26th December 2022
Dr. Edgar (Ed) Rice Updegraff, the former USA Walker Cup captain and player, sadly passed away at the age of 100 on Friday 23rd December 2022.
Dr. Ed Updegraff Receives The Bob Jones Award in 1999 (Photo: USGA)
Of German descent Updegraff was born on 1st March 1922 in Boone, Iowa. The family lived near to Boone G.&C.C. so it was natural that he would start to take an interest in the game, first caddying for his grandfather and then playing as a junior.
He showed early promise winning the 1938 Iowa state high school championship and three Northwest Amateurs (1940-’41-’47).
Updegraff earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Iowa State University and a medical degree from the University of Iowa in the 1940s. He then enlisted in the Navy, becoming a urologist at the Naval Hospital in Florida.
Attracted by the all year round golf in Arizona he moved to Tucson in 1951 to set up his medical practice and remained in the area for the rest of his life.
Updegraff won the Western Amateur in 1957 and 1959, the Sunnehanna Amateur in 1962 and the inaugural Pacific Coast Amateur in 1967, where he held off Hale Irwin and Johnny Miller. Since 2010 The Dr. Ed Updegraff Trophy has been presented to the winner of the Pacific Coast Amateur.
As one of their leading amateurs in the 1950s and ’60s he was selected to represent USA in three Walker Cup matches; at Turnberry G.C. in 1963 (won 8-12), at Baltimore C.C. 1965 (tied 11-11) and finally at Milwaukee C.C. in 1969 (won 13-11).
He won three, lost three and tied one of his seven games. The highlight being his 4&3 win against Joe Carr in the Day 2 Singles at Turnberry.
Ed captained the 1975 USA Walker Cup side to a 8.5-15.5 victory on the Old Course at St. Andrews. He was fortunate in that the USA team was exceptionally strong that year with Vinny Giles, Jay Haas, Gary Koch, Jerry Pate, Craig Stadler and Curtis Strange amongst his line-up.
Updegraff also participated in the short-lived America’s Cup golf team match contested by Canada, Mexico and USA between 1952 and 1967. He played in 1963 and captained in 1967 with USA winning both.
He played in 17 U.S. Amateur Championships during his career. His best finish came in 1969 at Oakmont C.C. when he ended up 7th during the short period when it was played as a 72-hole stroke-play competition.
Updegraff played in one Amateur Championship, the one held the week after the 1963 Walker Cup match. He lost by 1 Hole in the semi-finals at St. Andrews to the eventual champion Michael Lunt.
He also competed in six Masters Tournaments, with his best finish a tie for 44th in 1966.
Dr. Ed Updegraff Tees Off In January 1962 (Photo: Tucson Citizen)
Updegraff remained a lifelong amateur and continued to play to a high level well into his early 80’s. It is said that he shot his age over 2,500 times.
Aged 59 he won the 1981 U.S. Senior Amateur Championship defeating Dale Morey 2&1 in the 18-hole final at Seattle G.C. Updegraff also reached the final the following year at his home club, Tucson C.C., but this time lost out by 2 Holes to Alton Duhon.
He won 27 club championships at Tucson C.C., 12 Tucson City Amateurs and 5 Arizona Amateur titles.
Updegraff was inducted into the Arizona Golf Hall of Fame in 1969. The Arizona Golf Association, of whom he was President in 1981-82, also honoured him by establishing The Ed Updegraff Award in 1990. It is given annually in recognition of those who, by their actions and accomplishments, exemplify the spirit of the game.
He was the recipient of the USGA’s highest honour, The Bob Jones Award, in 1991. This is awarded for distinguished sportsmanship in golf. Bill Campbell said in his nomination speech that “Whether winning or losing, he was the same unassuming, modest and courteous person, which is why his circle of good and lasting friends grew wider wherever he played. His dry wit adds to the fun of being with him, on and off the course.”
Dr. Ed Updegraff Bob Jones Award Video (Photo: Oregon Golf Association)
The Iowa Golf Association inducted him into their Hall of Fame in 2006.
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