The first U.S. Open – 10 pro’s, 1 Amateur, One title…
The first staging of the U.S. Amateur was immediately followed by the first staging of the U.S. Open at the same club, Newport Golf Club. Horace Rawlins of England emerged victorious over competitor Willie Dunn also of England by two strokes while they marched four rounds on Newport Golf Clubs 9 hole course. Rawlins would win his only “major” championship and uniquely beat his own instructor William Davis who finished five strokes back. Rawlins just 19 years old had come to Newport in January of that same year, before that he was a caddie at Bembridge on the Isle of Wight. When he arrived in America he became the Davis’s assistant pro at Newport Golf Club giving him great local knowledge of the course.
U.S. Open not the premier event in 1895
The thing you need to realize is that the U.S. Open was almost considered an afterthought or a second tier tournament when it was first played. This was due to the fact that golf had not been all that popular in America yet and this is why the “Amateur” event was considered the more sought after simply because there were more amateurs than professionals at the time. Today, this of course has totally flipped upside-down with Pro golfers gaining more prestige and the popularity of the sport spreading in America the professional event is now the top tier event.
1895 U.S. Open the end of glory for Rawlins
Rawlins won by two strokes over Willie Dunn and by three over James Foulis and amateur Andrew Smith. For winning, Rawlins received a gold medal and $150; the total amount of money handed out in Year 1 was $335. If you fast forward to 2016 U.S. Open winner Dustin Johnson received $1.8 million dollars while the purse was at a staggering $10 million dollars. Rawlings finished runner up the following year in 1896, and his performance gradually declined not having a top 10 in 15 years playing the event. For the first three years the U.S. Open and the U.S. Amateur were held on the same golf courses which were Newport Golf Club in 1895, Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in 1896, and Chicago Golf Club in 1987. In Conclusion, this was the beginnings of golf in the U.S. as we know it.
Josh Morris is the Editor of Golf History Today. A proud USGA Volunteer and golf enthusiast. In his free time he enjoys being a weekend caddie as well as playing as much as he can.