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The Anderson Has A Rich Heritage

MAMARONECK, NEW YORK | Winged Foot is widely recognized for having hosted several major tournaments over the years, including five U.S. Opens, a pair of U.S. Amateurs and the 1997 PGA Championship. What is not so well known, however, is that the exclusive Westchester County club is also the site of one of the biggest amateur invitationals in the land, the annual John G. Anderson Memorial. And this year marks the 77th time the two-man competition has been staged on the A. W. Tillinghast-designed West and East courses here. Held in early June, the Anderson usually features 36 holes of qualifying for regular and senior divisions, and then two days of match play. It regularly attracts the game’s top amateurs, from the U.S. and abroad, and the competition is as fierce as the play is strong. That is one of the attractions for those who enter, and so is the fact that the Anderson is one of those rare invitationals played on a course (the West) that is still in consideration for hosting majors. Then, there is the overall ambience of the affair, thanks to the longstanding mandate that invitees be very good guys as well as very good golfers. And what player wouldn’t want to spend a few days around such a convivial, historic club, where Bobby Jones won an Open, Claude Harmon gave lessons and Davis Love III found a golfing pot of gold at the end of a rainbow the day his won his PGA in 1997. But what also makes the Anderson great is the story of the man after which it is named and the way it pays homage to a superlative amateur who won 53 championships in his career and a celebrated writer who told the world about Francis Ouimet’s stunning U.S. Open win in 1913. Like Ouimet, Anderson helped grow the game in the U.S., only he did it through his work as a journalist and his efforts to promote golf, helping to found the PGA of America in 1916, for example, and Winged Foot seven years later. So, it was not at all surprising when a fellow scribe described him after his untimely death in 1933 at age 49 as “a friend of all golfing souls.” Johnny Anderson, as he was often and affectionately called, was born in Clinton, Mass., in 1884. His Scottish parents gave him his love for the royal and ancient game, and he won his first tournament when he was 11. He developed into a very strong player over the years, making it to the final of the U.S. Amateur in 1913 and 1915 and winning the French Amateur twice, in 1924 and 1926. A graduate of Amherst College who later earned a master’s degree in English from Columbia University in New York, Anderson also held course records at 11 tracks and won club championships at three, including five at Winged Foot in the first nine years of its existence. Anderson also had a business connection to the game, the result of his working as a golf equipment representative for Wanamaker’s, which was a leading national retailer. He developed a relationship with company head Rodman Wanamaker and was there when his boss hosted a luncheon in New York City in the summer of 1916 for the purpose of founding the PGA of America. The winner of the PGA Championship is awarded the Wanamaker Trophy. But where Anderson really made his name was as a writer. And no story he produced had a bigger impact than the one that reported Ouimet’s most unlikely victory in the 1913 U.S. Open over Harry Vardon and Ted Ray.


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