Even in a Section as rich in playing talent as the Metropolitan PGA, perhaps no professional was as dominant a player as Al Brosch. The bespectacled and gentleman professional who served at Bethpage, Cherry Valley and Sands Point (where he ultimately finished his career), Brosch holds the record for both victory totals of the Long Island Open and the Metropolitan PGA Championships. He won his first Long Island Open in 1939 at Wheatley Hills before starting an incredible run in 1946 when he won his second LI Open title, and the first of six consecutive wins in that event. Even after his win in 1951 at Plandome, he was far from finished adding three more victories in 1953, 1956 and finally in 1959 at Rockville. Brosch was also a 6-time winner of the Met PGA Championship, dating from his first win in 1938 and including titles in 1941, 1947, 1950, 1952 and his final triumph in 1959. His 59 in a tour event at Breckenridge Park in San Antonio is another feat that has stood the test of time. Brosch was honored in 1975 as the Met Section’s second Sam Snead Award recipient for his contributions to golf, the PGA and the Met Section.
Hall of Famers
Alex Smith was a member of a famous Scottish golfing family. His brother Willie won the U.S. Open in 1899, and Alex won it in both 1906 and 1910. Like many British professionals of his era he spent much of his adult life working as a club professional in the United States. He won the 1906 U.S. Open at the Onwentsia Club in Illinois, and the 1910 U.S. Open at the Philadelphia Cricket Club when he won a three man playoff against American John McDermott and another of his own brothers, Macdonald Smith. Alex Smith played in eighteen U.S. Opens in total and accumulated eleven top ten finishes. He also played in 8 PGA Championships, winning over 50% of his matches in those events. Smith also won the Met Open four times, including the inaugural Met Open in 2005 when the Nassau Country Club professional beat Willie Anderson in a playoff at Fox Hills.
A native of Carnoustie, Scotland, Alex saw action in World War I and emigrated to NY in 1925, becoming the assistant at Mt.Kisco CC and then head professional at the old Hudson River CC in Yonkers. He finished T 32nd in the 1931 US Open and played in the PGA Championship and the US Open numerous times. Becoming the head professional at Leewood GC in 1945, he finished 3rd in the PGA Seniors in 1946 and was one of the original committee members that created the PGA Winter Activities program in 1952. He held the course record of 65 at Leewood and 59 at Hudson River, and served as the Tournament Chairman for over 10 years for the Westchester PGA . A courtly and distinguished professional, he was beloved by his peers and the Leewood members, where a monument stands to this day on the first tee, inscribed “The spirit of this amiable Scot will live on in those who play here”. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in October 1964, after his passing in 1963, the Leewood professional for 18 years.
Bill Collins won four PGA Tour events between 1959 and 1962. He was a member of the victorious 1961 Ryder Cup team at Royal Lytham and St. Annes in England. In 1965, he became the head professional at a new private club in Westchester, Brae Burn Country Club and remained there for 16 years. Collins won the Met PGA Championship in 1956 and then almost two decades later won again at Meadow Brook Club in 1975. That feat stands today as the greatest time between multiple championships in the tournament’s storied history. During his highly respected tenure at Brae Burn, Collins also served on the Met PGA Board of Governors and as the Section’s Tournament Chairman. He joined the Senior PGA Tour in 1982 and won the Greater Syracuse Senior’s Pro Golf Classic in
Bill Mehlhorn won 20 times on the PGA Tour, but did not win a major championship. Only a handful of golfers have won more often on the PGA Tour without claiming a major. His best finish was runner-up to Walter Hagen at the 1925 PGA Championship. In all, Mehlhorn played in 12 PGA Championships during his career. He also was a member of the very first, formal Ryder Cup team, captained by Walter Hagen that won the inaugural matches by a score of 9 1/2 to 2 1/2 at Worcester Country Club in Massachusetts. While serving as professional at Fenimore Golf Club, Mehlhorn won the 1929 Met Open contested at Lido Golf Club posting a 3 stroke margin over Wiffy Cox. Hailing from Texas, Mehlhorn often wore cowboy hats on the course and was nicknamed “Wild Bill”.
The ultimate “club golf professional,” Bob Watson had it all. He was a fine player, a talented teacher, an enthusiastic mentor, a wonderful communicator and an outstanding leader. Watson served several of the area clubs, including Metropolis, Ardsley, Wykagyl and Westchester Country Club. It was during his tenure at Wykagyl that Watson helped shape the Met Section’s history. He became the President of the Metropolitan PGA in 1970 and served a 3-year term. During that time, the Section established an office, hired full-time staff and started its own Trade Show. Watson was a proponent of the importance of playing and teaching, skills he demonstrated as a winner of the Met Open in 1958, the Westchester Open, the Westchester PGA and the Met PGA Seniors (twice). He also played internationally and claimed victories in both the Panama Open and Colombian Open. Watson was the Metropolitan PGA Professional of the Year in 1970 and was recognized for his educational contributions with the Section’s Horton Smith Award in 1977.
Bobby Cruickshank first rose to prominence in reaching the semi-finals of the 1922 and 1923 PGA Championship, losing both times to eventual champion Gene Sarazen. In 1923, Cruickshank also lost in a playoff at Inwood Country Club in the US Open to Bobby Jones, a win that helped catapult Jones to a legendary career. He was also the runner-up in the 1932 U.S. Open. Cruickshank won 17 PGA Tour events and finished 16 times in in the top-10 at major championships in his career. Cruickshank was runner-up in the qualifying at the very first Metropolitan PGA Championship and went on to lose in the semifinals while playing out of the Progress Club in Westchester. His greatest year was 1927, when he won the Los Angeles and Texas Opens and finished as the leading money winner for the year. He last won on tour in 1936.
Bruce Zabriski played on the European Tour from 1985 until 1987, and joined the PGA Tour in 1988, after earning his Tour card through qualifying school. He played in five Hogan Tour events in 1991 where he recorded three top-10 finishes including a win at the Ben Hogan Panama City Beach Classic. He rejoined the PGA Tour the following year, again earning his card through qualifying school. Zabriski joined the club pro ranks as an assistant golf professional at Winged Foot Golf Club from 1993 to 1995 and then at Westchester Country Club from 1995 to 1997. He became the head professional at Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, Florida in 1998 and then moved to the Old Palm Golf Club in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida in 2002 where he was the Director of Golf. He then transitioned to a position as Membership Development Director at the Mayacoo Lakes Country Club in West Palm Beach, Florida before returning to Westchester Country Club as a teaching professional in 2012. Bruce’s playing achievements are second to few. He has won 22 events in the New York metropolitan area including: 1984 New York State Open, 1985 Bacardi Classic and Long Island Open, 1986 Bacardi Classic, 1989 Nissan Classic, Dodge Open, and Long Island Open, 1990 Dodge Open and Long Island PGA Championship, 1991 Long Island Open and Long Island PGA Championship, 1993 Dodge Open, Long Island Open, Long Island PGA Championship, and Met Open Championship, 1995 Westchester Open and Westchester PGA Championship, 1996 Met Open Championship and Metropolitan PGA Championship, 1997 Westchester Open and Westchester PGA Championship, 1998 Westchester Open, 2007 MGA Senior Open Championship, and 2012 Met PGA Senior Championship. On the national stage, Zabriski won the PGA Professional National Championship in 1997 and the PGA Assistant Professional Championship in 1995. Bruce was named the National PGA Player of the Year a record five times (1991, ‘94, ‘96, ‘97, ‘98) and earned the Metropolitan PGA Player of the Year five times (1989, ‘91, ‘93, ‘96, ‘97). Zabriski was a contestant in 11 major championships: 1986, ’91 and ’98 US Opens, 1986 British Open, and 1994, ’95, ’97, ’98, ’99, ’01, ’02 PGA Championships. Bruce also played in the Senior PGA Championship and the U.S. Senior Open in 2008.
Clarence Doser was born in Rochester, New York in 1909. He grew up near the Rochester Country Club where his uncle and Walter Hagen were the co-professionals. In 1925 Doser turned pro and became a PGA member at age 16. He was a PGA member for more than 70 years. In 1937 he came to Philadelphia as the assistant at the Merion Cricket Club where he stayed for three years. Doser played in 21 PGA Championships, 19 U.S. Opens and three Masters Championships. When the PGA Championship was still played at match play he made it to the semi finals once and the quarterfinals once. Doser won the Western New York PGA Section Championship four times, the Metropolitan Section PGA Championship three times and the Middle Atlantic PGA Section Championship twice. Because of the strength of the field his three Met Section titles were considered the equivalent of wins on the PGA Tour at that time. Doser finished his career at Scarsdale and is a member of all three of those PGA Sections Halls of Fame.
A native of Leeds, England, Craig Shankland’s rise to prominence as a teacher followed years of service to the game, the Association and to the Met Section. The son of a famous English teaching professional, Bill Shankland (who worked with Bobby Locke, Henry Cotton, Kel Nagle and Tony Jacklin among others) and the brother of fellow PGA Member Dale Shankland, Craig was obviously a product of golfing genes. He was elected to PGA Membership in 1962 while at Canoe Brook in New Jersey. After a short stint in Illinois, Craig returned to the Met area and served as the head professional at Rye Golf Club, followed by Middle Bay Country Club and then finally Fairview Country Club. It was during his tenure at Middle Bay that he became immersed in the governance of the Met PGA, following Bob Watson as President. His tenure was filled with accomplishments. During his administration the Met PGA published a high gloss Newsletter to improve communications, established an Employment & Club Relations Committee that Craig chaired for several years, initiated the first semblance of the Junior Tour, identified new major sponsors for the Section Championship and tournament program, refined the membership process and created an Assistants Association to provide playing and educational opportunities for the area’s assistant professionals. An outstanding player in his own right, Shankland won the 1969 PGA Championship at Wee Burn and was a role model for the complete professional who excelled as a teacher, player, merchandiser, manager and promoter. His success in the Met Section preceded most of the PGA’s Annual Awards but he is one of only two Met PGA Professionals to ever be recognized as the Section’s Professional of the Year in back to back years in 1974 and again in 1975. His playing record also includes playing in 7 major championships (four PGA’s, two British Opens and one US Open). In 1985 Shankland purchased Ocean Palm Country Club in Ormond Beach and quickly established himself as one of the game’s premier teachers. He won the North Florida PGA Teacher of the Year Award four times (1996, ’97, ’99 and 2001) in addition to being named the Horton Smith nominee in 1994. Now in his 70’s Craig is still listed among the top 25 teachers in Golf Digest, and has enjoyed that distinction in Golf Magazine as well. He served as Vice-Chair for the 1998 and 2000 Teaching & Coaching Summits, was part of the PGA Teaching Manual and GPTP Training Program Committees and received the Association’s ultimate instructional honor when he was named PGA Teacher of the Year in 2001.
Craig Wood was born in Lake Placid, New York. Despite his total of 21 PGA Tour wins, Wood spent most of his career being known as a runner-up. For a considerable time, he was the only player ever to lose all of golf’s major championships in extra holes. He overcame this in noteworthy fashion, winning the 1941 Masters Tournament and becoming its first wire-to-wire champion. He would total 25 Masters Championship appearances by the end of his career. He followed his Masters success by winning the 45th U.S. Open at The Colonial Club. This was the first time someone had successfully captured the first two major championships of the year. Wood was a member of three Ryder Cup teams (1931, 1933, 1935). He won the Met Open in 1940 and the Met PGA Championship in 1942. Craig Wood was the professional at Winged Foot from 1939 to 1945. He was elected to the PGA Hall of Fame in 1956 and the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2008.
Dave Marr followed the footsteps of his golf professional father, turning professional at age 19. A short time later, Marr took a job as an assistant club pro to Claude Harmon at Winged Foot Golf Club. He began playing regularly on the PGA Tour in 1960, and in that year earned his first professional win. A year later, he won his second and third PGA Tour events. He also won the Met PGA Championship in 1962 while playing out of Rockaway Hunting Club. Marr joined the elite of the golfing world in 1965 when he captured the coveted PGA Championship at Laurel Valley Golf Club, was named to the Ryder Cup team and was selected PGA Player of the Year. Marr served as a golf analyst for ABC from 1972 until 1991. He also established a golf course architectural and design firm in 1981, designing many courses in the greater Houston area. Marr was elected to the National Collegiate Hall of Fame in 1977 and the Texas Golf Hall of Fame in 1978. He was selected for the Gold Tee Award presented by the Met Golf Writers in 1990 and posthumously was selected as the 2001 recipient of the Met PGA’s Sam Snead Award for contributions to golf, the PGA and the Met Section.