Sixty years ago today, a 16-year-old Jack Nicklaus played PGA star Sam Snead in an exhibition match at Urbana Country Club that also featured local golf standouts Chick Evans of Urbana and Bob Ross of Springfield.
Proceeds from the match, promoted by local industrialist Warren Grimes, went toward building the pool at UCC
The following story appeared in the Urbana Daily Citizen on Monday, July 30, 1956:
“Snead Shoots Conservative Game, Wins Exhibition; Ross, Evans, Nicklaus Next”
(By Bob Spellman)
A youngster turned to the gallery and asked, “Did you see Sammy take off his hat? He’s bald.”
So he was, but the years have not dimmed the shine of Samuel Jackson Snead’s golf game.
Now 43, the West Virginia pro awed a gallery of 450 Saturday afternoon when he toured the hilly, medium-length Urbana Country Club course in 68 strokes.
Playing with “Chick” Evans of Urbana, Bob Ross Jr. of Springfield and Jackie Nicklaus of Columbus, Snead chopped three strokes off par while shooting 33 over the front nine and knocked another off with a back nine 35.
Ross led the amateur contingent with a three-under 69. Evans and Nicklaus stroked 71s over the par 72 course.
Snead, who has won PGA and Masters titles three times, teamed with Ross, twice Ohio Junior champ, to shoot an eight-under 64 in best ball play.
The Snead-Evans twosome whacked out a 66 while the Snead-Nicklaus team was a stroke behind at 67.
Playing a conservative game, Snead never went over par while firing his 68. And along with a fine exhibition of golf, he kept the crowd in high spirits with his ever-present wisecracks.
Ross shook off a cold putter and finished the match with four consecutive birdies. His back nine score of 32 was the best nine hole count of the day. He shot a one-over 37 on the front nine.
Evans, a former Ohio State varsity captain, birdied number one and then fired eight consecutive pars to finish the front nine with a one-under 35. He went one over par on two holes on the back nine and with a birdie on 14, shot a 37.
Nicklaus, Ohio high school champion, fired 17 pars and a birdie to garner his 71. He went out in 36 and came home in 35.
Snead showed the difference between the amateur and pro golfer with his sand trap shots. Catching three traps during the 18, he blasted out to within two feet on all three holes.
In the true exhibition spirit, he purposely trapped a ball on number ten. However, his shot out ended up within a foot of the cup.
Snead’s game on the fairways and off the tee was enough to combat a putter which sent several balls within inches of the hole without dropping.
After parring the first hole, he sank birdie putts on two and three. He stroked the course in par up to number eight where he dropped his third birdie.
He trapped his drive on the par three, 175 yard ninth. His sand blast put him six inches away and his par on the hole gave him a front nine 33.
Snead started the back nine with four consecutive pars. On the 496 yard 14th hold, a par five, he put his second shot just to the right of the green.
He chipped within three feet and downed a putt for a birdie. He parred out for a 35.
Ross took a bogey five on number one, but slipped back to even par with a birdie on the second hole. He bogeyed three before settling down to even par for the remainder of the front nine.
He started the back nine with five consecutive pars. Then, when his putter started matching a fine approach game, he sizzled the course with four straight birds.
Evans ran into trouble on the 11th green, and ended up with a one-over five.
He gained the stroke back on the 14th when his pitch stopped within three feet of the cup and his birdie putt dropped. He birdied 17 and lost a stroke when he three-putted 18.
Nicklaus, who played 18 holes in the Ohio Open at Marietta during the morning, displayed a fine driving and fairway game, but couldn’t get his putter to work properly.
He shot 16 consecutive pars before stroking a one-under four on the 485 yard 17th. He took a par on the 18th. Nicklaus and Snead did not go over par on any hole.
Before the match started, Snead, who has won over a half million dollars in 21 years of tournament golf, conducted a clinic on golfing technique.