This past Sunday, January 17th, marked the 100th anniversary of a luncheon organized by Rodman Wanamaker that led to the formation of The PGA of America. Wanamaker, a department store magnate, believed golf professionals might boost equipment sales if they formed an association and invited a number of golf professionals and leading amateurs to gather for lunch at the Taplow Club in the Martinique Hotel in New York City.
Later that year on April 10th The PGA of America was founded in New York City with 35 charter members. During that meeting, Wanamaker hinted that the newly formed organization needed an annual all-professional tournament, and offered to put up $2,500 and various trophies and medals as part of the prize fund.
The first PGA Championship was play later that year in October at Siwanoy CC in Bronxville, NY. The inaugural champion was Jim Barnes who also won the next PGA played in 1919. The championship was not played in 1917 and 1918 due to World War I. “Long Jim” as Barnes was known also won a US Open and a British Open. His last professional win was the New Jersey State Open in 1939 when he was working at Essex County Country Club.
Thve PGA Championship returns later this year in July to Baltusrol where Phil Mickelson won in 2005.