Betschler, Charles (1997)

About Betschler, Charles (1997)

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1895-1983. Charles Betschler’s distinguished golf career included launching two regional golf associations that he ultimately served as President:  the Maryland State Professional Golfers’ Association and the Middle Atlantic PGA. The MAPGA Senior Championship Trophy is named in honor of Charles Betschler.

A native of Baltimore, Charles Betschler’s life in golf started as an 11-year-old caddie at the Maryland Country Club. The “old” Maryland CC, situated in the Baltimore’s Arlington section, no longer exists.  His enthusiasm soon won him the affection of the golfing members who sought him out as a good luck charm.  Displaying quite an aptitude for the game, he began giving tips to beginners by his mid-teens.  He became an instructor, the caddie master, and then in 1916 the Head PGA Professional, a position he held until 1928.  In 1929 he became the Head PGA Professional at Rodgers Forge Country Club (now the CC of Maryland), then moved to the “original” Hillendale in 1935 where he remained until retirement in 1954.

In 1924, when plans emerged to broaden the scope of the District of Columbia Professional Golfers’ Association and the Maryland State Professional Golfers’ Association, Charles Betschler played a prominent role in the formation of the MAPGA.  At the time he served as the President of the Maryland group.  He attended the inaugural meeting of Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia professionals at Columbia in March, 1925, which led to the formation of the Middle Atlantic PGA.  In subsequent years, the membership elected him Vice President in 1927 and President in 1928.  In 1929, they voted him Treasurer, the first person to hold that position.  Then again in 1938, his fellow golfers again installed him as their Vice President.

Known as the “Little Dutchman,” Charlie was not particularly blessed with all of the physical attributes of other golfers, but well-known as one of the toughest match-play competitors of his time.  Prior to winning the Maryland State Professional Golfers’ Championship in 1923, 1924, 1925 and 1927, he played in the 1921 US Open.  When Charlie captured the fifth edition of the Maryland Open in 1925 at Rolling Road, he was the first professional to do so.  His triumph followed a second place finish in 1924 at Baltimore CC – Roland Park course.

The MAPGA Section Championship came his way twice.  First, in 1934 at the “original” Hillendale he defeated Johnny Bass, Al Treder, Carroll MacMaster and Al Houghton in match play to gather in the title.   In the final match Charlie was 5 down to Al Houghton after 27 holes, but then rallied with birdies at 10, 12, 14, 15 and 16 to get even.  Charlie then birdied 17 and halved 18 to win 1 up.  In 1936 at Rolling Road, Tommy Ryan, Glenn Spencer, Leo Walper and Cliff Spencer lost to him as he carried the day.  Additionally, he had been a semifinalist in 1931 at Woodmont and a finalist in 1932 at Maryland CC where he lost to Glenn Spencer.

His golfing credentials include a triumph in the inaugural MAPGA Senior Championship in 1949 at Woodholme which he followed up victories at Elkridge in 1950 and Bonnie View in 1952.  In those days the MAPGA held a senior division within the Section Championship.  In 1953, he and Ralph Beach shared the Bill Scott Trophy, accorded to the Senior Sectional Champion at the time, when they each shot 72 at Woodholme.   Nationally, Charles Betschler tied for 13th in the 1947 PGA Seniors’ Championship in Dunedin, FL.

Over the years Charlie scored seven holes-in-one.  He also established a number of course records: Rolling Road (65), Maryland CC (65), “original” Hillendale (65), CC of Maryland (66), and the “original” Sherwood Forest (71).

At Charles Betschler’s 1954 retirement dinner, Jimmy Roche, professional at The Elkridge Club, said, “If there’s only one man on the golf course and that man is Charlie, you know there’s a gentleman on the course.”  (rev. 2007)