Who's who: Walter Travis

  • Photo of Walter Travis
  • australia.png
  • usa.png
  • Photo of Walter Travis
  • australia.png
  • usa.png

Who's who: Walter Travis

  • Name:

    Walter John Travis
  • Country:

    Australia
  • Lived:

    [1862-1927]. Born on Jan 10, 1862 in Maldon, Victoria, Australia. Died on July 31, 1927 in Denver, Colorado (age 65).
  • Original/Home Club:

    Maldon, Aus.
  • Occupation:

    Amateur golfer, course architect, golf journalist, writer and publisher, instructor, turf expert.
  • Turned Pro:

    n/a
  • Website:

    https://www.travissociety.com

Roll of Honour

The Amateur Champion (1904). US Amateur champion (1900, '01, '03). World Golf Hall of Fame (inducted in 1979).

Golf course design

Travis's best known work includes, but is not limited to:

UNITED STATES: Cape Arundel, ME (1921) / Columbia CC, MD (redesign, 1916) / Ekwanok, VT (with John Duncan Dunn, 1899) / Equinox, VT (1926) / Garden City CC, NY (1916) / Garden City GC, NY (redesign, 1902) / Hollywood GC, NJ (1913) / North Jersey CC, NJ (1923) / Onondaga G&CC, NY (1900) / Orchard Park CC, NY (1916) / Round Hill Club, CT (1922) / CC of Scranton, PA (1927) / Sea Island, GA (Plantn course, 1929) / Stafford CC, NY (1921) / CC of Troy, NY (1925) / Westchester CC, NY (South & West courses, 1922) / Yahnundasis GC, NY (1924).

CANADA: Cherry Hill Club, Ont. (1922) / Lookout Point CC, Ont. (1919).

Did you know?

Originally born and raised in Australia, Travis was the most successful amateur golfer in the United States at the dawn of the 20th century. Once bitten by the golfing bug, he also developed into a noted golf journalist and publisher, an innovator in all aspects of golf, a teacher, and much respected golf course architect.

Born in Maldon, "Australia's first notable town," Travis was a successful student who displayed excellent writing skills and had a keen interest in several sports, including cricket and tennis. In 1885, his employer, Mclean Brothers & Rigg, a hardware company, offered the 23-year old Travis a posting to manage their new office in New York. Travis accepted, and for whatever reason, never returned to his homeland thereafter.

It was not until 1896, aged 34, that he somewhat reluctantly started playing golf, a game that several of his friends had taken to. Travis later commented that this was when he “first knelt at the shrine of the Goddess of Golf”, and that he never ceased to regret the many prior "wasted" years. With his late start in golf, he earned the nickname ”The Old Man,” which stayed with him throughout his playing days. Travis carefully studied the instructional literature at the time, and through diligent experimentation, established techniques that worked for him. With his self-made style based on using a baseball grip (not uncommon at the time), his big breakthrough came at the 1900 U.S. Amateur Championship, when he earned a hard-fought victory over long-time nemesis, Findlay Douglas. Over the next few years, he won the U.S. Amateur twice more, came second in the 1902 U.S. Open, and won the British Amateur Championship in 1904. As the reigning U.S. and British Amateur champion, he was declared by the The New York Times to be the “World Champion of Golf”.

In addition to his golfing prowess, Travis also began to employ his writing skills, becoming a powerful journalistic influence in golf. He put forward many of his own ideas on such topics as golfing techniques, handicap systems, golf etiquette, course design, competition formats, golf rules, turf management and equipment standardization. His most far-reaching contribution was the founding in 1908 of his magazine, The American Golfer, which became one of the most influential golf magazines of its time.

A further facet of Travis's golfing legacy, came in the form of almost 50 courses that bear his name. Two of those courses, Garden City GC and Ekwanok CC are regularly included in listings of America's 100 greatest courses. Two others, Hollywood GC and Westchester CC’s West course, are often found just outside the top 100. Travis had no formal education or training in landscape architecture or golf course design. His initial hands-on experience came just three years after he started into golf, when he worked with Scotsman John Duncan Dunn on the layout of the Ekwanok CC golf course in Manchester, Vermont. Dunn probably played the lead role in developing the overall course plan, while Travis remained onsite to oversee the construction. Travis and Dunn collaborated on other golf course projects over the next few years. The development of Travis’s golf course designs was also influenced by an extended visit to Britain in 1900-01, during which time he visited many of the top layouts.

Top tournaments won by Walter Travis

Category

Amateur

Winner (holder)

Travis, Walter

Score

4 & 3

Prize money

n/a

Title sponsor

R&A

The Amateur Championship (20th). Travis (USA) beat Edward Blackwell (Scot) 4 and 3 in the final. [Royal St George's GC, Sandwich, Kent].

1903
Amateur
Nassau CC
5 & 4
n/a
x

Category

Amateur

Winner (holder)

Travis, Walter

Venue

Nassau CC

Score

5 & 4

Prize money

n/a

Title sponsor

x

The US Amateur Championship (9th). Travis (USA) beat Eben Byers (USA) 5 and 4 in the final. [Nassau CC, Glen Cove, Long Island, NY].

Category

Amateur

Winner (holder)

Travis, Walter

Score

5 & 4

Prize money

n/a

Title sponsor

x

The US Amateur Championship (7th). Travis (USA) won this title for the second straight year, beating Walter Egan (USA) 5 and 4 in the final. [Atlantic City CC, Northfield, NJ].

1900
Amateur
2 holes
n/a
USGA

Category

Amateur

Winner (holder)

Travis, Walter

Score

2 holes

Prize money

n/a

Title sponsor

USGA

The US Amateur Championship (6th). Travis (USA) beat Findlay Douglas (Scot) by 2 holes in the final. [Garden City GC, Garden City, Long island, NY].

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