The 1930 Michigan Amateur Launched Chuck Kocsis’ Storied Career

The 1930 Michigan Amateur Launched Chuck Kocsis' Storied Career
Seven of nine Kocsis brothers posed in 1938 for this photo at a golf outing. From left, lined up by age as they often did for photos, Emerick, Alex, Chuck, Albert, Sam, Joe and Bob.

The 1930 Michigan Amateur Launched Chuck Kocsis’ Hall of Fame Career

The 1930 Michigan Amateur Championship launched the career of Michigan’s finest amateur golfer, Charles “Chuck” Kocsis. Now a Michigan Golf Hall of Famer, Kocsis would go on to win that championship six times. In his career, Kocsis also won three Michigan Opens, was a member of three Walker Cup teams and played on two NCAA Championship teams at the University of Michigan. 

Jackson Country Club was awarded the 1930 Amateur during the prior year’s tournament at Detroit Country club. However, as the spring of 1930 arrived, it became clear to Michigan State Golf League President James D. Standish, Jr., that the turf in Jackson would not be ready for play.  A search for an alternate site led the League to Belvedere Country Club in Charlevoix.  

Standish made the announcement on Monday, April 7, 1930. 

The 1930 Michigan Amateur Launched Chuck Kocsis' Storied Career
Golfers, caddies and onlookers climb the hill near the Belvedere clubhouse during what is believed to be the championship match of either 1946 or 1948.

Belvedere was the furthest north that the tournament had been played at that point, but already had a reputation as an outstanding course.  The course had been designed and built in 1925 by Willie Watson, who is better known for his designs at Olympia Fields, Olympic Club and Harding Park. In 1929, Belvedere had hosted – along with Charlevoix Golf Club – the Great Lakes Open. 

(Read The GolfBlogger’s Belvedere Golf Course Review)

Detroit Free Press writer M. F. Drukenbrod described Belvedere: 

It is pleasantly rolling and wooded. While there is ample latitude in the driving zones, the greens are well trapped, putting a premium on accurate approaches. 

(Interestingly, Belvedere is often spelled “Belvidere” in the papers) 

Belvedere Holes and Pars

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Par 54443543436

The 1930 Michigan Amateur was held over four days: July 23 – 26. A single qualifying round would produce 32 low qualifiers for the Championship Flight. All matches were 18 holes, except the final, which was 36. Two rounds were played on Thursday and Friday. The 36-hole final was scheduled for Saturday. 

The 1930 Michigan Amateur Launched Chuck Kocsis' Storied Career
A view of the green on the ninth hole at Belvedere in 2016.

The 1930 Michigan Amateur Qualifying Rounds – July 23, 1930

A total of 152 golfers entered the 1930 Michigan Amateur. The field included three former champions, but not the reigning title holder, Johnny Malloy. 

Malloy had won the Michigan Amateur the prior three years, but was unable to defend his title in 1930. Malloy turned professional in the spring of 1930. He served as the pro at the Ann Arbor Golf and Outing Club (across the street from the stadium) from 1930 – 1967. Malloy is a member of the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame. 

Another past champion in the field was Michigan State Golf League President James D. Standish. Standish was seeking his fifth state title, having won the Michigan Amateur in 1909, 1912, 1919 and 1924.  Also playing was Dave Ward, the 1926 champion and L.L. Bredin, who won three titles from 1919 to 1921. He too is a member of the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame.

The qualifying round was played in a wind strong enough to knock putts off line. 

Chris Brinke, a Kentucky amateur champion, was the first-round medalist, signing for a 72, three clear of his nearest competition. Brinke opened with twelve straight pars. He had a double bogey on the thirteenth, but then ran off a birdie, eagle, birdie. A bogey on the short, but devilish seventeenth brought him back to earth with a bogey. Brinke finished with par on the eighteenth. That even par ended the three-year medalist reign of Big Rapids’ Dave Ward. 

Chuck Kocsis finished the first nine in 36, overcoming a pair of three putts. He faltered on the second nine, shooting 41 for a total of 77. 

Standish shot a 78 to make the Championship Flight. He undoubtedly was thinking about his loss in a playoff the year before.

Scores in the qualifying round at Belvedere were better than the previous year at Detroit Country Club. In 1929, scores of 82 made the cut, while 80 was the mark in 1930. 

The 1930 Michigan Amateur Launched Chuck Kocsis' Storied Career
A view from behind the green on Belvedere’s tenth in 2016.

First Round of the 1930 Michigan Amateur – July 24, 1930

The first round pairings featured: 

  • Chris Brinke (72), Detroit vs Dick Yates (78), Detroit 
  • Francis Ryan (76), Detroit vs JD McKnight  (79), Detroit 
  • Dave Ward (75), Big Rapids, vs. Lee Higgins (79), Grand Rapids 
  • Johnny Bergelin (78), Big Rapids vs Lawrence Wood (79), Detroit 
  • EC Olson (75), Detroit vs Roy Castenholtz (79), Muskegon 
  • CS Snow (77), Detroit vs Warren Pease, Jr. (79), Detroit 
  • Ken Bukema (76), Grand Rapids vs. L. Ludwigson (79), Manistee 
  • JD Standish, Jr. (78), Detroit vs Eugene Hand (80), Bay City 
  • Charles Menefee (75), Ann Arbor vs LL Bredin (79), Detroit 
  • Charles Kocsis (77), Detroit vs RS Montague, Jr. (79), Saginaw 
  • Earl Wood (75), Detroit vs Bob Howell (79), Detroit 
  • Bud Smith (78), Detroit vs William Courtney (80), Detroit 
  • HR Olson (75), Detroit, vs George Craig (79), Detroit 
  • Harry Allen (78), Grand Rapids vs WA Ryan (79), Detroit 
  • B. Bissonette (76), Grand  Rapids vs WF McGraw (79), Jackson 
  • R Waterbury (78), Battle Creek, vs Howard Minier (80), Battle Creek 

Some of the results from the first round were surprising to Free Press Reporter M. F. Frukenbrod. Ken Bukema, described as “long driving” and Grand Rapids’ “most feared entry” fell to Manistee high schooler Luddy Ludwigson. Dave Ward, “a former champion and counted one of the strongest contenders for this year’s title” fell to Larry Wood. 

High schoolers fared well. Kocsis defeated his opponent 5-3. A 17-year-old from Birmingham, George Craig, defeated Harvey Olson, a semifinalist in June’s district tournament. 

First Round Results: 

  • Chris Brinke  7-6 over Dick Yates 
  • Francis Ryan one up over JD McKnight 
  • Dave Ward 6-5 over Lee Higgins  
  • Lawrence Wood 2-1 over Johnny Bergelin 
  • EC Olson one up over Roy Castenholtz  
  • Warren Pease 3-2 over CS Snow  
  • L. Ludwigson 1 up after 20 holes over Ken Bukema 
  • JD Standish, Jr. 2-1 over Eugene Hand 
  • LL Bredlin 5-4 over Charles Menefee 
  • Charles Kocsis 5-3 over RS Montague, Jr.  
  • Bob Howell 1 up after 20 holes over Earl Wood 
  • William Courtney 3-2 over Bud Smith 
  • George Craig 1 up over 20 holes over HR Olson 
  • Harry Allen 1 up over WA Ryan 
  • B. Bissonette 4-3 over WF McGraw 
  • R Waterbury 1 up over Howard Minier (80), Battle Creek 
The 1930 Michigan Amateur Launched Chuck Kocsis' Storied Career
Chuck Kocsis in later years. Courtesy of the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame.

Round Two of the 1930 Michigan Amateur – July 24, 1930

In the second round, two of the longer hitters, Brinke and Ryan faced off. The pair made the turn all square, but Brinke won four of the next six. Ryan was finished when he three putted the fifteenth. 

Kocsis faced L.L Bredlin in the second round. Bredlin, a veteran competitor, fell three down to the high schooler after 11. He fought back, though, with three birdies and a par to square the match with Kocsis on the fifteenth. Bredlin stymied Kocsis on the sixteenth to go one up. 

Then the tide turned again. Bredlin three-putted on seventeen from 18 feet and the match was all square.

In Forever Scratch, penned by Vartan Kupelian, Chuck Kocsis described his play at the seventeenth

On the par 3 19th, I hit it on the green but left myself with a long putt, maybe 35 feet. Lou’s shot had missed the green but his ball was closer to the hole than mine. I putted and left it about three foot short. He chipped up and left me a dead stymie, which was stil a part of the game in those days. Unlike today, it was perfectly legal to leave it there and make your opponent figure out a way to get his ball over or around the stymie.

In practicing for this situation, I had found that I wasn’t very good at chipping my ball directly over another ball. Playing more to the left, though, and by opening the blade and making a cutting motion under the ball, I could make it kick to the right when it landed. In my match against Bredin, that was the shot I played. As planned, it kicked to the right and into the cup on the first bounce.

Chuck Kocsis, in Forever Scratch, written with Vartan Kupelian

On eighteen, Chuck Kocsis uncorked a 300 yard drive that carried a series of traps on the right. Kocsis was just off the green with his second shot, while Bredlin found rough. Kocsis went in for par and a win. 

Standish faced Ludwigson in the second round and quickly got out in front. He led by six at the turn, in spite of Ludwigson’s eagle three on the ninth. That eagle sparked something in the high schooler, however.  Ludwigson won three holes in a row on the back nine for a rally that ended only when he hit a ball out of bounds on the sixteenth. Standish finished 4-2 over Ludwigson. 

Second Round Results 

  • Brinke 4-3 over Ryan 
  • Wood 1 up over Ward 
  • Pease 4-3 over Ed Olson 
  • Standish 4-2 over Ludwigson 
  • Kocsis 1 up over Bredin 
  • Courtney 7-5 over Allen 
  • Bissonette 2-1 over Waterbury 
James Standish. Photo courtesy of the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame

Round Three of the 1930 Michigan Amateur – July 25, 1930 

Third Round Pairings 

  • Brinke v Wood 
  • Pease v Standish 
  • Kocsis v Courtney 
  • Craig v Bissonette 

In the morning match,  Brinke and Wood halved the first seven holes. Brinke won the eighth, but Woods came back with a third shot on the ninth that stopped just two feet from the hole. The birdie squared the match. On the eleventh, Woods took three to get down from just a few inches off the green. Brinke went up by one and never relinquished the lead. Brinke caught a break on thirteen when a wild chip hit Woods’ ball and rolled to within a few feet of the hole. A three putt by Wood on the fifteenth effectively ended the match. It was over after halves on sixteen and seventeen. 

Chuck Kocsis was up by two on the front nine before Courtney’s par on the ninth cut his lead to one. That was as close at it got, though. Kocsis played the next six holes in two under and didn’t allow Courtney to win a single hole. On the tenth, Courtney topped his drive. He managed a stymie on eleven, but Kocsis made a clutch 12-footer for a birdie three on twelve. Courtney’s last chance was on thirteen, but he missed an 18-foot putt that would have won the hole. 

Craig relied on his putting to defeat Bissonette.  Over the course of the round, Craig sunk ten putts of ten or more feet. Two were drained from thirty. Still, Craig had just a one hole lead at the turn. On the tenth, Bissonette squared the match with a birdie four.  It was downhill from there. A bad second shot on eleven put him one down. Craig had two more birdies. On the par three fourteenth, Craig sank a thirty- ooter for birdie. Bissonette missed a 12-foot putt to match him. The match was closed with a halve on the sixteenth. 

Meanwhile, Standish was just one up over Pease coming into the ninth. He got a birdie on a long putt, and made the turn two up. He gained another hole on the backside before closing out the match on the sixteenth with a par for a half. 

Third Round Results 

  • Kocsis 4-3 over Courtney 
  • Craig 3-2 over Bissonette 
  • Brinke 2-1 over Wood 
  • Standish 3-2 over Pease 
Modern Hickory golfers at Belvedere. Belvedere will host the 2019 US HIckory Open.

The Semifinal Round of the 1930 Michigan Amateur – July 25, 1930

Semifinal Pairings 

  • Kocsis vs Craig 
  • Standish vs Brinke 

In the semifinal round Chuck Kocsis was matched with George Craig of Detroit, while James Standish played medalist Chris Brinke. 

Craig led Kocsis by three at the turn.  A birdie four by Kocsis on the tenth cut the lead by one. Craig had pulled his second shot – with a wood — into the rough. Kocsis got another one back on twelve when Craig missed the green. The story was repeated on thirteen when Kocsis took advantage of another Craig miss. Kocsis and Craig were all square.  

The match held steady on fourteen. On fifteen, Kocsis and Craig both recorded a birdie. Kocsis went one up on sixteen when Craig’s second came up short.  On seventeen, Kocsis reached the green with his tee shot, while Craig was wide left and watched his ball roll down a hill.  Chuck Kocsis won two and one to advance to the finals. 

James Standish faced medalist Chris Brinke in the semifinals.  Standish and Brinke made the turn all square. Miscues around the green, however, led Brinke to drop three of the next five.  With a three putt on the fourteenth Brinke went three down. A lesser player would have folded. Instead, Brinke fought back to take advantage of two Standish miscues. Standish was up by one on the eighteenth.   Brinke’s second was pulled to rough just off the green. That seemingly ended his chances, but then Standish three putted after arriving in two. Brinke couldn’t capitalize,  though and the resulting half ended the match. 

1930 Michigan Amateur Semifinal Results 

  • Standish 1 up over Brinke 
  • Kocsis 2 and 1 over Craig 

Final Round of the 1930 Michigan Amateur – July 26, 1930

The first hole at Belvedere is a 370 yard downhill par 4. Photo from 2016.

James Standish, Jr. Vs Chuck Kocsis 

At first glance, the match seemed uneven. Standish was a veteran competitor who won the first of his four amateur championships four years before Kocsis was even born. He was the President of the Michigan Golf League, while Kocsis had recently risen from the ranks of the caddies. 

Chuck Kocsis in 1930 shortly after winning the Michigan Amateur. Photo from Detroit Free Press.

Standish opened the match by going one up over Kocsis with a par. On the third, Kocsis got even with a par five. Standish scored a six after driving into the rough, mishitting the second and overshooting the par putt.

Kocsis let Standish go one up again on the fourth by missing a four foot putt for par. The pendulum swung back again on the sixth when Kocsis made a fifteen footer for a birdie three to go all square.

On the ninth, Chuck Kocsis finally went one up with a ten foot putt for birdie.

 The back and forth continued until the fifteenth. There, after reaching the pr five in two, Standish three putted. Kocsis, who also reached in two, went one up with a birdie.

Kocsis scored par on each of the next three holes, but Standish was unable to match him. At the end of the first eighteen, Kocsis was up by four. It was thought that he set the course record at the time.

Morning Scores

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In the afternoon, Chuck Kocsis opened with a birdie four on a ten-foot putt. Standish carded a five and was down by five.

The two halved the second, but Kocsis then won the next three.  

Kocsis lost the seventh, missing a five foot putt. He recovered on the par three eighth. A shot to the green and a fifteen foot putt netted a birdie to Standish’s par.  

A birdie on the ninth followed, while Standish again shot par.  

On the downhill tenth, Standish got a stroke back with an eagle three. Kocsis answered him, however, with a twenty-foot butt for birdie on the eleventh to end the match.

By the time it was over, Kocsis had won 9 and 7 with seven birdies over 29 holes. Over the two rounds, Kocsis was only twice over par. On his final eleven holes, Kocsis was five under. In the afternoon, he had putts for birdie on every hole but the second and seventh.

Afternoon Scores

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Par 54443543437

Throughout the championship, Chuck Kocsis impressed reporters with his “quiet” and “unassuming” manner, and seemed as though he was “a veteran of many years to judge by the calmness of his play. Never once did his calmness waver, either in triumphs or when his ball skimmed the cup to rob him of what should have been even lower scores.” 

The eighth at Belvedere is a 162 yard par three. Photo from 2016.

Chuck Kocscis’ Golf Legacy

Chuck Koscis would go on to win six Michigan Amateur Championships. He still is the youngest to win the state amateur title. Kocsis also won six Michigan Medal Play titles among the publinxers and won the GAM Championship twice. Add to this three Michigan Open Championships, including a win at age 18 over Tommy Armour, the reigning British Open Champion in a playoff.

Other accomplishments:

  • University of Michigan golf team captain
  • Member of four Big Ten championship teams and two NCAA championship teams.
  • Twice a Big Ten medalist.
  • Top Individual in the 1936 NCAA Championship
  • Member of three Walker Cup Teams
  • Played as an amateur in 11 Masters Tournaments and was low amateur in 1952.
  • Qualified 13 times for the U.S. Open and was low amateur in 1934 and 1937
  • Qualified 15 times for the U.S. Amateur and was runner-up in 1956.
  • Runner-up in the 1948 Mexican Amateur
  • Winner of three U.S. National Open Seniors championships
  • Winner of four International Senior Championships, including 1970 at Gleneagles in Scotland by an unprecedented 21 shots.
Embed from Getty Images

James Standish’s Golf Legacy

James Standish never did win another Michigan Amateur. He did, however, continue his life in golf. Standish served as president of the Detroit District, the precursor to the Golf Association of Michigan from 1937 to 1947.

Standish also was an executive committee member of the USGA and served as its president from 1950 – 1951. Standish helped create the US Amateur Pub Links Championship (since cancelled by the USGA). A life member of the Royal and Ancient Club of St. Andrews, Standish was also twice the Amateur Champion of Austria (1908, 1909) and the 1909 North and South Amateur Champion.

Belvedere Club House in 2016,

Belvedere’s Golf Legacy

Belvedere Golf Club continues to host championships. In 2019, the William Watson-designed course hosted the US Hickory Open. Over the years, Belvedere has hosted the Michigan Amateur forty times.

“Belvedere became the home of the Michigan Amateur, and the club was proud of it. They are still proud of it. They are proud to have hosted it 40 times, and Belvedere is going to host it again in 2025 when the club celebrates its centennial. The GAM and Belvedere will celebrate a great history together,”said Dennis “Marty” Joy, the head golf professional.

In an amazing case of serendipity, the 2016, the razing of an old building in Charlevoix led to the discovery of Watson’s original drawings of Belvedere. While aerial photos existed from the late 1930’s, there was no actual documentation of the original parkland design with its classic flowing fairways, strategic bunkers and subtle greens until the find.

Watson, who is famous for classic and major championship designs across America including Olympia Fields in Chicago, Interlachen in Minneapolis, The Olympic Club in San Francisco and others, started hands-on with his design in 1923. With five teams of horses and 150 men, the Scotsman went to work on what had been a farm on the outskirts of the small village.

After 95 years, with the original drawings at hand, Belvedere decided to begin a restoration. Golf architect Bruce Hepner and Superintendent Rick Grunch completed the project for the 2017 season. They expanded some putting surface areas, fairways and approach areas on many of the holes that had been lost to erosion and mowing patterns over time, and they did a strategic tree removal and brought back a few lost bunkers.

 Joy said the work brought back strategies for playing the course that Watson originally intended.

 “It was a great success,” he said. “We play all the way back from about 6,900 yards now, but the strategies, the landing areas, the hole positions, those things are the same as the 1930s and 40s.”

The 1930 Michigan Amateur Launched Chuck Kocsis’ Hall of Fame Career first appeared on GolfBlogger.Com. It was pieced together from contemporary accounts from the Detroit Free Press, Ludington Daily News, Battle Creek Enquirer, The News Palladium, The Herald-Press, Lansing State Journal and Traverse City Record-Eagle and from Chuck Kocsis’ memoirs in Forever Scratch, by Vartan Kupelian.

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