Brief history of the WPGA Annual Meeting

Posted May 3, 2017 - Western Pennsylvania Golf Association - Contact

Arnold Palmer at the 1954 U.S. Amateur. Photo courtesy of USGA.

Like most state and regional golf associations, the West Penn Golf Association’s Annual Meeting is the occasion when elections take place for Officers and members of the Executive Committee. Other agenda items include committee reports and Association updates.

Records indicate that Member Club club delegates first attended the WPGA Annual Meeting in 1913. These were usually evening meetings held at facilities like the Duquesne Club, Pittsburgh Athletic Association and University Club.

In the 1950’s, the meeting moved to Member Clubs and included golf for attendees. The site is regularly the home club of the retiring president.

Turnout reached as large as 375 well into the 1970’s. One year the meeting was at Pittsburgh Field Club, and the Association also had to secure Longue Vue Club and Fox Chapel Golf Club to accommodate everyone.

In earlier years of the Annual Meeting there was a program that might include a film, some provided by the USGA and other provided by the PGA of America. In 1925, a film produced by the USGA called “Analysis of Motion” showed the swings of amateur golfers Bob Jones and Francis Quimet, while the USGA film in 1926 of the same name featured the swings of professional golfers Tommy Armour and MacDonald Smith. A film from the USGA also featured golf swings and Walker Cup highlights in 1928. A film about golf ball construction from Wilson was shown in 1946, and the PGA of America provided a film of highlights of the PGA Championship at the 1947 meeting.

The history of the Annual Meeting also included many featured speakers. Trick-shot artist Joe Kirkwood addressed the delegates in 1944. Patty Berg, then a lieutenant in the U.S. Army, spoke in 1945. USGA Executive Director, Joseph P. Dey, spoke in 1949 and 1957. Sam Urzetta, the 1950 U.S. Amateur champion, spoke in 1951 along with Chick Evans who spoke about the Evans Scholars Program. USGA vice president, Ike Grainger, spoke in 1952. Horton Smith, PGA of America president, spoke in 1953, followed by Herb Graffis, CEO of the National Golf Foundation in 1954. Arnold Palmer spoke to the delegates in 1955 after winning the U.S. Amateur Championship in 1954, and again in 1957, the year Palmer won the West Penn Open Championship.

Local players of note were also recognized for stellar play as special guests at the Annual Meeting. In addition to Arnold Palmer, the list included S. Davidson Herron, 1919 U.S. Amateur champion, Sam Parks, 1935 U.S. Open champion, and Lew Worsham, 1947 U.S. Open champion spoke on several occasions. Jack Benson spoke after he reached the semi-finals of the 1951 U.S. Amateur. Steve Kovach was honored after he won the 1941 West Penn Open and 1942 Pennsylvania Amateur championships. PGA Tour stars Johnny Bulla and Bobby Cruickshank also were featured speakers.

Meeting minutes do not indicate why the practice of inviting speakers was discontinued.

Annual Meetings during this period took place in the Spring. In 1995, the Annual Meeting moved to the fall to facilitate transition from one slate to the next more readily. Conducting any business or programming at dinner was discontinued. The business meeting was moved to the morning and was followed by lunch, golf, and dinner.

The Annual Meeting’s primary function of elections remains the same.