They were men who fostered junior golf in Washington and across the country. They were boys whose promising careers were cut short. Today, their eponymous tournaments -- Frank Emmet Schoolboy, Bob Riley Junior Open, Bubby Worsham Memorial, Bobby Bowers Memorial, Bobby Gorin Memorial and Dewey Ricketts Memorial -- form the core of the junior schedule in the Washington area.
As time passes, the memories of these men fade. Yet their tournaments remain their enduring legacy.
No discussion of junior golf in Washington can begin without first mentioning Frank Emmet. When Emmet arrived in Washington in 1927 to become the business manager at Georgetown Prep, there were no junior programs. He started a team at Prep, encouraged other high schools to form teams and organized tournaments for the boys. Later, Emmet helped design Prep's nine-hole course. A plaque honoring Emmet stands near the course, which is currently under construction.
From 1927 until he died in 1982, Emmet was junior golf's guiding spirit. He cajoled upward of 60 country clubs in the area to allow juniors to play their courses. He helped launch the careers of many notable golfers, including Deane Beman, the first commissioner of the PGA Tour.
As a charter member of the USGA Junior Committee, Emmet was a driving force behind the creation of the U.S. Junior Amateur.
"He often said it was a love of his that sort of mushroomed and got a little bit away from him," said Emmet's daughter, Annmarie Emmet. "I think it was wanting the boys to have the competitive golf that he knew would strengthen them as young men, and then I think he realized that this was a niche that nobody else was taking care of."
The Schoolboy was renamed the Frank Emmet Schoolboy following Emmet's death. It is the second-longest running junior tournament in this area.
The oldest tournament is the Bob Riley Junior Open, which began as the D.C. Junior in 1922. It is the second-oldest junior tournament in America and was renamed in 2004 for Bob Riley, who succeeded Emmet as the administrator for the area's junior golf. Annmarie Emmet said her family is particularly grateful to Riley for taking on the burden of running the junior events.
"My family fretted," she said. "We didn't know what was going to happen with all of this when my father got sick, because it was such an endeavor. . . . Along came this Mr. Riley who my father did know and he had worked with my father. He was a godsend to my mother and my family. We can't say enough about him just taking it over."
Riley assumed the leadership of the Junior Golfers of Washington and brought it under the auspices of the Washington Metropolitan Golf Association, which continues to run five of the six tournaments.
The Bubby Worsham Memorial began as the District Junior Open in 1947.
Worsham won the event its first year. Two years after Worsham's death in 1949, Emmet renamed the tournament to honor him.
Worsham, whose given name was Marvin but was called Bubby from a young age, grew up in Cabin John, the youngest of the four talented Worsham brothers. Lew won the 1947 U.S. Open. Buck and Walter became club professionals.
After a successful junior career that included 35 consecutive match play victories and back-to-back high school titles, Worsham attended Wake Forest on a golf scholarship -- a rarity in those days. His college roommate was Arnold Palmer. It was on the way home from a homecoming dance in Durham, N.C., that Worsham crashed his car into a creek and died. Palmer was supposed to be with him.
Palmer played in the first Bubby Worsham Memorial in 1951 and won it.
"They were the best of friends, very close," said Buck Worsham, who has retired to Florida. "I see Arnold every once and a while and we reminisce about things."
Bobby Gorin was another strong junior golfer whose career was cut short by a car accident. Gorin won the D.C. Junior in 1959. That fall he enrolled at the University of North Carolina. While home for Thanksgiving break, Gorin was killed in car crash. His uncle, Louis Gorin, contacted Emmet and asked to start a tournament in his nephew's honor.
Louis Gorin attends every tournament, which is held annually at his home course, Woodmont Country Club, to award the winner's trophy.
"Just seeing the kids, some of them come back two or three years, they remember me," Gorin said. "It's nice seeing them all. Even when they lose, they come up to me, thank me. I get some nice notes from them."
Dewey Ricketts was a longtime club professional at Manor Country Club and another strong junior golf advocate.
"Dewey was a really special individual as far as I was concerned," said Charlie Ridgeway, who started the tournament in Ricketts's honor. "He had a thing for the kids. He was a good man."
Ridgeway became involved with junior golf through his sons and assisted Riley with arranging the interclub matches. In the early 1980s, several boys approached him and suggested there be a stroke play event. Up to that point, all the junior tournaments were match play.
Many of the purists balked at a stroke play event, but Ridgeway persisted. The event was held annually at Manor until it closed.
Bobby Bowers does not fall under the aegis of the WMGA. It was created as a memorial to honor Springfield Golf and Country Club's first head professional, Bobby Bowers, who died in 1974 from cancer. It is the largest junior tournament in the area and attracts golfers from around the world.