The St. Louis

District Golf Association…

has been a celebrated golf institution in the Saint Louis Area for over 100 years. Below is a brief historical review of the STLDGA and it’s storied members.

About STLDGA

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STLDGA Notable Members

Dick Bockenkamp

Jim Manion

Bob Cochran

Jim Jackson

Bob Goalby

Jay Haas

Mark Boyajian
Jerry Haas

Jim Holtgrieve

St. Louis District Golf Association History

As summer of 1916 approached, the United States was a year away from entering “the war to end all wars.” In the heartland, America’s cities continued to grow despite the problems abroad. St. Louis, in fact, was among a handful of the country’s most prominent communities – noted for its production of shoes, hats and alcoholic beverages. The railroads and riverboats made St. Louis a transportation hub for the entire country.

The city’s increasing affluence also triggered creation of numerous clubs dedicated to the playing of golf, a relatively new game to the region brought to this town thanks to Scottish immigrants who served as the region’s first golf course designers, clubmakers and professionals. These new course layouts challenged and entertained the leading citizens of the City of St. Louis and neighboring communities such as Jennings, Kinloch, Florissant and Webster Groves.

By 1916, more than a dozen golf facilities existed – including a number of private clubs. On June 4, 1916, a group of sportsmen gathered to charter an organization of clubs for the purpose of setting up competitions between clubs and its members.

Established as the St. Louis District Golf Association, its charter members included the likes of Glen Echo, Normandie, Bellerive, Algonquin, Midland Valley (now Meadowbrook), Westwood, Sunset, Log Cabin, Triple A and St. Louis Country Club. Glen Echo founder, Colonel Charles McGrew, served as head of the new organization. It’s worth noting that Log Cabin’s representative was the estimable George Herbert Walker, donor of amateur golf’s prestigious Walker Cup and relation to two subsequent U.S. Presidents – George and George W. Bush.

In slightly more than its first decade of existence, the roll of member clubs had grown to include North Hills (now Norwood Hills), Osage (now Greenbriar) and Westborough (operating at the original Westwood Country Club site in Glendale.)

 

The Formative Years and the St. Louis Triumvirate
Almost immediately, the St. Louis District Golf Association Championship attracted the top players in the area. Algonquin’s Roger Lord won the first championship and Sunset’s Dick Bockenkamp won consecutive titles in 1920 and ’21.

However a triumvirate – consisting of Sunset’s Clarence Wolf, Midland Valley’s Jimmy Manion and Algonquin’s Eddie Held – quickly emerged and dominated the organization’s first decade of competition.

Held earned the distinction of winning the inaugural United States Golf Association Public Links National Championship in 1922. Soon afterward, he became a member of Alqonquin, a private club, and thus was unable to compete in further Public Links championships. His association with Alqonquin, however, helped fuel the rivalry for top honors in the District.

Held, who also claimed the 1929 Canadian Amateur and was once a runner-up in the prestigious Western Amateur, won two District titles. Wolff won four times in an 11-year stretch while Manion claimed four titles in a six-year stretch from 1923-28. They also collected hardware in the 1920s, each winning the prestigious Trans-Miss Championship, including a four-year stretch from 1923-26 where St. Louis citizens maintained exclusive control of the Trans-Miss title. Manion and Wolff had wins sandwiched between Held’s Trans-Miss titles in 1923 and ’26.

 

Bob Cochran and The Best of the Best
In 1931, St. Louis teenager Bob Cochran won the District’s Junior Championship. That same summer, he added the Western Junior. It marked just the first in many trophy presentations over the next six decades between the District Golf Association and Cochran.

In 1933, Cochran earned his first of eight titles. For much of the next four decades, Cochran stayed at or near the top of the leaderboard at St. Louis District events. If entered, he was the man to beat.

With District titles spanning 33 years, Cochran won twice in the 1930s, added four consecutive titles between 1941-48 (no championships were held during WWII), then added two more in the 1960s. It should be noted that Cochran did not win a District title in the 1950s in large part because he played numerous PGA Tour events as an amateur during that time period.

In 1965, Cochran won the District and Senior District titles in the same year as well as the Missouri Amateur. He collected eight Senior District titles between 1963 and 1982. Cochran continued playing until his death, at age 90, in April 2003.

Cochran was far from alone at the organization’s pinnacle of performance. Since its founding, The District has continued to serve as a forum for developing premier amateur golfers. The list of names etched into the District Men’s Championship Cup includes former Walker Cuppers, Ryder Cuppers, PGA Tour winners, Nationwide Tour winners and a Masters champion.

Cochran, Jim Jackson (District champion in 1963, ’66, ’71), Jim Holtgrieve (1977-79, 1989), Jay Haas (1972-73, ’75) and his younger brother, Jerry (1983-85) all represented the U.S. in Walker Cup matches. Jay Haas and his uncle, Bob Goalby (1955), have combined for nearly 20 victories on the PGA Tour. Jerry, who now heads up the Wake Forest men’s golf program, posted wins on the PGA’s Nike Tour (now the Nationwide Tour) before opting for a coaching career.

Goalby’s most prestigious win was the 1968 Masters where he fired a final round 6-under 66 to take the lead at 277. Seemingly headed for a playoff with Argentina’s Robert DeVicenzo, Goalby was hastily fitted with the winner’s Green Jacket after it was learned that DeVicenzo had signed an incorrect scorecard.

Haas, winner of several District Junior titles, excelled at every level of golf. He won the NCAA team and individual titles while at Wake Forest. In 1975, Haas earned the Haskins Award, given annually to the top collegiate golfer. Now at age 49, he continues to be among the top players on the PGA Tour. In 2004, he will join the Champions Tour and will have the opportunity to compete in St. Louis again when the U.S. Senior Open returns to Bellerive.

Holtgrieve, a talented junior who earned a reputation for hitting prodigious shots off the tee with a 1-iron, found that his victories in the District pushed him to greater heights on the national level. A two-time Walker Cupper, Holtgrieve won the 1981 USGA Mid-Amateur at Bellerive, was runner-up in the 1983 British Amateur and a semifinalist in the 1980 U.S. Amateur.

 

The District
The organization has grown to include the top players from the present 25 Member Clubs: Algonquin, Bellerive, Bogey Hills, Dalhousie, Forest Hills, Fox Run, Glen Echo, Greenbriar Hills, Lake Forest, Legends, Meadowbrook, Norwood Hills, Old Hickory, Old Warson, Persimmon Woods, Quincy, St. Albans, St. Clair, St. Louis, Sunset, Sunset Hills, Westborough, Westwood, Whitmoor and WingHaven.

Today, Todd Burchyett and Tony Miller serve as the organization’s co-Executive Directors. They follow in the footsteps of Jim Benson, Larry Etzkorn,  Jeff Smith, and Roy Wilson  in overseeing the operation of the District events.

Burchyett and Miller’s roles are to promote and coordinate the activities of the organization and its board as well as coordinate the ten events that annually make up the STLDGA schedule: 2-Man Team, District Challenge, Mid-Am, Pro/3 Senior, Men’s Championship, Junior Championship, Father & Son, Jim Jackson Invitational, Senior Championship and the Jim Benson.

by: Bill Burton