"Long Jim" Barnes (ca. 1887-1966) won the inaugural PGA Championship in 1916 at Siwanoy Country Club and came back to defend his title in 1919 after the event was suspended for two years during World War I. He also won the 1914, 1917, and 1919 Western Opens. In 1921, Barnes added the U.S. Open to his record, and four years later he defeated Archie Compston and Ted Ray for the British Open crown, making him the victor in all three of the professional majors of the era (The Masters began in 1934). Upon completing the eighth grade, he became a caddie and apprentice club maker at West Cornwall Club in England, serving for four years before he immigrated to America in 1906. In his first major, the 1913 U.S. Open at The Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts, he finished fourth. In 1921, he won the U.S. Open tournament nine strokes ahead of Fred McLeod and Walter Hagen at Columbia Country Club in Chevy Chase, Maryland with 69-75-73-72--289. On the 18th hole, Barnes was serenaded by a Marine band and became the only champion ever to receive the trophy from a President of the United States, Warren G. Harding. Several days later, Harding invited Barnes and Fred McLeod, the runner-up in the 1919 PGA Championship, to the White House for lunch. His Picture Analysis of Golf Strokes (1919), a best selling golf instruction manual, was the first such book to use still photographs on flip pages to give the illusion of movement. After retiring from tournament play, Barnes served as a professional at Huntington Crescent Club in Huntington, New York, and later Essex Country Club in West Orange, New Jersey. Barnes, one of the original 12 inductees into the PGA Hall of Fame, died on March 25, 1966.
In the program of the 1945 PGA Championship, Jim Barnes remembered that he was the only PGA champion who had to win the event twice to claim the title: "Say, you know that P.G.A. championship record list is actually in error. I won that 1916 championship at Siwanoy all right, but that wasn't the first professional golf championship in the United States. The spring of that year, the New York Newspapermen's Golf Club put on a medal play tournament at Van Courtland Park, which they labeled the 'Professional Golfers Championship.' They put up a cup. I should know. I have it yet. I won it. My winning score was 276 and I think I made it with four rounds of 69 each. I know the late Clare Briggs drew a cartoon in which one fellow was kidding the other and advising him to go see Jim Barnes who might pass along a tip for making '69s. Clare gave me the original cartoon. I have it yet." Apparently, the Van Courtland tournament, played in June and widely advertised as The PGA Championship, inspired Tom McNamara to propose a truly national tournament to his boss, Rodman Wanamaker.
The men who gathered at Siwanoy Golf Club in 1916 for the first PGA Championship played with clubs and balls that bear little resemblance to today's golf equipment. In America, as in Scotland, golf clubs were hand crafted and varied widely. Two important technological advances influenced the game of golf in the early twentieth century. Beginning in the 1890s, irons were stamped by a mechanical hammer instead of hand forged, which promoted uniformity. Additionally, the wound rubber ball, invented by Coburn Haskell in 1898, gained in popularity because it flew and rolled farther and was easier to control than the gutta percha ball that it came to replace. A. G. Spalding & Brothers, the company with which Rodman Wanamaker sought to compete, was the first company to manufacture and sell clubs in the United States. Though steel shafts were available, they did not receive a warm reception from golf professionals or golf's governing bodies, the USGA and the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews, who did not legalize them until 1924 and 1929, respectively. Most golfers had developed their swing to account for the flexibility of hickory shafts and were reluctant to retool, despite the promise of greater distance. Golf courses built in this period were shorter than their contemporary counterparts because the equipment did not allow for the long drives so common in today's game.
Jimmy Demaret first met Ben Hogan while playing in events around Texas in 1934. Demaret later recalled in My Partner, Ben Hogan, written with Jimmy Breslin in 1954, that Hogan had "played in the first tournament I ever won, the Texas P.G.A. in Dallas in 19334, and he came in about twentieth." Through the 1940s the two men partnered as a four ball team to win six PGA Tour events and eventually won two Ryder Cup foursome matches together, one for the 1947 and one for the 1951 U.S. team. When the two men met in the semifinal of the 1946 PGA Championship, Hogan did not allow friendship to get in the way of his pursuit of the title. Demaret earned a 2-up lead after the third hole, but then Hogan birdied the next three holes and at the end of the first nine he held a 3-up advantage. Hogan kept up the pace, extending his lead to 6-up by the end of the morning eighteen. In the afternoon round Hogan's 31 on the first nine ended the match at 10 and 9, the second biggest margin in PGA Championship match play history. When Demaret was later asked by reporters what he thought was the turning point in the match he jokingly replied, "When Hogan showed up at the first tee."
In the 1921 PGA Championship at Inwood Country Club, Walter Hagen played the seventeenth hole by driving down the parallel eighteenth fairway to give himself an advantage for his second shot. In his autobiography he explained why: "The green on the seventeenth was trapped on the short and left side, and almost at right angles to the line of play from the seventeenth fairway. If I played over onto the parallel eighteenth, I could open up the hole and come in from the right-hand side with my second shot." On the evening of the first day of the championship, while the golfers were gathered in the men's grill, several officials argued that a tree should be planted there to thwart such a strategy. Upon hearing this, Jack Mackie, the golf professional, and Morton Wild, a landscaper, uprooted a 15-foot weeping willow that they found in the woods next to the sixteenth fairway. They planted it to divide the two fairways. When he arrived on the tee the next day, Hagen quipped: "I never saw such fast-growing trees in my life." Not two minutes after his remark, the wind caught the wires that were holding the tree into place and the willow fell, opening up the eighteenth fairway to Hagen's drive.
Earlier in the summer of 2000, Tiger Woods captured the U.S. Open and British Open titles, positioning him to be the first golfer to win golf's four professional majors in-a-row. He next needed to win the PGA Championship. At Valhalla, Woods and Bob May were tied after both making birdie putts on the 18th hole in the final round. Late in the afternoon, they began the first three-hole playoff in the tournament's history. On the first hole, the par-4 16th, Woods started with a birdie, putting him one stroke ahead of May. On the 17th hole, they both made memorable par saves, leaving the par-5 18th hole to decide the tournament. Woods hit his drive left, and the ball bounced off a sycamore tree, rolled back onto the cart path, and hit the tree again before coming to a rest to the left of the cart path. His approach shot landed in the left rough, and his third shot drifted into a green-side bunker. This was May's big chance. His drive crossed the fairway and landed in the left rough; unfortunately his approach shot found the right rough. His third shot caught the ridge of the horseshoe-shaped green, 40 feet from the hole. Tiger hit his bunker approach within two feet, and May narrowly missed his birdie attempt to lose the tournament by one stroke. Reflecting on his $900,000 victory, Woods declared that ". . . it's got to go down as one of the best duels in the game, in a major championship."
To learn more about the history of the PGA Championship see:
The PGA Championship: The Season's Final Major by John Companiotte and Catherine Lewis available from Clock Tower Press in June of 2004. Pre-order it today!