1935 US Open: Local Knowledge Goes a Long Way

Sam Parks Jr. (left) receives the trophy from USGA President Prescott Bush after winning the 1935 US Open
Sam Parks Jr. (left) receives the trophy from USGA President Prescott Bush after winning the 1935 US Open. Bettman/Getty Images

Writing in the July 1935 issue of American Golfer, famed sportswriter Grantland Rice said of Oakmont Country Club, site of the 1935 U.S. Open:

"Oakmont, with its ghostlike, haunted greens and its snatching traps peering well out into the fairways, is something more than a savage test of golf. It is also the type of course, as arranged for the recent Open Championship, that breaks down the mental side and rips into the nerves."

The course certainly seemed to have that effect during the 1935 U.S. Open. The winning score of 299 is the highest winning total in a U.S. Open since 1927 (which is the last time the winning score was 300 or more).

That winning 299 belonged to Sam Parks Jr., the club pro at Pittsburgh's South Hills Country Club, who at age 12 took lessons from Gene Sarazen. Parks had been a pro for only three years in 1935, and had no tournament wins. But every day for a month prior to the U.S. Open, Parks - heading to his job at South Hills - stopped off at Oakmont to play nine holes. He entered the U.S. Open thinking his knowledge of Oakmont might pay off.

And it did. Parks was the only golfer to finish the tournament in fewer than 300 strokes.

Parks and Jimmy Thomson were tied for the lead entering the final round, with many others in the hunt. But with bad weather conditions exacerbating Oakmont's treacherous greens, all those big names posted big numbers: Walter Hagen, 76; Denny Shute, 76; Henry Picard, 79; Sarazen, 79; Horton Smith, 79.

Thomson shot 78 and Parks 76, and that was the 2-stroke margin of victory. Parks had only one other Top 10 finish in a major. Thomson never won a major, but also finished second at the 1936 PGA Championship.

Hagen's tie for third was his last Top 10 finish in a major championship. Byron Nelson's tie for 32nd was his first cut made in a U.S. Open (in his second appearance).

Six golfers from Japan were on an exhibition tour across America in 1935, and one of them - Kanekichi Nakamura - made the cut here. He was quoted afterward in Time magazine on the Oakmont greens: "At home we hit ball on green. Here you bunt."

1935 U.S. Open Golf Tournament Scores

Results from the 1935 U.S. Open golf tournament played at the par-71 Oakmont Country Club in Oakmont, Pennsylvania (a-amateur):

Sam Parks Jr.77-73-73-76--299$1,000
Jimmy Thomson73-73-77-78--301$750
Walter Hagen77-76-73-76--302$650
Ray Mangrum76-76-72-79--303$500
Denny Shute78-73-76-76--303$500
Alvin Krueger71-77-78-80--306$218
Henry Picard79-78-70-79--306$218
Gene Sarazen75-74-78-79--306$218
Horton Smith73-79-79-75--306$218
Dick Metz77-76-76-78--307$95
Paul Runyan76-77-79-75--307$95
Olin Dutra77-76-78-77--308$77
Vincent Eldred75-77-77-79--308$77
Herman Barron73-79-78-79--309$55
Bobby Cruickshank78-76-77-78--309$55
Mortie Dutra75-77-80-77--309$55
Macdonald Smith74-82-76-77--309$55
Ted Turner80-71-81-77--309$55
Al Watrous75-80-79-75--309$55
Vic Ghezzi75-78-81-77--311$50
Sid Brews76-81-78-77--312 
Ed Dudley74-83-75-80--312 
Bill Kaiser78-82-78-74--312 
Gene Kunes76-79-77-80--312 
Craig Wood76-80-79-77--312 
Ted Luther80-76-84-73--313 
Frank Walsh76-82-82-73--313 
"Lighthorse" Harry Cooper77-81-79-77--314 
Al Espinosa75-76-78-85--314 
Willie Hunter Jr.78-80-80-76--314 
Ky Laffoon75-83-81-75--314 
a-Chris Brinke80-80-81-74--315 
Billy Burke77-84-75-79--315 
Jim Foulis74-81-81-79--315 
Byron Nelson75-81-82-77--315 
a-Johnny Goodman77-78-83-78--316 
Philip Perkins77-82-80-77--316 
Johnny Revolta80-75-82-79--316 
Mark Fry80-77-80-80--317 
Perry Del Vecchio80-81-77-80--318 
Willie Goggin77-82-82-77--318 
Ralph Guldahl78-76-82-82--318 
Roland Mackenzie72-82-80-84--318 
Tony Manero77-80-76-85--318 
a-Zell Eaton81-80-82-76--319 
Cliff Spencer73-82-80-84--319 
Floyd Farley75-84-84-77--320 
Al Houghton78-82-80-80--320 
Willie Macfarlane77-81-78-84--320 
James Fogertey82-79-79-81--321 
George Schnieter77-84-79-81--321 
Johnny Farrell77-79-84-82--322 
Phil Turnesa77-82-82-81--322 
a-Charlie Yates77-79-84-82--322 
a-Maurice McCarthy Jr.79-81-81-83--324 
Felix Serafin80-79-81-84--324 
George Von Elm81-74-83-86--324 
Walter Kozak81-78-81-85--325 
Kanekichi Nakamura82-79-78-86--325 
Jack Gordon75-79-87-87--328 
Johnny Golden79-81-86-86--332 
a-Earl Stokes Jr.76-80-93-85--334 

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