In just over two weeks, some of the state’s best golfers will tee it up at The Greenbrier, seeking a West Virginia Amateur title.
It will mark the 100th Amateur, a milestone for the West Virginia Golf Association’s keystone event.
Over the course of 100 tournaments and 106 years, the tournament has been through venue and format changes and has seen some of the legends of West Virginia golf come and go.
Below is a timeline highlighting some of the Amateur’s biggest moments.
1913: The first West Virginia Amateur was held at Fairmont Field Club and was won by Julius Pollock Jr., a 28-year-old from Wheeling. Pollock defeated Harold Bloch 7 and 5 and would go on to become the first dominant champion of the event, winning nine titles, with the last coming in 1931. Up until 1966, the West Virginia Amateur was decided in match-play finals after two qualifying rounds of stroke play.
1916: Wheeling’s George Hewitt defeated Pollock 7 and 6, becoming the event’s second champion after Pollock swept the first three Amateurs. More importantly, the event made its first stop in White Sulphur Springs, which has served as the tournament’s home for all but four years after 1919. Early, the tournament also made stops at Wheeling Country Club and Parkersburg Country Club, which along with Fairmont were among the founding clubs of the WVGA. There would be no tournament the following year due to World War I.
1923: The tournament returned to The Greenbrier after being held in Hot Springs, Virginia in 1922, and an 18-year-old named Densmore Shute claimed his first of two titles, defeating Vint Rathbone of Parkersburg 8 and 6. Shute, a Cleveland native playing out of Huntington, added a second Amateur win in 1925 but would go on to much bigger things, winning the 1933 Open Championship at St. Andrews to go with wins in the PGA Championship in 1936 and 1937. Shute was the only player to win back-to-back PGAs until Tiger Woods did it in 1999 and 2000. Also a member of the United States Ryder Cup team in 1931, 1933 and 1937, Shute was elected to the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2008. He finished his career with 16 PGA Tour victories.
1929: Ira Errett Rodgers, one of the greatest athletes in West Virginia University history, claimed his only West Virginia Amateur title with a 5 and 4 win over George Hewitt. Rodgers was serving as WVU’s football coach at the time, a post he held from 1925-1930 and again from 1943-1945, compiling a 41-31-8 mark. He also served as the Mountaineers’ baseball coach for 23 years, going 204-208-3, but his accomplishments as an athlete at WVU cemented his legacy. Rodgers was the school’s first consensus All-American in 1919 after leading the country with 147 points on 19 touchdowns and 33 extra points. His 19 rushing touchdowns in a season that year still represent a school record, and his 42 career rushing touchdowns stood as a WVU record until broken by Steve Slaton in 2007.
1931: Pollock, at age 47, claimed his final Amateur championship, defeating Fred Bannerot Jr. of Charleston in a tight contest, 2 and 1. Pollock rolled in an 18-foot putt on the 35th hole to finish the job. He won nine of the first 18 West Virginia Amateurs and was a perfect 9-0 in finals matches. Bannerot would go on to win three Amateur championships of his own, including in each of the following two years.
1933: In winning his second consecutive crown with a 1-up win over Bobby Rownd, Bannerot fired a round of 64 in the first of two qualifying rounds, a record for the Amateur. That mark would stand for 70 years until broken in the first round in 2003 by Pat Carter, who carded an opening 63.
1939: Mount Hope’s Ed Tutwiler picked up the first of his 11 West Virginia Amateur championships as a 19-year-old, defeating Bryan Brown of Hinton 7 and 6. Tutwiler would cement his legacy in golf elsewhere as well. He finished as the 1964 United States Amateur runner-up (more on that below), won three West Virginia Opens (1951, 1956, 1962), was the Indiana Amateur champion in 1966 and 1967 and won the United States Seniors’ Golf Association championship in 1978 and 1986. He was inducted into the West Virginia Golf Association Hall of Fame in 1988.
1948: After a six-year hiatus for World War II, the West Virginia Amateur resumed with Tutwiler winning his third crown in a 4 and 3 victory over Bannerot. Then-Gov. Clarence Meadows also qualified in the championship flight and won his first match before withdrawing.
1949: William C. (Bill) Campbell arrived on the scene, claiming his first of a record 15 titles with a 4 and 3 win over Tutwiler, signaling the start of the greatest two-player rivalry in the tournament’s history. The two would combine to win every Amateur from 1948-1963, with Tutwiler winning nine over that time and Campbell claiming seven. The other would finish as runner-up seven times in that span with Tutwiler going 6-1 against Campbell in finals matches. Even on the national stage, the two couldn’t escape each other as they battled it out for the 1964 United States Amateur crown with Campbell coming out on top in a 1 up nailbiter.
1960: Due to a strike at the hotel, the West Virginia Amateur was played at Guyan Country Club in Huntington, with Tutwiler winning his ninth championship, edging Campbell 1 up. This one especially stung for Campbell, who was playing on his home course. Tutwiler took the lead after Campbell missed a 5-foot putt on the next-to-last hole and both parred the last.
1963: Tutwiler claimed his 11th and final title with a 4 and 3 win over A.J. Gray Jr. of Wheeling. From 1939 to 1963, Tutwiler won 11 of the 18 Amateurs he entered.
1964: Huntington’s Jim Ward finally broke the stranglehold held on the event by Campbell and Tutwiler as he topped Gray 2 and 1. Tutwiler moved to Indiana and did not defend his crown while Campbell was ousted by Gray in the semifinals.
1966: For the first time, the Amateur changed its format to stroke play for the championship flight, with Barboursville’s Barney Thompson claiming the first of his three titles at the age of 17. Thompson remains the youngest player to win the West Virginia Amateur, beating Ward by eight strokes. Campbell missed the 24-player cut and won the first flight, decided by match play.
1968: Campbell won his 10th title with a four-shot win over Lou Cuffaro but it was WVGA President C.M. “Ding” England who made history by registering the tournament’s first hole-in-one, acing the ninth hole from 205 yards.
1969: A record field of 200 golfers turned out with Thompson setting a tournament scoring record of 274 over four rounds, including a record-tying single round of 64. It was enough to hold off Campbell by five shots. Harold Payne, then playing out of South Charleston, made his first West Virginia Amateur appearance at the age of 14.
1970: Campbell tied Tutwiler with 11 titles with the assistance of Tutwiler himself, who helped Campbell with a swing issue on the practice tee. Campbell rallied past Thompson, who double-bogeyed the final hole. Paired with a birdie by Campbell, the result was a two-shot gap. Also making waves — no pun intended — was Wheeling’s Larry Murphy, who played a shot from an island in the lake on the 16th hole after using a row boat to get there.
1972: After missing the 1971 Amateur after throat surgery, Campbell picked up his record-breaking 12th win in dominant fashion, besting Ward by 10 shots. The tournament was delayed three weeks due to flooding, and after a third-day rainout the field played the final 36 holes on the fourth and final day.
1974: The West Virginia Amateur made another format change with all flights being decided by stroke play. Campbell picked up Amateur title number 14 with a nine-shot win over Payne, who was 19 and playing for Marshall.
1975: Campbell claimed his 15th and final title at age 52 with an eight-shot win over Joe Feaganes. He claimed all of his Amateur titles in a 27-year span, and with his final victory became the first player to win four straight tournaments. Along with the legendary Sam Snead, Campbell would become West Virginia’s most recognized ambassador of the sport. Campbell won the 1979 and 1980 U.S. Senior Amateurs, finished second in the 1980 U.S. Senior Open, was a two-time president of the United States Golf Association and served as Captain of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews, making him the first man to front both of golf’s governing bodies. He and Snead were the lone two members of the West Virginia Golf Association Hall of Fame’s inaugural class in 2009. Campbell was also inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1990.
(One final piece of Campbell trivia: He would marry Joan Mavis Felton, who had a son named Brad Dourif. Dourif, Campbell’s stepson, would later find fame as an actor, appearing in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. He is perhaps most famous for being the voice of the murderous doll Chucky in the “Child’s Play” movie series.)
1979: The tournament moved from the Old White to the Greenbrier course to coincide with Ryder Cup matches held at The Greenbrier. Payne, an eventual five-time winner of the Amateur, picked up his first title by four shots over Scott Davis as scores skyrocketed on the unfamiliar, windy course. Davis, who along with Payne would go on to win four West Virginia Open crowns, won his lone Amateur title in 1978.
1982: The Amateur began alternating rounds on the Old White and Greenbrier Courses. Greg Meade, a 21-year-old student at Marshall from Chapmanville, bested Jack Shamblin of South Charleston in a playoff to win the championship.
1987: Payne won his third Amateur title in a one-shot battle with brother-in-law Steve Fox of Huntington. An eagle for Payne on the 17th hole provided the difference. A then-19-year-old Pat Carter finished fifth and set the Greenbrier Course record with an opening-round 68. Those three men would largely dominate the Amateur in the years to come with Fox winning twice (1988, 1994) and Carter going on to win 13.
1989: Carter claimed his first of those crowns, sending a warning shot across the bow as to what was to come. A senior at Marshall at the time, he used birdies on the final two holes to hold off Floyd Shuler by a single shot.
1993: Payne claimed his fifth and final Amateur title at age 38 by two shots over Fox and Hobe Bauer. Payne’s four West Virginia Open titles are the most of any multiple-time winner of the Amateur. He also has three West Virginia Senior Amateur titles. Fox would add his second of two Amateur titles a year later. Payne (2011), Carter (2013), Fox (2015) and Davis (2017) are all WVGA hall of famers.
1995: The Pat Carter era officially began as he smoked the field by nine shots with John Duty Sr. finishing second. Carter finished at 1 under par, becoming the first player to finish under par since the alternate-course format began.
1996: Carter bettered himself by nine shots, finishing the tournament at 10-under to breeze to a third title. His 11-shot victory over Michael Swiger set an Amateur record, besting a 10-shot win for Campbell in 1972. Carter would break that yet again with a 15-strike victory the following year. His final score of 274 equaled the overall Amateur scoring record set by Thompson (1969) and Campbell (1974) as he finished the tournament with no three-putts.
1998: The event moved to Pete Dye Golf Club in Bridgeport with Carter joining Campbell as the only players to win four West Virginia Amateurs in a row. The following year, back at The Greenbrier, Carter broke that mark with a fifth.
2001: Sam O’Dell, Jeff Whitman and Michael Veres were all injured in an ATV accident the night before the final round, leaving O’Dell and Whitman hospitalized. O’Dell was tied for second place at the time. Veres played the final round but shot an 80, obviously still shaken. Carter, a longtime friend of O’Dell’s, shot back-to-back 67s in the final two rounds to tie his four-round scoring record at 274 and win by six shots over Huntington’s Burke Spensky. It represented his seventh straight Amateur title. His eighth the following year would set a national record for consecutive State Amateur titles, breaking E.J. Barker’s mark of seven in a row in Montana from 1917-1923.
2003: Carter’s most dominant showing included scoring records in all four rounds, including an opening 63 and a total of 270. He finished at 14 under par and cleared Huntington’s Jared Jones by 13 strokes. Carter would add a 10th in a row the following year, marking a decade of dominance.
2005: Tim Fisher of Statts Mills birdied all three holes of a playoff to defeat Carter and halt his streak at 10. Fisher, 24 years old at the time, had finished second to Carter twice prior to breaking through.
2009: Fisher again edged Carter, this time by one stroke, to claim his second straight Amateur title and third overall. Though Fisher seemed poised to add to that total, it would be the last of his Amateur wins to date. He was suspended by the United States Golf Association in 2010 after an improper withdrawal from the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship and the WVGA followed suit. He was suspended again in 2011 by the WVGA, this time for two years, for what then-executive director Ken Tackett called, “a breach of our code of conduct.” Fisher returned in 2013, but disqualified himself after hitting the wrong ball during the first round.
2010: At the end of the first round of play, Greenbrier owner Jim Justice announced an exemption into the PGA Tour’s Greenbrier Classic for the Amateur winner. That first honor went to Lewisburg’s Jonathan Bartlett, who eked out a one-stroke victory over Fisher. Bartlett remains the only Amateur winner to make the cut at the Classic. That year, there were two cuts made in the event and Bartlett was cut before Sunday’s final round.
2011: Two exemptions into the Greenbrier Classic were awarded for the first and only time with Charleston’s Christian Brand, then a 23-year-old just out of his final year at Marshall, claiming a nine-shot win over O’Dell and Jess Ferrell. Those two entered a sudden-death playoff for the second qualifying spot with Ferrell coming out on top. Brand would play in the event in 2011 and Ferrell in 2012. The extra exemption was granted because the Amateur was held after the Greenbrier Classic starting in 2012.
2012: Carter won his 13th and last Amateur title to date, edging Winston Canada by two strokes.
2013: O’Dell finally broke through at age 35 to claim his first of four West Virginia Amateurs to date, claiming a six-shot win over youngsters Brian Anania of Hurricane and Woody Woodward of Clarksburg. He had eight top-10 finishes prior in the event prior. Carter did not play.
2014: Anania and Woodward battled it out again, this time for the Greenbrier Trophy with Anania claiming his first Amateur crown. Woodward hit an errant drive on the par-4 13th hole to give Anania some breathing room and eventually slipped to third, four shots back. Pineville’s Evan Muscari was the runner up, finishing two back of Anania.
2015: Anania did not return to defend his crown after accepting a job in Massachusetts, opening the door for O’Dell to seize his second Amateur title. He defeated Charleston’s Christian Casingal by five shots and Thadd Obecny by six. In both of O’Dell’s titles to this point, he went wire-to-wire.
2016: Vienna’s Alan Cooke, then playing as a junior at WVU, breezed past the field for an eight-shot victory. Though the victory earned Cooke an exemption into the Greenbrier Classic, that would be put on hold for a year as massive flooding less than two weeks after the Amateur concluded brought devastation to The Greenbrier and surrounding areas. The PGA Tour stop was cancelled for the year with Cooke playing in the 2017 Classic.
2017: With The Greenbrier still recovering, the Amateur moved to The Resort at Glade Springs with O’Dell clearing Scott Depot’s Chris Williams by two shots for his third Amateur crown. Christian Boyd, then 16 years old, was the 36-hole leader and threatened Thompson’s 51-year record as the youngest Amateur champion, but faded to finish third.
2018: Back at the Greenbrier, O’Dell won consecutive titles for the first time as he used a two-shot swing on No. 17 to edge Carter by two shots. The Meadows Course adopted holes from the old Greenbrier Course during restoration at the property and alternated with the Old White TPC over four rounds. Even the Old White was given some updates, all to rave reviews from the players.
(Author’s note: For more facts from the West Virginia Amateur, check out Bob Baker’s “West Virginia Amateur History” found at http://wvga.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/WV_Am_Complete_History.pdf.)