Evans becomes third amateur to win the U.S. Open
By Anthony Pioppi – In 1916 Charles “Chick” Evans reached the heights long expected of him when he captured the U.S. Open at the Minikahda Club in Minneapolis.
Evans was the third such amateur to win the professional national title following Jerome Travers who was victorious the year before at Baltusrol Golf Club in New Jersey, and Francis Ouimet in 1913 who’s legendary victory was on the course where he had caddied, The Country Club in Brookline, Mass.
Golf Illustrated said Evans for the first time overcame the worst part of his game, putting, to win. They magazine predicted he would be a factor in the U.S. Amateur later that year and it was right as Evans defeated Robert Gardner 4 & 3 to take home that title.
For the Am, after rounds of 70 and 69 Evans was three shots clear of Wilfred Reid. On the final day Evans carded 74, 73 giving him a four-round total of 286, two better than Jock Hutchinson and four better than Jim Barnes. Walter Hagen was 11 shots back.
The other significant story of the tournament, though, was the assertion that the courses in “the west” were not up to “championship standards.”
As Golf Illustrated described, “They are too loose, too open and unexacting. Then again they have not kept pace with the modern ball as the eastern courses have.”
The publication went on to say Minikahda, a Thomas Bendelow renovation of an existing layout, had too many holes that were of the “drive and niblick-pitch” variety and that there was “a great sparseness of lateral hazards to catch a pull or slice, driving of high order was never in demand.”
As an example, the magazine said a player named Dowling shot a 71 while driving poorly. Golf Illustrated surmised that would have been an 81 at Baltusrol a year earlier.
The Minikahda powers heard the complaints and later that year work on Donald Ross’s renovation of the layout began. The final touches, due to the First World War, were not implemented until 1921. The new design was so highly regarded that it hosted the 1927 U.S. Amateur won by Bobby Jones. The course on which he won is very much the layout that exists today and which welcomes the U.S. Senior Amateur Aug. 26-31
Anthony Pioppi is a golf writer, historian and archeologist, as well as the Executive Director of the Seth Raynor Society. His next book, “The Finest Nines, North America’s Best Nine-Hole Golf Courses,” is due to be published by Skyhorse in February of 2018.