A Little Bit of History
On July 4th, 1951 Ben Hogan staged a clinic and exhibition here for 2,000 fans less than a month after winning his second consecutive U.S. Open. The Hawk carded a 36-33 on a course measuring 6,732 yards. His caddie for the day was none other than local teenage phenom Gay Brewer, Jr. Other members of Lafayette’s High School golf team caddied for the Kentucky pros playing the exhibition with Hogan.
At the time, Gay was Kentucky State High School Champion several times over and held the competitive course record of 66. He was already a winner of the National Junior Amateur. He went on to win 17 professional tournaments, including the Master’s over Jack Nicklaus in 1967. Ask any member for the inside story on the exchange between Hogan and Brewer on what is now the 5th tee. Suffice it to say that Mr. Hogan was forced to become quite creative with his driver on the second shot on the way to a birdie.
The Kentucky State Amateur Championship, men’s and women’s city and regional tournaments, University of Kentucky golf team matches, the Kentucky State Open and Central Kentucky Open Championships have been played here. But Spring Valley’s most noted affair was the club’s annual Snowball Open, first played here in September of 1960. Naturally, Gay Brewer, Jr., won the inaugural event with a nine-under-par 135. Lexington’s Johnny Owens captured amateur honors.
The Snowball drew pros and top amateurs as well as touring professionals. Kentuckians Larry Gilbert, Bobby Nichols, Ralph Beard, Johnny Owens and Jim Ferrell, Jr., competed in the event. Golf TV commentator and two-time U.S. Open Winner Andy North notched his first professional win in the Snowball.
Today, the tradition of spirited competition lives on with club and member-guest events and the well-regarded Founder’s Cup Stableford Competition.
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