O'Donnell, Beach new to MAPGA Hall

November 07, 1993|By John W. Stewart | John W. Stewart,Staff Writer

Two former high-profile golf professionals at local clubs are among three men to be inducted into the Middle Atlantic PGA Hall of Fame when the organization holds its awards dinner Friday night at Westwood Country Club in Vienna, Va.

lTC John O'Donnell, who was at Mount Pleasant Golf Course for 27 years before his retirement in 1983, and the late Ralph Beach, an institution at the Suburban Club for 38 years, will be joined by Herb Rose, owner and director of golf at Bay Hills Golf Club in Arnold prior to moving to Florida last year.

Their enshrinement will bring to 22 the number of inductees since the program began in 1986.

O'Donnell, 80, a Baltimore native, developed an interest in golf as a caddie at Baltimore Country Club. "I was fortunate enough to caddie for good players and I became fascinated by golf, obsessed by it," O'Donnell recalled at his (Mount Pleasant) 25th anniversary celebration.

He started his professional career as an assistant to Leo Kernan at Green Spring in 1930, and the road led through the Officers Club course at Edgewood Arsenal, the CC of Virginia, and West Point (Va.) CC, from which he resigned to enlist in the Navy early in World War II.

He got out three years later and was appointed the head pro at the Commissioned Officers Club in Norfolk, Va., in 1945. Eleven years later, he was appointed head pro at Mount Pleasant, succeeding Irv Schloss, who had retired.

His playing accomplishments included winning the Maryland Open in 1939 and 1954; the Virginia PGA Open in 1953, '54 and '55; and the Middle Atlantic PGA Seniors in 1963. There was also a final-round loss to Clarence Doser in the 1956 Baltimore Open.

Beach amassed an equally strong set of playing credentials while at the Pikesville club. He holds the record for the widest span between Middle Atlantic PGA Section titles, 17 years (1932 and 1949). There was also a runner-up finish to Andy Gibson in 1948 and a playoff loss against Chandler Harper in 1954. Doser, Gibson, and Harper are already Hall of Fame members.

Additionally, there were successive final-round appearances in the Baltimore Open in 1946 (lost to another 'hall' member, Walter Romans) and 1947 (defeated well-known golf writer and historian Charles Price).

Beach, the MAPGA Seniors champion in 1953, '54 and '55, was instrumental in the formation of the PGA Seniors and was a one-time president of the organization. He served the MAPGA as president in 1932 and from 1938 to 1940, and was the association's Professional of the Year in 1959.

Perhaps the most interesting facet of Beach's background was his involvement with U.S. presidents. He caddied for Woodrow Wilson at Washington Golf & CC (Beach was born and grew up in Northern Virginia) and later, as an assistant pro at the Chevy Chase Club, gave lessons to Warren Harding. And when Harding played late, the Secret Service would take Harding to the White House and then drop Beach at his home, since he had to stay until the president finished.

Beach was 25 years old and had been a pro since 1919 when he was named at Suburban in 1928, succeeding Alec Taylor. Throughout his playing career, Beach was recognized for his beautiful swing and as a fine shot-maker. He retired from Suburban in 1965, to be followed by his son, Donald.

Rose was recognized primarily for his work as an administrator. He turned pro out of the University of Virginia, served as an assistant to Tom Strange at Bow Creek CC in Virginia Beach, Va., in 1961, and became the first head pro when Bay Hills opened in 1969.

Along the way, he first leased the club, then bought it in 1976. During this time, he worked his way through the MAPGA ranks, first as a committee member, then board member, treasurer, and president, the last in 1977-78. Later, he served as a District 10 (Middle Atlantic, Carolinas, and Kentucky) director of the PGA of America.

Rose was born and grew up in East Rockaway, N.Y., and was attracted to golf while attending the Peddie School in Heightstown, N.J. "The school had a golf course and that piqued my interest in the sport," he said.

Today, Rose, 51, lives on Singer Island in Palm Beach County, Fla., is a club member and plays golf fairly regularly. Looking back, he cited the tournament program and employment as two areas that improved markedly during his administration.

MAPGA award winners

Wayne Holley, Roanoke, Va., professional of the year; Richard Miller, Carper's Valley GC, Winchester, Va., the Horton Smith (education) award; Jon Ladd, Baltimore Municipal Golf Corporation, Junior golf; Steve Bosdosh, TPC-Avenel, teacher of the year; Tim Cockrell, Westwood CC, assistant professional of the year; Mike Hyland, Richmond Times-Dispatch, the Earle Hellen (sports writer) award.

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