U.S. Amateur Champion 1904 & 1905; Finalist 1909
Western Amateur Champion 1902, 1904, 1905 & 1907; Finalist 1903
PNGA Men’s Amateur Champion 1915, 1920, 1923, 1925 & 1932;
Finalist 1914 & 1921
Walker Cup Team Member 1934
Inducted into Pacific Northwest Golf Hall of Fame 1985
For a 21-year period in the early 1900’s, the standard of
golf excellence in the Northwest was defined by the “Grand
Old Master,” Henry Chandler Egan. Playing in only 10 PNGA
Men’s Amateur championships, Egan reached at least the semifinals
in eight of them. The other two were in 1933 and 1934, at the end
of his golfing prime.
There was a splendid array of golfing talent in the Chicago area
in the late 1890’s. A heated rivalry between Chicago golfers
and players from the New York-New Jersey area arose when the first
U.S. Amateur title was captured by New York’s C.B. Macdonald
at Rhode Island’s Newport Country Club in 1895. Chicago’s
H.J. Whigham won the 1896 and 1897 titles. Other top Windy City
“sticks” included the first Western Amateur champion,
David Forgan, as well as William Waller, Walter Smith and H.C. Smith.
Chandler Egan was the most sensational of all Chicago’s golfers.
While a sophomore at Harvard in 1902, he won his first championship
of note, the U.S. Intercollegiate title. That same year he defeated
his cousin Walter in the Western Amateur. The next year the pair
reversed the order, with Walter the winner. Chandler’s run
continued with Western Amateur wins in 1904, 1905 and 1907. He brought
fame to the Chicago area in 1904 when he captured the first of two
successive U.S. Amateur crowns. Egan began a trend in the U.S. Amateur
which survives today: the collegiate golfer as amateur champion.
As the reigning U.S. Amateur champion, Egan was expected to win
the gold medal for America at the 1904 Olympics in St. Louis. But
it was not to be. Gold medal-winning George Lyons enjoyed match-play
defeats of the French champion A.B. Lambert, the PNGA Champion F.C.
Newton of Seattle, and Egan. As always, Egan took the loss with
grace, admitting he’d been outclassed by “one of the
cleverest players I have met.”
At the height of his golfing career, Egan moved to an unlikely locale,
Medford, Oregon. One can only speculate why Egan changed addresses.
Perhaps it was his failed first marriage, or the desire for a new
beginning. Maybe the advertisements in Eastern newspapers lured
Egan to the West Coast.
After visiting Oregon in 1910, Egan returned the following May
to buy the Bates orchard for $75,000. The property included 115
acres of apple and pear trees. Perhaps the real winners in the relocation
were the members of Medford Golf Club. Shortly after arriving in
Oregon, Egan upgraded the Medford golf facility, and later, designed
the present-day Rogue Valley Country Club.
Meanwhile, on the Northwest tournament scene, area players would
need to raise their standard of play to beat this former U.S. Amateur
In the 1914 PNGA Men’s Amateur at Seattle Golf Club, Jack
Neville displayed unparalleled play, demolishing A.V. Macan 11 &
10 in the semifinals. Shooting a course record 69 in the morning
round against Egan, Neville entered the afternoon round leading
4-up. The final result was a 5 & 4 win for Neville before one
of the largest galleries to ever see a golf competition in Seattle.
In the 1915 PNGA Men’s Amateur Championship at Tacoma Country
& Golf Club, Neville and Egan met again in the semifinals. But
this time the Medford resident played steadier and defeated the
Californian, 5 & 4. In the bottom half of the draw, Paul Ford
bested former California Amateur champion, Robin Hayne. Hayne said
of Ford, “If ever a man deserved to win, he did. There is
not a shot in the bag he does not possess and if he is defeated
by Egan in the finals, it will be because of the former champion’s
greater experience.” Hayne’s analysis was correct. Egan
beat Ford 3 & 2.
Egan’s move into golf course design in the 1920’s led
him to create such outstanding Oregon layouts as Eastmoreland Golf
Course, Eugene Country Club, Oswego Lake Country Club, Riverside
Golf & Country Club in Portland, and Tualatin Country Club.
Egan’s Washington creations include Indian Canyon Golf Course
in Spokane and West Seattle Golf Course. The quiet, unassuming man
was not one to preach his philosophy of golf course design. Unlike
another notable Northwest golfer-turned-architect, Arthur V. Macan,
it’s unclear if Egan based his golf architecture on established
precepts or simply on his vast knowledge of golf. Regardless, the
Northwest courses he designed rank among the region’s finest.
In 1929 Egan formed a partnership with the fabled golf architect,
(designer of Augusta National, Cypress Point Club, et al). Together,
they renovated Pebble Beach for the 1929 U.S. Amateur. Egan played
in this championship and reached the semifinals.
While supervising the construction of Everett’s Legion Memorial
course, this gentleman of the links contracted pneumonia, and died
shortly after in April 1936. The tributes paid to Egan reflect widespread
appreciation for the influence he had on Northwest golf. Perhaps
D. Scott Chisholm best summed up this feeling.
‘’A real champion at heart — at home and on
the links, at the card table and in the cocktail lounge. He is imbued
with kindly consideration for an opponent in any sort of contest.
There was a champion to the very core. He possessed every fine and
gracious sporting quality a true champion should possess. He more
than any other of my ken represented the very essence of what a
champion should be like. When in the heat of battle, he preferred
to help an opponent — never to hinder him. He was an outstanding
credit to golf and a grand example for the youth of our land to
follow. We ill could spare such a magnificent sportsman [in] these
days of masterful chiseling.”
A lasting legacy to Egan was proposed by the president of the
California Golf Association, E.B. Yoakum. The perpetual award given
to the low-gross winner in the California Amateur
Championship is the H. Chandler Egan Memorial Trophy.