Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Sam Snead 1942 PGA at Seaview

Sam Snead at the 1942 PGA at Seaview

When the 25th PGA championship came to Seaview in 1942 the war was on and after the tournament, the two men who made it to the final of the match play went off to war.

Jim Turnesa was already a corporal in the Army, and a lot of his fellow servicemen came down to Seaview from Fort Dix to watch the match and cheer him on, but Snead, who would enter the Navy, won on the next to final hole, up two with one to play.

The PGA at Seaview would be especially memorial for Snead because it was his first major victory, though he had won 27 regular PGA tournaments and shook off the moniker of being the “best player without a major.”

Jim Turnesa, from a family of famous golfers, went on to win the 1952 PGA, defeating Ben Hogan (2 and 1) and Byron Nelson (1up), but it was Snead who would make his mark on golf and he would do it first at the Jersey Shore.

As the son of a poor Virginia backwoods farmer, Snead would keep his accent and country folk ways as his style as he made his way up the ranks of tournament golf. Sam wanted to be a football hero, but hurt his back, and followed his older brother Homer into the world of golf, first caddying at the nearby golf resorts. Known as “Slammin’ Sam” because of his long drives, Snead had a legendary smooth swing

Snead would go on to win the PGA again in 1949 and 1950, the Masters in 1949, 1952 and 1954 and after Walter Hagen talked him into it, went across the pond and won the British Open in 1946. Although he tried, Snead would not win the fourth major, the U.S. Open.

When they came to the Shore for the 1942 PGA, Seaview was owned by Elwood Kirkman, who had taken over after the death of founder Clarence Geist in 1938. Kirkman also owned the Flanders hotel in Ocean City (NJ), where he lived in the penthouse, and Snead stayed at the Flanders with his wife.

In the tournament, which was played according to mach rules, Snead defeated Sam Byrd, Willie Goggin and Ed Dudley, who was then the Atlantic City pro and had been the first golf pro at Bobby Jones’ Augusta National. Others didn’t make it out of the qualifier, including Paul Runyan, Gene Sarazen, Walter Hagen, Horton Smith, John Revolta and Leo Diegel. Snead then defeated the eccentric party guy Jimmy Demaret to get to the final against Turnesa.

On the final round, Sam didn’t slam it, but hit a spectacular 60 foot chip shot on the 37th old for a birdie to take the win, two up with one left, which Newsweek described said, “will go down in history as the hottest ever.”

Snead also returned to the Jersey Shore to open the Mays Landing Country Club in 1961 and play in a number of senior tournaments, including the first 1980 Senior tournament at the Atlantic City Country Club. Snead hurt his back early on, and didn’t finish playing golf, but retired to the Taproom in the Clubhouse where he sat in on play the trumpet with the band.

As Sam Snead often advised, "Keep close count of your nickels and dimes, stay away from whiskey, and never concede a putt."

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