As the world of golf extends 80th birthday wishes to Latrobe’s Arnold Palmer on September 10, so does the Western Pennsylvania Golf Association. WPGA competitions were a key part of Palmer’s early record. In 1947, he became the first golfer to win the WPGA Junior and Amateur in the same season, a feat duplicated only once since, in 2006 by St. Clair’s William Miller. Palmer followed up his dual wins with another junior title in 1948, then won four West Penn Amateurs in a row, 1949-52. His junior wins came at Highland and South Hills, while his five Amateur titles took place at Shannopin, Oakmont, Longue Vue, Alcoma and Fox Chapel.
As a high school star, Palmer won the Pennsylvania state title. He qualified for the 1948 US Amateur at Memphis CC, reached the third round in 1949 at Oak Hill CC, Rochester, NY, and the fifth round in 1953 at Oklahoma City G&CC, beating Ken Venturi 4&3, in the fourth. He also edged Venturi in 1960 for his most dramatic Masters title. He was also a collegiate standout at Wake Forest. Among the ironies in his record is winning the Ohio Amateur while he was employed as a paint salesman in Cleveland, but he never won the Pennsylvania Amateur.
When Arnold Palmer won the 1954 US Amateur at CC of Detroit, he wasn’t very well known around the country. But he was already a household name in the Western Pennsylvania golf community. Happy 80th birtday–Arnold Palmer!