Sam Parks, Jr., 1935 U.S. Open champion, Oakmont Country Club
Posted June 15, 2016 - Western Pennsylvania Golf Association - Contact
As we celebrate the U.S. Open at Oakmont Country Club, June 13-19, we honor the four individuals from western Pennsylvania that have won the championship. This is Part One of four.
In preparation for the 1935 U.S. Open, South Hills Country Club professional Sam Parks, Jr. regularly played nine-holes at Oakmont that spring. He had already recorded a top-15 at a tournament in Augusta, Ga., that by 1939 would be called The Masters Tournament.
Parks was the only player to break 300 in the 1935 U.S. Open. His rounds of 77-73-73-76–-299 were two shots better than runner-up Jimmy Thompson.
Following his U.S. Open victory, Parks reached the round of sixteen of the PGA Championship at Twin Hills Golf & Country Club in Oklahoma City.
These performances resulted in Parks being named to the Ryder Cup team that played at Ridgewood Country Club in Paramus, N.J. In a singles match, Parks faced the 1935 British Open champion, Al Perry. On the final hole Parks sank a 30-foot birdie putt to halve the match.
Parks’ 1935 season is among the best ever by a local player.
In 1940, Parks won the West Penn Open and the Pennsylvania Open championships. He also won the Tri-State Section PGA Championship in 1937, 1943 and 1945.
Parks left the golf business in 1945 for a position with U.S. Steel, and became a member of Oakmont in 1947.
Parks played in the Masters 16 times and made the cut in ten, and in the U.S. Open 13 times where he made the cut seven times. He finished in the top-25 of the Masters four times from 1935-41, and finished t-16 in the 1937 U.S. Open at Oakland Hills Country Club. In two PGA Championships he won a match from 1937-42.
Born in Hopedale, Ohio, Parks grew up in Bellevue, Pa., and played at Highland Country Club as a junior where he took lessons from Gene Sarazen during Sarazen’s brief stay there. He won the 1926 West Penn Junior defeating Fred Brand, Jr., in the finals. As a student at The University of Pittsburgh, he was influential in starting the Panthers golf team. One of his amateur highlights was a runner-up finish in the 1931 North & South Amateur.
Parks was the volunteer chair of scoring for the 1962 U.S. Open and 1969 U.S. Amateur at Oakmont, and was a special guest of the club for the 1994 U.S. Open.
When Jack Fleck won the 1955 U.S. Open at The Olympic Club after a playoff with Ben Hogan, the media asked him his feeling about being the most “obscure” champion since Sam Parks. Fleck replied, “Parks is a vice-president at U.S. Steel and a member at Oakmont. I’d be happy with that.”
Parks was inducted into the Western Pennsylvania Golf Hall of Fame on October 14, 2015.