Dusty Clippings Reveal History of GAM Legend Chuck Kocsis
Posted: 4/1/2019 by Greg Johnson

  It was a newspaper clipping encased in a plastic sleeve and found in a Michigan Golf Hall of Fame archives box.

 It was about Chuck Kocsis winning his first Michigan Amateur Championship at age 17 in 1930 at Belvedere Golf Club in Charlevoix, which made him the youngest winner of the championship at that time. He remains the youngest winner, by the way, all these 89 years later.

 It was the first time the championship was presented at Belvedere, which would go on to be an annual host from 1963 to 1988 and has hosted the championship 40 times in all.

 Kocsis, one of three brothers who are in the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame, is heralded in history as Michigan’s version of golf legend Bobby Jones.

 On that day, just after his junior year at Redford High School, he topped James D. Standish Jr. 9 and 7 in what were then 36-hole final matches. Standish, at the time was 39, a four-time champion and a man who would later become the longest standing president in GAM history and president of the United States Golf Association as well. Also, at that time, Standish had been the youngest to win the state title. He was just 18 when he won in 1909, which was the fourth Michigan Amateur ever played.

  Beyond confirming GAM and Michigan golf history, the article noted this about Kocsis: “It was a well-earned victory that makes the Detroit boy stand out as one of Michigan’s greatest prospects for future golfing honors. Enthusiastic admirers see in Chuck another Bobby Jones.”

  The headline of the article in fact was: “Great Golf Future Predicted For Chuck Kocsis.” It was found during research for stories that start next week and appear for 10 weeks on this website (gam.org). They will chronicle the 100 years of the Golf Association of Michigan, which will be celebrated on Monday, June 17, with a special #GAM100 event at Oakland Hills Country Club. Oakland Hills North hosts the Michigan Amateur that week.

  Bobby Jones, it should be noted, in that very same 1930 was battling a nerve disease that would end his golfing career. He also that year won the famous “Grand Slam” by taking the major titles of the time in the British Amateur, the British Open, the U.S. Open and the U.S. Amateur.

  The story revealed that Kocsis made six birdies in just 11 holes of the afternoon portion of the match to close it out. The story also wondered if Kocsis had needed to complete the round if he might have topped the Belvedere course record at that time – a 65 by none other than golf legend Walter Hagen.

  “I never saw such golf in any state tournament,” Standish was quoted as saying after the match.

  Kocsis described as a retiring, likable lad, was quoted to start the article: “It was my lucky day.”

  Some further investigation revealed it was a Detroit Times article. The Detroit Times of that time merged into the Detroit News 30 years later, but in 1930 it has a golf writer named Leo Macdonell. Leo was only a golf writer briefly. He soon was switched to baseball, covered the Detroit Tigers and became a noted president of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America and eventually the sports editor of the Times.

  Kocsis, of course, went on to greatness winning his six Michigan Amateurs, three Michigan Opens,  being a runner-up in the 1956 U.S. Amateur, being low amateur in the Masters and the U.S. Open and more.

  Just as those enthusiastic admirers as noted in that yellowed 1930 article in the dusty green notebook surmised, Kocsis became, at least to those of the last 100 years in Michigan golf, another Bobby Jones.

  Keep visiting gam.org for more #GAM100 history.

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