Westmoreland CC, great championship history with WPGA

Posted June 30, 2015 - Western Pennsylvania Golf Association - Contact

Former Westmoreland golf professional Ed Furgol

In July, Westmoreland Country Club in Export will host the 111th West Penn Open Championship. The club has a long and storied history with championships conducted by the Western Pennsylvania Golf Association. The club began in Verona, and moved in 1954 retaining the name of Westmoreland Country Club. The original club changed its name to Green Oaks Country Club.

The previous site held four West Penn Opens - 1928 won by Perry DelVecchio, Greensburg, his first of five, tying Jock Hutchison and Roy Vucinich for the most Opens won in a career, both in the West Penn Golf Hall of Fame, and 1953 won by Oakmont’s Lew Worsham, the 1947 US Open champion and another Hall of Fame member.

West Penn Amateurs there included 1922 won by Richard Long and 1928 and 1932, both won by Maurice LeBosquet, 1942 by Regis Wolfe, and 1944 by Jack Benson, who won six Amateurs, 1934-54.

The new course was designed by Dick Wilson, a top architect of the 1940’s and 1950’s whose credits include Doral Country Club’s famed “Blue Monster” near Miami and the redesign of Shinnecock Hills, Southampton, New York, shortly after the end of World War II and Laurel Valley in Ligonier.

Wilson was also working on a second course while doing Westmoreland, the famed National Cash Register (NCR) Golf Club in Dayton, Ohio, commuting between the two sites. The current site has hosted four previous West Penn Opens. John Birmingham, Oakmont, the area’s top amateur for nearly twenty years, won in 1972. The 1991 edition’s winner was John Baker, one of the Tri-State PGA’s best players of that era. Amateur John Jones won the 1994 Open as well the Pennsylvania Amateur in the same season, a unique double. Ten years later in 2004, Washington native Steve Wheatcroft was the winner. He has since played the Web.com and PGA Tour amassing nearly $4,000,000 in earnings. In 2009 Dan Thompson won the Open, his second of three wins in six years, 2007-2012.

John Birmingham, 1972 West Penn Open Champion

In 2003 Sean Knapp won his sixth straight West Penn Amateur at Westmoreland, finishing with a pair of 67’s after opening with 76. He caught St. Clair’s David Brown on the back nine after Brown had built a six-stroke lead with eight holes to play. Brown won three Amateurs in the next nine years—2004, 2011, and 2013. Knapp’s six in a row is the all-time record for consecutive wins.

Other competitions at the site include the 2006 match with Northern Ohio Golf Association won by WPGA and the 2012 West Penn Mid-Amateur won by Sean Knapp.

Three USGA qualifying rounds have recently taken place - 2007 Amateur Sectional, 2013 U.S. Open Local, and the inaugural U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Sectional in 2014.

The club’s history includes three professionals who were outstanding players. Johnny Bulla, 1946-52, played the PGA Tour with considerable success once finishing 5th on the money list. Bulla tied for 2nd place in the 1949 Masters. He and Sam Snead traveled the Tour together as rookies in the 1930s. Bulla won three West Penn Opens in four years, 1949-52 and the 1951 Pennsylvania Open. He was followed by Ed Furgol, who won the 1954 US Open. While at the club Furgol won three Tri-State PGA Section titles and the 1965 West Penn Open. Jim Ferree was at Westmoreland from the late 1970’s until he left to play the PGA Senior Tour full-time. He won two Tri-State Section titles and was the Section’s Senior Player of the Year three more times.