Al Watrous, the head golf professional at Oakland Hills Country Club for 23 years and a professional there for 37 years, set the standard for major championship wins in the PGA of America’s Michigan Section. He claimed six Michigan Open Championship wins, and nine Michigan PGA Professional Championship titles over three decades, but also took his game to the national level winning eight times on the PGA Tour, and playing in 55 of golf’s major championships with 49 made cuts.
He won the 1922 Canadian Open and led eventual winner Bobby Jones by one stroke through 16 holes of the final round in the 1926 British Open at Royal Lytham & St. Annes. Jones hit what is regarded as one of the greatest recovery shots in golf history that day – a 175-yard blast from tall dune grass left of the fairway on No. 17 – to rally past Watrous.
A native of New York, Watrous moved to Michigan with his family at a young age. He was an elite international player as part of two U.S. Ryder Cup teams and as a senior won three PGA Seniors Championships on the national level as well as five Michigan PGA Seniors titles. For his career he had 34 professional wins, played in 21 PGA Championships, 19 U.S. Opens, nine Masters Tournaments and three British Opens. He died in 1983 in Royal Oak at age 84. Along with Walter Hagen and Chuck Kocsis, he was part of the first class inducted to the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame.