By Oregon Golf Association
Founding of the OGA: 1924-1933
Since the formation on March 15, 1924; the Oregon Golf Association has developed into a non-profit entity of more than 315 public, private and associate clubs throughout Oregon and SW Washington with over 50,000 individual members. As guardians of the game in our region, our mission is to foster the enhancement and expansion of the game of golf by leading in the development of member services, the promotion of opportunities for all that want to play, and protection of the game's integrity and valued traditions. The OGA also has the distinct honor of being one of the few golf associations that own their own golf course, which is also celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2024.
The OGA would like to extend a huge thanks to original OGA Executive Director Dale Johnson for writing the Four Part History of the Oregon Golf Association, as well as PNGA Historian Mike Riste for helping uncover details associated with the formation of the OGA. We look forward to celebrating the previous 100 years while setting the foundation for the next 100 years – follow along throughout the year as we highlight seminal moments from the OGA’s history.
1904 - The First Oregon Amateur
The Oregon Amateur started in 1904 when 11 men and 13 ladies competed at Waverley Country Club. R. L. Macleay was the Men’s Champion and Carrie Flanders the Women’s Champion. Waverley Country Club was the only course in the Portland area at the time and it continued to hold the event every year through 1916. The championship was played at Gearhart Golf Links in 1917, canceled in 1918 due to World War I and played at Waverley Country Club, Portland Golf Club, and Tualatin Country Club from 1919 through 1923.
1920 - First Attempt at Formation
In May of 1920, Walter Pearson of Waverley Country Clubled the initial efforts for the formation of a state golf association. Waverley Country Club introduced a state championship for men and women in 1905 and because Waverley Country Club hosted every event except 1917 (Gearhart Golf Links), various members acted as chairman of the state championship committee. Pearson argued the championship required a permanent organization to operate the event. This association would solicit the Oregon clubs to send players. One key driver in formation of a state golf association was the fact that Oregon didn’t have a standard handicapping system for all clubs. Clubs determined the handicaps for their members and during the state championship four-man teams from the clubs competed for the John G. Clemson trophy. Due to the lack of a standard handicapping system, the Waverley Country Club committee had to make adjustments to the players’ handicaps in order for each team to compete on an equal basis. Unfortunately, his efforts failed as only the three private Portland golf clubs, Portland Golf Club, Tualatin Country Club, and Waverley Country Club expressed an interest in forming a state association.
1924 - Formation of the Oregon State Golf Association
In 1924 at their annual general meeting, the United States Golf Association (USGA) encouraged the remaining states that did not have a golf association to form one. Golf expansion hit Oregon and newspaper accounts illustrated the extent of the expansion. By the end of 1924, Oregon would have 28 clubs in existence or under construction.
Following the failed formation in 1920, the Oregon Amateur Championship continued to be conducted by Waverley Country Club, Portland Golf Club, and Tualatin Country Club. As the years passed and fields enlarged, new courses were built and it appeared to Ed Neustadter of Tualatin Country Club that the host clubs could use some help with the championship.
In February 1924, two representatives from Waverley Country Club, Portland Golf Club, and Tualatin Country Club decided to sponsor the formation of a golf association. The individuals, led by Ed Neustadter of Tualatin Country Club, invited other golf clubs around the state to send their own representatives to a meeting at Waverley Country Club on March 15, 1924 to formally establish the Oregon State Golf Association. In total, Albany, Illahee, Salem, and Pendelton had representatives attend the meeting with seven other clubs (Hood River, Oregon City, Corvalis, Eugene, Roseburg, Astoria, and Alderwood) responding positively. The group elected Lester Humphreys (Portland Golf Club) as President, Harry Thompson (Waverley Country Club) as Vice-President, and Ed Neustadtler (Tualatin Country Club) as Secretary of the new Oregon State Golf Association. In total, nine directors formed the OSGA Board and each club contributed $10 in annual dues. Most importantly for the future, the new association adopted, with a few minor changes, the bylaws of the PNGA. This meant, the men’s and women’s state championships would be hosted each year at an eighteen-hole golf course. The state association also added a handicapped men’s event just like the PNGA operated. Similar to the PNGA, the President of the host club also acted as the President of the state association. As part of the association, all member clubs agreed to a standard handicap system and a standard set of rules of golf. The new association immediately began organizing the 1924 state championships hosted by the President’s Club – the Portland Golf Club, the first under OGA auspices.
During this time, Mrs. Pat Allen acted as President of the Portland Women’s Golf Association. Immediately upon the formation of the OSGA, she invited women’s clubs from outside the Portland area that belonged to the PNGA or the OSGA to form the Oregon Women’s Golf Association. This group operated inter-club events, pro-am tournaments, and exhibition matches throughout Oregon. The OSGA operated the women’s state championship.
Late 1920s - Early Years of the OGA
In those earliest years, Neustadter was joined by such men as Harry Thompson, George Hitchcock, A.M. Cannon, Larry Newland, Roscoe Nelson, and Morris Dunne in keeping the OGA alive and sponsoring the Oregon Amateur. In 1928, the OGA added to its tournament involvement by agreeing to sponsor the Oregon State Junior Championships. The Junior came about at Alderwood Country Club because of its first ardent patron, Ralph Tomlinson. He led the OGA into its sponsorship, and he went on to become one of the Association's most dominant and visionary figures. Elected president in 1929 and again in 1935, Tomlinson shepherded the Association through the trying years of the Great Depression. Many clubs could barely meet payrolls, let alone sponsor tournaments or pay association dues, and some, such as Multnomah, went out of business. But with Tomlinson's leadership, the OGA survived and grew stronger as the decade of the 30's moved toward its end.
By the late 1920's there were 13 member clubs, all private or semi-private. Even so, only seven clubs were represented at the 1929 annual meeting-Alderwood Country Club, Waverley Country Club, Columbia Edgewater Country Club, Riverside Golf & Country Club, Multnomah Golf Club, Portland Golf Club, and Tualatin Country Club.
As the association looks back on its initial ten years from 1924-1933, we take pride in the growth of the sport, the development of talented golfers, and the countless memorable moments throughout our history. With a solid foundation laid in the 1920s, we look forward to featuring other notable moments throughout our history in the coming months – stay tuned for 1934-1943 in February!