Scioto CC: The Bridge from Bobby Jones To Jack Nicklaus and Beyond
Featured Columnist Andy Reistetter continues his exclusive "Play-Write" series for the Bleacher Report with one of American golf's true treasures— the Scioto CC. Having the opportunity to play shortly after this year's Memorial Tournament was a spiritual sojourn for the author. Here is his sixth article in the series including his thoughts on how vital Scioto CC is to what we now know as the modern game of golf and our fascination with its legacy.
12 different British golfers won the first 16 United States Opens.
By the time Scioto Country Club hosted the U. S. Open in 1926 only 15 years had passed since John McDermott became the first American born golfer to win the prestigious title.
Then McDermott defended the title in 1912.
The very next year Francis Ouimet did the unthinkable at Brookline CC not only beating the British for a third year in a row but doing so as an amateur.
Another lifetime amateur American golfer named Bobby Jones would win that 1926 U.S. Open at Scioto CC in the middle of the Roaring Twenties.
It was surely a growth period for American golf much more so than what we experienced in the 1980s and 1990s with the boom in golf course construction.
This was the era of seeing golf for the very first time and wanting to learn how to play it.
At the 1922 U.S. Open spectator tickets were sold for the first time at Skokie Country Club just outside Chicago.
By 1924, the U.S.G.A. was forced to introduce sectional qualifying since there were more golfers that wanted to compete for the title of our Nation's Champion.
Bobby Jones started his seven year conquest of majors with a victory in the 1923 U.S. Open at InwoodCC just outside Manhattan on Long Island.
His amazing streak of winning 13 of 20 majors that he entered ended with his retirement from golf after his win in the U.S. Amateur at Marion—the final leg of his 1930 Grand Slam.
In fact that British dominance in the U.S. Open would transition to an absolute amateur authority.
Jones himself would win four of eight by the time he was done playing golf.
Beginning with Ouimet in 1913 andending with Johnny Goodman in 1933 amateurs would win eight of 19 National Opens.
In the city named for the man who discovered our country Jones would win and go on to do something in 1926 no other golfer had even done.
He would bridge the large pond and win both the U.S. and British Opens in the same year.
Perhaps it was a foreshadowing of the ultimate that happened in 1930 when he possessed the amateur and professional titles on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.
In any account, Jones had a dramatic impact on the game of golf though potentially his biggest impact came though a man named Jack Nicklaus.
The link between Nicklaus and Jones began at the Scioto CC in that U.S. Open in 1926.
The man who would take the golf baton from Arnold Palmer and pass it on to Tiger Woods was not even born in 1926.
His father Charlie though was there at Scioto. At age 13, he watched as the 24-year-old Jones won his second of four U.S. Opens.
After graduating from The Ohio State University with a pharmacology degree, the man who would later become Papa Bear though the golfing exploits of his son, bought and managed several pharmacies.
That success led to a family membership at Scioto CC where less than two decades before he was inspired to play golf on the very same grounds by the greatest amateur the game of golf has ever known.
Son Jack took up golf when he turned 10 years old and shot a score of 51 at Scioto CC for the first nine holes he ever played.
In those formative years he not only heard stories about the great Bobby Jones from his father but as well from other members with firsthand knowledge of Jones' triumph on their golf course.
The inspiration of Bobby Jones was not only responsible for getting Jack started in the game of golf but for what drove him to succeed for the next 60-some years until he retired in 2005 at the Open at St. Andrews.
Nicklaus will likely go down as the all-time greatest player in the game of golf with 73 PGA Tour victories including 18 major championships.
Even Tiger Woods acknowledged the greatness of Nicklaus when he was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the PGA TOUR in 2008, saying, "No one I can think of is more deserving."
"Your impact on golf has been incredible to say the least," he continues, "and I count myself among the millions of fans who consider you to be the greatest of all time. Your record of 118 (worldwide) tournament victories (including 73 sanctioned by the PGA TOUR) and 18 major championships alone is reason enough to receive this honor. However equally important are your commitment to philanthropy, your skill as a course designer and your steadfast dedication to family. These values insure your contribution to golf will forever be unmatched and make you the man whose path we all seek to emulate. Thank you for being such a tremendous mentor to me and so many others. Congratulations Jack."
From Jones to Nicklaus to Woods and back to Nicklaus, the light will continue to shine on Jack all because of that bridge formed at Scioto CC nearly a century ago.
Famed golf course architect Donald Ross' prized design gem has a legacy all of its own as a world class golf course.
After the Jones' Open came the 1931 Ryder Cup and then the 1950 PGA Championship won by Chandler Harper.
Bruce Fleisher won the U.S. Amateur in 1968 and Dale Douglas the U.S. Senior Open in 1986 on the course named for the nearby river.
Jack Nicklaus and Mike Hurdzan restored the course to its original Ross mastery in 2007.
False fronts, subtle contours and bunkers partially hidden from view challenged this amateur golfer.
Scioto CC is a golf course where you remember every hole and every shot even if you only play it once in your lifetime.
The 516-yard par five 8th hole is memorable for both its beauty anddesign. Its island green was one of the very first in America. My birdie on this magnificent hole is forever etched in my mind.
Scioto CC is a fun course to play where whether as an amateur playing from 6,500 yards or a pro from 7,000 yards one uses every club in the bag.
This round of golf seemingly played with the game's legends on a legendary course ended as my 35-foot birdie putt disappeared into the hole on the green of the par four 446-yard home hole.
Astonishingly for this golfer the scorecard numbers for all 18 holes added up to 78.
The golf course is in as fine a shape as any and is ready to once again host a major championship.
Who knows what bridges will be built if and when that happens again.
Maybe lightening does strike twice and golfers in the 22nd century will look back at Sciotoas we do with firsthand admiration and gratitude for the inspiration received.
When you play Scioto CC you feel the presence of Bobby Jones.
The spirit of Jack Nicklaus the boy is here.
Two young lads played behind me with vigor, determination and knowledge of the rules and etiquette of the game.
The spirit of Jack Nicklaus the legendary man is here as well.
His Memorial Tournament is orchestrated nearby in honor of all the greats of the game of golf.
Millions of golfers continue to be inspired by Bobby Jones through Jack Nicklaus and now through Tiger Woods.
Scioto CC is the bridge from Jones to Nicklaus and beyond!
To read more articles in Featured Columnist Andy Reistetter's exclusive "Play-Write" series go to the following links:
Greenbrier's Old White Course (White Sulphur Springs, W VA): A Charles Blair MacdonaldMasterpiece enveloped with the essence of Slammin' Sammy Snead at America's Resort.
Cog Hill Dubsdread (Lemont, IL): Deserving of a Future U.S. Open.
TPC Four Seasons (Las Colinas, TX): Home of the HP Byron Nelson Classic.
St. Johns Golf & Country Club (St. Augustine, FL): On the Road to the PGA TOUR.
Daniel Island Club (Charleston, SC): Home of the Nationwide Tour Championship and the Charm of Charleston, South Carolina.
Andy Reistetter is a freelance golf writer. He follows the PGA TOUR volunteering and working part time for CBS Sports, NBC Sports, and The Golf Channel.
He resides in Jacksonville Beach, Florida near the PGA TOUR headquarters and home of The PLAYERS Championship at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach.
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