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There have been many significant events held at Flossmoor (originally Homewood) Country Club that have included many of the game’s greats. Flossmoor was a challenging tournament course as the following excerpts from some of the major publications from the time illustrate.

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Scottish golfer Alexander Smith won the very first match at Flossmoor CC (then Homewood CC) on Sept. 10, 1900. Smith would later win the US Open in both 1906 and 1910.

It all began on the first day, September 10, 1900. The New York Times reported that a new 6,100 yard golf course named Homewood Country Club had just opened. Alexander Smith, brother of 1899 U.S. Open champion Willie Smith, and J.S. Pearson, a new Scottish professional, played the first game over the links, Smith winning by 5 up with 4 to play.

One of the first major events fielded at FCC was the 1906 Western Open. A great rivalry at the tournament was waged between Alexander Smith and Willie Anderson. Both had come to the States to teach Americans how to play the difficult game of golf. Flossmoor then played at 6,141 yards with a bogey of 82 (this was considered the “par” score in the day). Smith would go on to win two U.S. Opens and two Western Opens, while Anderson would claim four of each. The Western Open was considered almost the equal of the U.S. Open during those days. Smith proved the better that year and took home the $150 first place prize check. He won the U.S. Open at Onwentsia CC the following week.

In 1909, the Western Amateur came to Homewood. The young 19 year old Chick Evans, who played out of Edgewater Golf Club, found himself in the finals against Albert Seckel of Riverside Golf Club. The two had met on many previous occasions in other junior and intercollegiate tournaments. Flossmoor’s own member, Warren Wood, had taken the medalist honors of the stroke play part of the tournament. Evans got off to a great start in the 36 hole championship match going up six after only eight holes. Through twelve, Evans stood seven up after hitting a 140 yard mid iron to 10 feet, which he converted for birdie. Seckel fought back, though, and won 15 ~ 17, sending the match to lunch with Evans four up, where he stood on the 11th tee (the 15th today) of the second round.

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The great amateur Chick Evans won his first national title, the 1909 Western Amateur, at Flossmoor CC (Then Homewood CC).

Evans then lost the 11th after knocking Seckel’s ball back to him, seemingly halving the hole. Unfortunately, Evans was told by the official, Tom Bendelow, that such a move was against WGA rules, and the hole was awarded to Seckel. His lead was further cut to two when Seckel made a 20-footer for birdie on 15. And after making bogey on 16, Evans lead was down to one. The players halved 17 with threes to make the match dormie. After both players made five on 18, Evans had secured his first national title. He would go on to win eight Western Amateurs, a U.S. Open, two U.S. Amateurs, and many other tournaments over his illustrious career.

In 1913, the Western Amateur returned to Homewood (which would change its name officially to Flossmoor the next year). Homewood’s own, Warren Wood, would become the winner, defeating Ned Allis of Milwaukee 4 and 3. Allis had opened his second qualifying round with an ace on the 306 yard first hole (the 4th today). Chick Evans was medalist by a stroke over Wood with a 151.

In 1914 after a second devastating fire, the clubhouse was moved to its current location and the holes were renumbered accordingly.

During the Great War in 1917, Flossmoor hosted one of the Red Cross Matches, which were being held around the country in an effort to raise money for the Red Cross. Bobby Jones, Perry Adair, one of Bobby’s childhood friends, and two young ladies, played in many matches throughout the summer. Perry and Bobby had earned quite a reputation as outstanding young golfers, and they were dubbed the Dixie Kids. They were ultimately paired in a match at Flossmoor against Chick Evans, the reigning national amateur and U.S. Open champion, and Robert Gardner, a former amateur champion. The youngsters got handed a firm beating. Later that summer, however, Jones and Adair beat Evans and Warren Wood in a match in St. Louis.

15th Hole

The 1920 PGA Champion Jock Hutchinson (second from the left) stands with a group of neatly dressed goflers after a tournament round.

During July, 1918, another Red Cross Match was played at Flossmoor, this one featuring Chick Evans and Warren Wood playing against Max Marston and the reigning Metropolitan amateur Champion, Oswald Kirby. Kirby was asked to name the best hole he had ever seen by Chicago Tribune columnist, George O’Neil. On the day of the match, Kirby selected his favorite as the 17th at Flossmoor. Later that afternoon, as fate would have it, Kirby and Marston closed out Evans and Wood with a four at number 17!

The third annual PGA Championship came to Flossmoor in 1920. The PGA was conducted as a match play tournament until 1959 and the pre-tournament favorite was the great Jim Barnes, who had won the first two PGA Championships. The ultimate winner of the event was Jock Hutchison who got into the field only after two other pros sent their regrets. He was the head professional at Glen View Club at the time. Jock had won the Western Open and finished tied for second at the U.S. Open, but had failed to qualify for the PGA. Jock won 1 up over J. Douglas Edgar of Atlanta, but not without a fight.

The August 28, 1920 edition of The American Golfer reported on what they called “one of the greatest single shots ever played in an American tournament”. On the 34th hole, Jock was one up when his drive found itself tight against the forward side of a bunker 200 yards from the 16th green. The risk was that Jock’s club could easily hit the bunker prior to striking the ball. He was clearly in trouble. Jock first took his wooden spoon, then changed to a shorter mashie, and then went back to the spoon. It was estimated that he didn’t miss the bunker edge by 1/4”, but missed it he did. His ball sailed toward the green and stayed on. After two putts, he had secured his four. Edgar, after seeing Jock’s miraculous shot, misplayed his second, barely hitting the green and proceeded to three putt to lose the hole. Even though Edgar won the 17th, the match ended on the 18th after both players made par. Hutchison won the Wanamaker Trophy and the $500 first place prize.

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Max Marston won the Havemeyer Trophy in 1923 by defeating both Bobby Jones, Francis Ouimet, and then Jess Sweetser in the finals.

The next big event, the U.S. Amateur, was held in 1923. On September 14, 1923, the Chicago Daily Tribune wrote, “The arrangements at Flossmoor are the most complete ever made for an amateur tournament. There are Red Cross stations, a police station, hot dog, lemonade, soft drink, and sandwich tents, information desks, special telephone equipment, rest rooms, and a hospital, which may lead people to think that golf is a brutal game. There will be doctors and ambulances ready to rescue those who fall by the wayside trying to follow the golfers over miles of velvety turf. The big innovation at Flossmoor has been the erection of a grandstand overlooking the eighteenth green, where the crowd may park itself when weary of walking to watch the incoming aspirants for (Jess) Sweetser’s crown finish their rounds.”

The event started off with tremendous intrigue. The medal round featured a showdown between Chick Evans and the great Bobby Jones, when both players went out and shot 1 over 149s. Unfortunately, both players were bounced from the match play portion of the tournament by the third round. Since they had both lost early, they decided to “play-off” their medal round tie the next day. Jones later wrote about that round in his book “Down the Fairway” by saying, “I carried a crumb of comfort from Flossmoor, and a valuable lesson in tournament golf. Chick Evans and I were tied at 149 for 36 holes of medal play – par at Flossmoor was 74 – and as both of us were erased early in the match play we got together to set the medal in a playoff the day after Marston had beaten me. I set a new medal course record with 72 and won the round, Chick having 76…Then I got to wondering why the devil I didn’t play that way in matches. And that was the lesson I learned. That was the answer for me. If I could only manage to shoot against Old Man Par in the matches, as I did in the medal play events, and (to be impolite) let my opponents go to the devil, why, maybe I wouldn’t run into so many hot rounds, or when I did run into them, I wouldn’t be so much affected. I decided to give it a try anyway…”

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"Never say die", is the slogan for this picture showing Francis Ouimet battling for a half on the 7th hole at Flossmoor against Max Marston in the 1923 US Amateur.

Max Marston did win the Havemeyer Trophy that year by defeating both Bobby Jones, Francis Ouimet, and then Jess Sweetser in the finals. The match against Sweetser went to the 38th hole, which was the longest match in championship history at that time. By the time they had reached the second hole for the third time, a crowd of 4,000 had surrounded the green. Marston left his birdie putt short, but directly in Sweetser’s line, the third stymie Marston had laid against Sweetser in the last four holes. Due to the “don’t lift” rules of the day, Sweetser missed and Marston won the Amateur.

Flossmoor had earned itself quite a reputation by the early 1920s. In 1927, Bobby Jones won the British Open shooting a spectacular 285. Some felt that the modern ball had “softened up” St. Andrews. A newspaper correspondent at the tournament, though, called St. Andrews “the hardest course in the world”, in an attempt to make Jones’ accomplishment seem more amazing. Golf Illustrated, stated that “the ‘auld gray links’ is less of a severe test of golf than Oakmont, Flossmoor, Lido, Pine Valley, The National, Inwood, and many other American links”.

A couple of years later, in 1928, Bobby Jones returned to Chicago as captain of the Walker Cup team. He played ten practice rounds in the area leading up to the event. Eight of the ten rounds were under 70, he averaged 68.5, and set three course records in a span of four days (the first two at Old Elm and Chicago Golf Club) during this run. The last of these ten rounds was at Flossmoor, where Jones shot a course record 67 with seven straight threes beginning on the 8th hole! With the 32 he had made on the second nine at Chicago the day before, coupled with his 67 at Flossmoor, Jones had shot 99 for 27 consecutive holes, according to the October, 1928 edition of The American Golfer. The U.S. went on to win that Walker Cup 11-1, the most lopsided of the first five of these matches. Jones’ course record at Flossmoor was held until 1984 when Nick Zambole shot 66 in the first round of the Illinois Open. Twelve years later Mark Egge broke that record with a 65, which still stands today.

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Data for this article was complied from stories in The New York Times, Chicago Daily Tribune, Golf Illustrated, The American Golfer, “The Tradition Endures” (the 100 year history of Flossmoor Country Club), and “Down the Fairway” by Robert T. Jones, Jr. l Article compiled and written by Greg M. Ohlendorf.

     
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