U.S. Open Championship Qualifying

In 1956, the United States Golf Association conducted qualifying rounds for the U.S. Open [to be held at Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, New York] at 24 sites around the country for the 108 spots available after exemptions in the championship. The qualifying round in Baltimore was played at Mount Pleasant Park Golf Course. The four allotted spots were won by, according to Golf World, a weekly magazine published in Pinehurst, North Carolina:

John McDonnell 73-73---146
John Isaacs 73-75---148
Walker Romans 75-73---148
Dean Beman 76-73---149

The obvious misspellings of the names of Walter Romans and Deane Beman, both excellent players and well-known by Baltimore golfers in the 1950s, are not highlighted for picayune reasons but to raise and advance the argument that the John McDonnell listed was in fact John O’Donnell, who was hired [either just before or just after the qualifier] as Head Golf Professional at Mount Pleasant Park in 1956. It is not known whether the fault for the spelling mistakes lay with the magazine or with the USGA, which provided the names and scores to the magazine. (note)

The USGA did for a time manifest a curious quirk, that of frequently misspelling the names of public golfers and courses about whom and which it wrote. Indeed, it's rare in such instances of this era to find an article without a misspelling. Consider, in addition to the above examples, the case of the father of Jack and Billy Gossman, well-known Baltimore restaurateurs. Their dad, Frank, one glorious day in 1951, holed his tee shot on the par-3 sixth hole at Mount Pleasant. The next day, he aced the hole again, and later in that same round missed another hole-in-one on the 17 by eight inches. The USGA Journal of September, 1951, in chronicling this feat, spelled his name “Grossman.”

No one by the name of John McDonnell ever competed in the Eastern Invitation Open, nor does the name appear in the Maryland State Golf Association’s published records of the championships it conducted in the 1950s.

No one named John McDonnell competed in the U.S. Open that year, nor did anyone with the surname of McDonnell. A golfer named John O'Donnell did compete. Mr. O'Donnell shot 75 and 79, and missed the cut by five strokes. Almost certainly this John O'Donnell was the head professional at Mount Pleasant from 1956 to 1985, and the man who had qualified there for the Championship.

Deane (spelled with two e's) Beman shot 81 and 83 to miss the cut by 15 shots. John Isaacs [listed as “Jack” Isaacs in the official USGA summary of the event] finished in the money [he won $200 out of the total purse of $24,000], tied for 48th place at 306, 25 strokes behind the winner, Cary Middlecoff. No one named either Walker or Walter Romans played in that year's Open. A golfer who did compete is listed by the name of Walter Kozak. No one by the name of Kozak qualified in any of the rounds conducted by the USGA. [However, it is possible that he was exempt from having to qualify, or that he was an Alternate.] Mr. Kozak shot 83 and 80, and missed the cut. Whether this was or was not Mr. Romans cannot be determined. Perhaps if it was, he just had poor handwriting.

No misspellings of players' names who were members of private clubs are noted in any Golf World article about the 1956 U.S. Open.