Golfer Chandler Egan: Early American Amateur Champ

Golfer Chandler Egan circa 1904
Chandler Egan was an American amateur golfer who won the U.S. Amateur Championship twice in the first years of the 20th century. He was one of the first championship golfers to come out of the college golf scene. And Egan played an important role in the growth of golf in the U.S. Pacific Northwest.

Full name: Henry Chandler Egan

Date of birth: August 21, 1884

Place of birth: Chicago, Illinois

Date and place of death: April 5, 1936, in Everett, Washington

Also known as: Frequently called "H. Chandler Egan" in the newspapers and magazines of his time. Much less commonly, he was sometimes referred to as Henry C. Egan.

His Biggest Wins

  • 1902 U.S. Men's College Championship
  • 1902 Western Amateur
  • 1904 Western Amateur
  • 1904 U.S. Amateur
  • 1905 Western Amateur
  • 1905 U.S. Amateur
  • 1907 Western Amateur
  • 1915 Pacific Northwest Amateur
  • 1920 Pacific Northwest Amateur
  • 1923 Pacific Northwest Amateur
  • 1925 Pacific Northwest Amateur
  • 1926 California State Amateur
  • 1926 Bahamas Amateur
  • 1932 Pacific Northwest Amateur

His U.S. Amateur Wins and Best Finishes

Egan won the U.S. Amateur twice, in back-to-back years: 1904 and 1905. He also reached the championship match one other time, the semifinals once and the quarterfinals once.

His run to the championship began in 1904 with medalist honors; Egan scored 242 over 54 holes of qualifying. He beat A.W. Tillinghast (yes, that Tillinghast, the famous golf course designer) in the first round. In the 36-hole championship match, Egan dispatched Fred Herreshoff, 8 and 6. He was 20 years old at the time of this first win.

Egan made it two in row in 1905, beating Daniel Sawyer in the championship match, 6 and 5. Just as in 1904, his run to the trophy began with a win over a now-legendary course designer: Egan beat Charles B. Macdonald, 2-up. He also ran into Herreshoff again, beating him in the third round.

Egan was the second golfer in U.S. Amateur tournament history (after Walter Travis, 1900-01) to win consecutive titles. And Egan was the first golfer ever to record wins in both the U.S. Amateur and NCAA Championship (he is credited with this achievement even though the NCAA wasn't founded until several years after Egan's college championship).

Egan first played in the U.S. Amateur in 1902, when he reached the quarterfinals before bowing out to Eben Byers. He last played the tournament in 1935.

In the 1909 U.S. Amateur, Egan lost in the championship match to Robert Gardner. (At the time, Gardner was also the world record-holder in the pole vault with a vault of 13 feet, 1 inch.)

In 1929, 25 years after his first win, Egan made it to the semifinals. It was only his second entry in the U.S. Amateur since 1909. He also reached the Round of 16 two other times, in 1906 (going for the threepeat) and in 1933. His 1933 run included a first-round win over Johnny Goodman, the reigning U.S. Open champion.

More About Chandler Egan

Chandler Egan would likely be more widely known today had he not moved to the Pacific Northwest at the height of his game: He went 20 years after that move with only one start in the U.S. Amateur, because traveling back East, where the tournament was mostly played in those years, was too much trouble.

Egan first played golf during an 1896 visit with his cousin Walter Egan (who himself grew up to be a championship golfer) in Wisconsin. Chandler's father joined Exmoor Country Club in Chicago in 1899, and Chandler's interest, and game, took off.

Chandler was the first great golfer to come out of the American college ranks. He entered Harvard University in 1901 and became captain of the golf team. Egan's Harvard team won three consecutive team championships (1902, 1903, 1904), and Egan won the individual championship in 1902.

That year — 1902 — marked Egan's breakout onto the national scene at age 18. Egan won that college championship, he reached the quarterfinals in his first U.S. Amateur appearance, and he won the Western Amateur by beating cousin Walter Egan on the 37th hole.

Walter got his revenge the following year, beating Chandler in the Western Amateur title match. But Chandler won again in 1904, 1905 (once again over Walter in the championship match) and 1907.

Chandler and Walter were Olympic teammates on one of the American squads entered in the golf competition for the 1904 Summer Olympics. The Egans' team won the gold medal, but Chandler got silver in the individual competition. He lost to Canadian George Lyon in the gold-medal match. In 2012, when Chandler's daughter Eleanor Everett died at the age of 101, Egan's gold and silver medals were discovered in her house.

During this early part of Egan's career, he also played in the U.S. Open three times. In the 1904 U.S. Open, he tied for 20th place to earn low-amateur honors. In the 1906 U.S. Open, Egan had his only Top 10 finish in the Open — a tie for eighth — to once again finish as low amateur. He tied for 23rd in the 1911 U.S. Open.

Egan visited Oregon in 1910, then returned in 1911 and bought land near Medford. That land included 115 acres of apple and pear orchard. There is a legend that when Egan moved out west, to Medford, Oregon, there wasn't a golf course within 300 miles. That's not true: Medford had a golf club, and one of Egan's first moves after settling down was to upgrade the golf course at Medford Country Club.

His arrival in Oregon meant that he virtually disappeared from golf back East and in his native Midwest. Egan didn't play any tournament golf again until 1914, when he made his debut in the Pacific Northwest Amateur by reaching the championship match.

Egan played in that Pacific Northwest Amateur 10 times from 1914 through 1934. He won it five times (1915, 1920, 1923, 1925, and last, at age 48, in 1932), lost in the championship match twice and reached the semifinals eight of those 10 years.

When he was 50 years, Egan played in the 1934 Walker Cup. He did not play in the singles matched, but partnered Max Marston to victory in a foursomes match.

The next year, Bobby Jones invited Egan to play in the 1935 Masters Tournament, just the second one played. Unfortunately, that turned out to be something of a cap on Egan's golf competition career. One year later, in April of 1936, Egan contracted pneumonia and entered a hospital. He never made it out, dying at age 51.

The regard in which he was held is illustrated by the fact that in 1937, Jones was on-hand to dedicate the H. Chandler Egan Memorial Fountain at what is today Rogue Valley Country Club in Medford. Pros Harry Cooper, Lawson Little, Horton Smith (all Hall of Famers today) and Jimmy Thomson were there, too, to play an exhibition match as part of the dedicatory day.

Egan was inducted into the Pacific Northwest Golf Hall of Fame in 1985, the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame in 1990 and the Illinois Golf Hall of Fame in 2015.

He is remembered as one of the most influential golfers ever in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. Egan's arrival in Oregon in 1911 didn't just mark the arrival of a golf star who elevated the competitive scene and drew attention to that part of the country. He helped spark a much greater interest in building golf courses in Oregon and Washington, in part by becoming a golf course architect himself.

Egan was involved in more than 20 golf course designs and several more re-designs in Oregon, Washington and California. Courses designed by Egan include Indian Canyon Golf Course in Spokane, Washington, site of the PGA Tour Esmerelda Open; Eastmoreland Golf Course in Portland, Oregon, site of two USGA championships; and Waverly Country Club in Clackamas County, Oregon, where Tiger Woods won the 1993 U.S. Junior, and Lanny Wadkins and Juli Inkster won U.S. amateur championships.

Egan also designed notable courses such as Pacific Grove Municipal Golf Links in Pacific Grove, Calif.; Eugene (Oregon) Country Club; and Oswego Lake Country Club in Lake Oswego, Oregon. Egan also led a makeover of Pebble Beach Golf Links in 1928, nine years after the course opened.

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