Jerome Travers is one of golf's most enigmatic champions. He is one of only two players to win at least four U.S. Amateur titles (Bobby Jones won five).
Those victories came in 1907, '08, '12, and '13. Thought to excel only at match play, Travers pulled off a surprising victory in the 1915 U.S. Open, then retired from competition at the end of that year at age 28.
Travers was born on Long Island and came under the tutelage of Alex Smith at Nassau Country Club. He developed a rivalry with three-time U.S. Amateur champion Walter J. Travis, another Long Island resident. Travers, then 17, defeated the 42-year-old Travis in the 1904 Nassau Invitational. Travis knocked off Travers in the quarterfinal of the 1906 U.S. Amateur, but thereafter Travers had the edge on his older foe, beating him five times in the U.S. Amateur.
Travers's first two U.S. Amateur victories were romps in the finals, 6 & 5 over Archibald Graham in 1907 and 8 & 7 over Max Behr in 1908. Travers didn't enter the next two U.S. Amateurs. It is not known why, although it is possible that he chose to play only when he felt absolutely ready.
Travers returned in 1911, losing to eventual winner Harold Hilton, then won by large margins again in the next two years -- 7 & 6 over Chick Evans in 1912 and 5 & 4 over John Anderson in 1913. Travers lost in the final to Francis Ouimet in 1914.
Though he was one of the game's toughest competitors and owned an excellent short game, Travers was a wild driver and sometimes resorted to hitting irons off the tee.
Before 1915, he had entered only three U.S. Opens, finishing no better than 25th. But that year at Baltusrol, he played the last six holes in 1-under to score a one-stroke victory over Tom McNamara. It was the last Open he played in. He didn't play in another U.S. Amateur either, saying it wasn't possible to both earn a living and play championship golf.
Travers's trophy collection included hardware from one U.S. Open and four U.S. Amateurs -- all four won by routs in the final match.
For more information about golf, see:
- The Best Golfers of All Time
- How Golf Clubs Work