The Western Pennsylvania Golf Association will begin its Hall of Fame with an inaugural dinner on Thursday, September 26, at Oakmont Country Club. The Western Pennsylvania Golf Hall of Fame was formed to honor and recognize individuals for outstanding achievements in, or contributions to, the game from the region.
The first inductees, three of whom are members of the World Golf Hall of Fame, are William C. Fownes, Jock Hutchinson, Arnold Palmer, Carol Semple Thompson and Lew Worsham.
The achievements of Palmer and Semple Thompson are numerous. Both are part of an elite group of five players to win three different USGA Championships along with JoAnne Carner, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods.
Palmer won seven major championships and 92 professional events worldwide. He won the Masters in 1958, 1960, 1962 and 1964, the British Open in 1961 and 1962 and the U.S. Open in 1960. His 62 wins on the PGA Tour ranks him fifth all time. In the first year he was eligible, Palmer claimed the U.S. Senior Open in 1981. Locally, he won the 1957 West Penn Open at Fox Chapel. His record as an amateur is also impressive. He won the U.S. Amateur in 1954, five West Penn Amateurs in 1947 and 1949-52 and two Ohio Amateurs in 1953 and 1954. As a junior he won the West Penn Junior in 1947 and 1948 and the WPIAL and PIAA Championships in 1946 & 1947. In 1971, the USGA awarded him its highest honor by naming him the recipient of the Bob Jones Award.
Semple Thompson won seven USGA championships and was selected to participate in the Curtis Cup a record twelve times. She won the 1973 U.S. Women’s Amateur, the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur in 1990 and 1997, the U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur from 1999-2002. In 1974, she won the Ladies British Amateur. She won the Pennsylvania State Women’s Amateur 22 times and the Women’s Western Pennsylvania Championship 15 times. She served on the USGA Executive Committee from 1994-2000, and in 2003 she was awarded the Bob Jones Award by the USGA.
Fownes, the son of Oakmont founder Henry C. Fownes, won a record eight West Penn Amateurs. He also won four Pennsylvania Amateurs and the 1910 U.S. Amateur Championship, where he reached the semi-finals on four occasions. Fownes served as 18th USGA President from 1926-27.
Born and raised in St. Andrews, Scotland, Hutchinson resided in Pittsburgh for a decade and won five West Penn Opens from 1909-1915. His five wins are tied Perry DelVecchio and Roy Vucinich for most victories in the championship and he is the only player to win three consecutive Opens from 1913-15. Hutchinson also won the 1920 PGA Championship and the 1921 British Open, and was runner-up in three U.S. Opens. He joins Palmer as the only local players with multiple victories in golf’s professional major titles.
Worsham accepted the head professional job at Oakmont in 1947 with the understanding he could play in the US Open at St. Louis Country Club where he won the championship in a playoff over Sam Snead. He was a dominant player locally and won the West Penn Open in 1953, 1956, and 1958. He served as Oakmont’s professional from 1947-79.
Attendance to this dinner is available by invitation. The fee is $200.
UPDATE: Ron Sirak, the Executive Editor of Golf World and Senior Writer for Golf Digest will emcee with event. Sirak is a native of New Castle.