It is almost axiomatic to say that golf courses that grow into
truly significant golf clubs seem to have one thing in common
– a single dominant individual who runs the club in a firm –
and more often than not, highly autocratic manner – shaping
it into a truly world-class entity through their laser-like vision and
Look no further than Clifford Roberts at Augusta National or John
Y. Brown – and later Ernie Ransome – at Pine Valley. Unquestionably
they developed and nurtured superlative golf entities.
In a similar vein Quaker Ridge was fortunate to have William Rice
Hochster – a founding member of the club and first president – guide
the club firmly through its formative years. Most notably, he had the
wisdom to hire A.W. Tillinghast, then a little-known golf course archi-
tect who grew to become what Golf Digest later called “…the world’s
Starting with an existing nine holes, Tillinghast, under Hochster’s
watchful gaze, reshaped those nine holes and added another nine to
complete the course in 1918. In 1924, after Tillinghast completed the
two courses across the street at Winged Foot, Hochster brought
Tillinghast back after the purchase of some adjoining property to make
significant changes to the original Quaker Ridge layout. Seven holes
changed dramatically. The result is essentially the course you see
today, one that modern-day architect Gil Hanse recently brought back
to Tillinghast’s original specifications, updating the course length-wise
so as to accommodate the modern game.
Under Hochster’s leadership, the club also hired the Farrell broth-
ers – older brother Jimmy and younger brother Johnny – as co-head
professionals in 1925. It proved to be a wise decision, as Johnny won
what was then called the “Great Streak” of six tournaments in a row
in 1927 and went on to defeat Bobby Jones by one in a 36-hole playoff
after the 1928 U.S. Open at Olympia Fields.
Interestingly, three dates that are highly significant in the world
of golf are also significant dates for Quaker Ridge. The PGA of
America was founded in New York City in 1916, the same year Quaker
Ridge was founded. In 1934 the Masters Tournament was first played
at Augusta National, the same year the first Hochster was played.
And, in 1936 Byron Nelson won his first big golf event, The Metropoli-
tan Open at Quaker Ridge, one of the most important tournaments in
the country at the time.
This year Quaker Ridge is proud to conduct the Hochster Memorial
Tournament for the 78th time. (The tournament was suspended for
four years during the heart of World War II.)
Fittingly, many of the winners of the Hochster have been winners of
other national and international golf tournaments.
Frank Strafaci, a four-time Hochster Champion, also won the USGA’s
Amateur Public Links in 1935, the North-South Amateur in 1937
and 1938 and finished ninth in the U.S. Open as an amateur in 1937.
Big-hitting Jess Sweetser, a contemporary of his good friend
Bobby Jones, won the NCAA Championship in 1920, the U.S.
Amateur in 1922, the British Amateur in 1926, and played on six
consecutive Walker Cup teams, including the first at the National
Golf Links of America. He added the Hochster in 1936.
One of the greatest American amateurs ever, Willie Turnesa – the
only one of the seven famed golfing brothers not to turn professional
– won the Hochster four times. He also won two U.S. Amateurs, one
British Amateur and played on three Walker Cup teams. Significantly,
Turnesa co-founded the highly successful Westchester Caddy Scholar-
ship Program with Quaker Ridge member Udo Reinach.
Other significant Hochster champions include Dick Siderowf
(four victories), who also won two British Amateurs; George Zah-
ringer, (six Hochsters) also won five Met Amateurs and the U.S. Mid
Amateur; and Ken Bakst (winning in his 30s, 40s and 50s), also a U.S.
Mid Amateur Champion.
The Hochster has also been a family affair with the father-son
duo of Jerry Courville, Sr. and Jr. winning a total of six Hochster
Memorials between them along with multiple second place finishes.
While many of the Hochster participants have entered the
professional ranks over the first 77 playings of the event, one of them,
Doug Ford, the 1947 Hochster Champion who turned pro in 1948,
was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame last year. Despite not
turning professional until he was 27, Ford won nineteen PGA TOUR
events, including two majors – the PGA Championship in 1955 and
the Masters in 1957. He also played on four Ryder Cup teams. (Ask
Doug to name his favorite course and he’ll tell you – it’s Quaker Ridge.)
John Harris, the Hochster Champion in 1997, won the U.S. Amateur
at Champions Golf Club in 1993 and was a member of the U.S. Walker
Cup Teams in 1993, 1995 and 1997 (played at Quaker Ridge). He also
was a member of the U.S. World Amateur Team in 1994.
Other significant Hochster participants include the four sons of long-
time Winged Foot head professional Claude Harmon – Butch, Craig,
Dick and Bill. Though not generally known, there is a strong family
connection between the Harmon family and Quaker Ridge. Not only
does Claude have the Quaker Ridge professional course record of 61,
but the club’s long-time head professional, Vic Oberhammer, was
his brother-in-law and the uncle to the four Harmon boys. As ac-
complished golfers, the boys played often at Quaker Ridge, including
participating in the Hochster. One year in the mid 1960s, Craig, the
head profesional at Oak Hill in Rochester, NY since 1972, played a
practice round with his uncle Vic on the eve of the Hochster, shooting
a stellar two-under 68. By way of advice before the tournament, Uncle
Vic coached his nephew to hit three wood off the tee of the par-5 first
hole. At the beginning of the tournament, Craig grabbed his driver
thinking that he might reach the green in two. On seeing this, Vic,
standing on the back of the first tee, simply shook his head. Craig
proceeded to hit two drivers out of bounds en route to a 10 and a 52 on
the front nine.
The members of Quaker Ridge are indeed proud and honored that
the participants in the Hochster Memorial Tournament have played
substantial roles in the history and lore of our game.