Edward Johnston's suggestion led to Centennial team event

November 05, 1995|By John W. Stewart | John W. Stewart,SUN STAFF

When the U.S. Golf Association conducted its Centennial State Team tournaments in Orlando, Fla., last week, it marked the realization of an idea originated by Edward Johnston some 15 years ago.

Johnston, a Towson lawyer and immediate past president of Baltimore Country Club, broached the possibility of such an event to William Campbell, a longtime golfing friend and, at that time, president of the USGA.

"I wrote to him, he took it through the chain of command, and it was turned down," Johnston recalled the other day. "Then, about a year or so ago, I decided to try again, particularly with Reg Murphy in charge."

Murphy, a member of Baltimore CC and the current USGA president, said, "It was conceived as a one-time event in conjunction with the Centennial, but it proved so popular, the states want to continue it. I presume it will be ongoing."

According to Johnston: "My thought was that while many of us would like the opportunity to be on a Walker Cup team, realistically only a few are able to achieve this distinction.

"However, I was sure that most golfers, if asked, would be happy to represent their states in a Championship of States tournament."

Certainly one of the best things to come from last week's competition -- Virginia won the men's title and Pennsylvania the women's -- was the opportunity it provided for players who might not be able to qualify for any other national event to compete on the same level as some past national champions.

Carol Semple Thompson, Jerry Courville Jr. and Jeff Thomas were among the dozen past and present USGA titlists in the fields. Overall, there were 47 men's teams at Lake Nona GC, and 43 women's teams at Lake Buena Vista GC.

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