From S. David Herron to Mike Van Sickle, ninety years of college golf

At the 1919 US Amateur, the first played at Oakmont, local golfer S. Davidson Herron, a member of Allegheny at the time, defeated golf immortal Bob Jones, then seventeen years old, in the final, 5 & 4.  Herron was also the medalist with a 36-hole total of 158. He played on the 1923 Walker Cup team.  Among his achievements was playing on the Princeton University team, captaining the Tigers his senior year.

In 2008-2009, Mike VanSickle, Gibsonia, finished his collegiate career at Marquette University in Milwaukee. He won five tournaments, was named Big East Conference Player of the Year, and received the Byron Nelson Award, presented by the Golf Coaches Association of America. Overall he won eleven collegiate titles, believed to be the most ever won by an area collegiate golfer.

Between Herron and VanSickle were numerous outstanding collegiate players from Western Pennsylvania. They include, but are not limited to . . .

John Aber, Greensburg (North Carolina): Now the professional at Allegheny, Aber won three tournaments and was twice an All-American.

Stacy Aber, Greensburg (North Carolina): John’s sister, started four years at UNC and was an All-American her senior year

Mike Adamson, Waynesburg (Methodist): NCAA Division III champion—1995.

Jim Allen, (Allegheny): Four time All-American, 1976-80, and a physician in Pittsburgh.

Joe Baidy, Fox Chapel (Penn State, 64): His career as a golf course superintendent was highlighted by the GCSAA Presidency—1994.

Missy Bertiotti, Nevillewood (Miami, FL): This former LPGA tournament winner, 1993 Ping-Welch’s near Boston, had a strong college record.

John Birmingham, Oakmont (Duke): Runner-up in the Atlantic Coast Conference, was the area’s top amateur in the 60’s and early 70’s.

Ali Bode, St. Clair (Harvard, ‘04): Numerous top ten finishes.

Fred Brand, Oakmont (Penn State, ‘34): This area golf icon played golf and basketball for the Nittany Lions in the 1930’s.

Jack Brand, Oakmont (Penn State, ‘41): Jack followed his big brother to Penn State, and captained the team in 1941.

Curt Coulter, Oakmont (Virginia): A four-year letterman, Coulter made All ACC for the Cavaliers.

James Crookston, Oakmont (Penn State, ‘23): Standout on Nittany Lions first golf team in the 1920’s.

Jim Feree, Westmoreland (North Carolina): Won the Southern Conference in 1953.

Bob Friend, Oakmont (Louisiana State): The former PGA Tour player and 2006 West Penn Open champion was an 1985 All-American at LSU.

Frank Fuhrer, III, Oakmont, (North Carolina): Three times All ACC, All-American, Walker Cup, 1981; WPGA’s Collegiate Player of the Year Award named after him.

Bert Gookin, Longue Vue (Iowa): Former CEO of Heinz won seventeen club titles at Longue Vue, played four years for the Hawkeyes in the 1930’s.

Phil Gundelfinger, Montour Heights (Pennsylvania): This colorful local golf writer was a four year starter at Penn.

Matt Guyton, (Clarion): The 2002-03 Fuhrer Award recipient won several tournaments his senior year, was All-Conference, and finished in the top five in NCAA Division II national championship.

Dave Hagstrom, Grove City (Allegheny): Three time All-American and member of the Gators 1983 national championship team.

Sherman Hostetter (Penn State, ‘78): All-American—1975.

John Jones, Hill Crest (Allegheny, ’80)—an all conference, All Region an All-American for the Gators.

Andy Latowski, Duquesne (Penn State, ‘02): A team captain, Latowski won the 2000 Rutherford Invitational and two other titles.

Kelly MacWhinnie, St. Clair (Maryland, ’03): Numerous top ten finishes.

Jack Mahaffey, Oakmont (Penn State, ‘39): A teammate of Jack Brand, he served on the USGA Executive Committee—1976-80.

Rocco Mediate, Greensburg (Florida Southern): Played for two NCAA Division II national championship teams along with Lee Janzen.

Katie Miller, Greensburg (North Carolina): Started three seasons for the Tarheels.

Mike Nicolette, Pleasant Valley (Rollins): NCAA Division II individual champion—1977; runner-up in 1976.

Arnold Palmer, Latrobe (Wake Forest): Three-year top player for the Deacons, has a scholarship named in his honor at Wake Forest.

Sam Parks, Oakmont (Pittsburgh): Influenced Pitt to restart the golf team in the late 1920’s, took lessons from Gene Sarazen as a youngster.

Ed Podufal, Lake View (Allegheny),: Three-time All-American and member of the 1983 national championship, a physician who resides in Erie.

Ben Rathfon, (Allegheny): Recipient of the 2004-05 Frank Fuhrer, III, Award, won three tournaments and led the Gators to the NCAA Division III championship.

Pat Rielly, Pittsburgh Field Club (Penn State, ‘58): A club professional, he was President of the PGA of America in the 1990’s.

Bob Reilly, Highland (Pittsburgh): West Penn Am champion, 1960-63, was Pitt’s number one player, 1950-52.

Robert Rohanna, Nemacolin Woodlands (Penn State, ‘08): Won three titles, made All Big-Ten twice, quarterfinalist in 2007 USGA Amateur Public Links.

Nancy Rubin, Hill Crest (Florida International): AIAW All-American in the late 1970’s, played the LPGA Tour for several years.

Carol Semple Thompson, Allegheny (Hollins): Played as an individual in the NCAA championships, once finishing third.

Jim Simons, Butler (Wake Forest): 1971 NCAA Collegiate Player of the Year, best finish by an amateur, t-5h, in a US Open (1971) since Jack Nicklaus in 1960.

Gavin Smith, Stirling, Scotland (Indiana, PA): 2009 NCAA Division II individual champion.

Justin Smith, Shannopin (Minnesota): Twice winner of the Frank Fuhrer III Collegiate Player of the Year Award, Smith led the Gophers to the 2002 NCAA Division I title.

Nathan Smith, Pinecrest (Allegheny): Division III, All-American, won 2003 USGA Mid-Amateur Championship plus numerous area and state titles.

Tommy Smith, Greensburg (Penn State, ‘47): All-American shortly after WWII.

Kate Trachok, St. Clair (Northwestern, ’04): Numerous top ten finishes.

Katie Trotter, St. Clair (Maryland): 3 times All ACC and All-American Scholar team,  co-captain her senior year.

Jason Tyska, Pleasant Valley (Penn State, ‘93): Won Tri-State, West Penn, and Pennsylvania Amateur in 1993, in addition to a strong college record, the last player from the area to make the cut in the US Open, 1999 at Pinehurst.

Dick VonTacky, Titusville (Tennessee): All SEC for the Volunteers, named to 1981 Walker Cup team.

Steve Wheatcroft, Southpointe (Indiana): A walk-on with the Hoosiers, he made All Big-Ten his senior year.

John Wiler, (Allegheny): Twice an All-American, 1994-95, jobs in college coaching, Miami, OH, and Kent State, and sports management.

Mike Wolfe, Erie (Allegheny, ’09): Three-time All Region, All-American, ‘09.

Vince Zachetti, Greensburg (Slippery Rock): His collegiate match record—40-6.

We welcome additions or corrections to this report.


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