It was a day to reminisce as Frank Emmet, father of junior golf in America, was honored yesterday in his 50th year as overseer of the Washington area's young golfers.
The occasion was the Golden Anniversary Junior Open at Robin Dale Country Club, opening tournament on this summer's busy junior schedule.
It was the bestowing of honors from one commissioner to another Deane Beman, one of Emmet's star graduates who is now commissioner of the PGA Tour, presented Emmet a plaque which read, "In grateful appreciation for a half-century of unselfish dedicution toward the development and expansion of the finest junior golf program in the world."
After Beman's presentation and words of thanks from Brandywine head pro Ed Lorenz, Emmet opened the junior season with a drive down the first fairway.
"It was the first shot I've hit in about 10 years," he said, confiding he at one time whittled his handicap to six.
"I'm sure he was touched by the occasion," said Lorenz. "The thanks he gets is just watching kids go through the ranks giving something back to the game."
Beman said he remembered he shot 113 in his first junior tournament. Emmet still has the scorecard. Beman later set the course record of 64 at Bethesda and won the British and U.S. amateurs, and was a winner on the pro tour.
Emmet, now 77 ("you can tell my age by what year it is. I don't conceal it"), retains a storehouse of golf lore under his snowy hair.
"One of the best matches I ever saw was at Columbia between Deane and Carl Lohren. I asked Lohren after the front nine how he did. He said pretty good, 'shot 32.' I asked him how the match stood and he said, 'I'm two down.' Beman had shot 29."
Emmet remembers a wiry youth with Popeye forearms from Liginier, Pa, who drove the par-four first hole at Bethesda and went on to win the first Bubby Worsham Tournament: Arnold Palmer.
And a downright obese lad from Columbus, Ohio, who lost in the semifinals of the USGA National Junior at Manor on Georgia Avenue: Jack Nicklaus. Who beat him? Why Chip Beck, of course.
Emmet is at work on his seventh scrapbook of junior golf exploits. The first six are in the Golf Hall of Fame in Pinehurst, N.C.
On Page One of the opening book, written in 1927, is the mention of the winner of a long driving contest at Woodberry Forest School in Orange, Va. An "S. Snead."
The looking back is over for now and Emmet wants to continue. "I have no intention of retiring," he said.
Tony Milam of Montclair, Charles Gates of Columbia and Webb Heinszelman of Washingtonian carded even pars 72s to share first place honors yesterday.
Milam won a free trip to Pebble Beach, Cal. on Sunday when he won this region's PGA sponsored National Long Driving Contest with a 327-yard poke.