This year marks the 100th anniversary of the greatest US Open of all time. The 1913 US Open at The Country Club of Brookline was won by a 20year old amateur Francis Ouimet and his 10-year-old caddie Eddie Lowery.
Francis Ouimet was from poor background and caddied at the Country Club of Brookline to make money and play golf for free. He was so good in fact that he was granted a special exemption from the members of the club to play in the US Open. Francis Ouimet won the US Open in dramatic fashion in a 3 way playoff against the best player in the world Harry Vardon Eddie Lowery ends up cadding for Francis Ouimet only by shear chance. Eddie and his brother Jack skip school together and Jack was supposed to be caddy, but his brother gets caught and sent back to school. Eddie makes his way all the way to the Club 20 minutes before Ouimet tees off, Mark Front describes in the movie The Greatest Game ever played.“
“Eddie takes three street cars, skips school, shows up at Brookline and runs up to Francis,” Mark Frost, author of “The Greatest Game Ever Played” described. “It’s about 10 minutes to [Ouimet’s] tee time. [Eddie] explains that Jack isn’t coming ‘cause he had to go back to school. And Francis says, ‘Well, thanks for coming to town,’ and starts walking away. And Eddie says, ‘I could caddie for ya.’ And Francis says, ‘Eddie, you’re shorter than my bag, you can’t do this.’ And Eddie ends up convincing Francis that he’s the guy who should carry his bag in the Open.”
Francis Ouimet describes Eddie in an article for American Golfer,“My little caddie, Eddie Lowery … not much bigger than a peanut, was a veritable inspiration all around; and a brighter or headier chap it would be hard to find,”
After Ouimet duck-hooks his first shot about 40 yards into the rough, Eddie “almost grabs him by the tie and says, ‘Now listen, Francis, you gotta settle down. We’re not going anywhere unless you focus and get your mind back on this next swing,'” Frost details.
The win at Brookline in the 1913 not only propelled an amateur golfer and country club caddie to win the US Open but it propelled Eddie Lowery to a life only Hollywood could dream up. All of this is true.
After the US Open Eddie became a local celebrity, and a mighty good golfer himself. He won the Mass Amateur in 1927 and runner up two years in a row 31’ 33’
Lowery ends up talking an advertising job and enjoys his first bit of financial success in Boston but by 1937 he has an opportunity to join a management team for Van Etta Motors, which he subsequently bought and built into the largest Lincoln-Mercury dealership in America; he later acquired two additional dealerships. Lowery was now a multi-millionaire.
He was often regarded as “Mr. San Francisco Golf,” as he remained intimately involved with the game and sponsored many amateur golfers including Ken Venturi (1964 U.S. Open champion) and Harvie Ward (1955 and 1956 U.S. Amateur champion), who worked for Lowery at his dealerships.
Lowery was a member of San Francisco Golf Club, Cypress Point, Thunderbird, California Golf Club, Augusta National and Seminole and won several club championships. He became president of the Northern California Golf Association, and was on the executive committee of the USGA for a short time.
Eddie Lowery is also responsible for arranging what is considered the greatest four-ball match ever in which amateurs Ken Venturi and Harvy Ward face off at Cypress Point Club against professionals Ben Hogan and Byron Nelson. The story of that day is in Mark Frost’s book The Match: The Day the Game of Golf Changed Forever.” The two teams traded birdies and eagles the entire round, but Hogan and Nelson won, 1 up, when Hogan sank a 10-foot birdie putt at the 18th.
Mr. Lowery never lost his Boston charm or Boston accent. The Former Cypress Point head professional Jim Langley wrote for Sports Illustrated. “You’d hear him on a clubhouse phone saying, ‘How many cahs did we sell today?’ If you went to his showroom looking to buy last year’s model, he’d say, ‘I’m going to sell you a brand-new … cah.’”
Eddie was often the center of attention at Bing Crosby’s Clambakes in the hay day with Dean Martin, Sinatra, Bob Hope and movie stars of the 1950s, 60s and 70s. He would have huge parties and would gallivant till the early hours, and then get up and play golf at the worlds best courses, Pebble Beach, Cypress Point and Spyglass Hill.
Eddie Lowery and Francis Ouimet can be an inspiration to all aspiring golfers, caddies, entrepreneurs and people who love to dream big. He and Francis Ouimet stayed great friends till the end. Ouimet died in 1967, Eddie was a pallbearer at his funeral, and Eddie past away in 1984 in California. Lets take time to remember these two in the 100th anniversary of this Historic golf changing.
By Claude Pope