Pete Trenham traces region’s professional
golf history, and then some By Fred Behringer
Pete Trenham, producer of a Hall of Fame career as a golf professional in the Philadelphia area for nearly 40 years, is thriving today in a second career – that of golf historian.
Trenham, the head professional at St. Davids Golf Club for 29 years and later
the director of golf at Reading Country Club for 10 years, operates the Web site,
www.trenhamgolfhistory.org, which grew out of his on-going effort to record the
history of the Philadelphia Section of the PGA of America.
The Web site goes far beyond the PGA boundaries to offer videos, vintage
photos and accounts of historic events and golfers spanning this entire region.
Here’s a sampling of the offerings, which are constantly expanded:
•A review of the four previous U.S. Open Championships held at Merion
Golf Club leading up to this year’s tournament in June.
• A comprehensive look at Ben Hogan’s career.
• A video describing the 1939 U.S. Open at Philadelphia Country Club, won
by Byron Nelson in the second playoff round after Sam Snead famously lost
in regulation with a triple bogey on the 18th hole.
• A video narrated by Jack Whitaker that captures the induction into the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame of Johnny McDermott, the young Philadelphian
who won the 1911 and 1912 U.S. Open. He was the first American born
player to gallantly earn the country’s national title.
• A recollection of courses that no longer exist, such as Tredyffrin Country
Club in Paoli, Pa.
• A video reporting the 1962 PGA Championship at Aronimink Golf Club.
Trenham credits three others for contributing significantly to the Web
site: Webmaster Jack Darcy, a North Hills Country Club member; Bill Orr
of Aronimink, called ”the idea man/critic” by Trenham; and his wife Francey,
“for putting up with all this.”
Trenham attributes his start as a golf historian in 1995 to hearing that Jim
Finegan, Sr., who was writing “A Centennial Tribute to Golf in Philadelphia”
for the Golf Association of Philadelphia’s 100th anniversary, was pressed for
time and would not be able to include information about professionals in his ac-
count. Trenham recalled thinking, “How can you have a 100-year history about
golf in Philadelphia and not have something in it about the pros?” He offered to
gather the information without realizing the effort it would take.
At the time, Trenham had just retired from St. Davids and felt he would
have time for the research, only to be diverted for four months to open the
Adare Golf Club in Ireland. Still, he met Finegan’s deadline, and the professionals got their recognition. Trenham then became the historian for the Philadelphia Section of the PGA and began writing the section’s history, a project
that led to creation of his Web site.
“I never dreamed there was so much out there that was so interesting,” he said.
“There’s no end to it. Things keep tying together.” He picked 1895 as the starting
point because John Reid, the pro from Philadelphia Country Club, was playing in
the first U.S. Open at Newport Country Club. “Reid designed around 20 courses
in this area, and the South Course at Philmont is probably the last thing that’s left
of his work here,” Trenham said.
The PGA history notes that the Philadelphia Section is the only one named
for a city and that it began in the Southeastern Section with West Virginia and the