One Man, Nine U.S. Opens at Oakmont
By Greg Midland, USGA
One hundred years ago, Oakmont Country Club was in its early years and still three years away from hosting its first USGA championship, the 1919 U.S. Amateur. The surrounding town of Oakmont, founded in 1889, was just starting to grow and prosper.
On 3rd Street, the McElhose family welcomed a son, Bob, on April 30, 1916. The family patriarch, Leonard, was a master carpenter who helped with the construction of the original clubhouse at Oakmont Country Club, and worked for the club until 1953, when he was 77. It was Leonard who brought his 11-year-old son along with him to help with various odd jobs at the club during the 1927 U.S. Open. That championship, won by Tommy Armour, was the first chapter in the remarkable story of Bob McElhose and the U.S. Open at Oakmont.
Now 100, McElhose is the only living person who has witnessed all eight previous U.S. Opens played at Oakmont Country Club. He caddied in the 1935 U.S. Open, won by Pittsburgh resident Sam Parks Jr. And he attended as a fan when Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus, Johnny Miller, Larry Nelson, Ernie Els and Angel Cabrera became part of U.S. Open lore at Oakmont. This week, he returned to take in the U.S. Open scene for a ninth time.
Though McElhose was never a member of the club, he caddied here as a young man and honed his game on the famed course devised by Henry C. Fownes. He remained an avid player for much of his adult life, through a long career in engineering at the nearby Edgewater Steel Company, until he stopped playing just a few years ago at age 97.
But don’t take our word for it… hear from the man himself.
Greg Midland is the USGA’s director of editorial content. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.