1956 U.S. Amateur Championship
On September 15, 1956 Mr. E. Harvie Ward was crowned Champion of the United States Golf Association’s Amateur Championship at the Knollwood Club, defeating Charles Kocsis 5-4. The champion became the first player in twenty years to successfully defend his title, as he won the previous year at the Country Club of Virginia. Mr. Ward not only defended his crown at Knollwood Club on that day, but he won over the crowds in the gallery.
Harvie Ward began his playing career at fourteen years old and developed into one of the greatest amateur golfers to play the game. Mr. Ward attended the University of North Carolina and competed with the likes of Arnold Palmer of Wake Forest and Art Wall and Mike Souchak of Duke. He played on four America’s Cup teams and three Walker Cup teams over a ten-year span. The Masters was also a common event on his itinerary. He competed in thirteen Masters with a fourth place finish in 1957 and the Low Amateur Title in 1953, ’54, ’55 and ’57.
His most dramatic day of golf came in 1956 while preparing to play in the Bing Crosby Pro-Am at Pebble Beach. Ward and fellow amateur Ken Venturi competed against Ben Hogan and Byron Nelson in a match pegged by Golf Magazine as "The Greatest Match Ever Played."
Many great clubs in America have hosted championship events, but few have had the honor of such a championship like the U.S. Amateur coupled with one of the greatest amateur players that ever lived. Mr. Ward epitomized class and dignity and we are very proud to have celebrated along with him.
1982 U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship
In 1981, the USGA inaugurated its first new championship in nineteen years, the U.S. Mid-Amateur. The Mid-Amateur, for amateur golfers of at least 25 years of age, provides a formal national championship for the post-college amateur, for whom the game is truly an avocation.
The second U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship was played at Knollwood Club in September 1982 under ideal conditions. Bill Hoffer from Elgin won the prestigious national championship, defeating some of the top amateur golfers in the country. Among top local players who competed were David Lind, Ron Galatka, Rick Ten Broeck, Ace Ellis, Tom Studer and Knollwood’s Dick Evans.
The fine condition of the course at Knollwood Club prompted Frank Hannigan, Senior Executive Director of the USGA, to remark that he had never seen a course better prepared for a National Championship. Hannigan told General Chairman, Tony Hebel, that Knollwood’s practice facilities ranked in the top five in the country and that the Men’s Locker Building was one of the top three in the country.