The Lowell City Golf Tournament began in 1923, the year Bobby Jones won his first National Open, and is the oldest know local amateur tournament still being played in America. The tournament was conceived by the late Colin Macdonald, golf writer for the Lowell Courier Citizen. Macdonald, writing under the name “R. Putting Baddeley”, along with Walter Jewett and Francis P. Walsh convinced the area clubs to stage a 54-hole medal play tournament to determine the finest player in the Lowell area.
Fifteen year old Marshall “Bill” Forrest of Mt. Pleasant won the inaugural event. Forrest is still the youngest titleholder in City history. The champion received a gold medal and teammate Charlie Mills was awarded a silver medal for their performances. Mt. Pleasant was also presented with a beautiful shield honoring the young champions victory. Forrest, who was the 1924 Mass Junior Champion and the Yale golf captain, finished second in the 1929 NCAA Intercollegiate Championship losing to classmate Tommy Aycock in the final.
The driving force behind the tournament during the early years was Walter Jewett of Mt. Pleasant. Walter was the promoter, historian and benevolent dictator of the City Tournament. Jewett had the same impact on the Cities as Clifford Rogers had on the Masters and served as the Chairman of the Cities from 1923 until his death on Valentine’s Day in 1960.
A team championship was added to the tournament in 1924. Benjamin Pouzzner, publisher of the Lowell Sunday Telegram donated a shield to become the permanent possession of the first team to win the title three times. Vesper CC retired the shield winning consecutive titles from 1924-1926. Harry Pollard of Vesper offered a new trophy in 1927. The team championship proved to be a popular added attraction to the event. From 1923 until 1979 the teams consisted of nine players from each club. The rosters were expanded to twelve players in 1980. Nabnasset Lake Country Club was added to the original three clubs, Long Meadow GC, Mt. Pleasant GC, and Vesper CC in 1962.
Former Harvard athlete and City Champion Jack Healy best summed up the feeling of the Lowell Cities. Healy, whom famed sportswriter Grantland Rice called the longest hitter in golf, wrote the following letter to Gil Wood of the Lowell Sun from his home in Oklahoma in 1957.
“I have some very fond memories of Lowell, particularly concerning golf. Most of all, I remember the City Tourney. It was unique in my day and I imagine that it still is. Other Cities have similar tournaments. I have played some occasionally in the South and Southwest but they are golf tournaments pure and simple. The Lowell City Golf Championship is much more than a golf tournament. It is more like a progressive civic lawn party, an important social as well as sports event. It’s an honor to be chosen to participate; a thrill to watch and great fun for everybody.”
“Years from now, those playing in it will find, as I have, that it’s one of their fondest memories.”
The above are excerpts from “The Cities History and Records 1923-1991” by Gene Manley