Houghton, Al (1989)

About Houghton, Al (1989)


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1903-1982. Al Houghton entered the MAPGA Hall of Fame for his untiring work as section President who also held National PGA office. Known as the “Silver Fox” and “The Senator,” the monikers were bestowed because he promoted golf in this area as no one ever has. Al Houghton and Sidney Banks dramatically upgraded the purses and status of the MAPGA Championships in 1937 when they hosted the event at Chamberlin Golf Club and changed it to seventy-two-holes of stroke play. As a golf promoter, he organized the National Capital Open at Kenwood in 1931-1934 as PGA Tour stops. Al revitalized the regional open following World War II at Prince George’s CC. He assisted in the development of the National Celebrities Open in the late 1940s and early 1950s. He is also given credit for developing the National Women’s Open.

Born near Glen Echo, Maryland, in 1903, Al began his golf career as a caddie as Bannockburn in 1914. President Wilson selected 10-year-old Al to be his caddie. Army service took place during World War I.

His superb amateur career is evidenced by winning the District of Columbia Public Links Championship in 1925 and reaching the semi-finals of the national event. He may be the only player to compete in the four national events of his generation: the USGA Public Links Championship, the US Amateur, the US Open, and the PGA Championship.

Professionally, he began as an assistant at Bannockburn in 1927. His first head PGA Professional position came at Harper Country Club (1928-1931), then Kenwood (1931-1936), Cavalier Country Club (1936-1940), and Beaver Dam (Prince George’s CC) (1940-1968).

Four Maryland Open titles highlighted his career: 1932 at Columbia, 1933 at Baltimore CC-Five Farms, 1934 at Indian Spring and 1936 at Manor. He also won the 1940 District of Columbia Open at Congressional. In regional events, he won at Bedford Springs three times: 1933, 1939, and 1940, and the Mid-South Open and the Tidewater PGA Open in 1936. In April 1934, Al scored 9 birdies and no bogeys for a career and course record 61 at Washington Golf and CC.

Nationally, Al played in five PGA Championships. In 1933, he lost to Paul Runyan in the first round, but followed that with a quarterfinal appearance in 1934, but a loss to Denny Shute ended his PGA appearances. He played in six U.S. Opens, making the cut three times with a tie for 40th in 1932 his highest finish.

The MAPGA membership elected him President for the first time in 1950, and then re-elected him through 1956, and again in 1965. The MAPGA membership sent him to eleven national meetings as their delegate.

At the National PGA level, he held a regional Vice Presidency for three years. Al chaired the PGA Ways and Means Committee, the Insurance Committee, the Manufacturer’s Relations Committee and the Jurisprudence Committee. In 1952, in a proposal that was ahead of its time, he laid out a PGA equipment program that would fund pensions for PGA professionals.

In local civic circles, Al sat on the Chamber of Commerce, and presided over the Optimist Club and the Riverdale Civic Association. In 1959 Governor Tawes honored him with the Distinguished Citizen of Maryland Award.

The Maryland Athletic Hall of Fame inducted him in 1969.  (rev. 2004)