town Hall. A message was received from President Eisenhower. A commemorative map of the Old Course was presented to each guest by the Town Council.

The R&A did a grand job of organizing the championship, especially in view of the fact that they were starting from scratch. Particular credit is due to N.C. (Bob) Selway, chairman of the Championship Committee, and Brig. Eric Brickman, secretary of the Club.

Henry H. Turcan, Chairman of the R&A’s General Committee, and John D. Ames, USGA President, are Joint Chairmen of the World Amateur Golf Council. All but one of their confreres in the Council’s Administrative Committee were present — Messrs. Selway, Charles L. Peirson of the USGA, Eduardo H. Maglione of Argentina, Shun Nomura of Japan, E.P. Prendergast of Australia, and Prince Ruspoli of Italy. The absentee was Douglas O. Whyte of New Zealand.

Stroke Play to be Continued
The Council decided to continue the original form of the championship in future. It had been the intention to change to match play after 1958, in the belief that match play is the most appropriate form for amateurs.

Certainly the 72-hole stroke play at St. Andrews had a great deal to commend it. The fact that the best three out of four scores become each team’s daily score allows a reasonable margin for error (as does match play) and offers each member of the team an opportunity to help his side at some time or other. If a country cannot finance the expenses of four players, it need only have a team of three.

Stroke play enables the championship to be completed in four days, rather than drawn out over a week or more, as match play probably would require. Stroke play permits everybody to play every day, and brings everybody to the home green.

Offsetting its many advantages for a championship of this sort is the tendency of stroke play to discourage the interest of the weaker teams. But in future even this deficiency probably will be overcome, for within the framework of the World Championship there will be a series of subordinate zonal competitions among the natural rivals in various zones of the world, the same scores being used for the World and zonal events. This excellent idea was proposed by the delegate from India, I.S. Malik.

The championship will be played every two years. The next one is scheduled for the Merion Golf Club, Ardmore, Pa., Sept. 28 through Oct. 1. The 1962 event will be held in the Australasian zone.

Prior to the championship at St. Andrews there was a Delegates and Duffers Cup event, for delegates to the Council’s meeting and guests. It originated from a suggestion by President Eisenhower. It was played at 36 holes, on handicap.

The winner was Seymour Marvin, of Brazil, with 74-77—151—12—139. Second was John M. Blair, president of the Royal Canadian Golf Association, 83-84—167— 22—145, followed by John D. Ames, USGA, 78-80—158—12—146.

The guest division was won by Robert M. Smith, of New York, who scored 139 net Charles B. Grace, Philadelphia, was second with 148.

The Spirit of the Event
Pervading all the play and all the meetings was a most marvelous spirit. It was true to the World Council’s motto “Friendship – Sportsmanship.” This was a people-to-people program, in truth. Al barriers were down – and how can it be otherwise in a game where three-putting evokes the same sort of sympathy in Iceland as in Kenya?

It was put in this way by the USGA President John Ames in the championship program:

“For most of us who love golf, the game is an end in itself. It needs no superimposed justification. It is enough when any human activity can provide for its participants such great and simple things as sheer pleasure, the joy of companionship, healthful exercise out of doors, fair play, and the zest of friendly competition.

“There are occasions, however, whet golf properly becomes a medium. At St. Andrews this week golf is serving purposes beyond itself. It is here being used as a vehicle to carry us further along the road of friendship and understanding among the peoples of the world.

“That is the true significance of the: first Amateur Team Championship of the World Amateur Golf Council.”

The Australian Team, shown with USA Captain and nine-time USGA champion Bob Jones, poses with the Eisenhower Trophy after winning the World Amateur Team Championship at the Old Course at St. Andrews in Scotland in 1958. (USGA Museum)