That man — player, champion, founder
and more — is the newest member of the
Golf Association of Philadelphia’s Hall of Fame.
John Guenther, Jr., a former Berkshire Country
Club beacon and founder of Heidelberg Country Club and Moselem Springs Golf Club, will
formally be inducted during the organization’s
Player’s Dinner, set for Oct. 25 at Huntingdon
Valley Country Club.
“I was delighted. I thought sooner or later,
they’d run out of better players and I might
get a shot at being in the Hall of Fame,” Guen-
ther, 84, of Wyomissing, Pa., said. “I looked
forward to something like this happening. I’ve
spent a lot of time hoping it would happen.
A non-ordinary golf initiation set the stage
for Guenther’s enshrinement. In 1948, he
and his brother George attended the Reading
Open — then a marquee event on the PGA
Tour — at Berkshire, where his family held
membership. As he strolled toward the
clubhouse, Guenther noticed a competi-
tor — two-time British Amateur Champion
Frank Stranahan — finishing his golf swing.
Guenther, an avid sports photographer at the
time, snapped a picture.
“I was so impressed. I couldn’t get over
how far they hit the ball. It looked like fun,”
Guenther, a Reading High School alum, said.
“When I got home, I told my dad I’d like to
take up golf. He said, ‘That’s great. I’ll pay for
your lessons. You can go practice but you
I went along with that and started taking
lessons from Harry Markel. He loved the fact
that I took up golf because I didn’t have any
bad habits. Without him, there’s no story.
“I really started falling in love with the
game then. I worked at it for the rest of the
summer and got envious of friends who were
walking up the 15th hole, which parallels the
range. They’d yell over catcalls and needle
me, knowing I couldn’t come out on the
course. The record will show I did get back at
them pretty good.”
How quickly the peer jeers turned into cheers.
In 1950, Guenther achieved a “light bulb”
victory — Lehigh Country Club’s Best-Ball
Championship (with Bob Batdorff). Two years
later, he entered his first tournament as an
individual — the Pennsylvania Golf Association Amateur Championship at Berkshire. A
no-brainer — nothing to lose, fun to gain on
his home course. He, at age 19, defeated Lynn
Creason, 3& 2, in the Final.
THE BOY WHO PRACTICED while his friends played became
a multi-Major champion. The champion who filled amateur golf
headlines for a decade became a multi-club founder.
2017 GAP HALL OF FAME INDUCTEE
John Guenther, Jr.
TBY TONY REGINA John Guenther, Jr. displays the spoils of his 1960 season riches.