The Tournament was the
original country-club sponsored 72-hole
stroke play competition for amateurs In the
United States. It simply was an idea whose
time had come.
Until 1954 the amateur golf
format nationwide was match play. The custom
was to have one or two rounds of stroke play
to qualify for the "match play
flights." The rapidly growing
professional tour was strictly 72-holes of
strokes play with the one exception of the
annual match-play championship of the
National Professional Golf Association.
Sunnehanna Country Club had
sponsored from 1936 through 1951 with the
exception of the years of World War II an
Invitational Tournament. The usual qualifying
round determined the makeup and the pairings
of the numerous flights.
The Invitational through
steady promotion developed into more than a
regional event. Arnold Palmer, Art Wall and
Julius Boros played in the invitational. None
of these three ever played in the AMATEUR,
but In the memories and thoughts of the
members of the Club they played at Sunnehanna
and have automatically been associated with
Sunnehannas tournament history over the
years. Arnold, an 18-year-old neighbor from
over the mountain, won the 1949 Sunnehanna
Invitational. He was already hitching up his
pants and drawing crowds.
After the 1951 InvItational
the Board of Governors terminated the
tournament because of the very extensive and
uncontrolled gambling associated with the
annual Sunnehanna Invitation Calcutta Pool.
The conflict of having to restrict members of
the Club as to their guests or having the
presence of known members of the gambling
fraternity of the community forced a
unanimous termination action by the
After a two-year hiatus of a
major golf event, the Board granted
permIssIon to sponsor the SUNNEHANNA AMATEUR.
The committee in planning the tournament made
a good move and had some very good luck.
Don Cherry of Wichata Falls,
Texas was a cabaret singer in the casinos of
Las Vegas, a member of the United States
Walker Cup Team, and engaged to Miss America.
Don Cherry was a big name and an established
world-class golfer. An agreement was made
with Don to sing each night in the
entertainment for the Amateur and to play in
the event. A good move. He shot 287 and won
the event. A very good bounce of the ball.
The following year Don
returned to defend his championship and once
again to entertain. By this time he had
"Band of Gold," a record selling
over a million copies. He lost by one stroke
to another member of the American Walker Cup
team, Hillman Robbins, Jr., of Memphis,
Tennessee. Shortly thereafter, Hiliman became
the United States Amateur Champion and the
SUNNEHANNA AMATEUR started to roll.
In the third year of the
tournament there was a 26-year-old by the
name of Jack Nicklaus from Columbus, Ohio who
shot 72-72-72-70 for 286 to finish fifth.
With a golfing maturity well beyond his youth
and with his introduction to Sunnehanna of
plumb-bobbing for putting, he created an
unusual amount of interest and developed a
good following. Jack was strongly recommended
to Sunnehanna by the great amateur, Bill
Campbell of Huntingdon, West Virginia.
Nicklaus was invited as a Committee
Selection. Very few of Sunnehannas
present membership can remember the
performance of this youngster who was
destined to become the greatest player In the
history of the game.
Some of the Clubs more
senior members joined Sunnehanna during the
time of Ben Crenshaw, Curtis Strange or John
Cook. These were also the days of Helen
OConnell, Vaughn Monroe, the Andrews
Sisters and Les Brown. And, yes, Bill
Cashaws Band in the old Red Room.
The newer members relate to
Allen Doyle, Fred Couples, Davis Love, Justin
Leonard, David Duval and Tiger Woods. All of
the members--new and old--have enjoyed and
appreciated the great skills of amateur
golfers from all 50 states and 11 foreign
Today the Sunnehanna Amateur
is the highest ranking amateur golf
tournament In America sponsored by and
bearing the name of a country club.
old sports adage says that records are
made to be broken.
Not so, said the aficionados of the
For 25 years the ardent tournament followers
were confident that Bobby Greenwoods
record of 269 for 72 holes would stand for
eternity. Since 1967 almost a thousand of
golfs finest amateurs had taken a shot
at Greenwoods eleven under par.
Then Allen Doyle returned to Sunnehanna in
the year of 1992. It was his sixth visit to
the AMATEUR. By the Sunday afternoon of June
14th the young man from La Grange, Georgia
had matched Jay Sigels record of having
won three SUNNEHANNA AMATEUR CHAMPIONSHIPS.
In so doing, this member of the victorious
1991 UnIted States Walker Cup Team had shot
an incredIble 266 - fourteen under par.
In 72 holes Allen had 20 birdies and six
bogies. In four rounds he birdied each of the
first, the eleventh, the thirteenth, the
sixteenth and the seventeenth on two
occasions. He tore the backside to shreds
with 34-33-3li and 33 for an average of
33-plus. And this in a year when only one
other of the 56 entries broke par with a one
The average 18-hole score for all of the
ensiles in 39 AMATEURS is slIghtly over 74
strokes. Allen posted a 69, 66, 65 and 66 for
his incredIble 266.
Sunnehanna aficionados are dead certain that
this record is cast in stone.