Brad Belk: Horton Smith wins second Master's | Local Sports |

2022-09-23 19:39:08 By : Ms. JANE MA

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In 1936 Oak Hill had 92 members. A junior membership was instituted for members under 35 at a yearly rate of $27.50. Regular membership dues were $55.

Meanwhile at Webb City Hatten Farms, an annual golf membership was $10 and $2.50 for each family member. Green fees were 25 cents.

Schifferdecker head pro Bill Byrnes received a salary increase of $125 per month. The municipal course green fees were raised to 35 cents. The price hike became effective on February 1, 1936.

Local accountant and founder of Baird Kurtz and Dobson, Wade Kurtz, secretary of the Joplin Parks Board, projected that the ten-cent hike in green fees would bring in additional revenue of between $1,500 and $2,000.

The Tri-State Golf Championship changed its name in 1936 to Tri-State Open. Match play ceased as the new tournament format became 72 holes of medal play. Entrance fee was $2.

Also, in 1936 the Joplin Golf Club consisted of 90 members. The Globe reported that many of those players strongly objected to the newly installed sand traps on the course.

The big local sports story covered Horton Smith winning his second Masters. Only 52 players accepted an invitation to play in the 1936 Augusta National Invitation Tournament.

David Owen wrote in his book, The Making of the Masters, the decline in the participants reflected the hard times the Tour players experienced during the Great Depression. He states, “Only a very few players in those days won enough money on tour to cover even their travel expenses.” For those that entered, “a trip to Augusta was a costly luxury that offered little prospect of pay-off at the end.”

All three former local pros won money at the 1936 Masters. Ky Laffoon finished his last 36 holes with a 75 and a 73. Ed Dudley had a 70 and 73. They both shot a four-day total of 293 and received checks for $250. Smith received $1,500 for his victory.

The year 1936 was good to Smith, Laffoon and Dudley. All three would step into the winning circle. Smith won the Augusta National Invitation and the Victoria Open. Dudley won the Shawnee Open and the Philadelphia Open Championship. Laffoon’s lone win was the Inverness Four-Ball.

The 1937 Tri-State Open brought golfers from as far as Honolulu. Players entering the tournament arrived from Kansas City, Springfield, Monett, Cassville, Webb City, Aurora, Carthage, Neosho, Columbus, Pittsburg, Baxter Springs, Fort Scott, Galena, Miami, Picher and Rogers.

Springfield’s Bobby Hogeboom won the 16th annual Tri-State golf tourney, on the third playoff hole, finishing in style by chipping in for an eagle. He defeated Paul Smith. The last day was played in the worst playing conditions of any prior final days as soaked golfers played in muddy, wet conditions.

The first tournament of the newly organized Tri-State Women’s Golf Association was held at Neosho. Schifferdecker club pro Bill Byrnes began writing a golf column in the Globe.

In 1937 Lloyd Wadkins became the head pro at Oak Hill. Wadkins replaced Walter Miller. Prior to his Oak Hill stint, Miller had been a pro in Salt Lake City and Neosho.

Wadkins was already an accomplished golfer at the age of nineteen. He had a terrific year in 1936 by winning the annual Neosho golf tournament and the Tri-State Open championship shooting three rounds of 69, 71 and 67. He won a 17-jewel wrist watch and beat his closest competitor, brother Art, by 12 strokes.

During that same summer, while still an amateur, Lloyd and Herman Keiser won a pro-am tourney in Topeka, Kansas.

After turning pro at Oak Hill, Wadkins tied Ky Laffoon’s record score of 31 on the back nine at Schifferdecker and just missed qualifying for the 1937 US Open. However, his persistence paid off during the Spring of 1939 as Wadkins successfully qualified at the US Open sectional held in Kansas City at Milburn Country Club.

Unfortunately, at the Open he just missed playing on the weekend by one stroke. Nonetheless being able to play two rounds in this most prestigious event had to have been a dream come true, creating an everlasting memory.

Horton Smith won three times on the 1937 PGA Tour. Smith’s victories were at the North & South Open, the Inverness Invitational and the Oklahoma Four-Ball. Ed Dudley won the Sacramento Open.

During the fall of 1937 Ky Laffoon was in Joplin sharpening his game at Oak Hill and Schifferdecker. He shot four consecutive rounds of 65, 69, 65 and 65 at Oak Hill and was 38 under par at Schifferdecker after playing 207 holes.

The Carthage Municipal Golf Course opened for play in 1937. The nine hole course was part of the 177- acre Carthage Municipal Park. The park was designed in 1934 by the Kansas City architectural landscape firm of Hare and Hare.

To construct the Carthage park, labor and construction funds were provided by the Works Progress Administration (WPA). The $250,000 public park was dedicated on July 5, 1937.

During the 1930s the Carthage city park contained a swimming pool, dancing pavilion and a baseball stadium. The grandstand, built of fieldstone, held 3,000 spectators. The ballpark was home to several professional baseball minor league farm club teams representing the Pirates, Cubs and both St. Louis Browns and Cardinals.

The Carthage golf course had two creek beds running through it. The first golf pro was Leland Powell. During the summer of 1937, Ed Gibson, secretary of the Western PGA division, played the new course. Gibson was impressed with the layout and publicly stated that playing the course required a series of “sporting shots.”

To hit those sporting shots, a five-club golf set consisting of a 1 wood, brassie, midiron, mashie, putter with bag was available for $5.96 at the Sears store in Joplin.

A Long Flite golf ball sold for 19 cents. Mohawk woods chrome plated with satin finish, steel shaft and black calf leather grips could be purchased for $3.39 apiece.

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