Looking Back: Inverness Invitational Four-Ball (PGA Tour)

The Inverness Invitational Four-Ball was a tournament on the PGA Tour during the 1930s to 1950s. It was a short-field, 2-man team event, with golfers in the field playing after receiving invitations in the mail from the host club, Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio.

First played: 1935

Last played: 1952

For all but the last year, the tournament field included just 16 golfers — eight, 2-man teams. (In the final year that was further reduced to just six teams.)

The tournament used an unusual format: The teams squared off in matches, but the overall match result — which team won or lost the match — didn't determine who advanced or not. Instead, the tournament used a round-robin format with each team playing each of the other seven teams over four days, 126 holes total over those four days. Teams were awarded one point for each hole they won, and lost a point for each hole lost. At the end of those seven matches and 126 holes, the team with the most points won the tournament.

The fourball format meant that each golfer played his own ball throughout, with the lower of the two partners' scores counting as the team score on each hole.

Winners of the Inverness Invitational Four-Ball

The list of two-golfer teams who won the tournament during its PGA Tour run:

1935 — Henry Picard/Johnny Revolta
1936 — Walter Hagen/Ky Laffoon
1937 — Harry Cooper/Horton Smith
1938 — Vic Ghezzi/Sam Snead
1939 — Henry Picard/Johnny Revolta
1940 — Ralph Guldahl/Sam Snead
1941 — Jimmy Demaret/Ben Hogan
1942 — Lawson Little/Lloyd Mangrum
1943–1945 — Not played due to World War II
1946 — Jimmy Demaret/Ben Hogan
1947 — Jimmy Demaret/Ben Hogan
1948 — Jimmy Demaret/Ben Hogan
1949 — Bob Hamilton/Chick Harbert
1950 — Jim Ferrier/Sam Snead
1951 — Roberto De Vicenzo/Henry Ransom
1952 — Jim Ferrier/Sam Snead

The team of Ben Hogan and Jimmy Demaret was the one to beat in this tournament — they won it a record five times. That included three consecutive victories in 1946-48. In 1949, Hogan was supposed to partner Frank Stranahan, who that year became the only amateur golfer invited to play in the tournament. Stranahan was a Toledo native and a member at Inverness Club. But Hogan had to withdraw following his auto accident. Demaret, instead, became Stranahan's partner, but Bob Hamilton/Chick Harbert were the tournament winners that year.

Sam Snead was part of four winning teams, but with three different partners: Vic Ghezzi, Ralph Guldahl, and, twice, Jim Ferrier.

The fourball tournament ended after 1952, but Inverness CC hosted one more PGA Tour event the next year. In 1953, the Inverness Invitational was a standard, 72-hole, stroke-play tournament with a field of 30 golfers. Jack Burke Jr. was the winner.

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