Golfer George Dunlap: Brief But Bright Amateur Career

Golfer George Dunlap in the early 1930s
George Dunlap was an American amateur golfer who was one of the best during a very brief career that mostly took place in the 1930s. He won a U.S. Amateur Championship and played in the Walker Cup three times. Strongly associated with Pinehurst, Dunlap won the prestigious North and South Amateur there seven times.

Full name: George Terry Dunlap Jr.

Date of birth: December 23, 1908

Place of birth: Arlington, New Jersey

Date and place of death: November 24, 2003, in Naples, Florida

Also known as: George Dunlap Jr. or George T. Dunlap Jr.

Dunlap's Biggest Wins

  • 1930 NCAA Individual Championship
  • 1931 NCAA Individual Championship
  • 1931 North and South Amateur
  • 1932 Long Island Amateur
  • 1933 U.S. Amateur
  • 1933 North and South Amateur
  • 1934 North and South Amateur
  • 1935 North and South Amateur
  • 1936 North and South Amateur
  • 1936 Metropolitan Amateur
  • 1940 North and South Amateur
  • 1942 North and South Amateur

His U.S. Amateur Championship Victory, Other Amateur Major Finishes

George Dunlap's one victory in an amateur major (defined as the U.S. Amateur and British Amateur championships) was in the 1933 U.S. Amateur, a tournament he barely qualified for. In the stroke-play qualifying rounds that preceded match play, Dunlap was one of 12 golfers who played a playoff for the final eight spots in the match-play bracket.

After surviving that showdown, Dunlap moved through the first three matches before encountering Lawson Little in the semifinals. Little went on to win both the British and U.S. amateur championships in both 1933 and 1934, as well as the 1940 U.S. Open. But here, Dunlap handled him by a 4-and-3 score.

That set up the title match against 1923 U.S. Amateur winner Max Marston. But Dunlap was even better in the final, winning by a 6-and-5 score over the 36 holes.

Dunlap only appeared in the two amateur majors between they years 1928-36. In seven U.S. Amateur appearances, he never advanced past the Round of 16 except for the year of his victory. In 1928, Dunlap lost to Jimmy Johnston in the Round of 16, and in 1931 he fell to Jack Westland in that round. Dunlap played in the British Amateur only twice, and both times lost in the semifinals.

More About George Dunlap

George T. Dunlap Jr. had a father who was an avid golfer and was also wealthy. The senior Dunlap was a cofounder of a New York publishing house, Grosset & Dunlap. The company published, among other famous titles, Zane Grey Westerns (affiliate links used) and the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys series of young-adult detective books.

The junior Dunlap was given his first golf club at age three, and the family was also making regular trips south to Pinehurst Resort very early in George Jr.'s life.

Dunlap was a small child who developed a very fast swing trying to make up for lack of physique. He grew into a slight-framed man, weighing no more than in the 130s during his competitive golf career. That very fast swing stayed with him, though, and Dunlap once won a long-drive competition in college. One sportswriter of the 1930s said that Dunlap's swing was so fast it was "like a hummingbird's wing."

Speaking of college, Dunlap attended Princeton University and starred on the golf team. In 1930, he helped lead the team to the NCAA championship, while winning the national individual championship himself. And he repeated as NCAA individual champ in 1931.

Two years later, in 1933, he was the victor in the U.S. Amateur Championship. Dunlap was just the third golfer all-time to win both the NCAA and U.S. Amateur championships.

Dunlap also made two appearances in professional majors. In the 1933 British Open, he tied for 35th place. He received an invitation to play in the very first Masters Tournament after his 1933 U.S. Amateur victory, and in that 1934 Masters placed 34th.

Dunlap, coming from wealth, was sometimes referred to in the media as a "socialite." Having money certainly gave him advantages in, for example, travel options that most golfers of his era did not have. After losing in the semifinals of the 1933 British Amateur, Dunlap needed to travel to St. Andrews for the Open Championship. He didn't take the train like most others making the trip, though. He bought a car. Which he drove to St. Andrews and, after playing the Open, gave to his caddie before returning to America.

By that time, Dunlap had been spending more and more time in Pinehurst, N.C., at the famous resort, first on travels south with his family during youth, then, as an adult, as a homeowner in the area. He first made his mark in the North and South Amateur when, as a 17-year-old in 1926, he was low medalist in the stroke-play qualifying.

He eventually won the prestigious North and South Amateur a record seven times. Dunlap's most impressive wins included his first, in 1931, when he beat Sam Parks Jr. (who went on to win the 1935 U.S. Open) in the championship match; and his third, in 1934, when he defeated another famous Pinehurst amateur, Dick Chapman, in the title match.

Dunlap's victories included four consecutive from 1933 through 1936. He also won twice in the 1940s (1940 and 1942) after he had already given up almost all other competitions. Dunlap reached the championship match one other time, in 1938, falling to Frank Strafaci.

In addition to 1926, Dunlap was also the North & South medalist in 1931, 1933, 1934 and 1936. The 67 he scored as medalist in 1936 wasn't bettered until Doug Sanders earned medalist honors with a 66 in 1956.

In a 1933 qualifying round, Dunlap scored 65, a new scoring record for amateurs at the Pinehurst No. 2 Course (qualifying was 36 holes at that point). In the quarterfinals that same year, Dunlap lowered the record with a 64, holing out on every hole of the match.

Dunlap was first selected for Team USA in the 1932 Walker Cup by captain Francis Ouimet, who then chose Dunlap as his own partner for the foursomes. Ouimet/Dunlap easily won that match. In the singles, Dunlap won by an even larger margin, 10 and 9 over Eric McRuvie.

Dunlap also played in the 1934 Walker Cup and 1936 Walker Cup. In 1934, Ouimet/Dunlap partnered again in foursomes but lost. Dunlap won his singles match over Jack McLean. In 1936, Dunlap played only in singles and halved Harry Bentley.

By the time of that 1936 match, Dunlap was already beginning to wind down his competitive golf career, one that had never been all that active to begin win. (When he received his invitation to play in the inaugural Masters Tournament in 1934, Dunlap initially declined. Only after Bobby Jones wrote him a personal letter requesting his presence did Dunlap agree to play. But he never attempted to play in the U.S. Open.) He had gotten married in 1933 and had taken a job on Wall Street that same year.

In 1935, Dunlap Jr. along with his father and a couple other investors bought the Pine Needles Inn in Pinehurst, and its overgrown, Donald Ross-designed golf course, both properties having fallen into disrepair during the Depression. They fixed it up only to sell it off in the 1940s, but they saved the Pine Needles golf course, which later became a major championship site.

In the late 1940s, Dunlap Jr. left Pinehurst and moved to Florida. He lived out his life there, dying at the age of 94 in 2003.

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