Bass, Johnny (1992)

About Bass, Johnny (1992)

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1911–1981. Johnny Bass entered the MAPGA Hall of Fame for his notoriety on the golf course and his many years of providing Maryland charities his organizational assistance. He always did his utmost to lend support to boys’ clubs, sports teams, and the fund raising efforts of hospitals and churches. For the golfing community, Johnny is given great credit for bringing the LPGA tour stop to Baltimore.

A native of Baltimore, Johnny started out as an “office boy” in his first job, but left that in 1932 to become the assistant golf professional at Clifton Park Golf Club. From there, John soon moved on to Woodholme Country Club, where his apprenticeship continued under Warner Mather, one of the leaders of the fledging Middle Atlantic Section. After three years he accepted a similar position at Hampton Roads Country Club, but stayed for only six months. In 1936, John returned to Clifton Park as the head PGA Professional where he remained through 1957. After World War II began, he enlisted in the Maritime Service and served as an onboard ship purser. Following more than a decade of service at Clifton Park after the War, he became the first head PGA Professional at the newly constructed Pine Ridge Golf, continuing there until his 1972 retirement.

John’s playing career began in a noteworthy fashion when he led the assistant professionals in the Maryland Open at Baltimore CC Five Farms in 1933. He won the 1934 MAPGA Assistant Professional Championship at Baltimore CC Five Farms and then the 1935 MAPGA Section Championship at the “original” Indian Spring course. On his way to the 1935 MAPGA Championship title he defeated Mel Shorey, Charles Betschler, Alec Taylor, and then George Diffenbaugh in the finals for the $100 first place check. All of them were well-regarded players of the 1920s and 30s. In 1938, he played in the first Baltimore City Open at Baltimore CC Five Farms, but lost in the opening round to Charles Betschler.

Nationally, Johnny played in four US Opens and two PGA Championships. In 1935, he qualified for the PGA Championship at Rolling Road. However, he did not make the field for the match play portion in the thirty-six hole qualifier at Twin Hills CC in Oklahoma City. John captured medalist honors in the 1936 US Open qualifier at Hillendale. However, he missed the cut in the event held at Baltusrol. Two years later in 1938, he again qualified for the US Open, that time besting George Diffenbaugh in a playoff for the last spot. However, he did not play in the Tournament proper held that year at Cherry Hills in Colorado. After World War II, John qualified for the 1948 US Open at North Hills in Philadelphia, but missed the cut; qualified again in 1952, but missed the cut at Northwood in Dallas; and qualified for the last time in 1954 at Mt. Pleasant and finished in 50th place at Baltusrol. In 1948, he led the field briefly at Riviera Country Club. His last national appearance took place at the Hermitage CC in Richmond when he did not make the match play portion of the 1949 PGA Championship.

In 1963, John thumped his younger colleagues in the Belair CC pro-am, now Bowie Golf Club, by shooting 68 and gaining a tie with Billy Phillips from Winchester CC and leading the field by two strokes.

Johnny was one of the last tournament players to wear a tie and long-sleeved shirt in competition. His peers named him the MAPGA Merchandiser of the Year (Public Category) in 1980. (rev. 2004)