Writing from Glenview, Illinois
Wednesday, May 13, 2015
A two-time U.S. Amateur champion, a lifetime professional dedicated to the charitable side of the game, and a seven-time winner of state major championships are the newest inductees to the Illinois Golf Hall of Fame.
H. Chandler Egan, who won the U.S. Amateur in 1904 and 1905 along with a quartet of Western Amateurs, Leon McNair, whose devotion to golf charities and growing the game beginning at Fox Bend Golf Course, and Jim Sobb, a three-time winner of the Illinois PGA Championship and a four time Illinois Match Play champion, were elected as the 2015 class to the Hall of Fame at The Glen Club.
All three inductees easily surpassed the necessary two-thirds vote, 12 of 18, for induction. Egan led with 16 votes, McNair collected 14 votes, and Sobb won 13 votes.
Seven other candidates on the ballot failed to win induction. Their vote totals: Francis Peabody 10, Jerry Rich 10, Gary Hallberg 9, Harry Radix 7, Emil Esposito 3, Phil Kosin 3, William Langford 2. The 18 members of the committee cast 87 of a possible 90 votes. Members could vote for up to five of the 10 candidates on the final ballot,
Profiles of the inductees of the 16th Hall of Fame class, the 80th, 81st and 82nd individuals to be so honored:
H. Chandler Egan
Raised in Highland Park, H. Chandler Egan is the owner of one of the greatest amateur careers in American golf, Egan won the U.S. Amateur twice (1904-05), the Western Amateur four times (1902-04-05-07), as well as the Intercollegiate individual title in 1902. Runner-up in 1903 Western Amateur, 1904 Olympic Games at Glen Echo, 1909 U.S. Amateur. Jumped into course design after moving to Oregon, including a remodeling of Pebble Beach, improving 16 of the 18 holes in conjunction with Robert Hunter, in 1928, two years after he won the California Amateur on the course. Egan designed 18 courses, including Eugene Country Club. Five-time winner of the Pacific Northwest Amateur.
A co-founder of the Illinois PGA Foundation, Leon McNair has been interested as much in the charitable side of the game as the playing side. He was head professional at Fox Bend, a course he helped build working for architect-builder Brent Wadsworth, from its opening in 1967 until his retirement in 2005. He’s a member of the board overseeing the First Tee of Aurora and Fox River Valley, and president of Wadsworth Golf Charities. He was Illinois PGA Section president in 1991-92. As a player, he was part of a Southern Illinois squad that won the 1964 NCAA College Division championship. Former member of the selection committee.
Jim Sobb, a Palatine native and two-time Division II All-America recipient at Western Illinois, has compiled one of the better playing records among current Illinois club professionals. He’s won three Illinois PGA Championships (1995-99-2000), and four Illinois Match Play titles (1990-93-95-2011). In the latter year, he also won the Illinois Senior Match Play, becoming the only player to sweep both match play crowns in the same year. Sobb won the player of the year title in 2000 and has won the senior player of the year title five times since 2007, including last year. He’s played in the Radix Cup 22 times, more than any other professional, and second only to Joel Hirsch’s 23 appearances, with a record of 13-5-4. A two-time winner of Illinois PGA professional of the year (1995-2000), he also collected the Bill Strausbaugh Award for service to his fellow pros in 2012.
This trio can best be described as a class of overachievers. Egan’s amateur playing record was outstanding, and his architectural resume has until now been largely unheralded. McNair has done it all in golf, from construction to running a first-class shop to innovating programs to bring people into the game and keep them there. And Sobb’s been the player you didn’t want to be up against for decades.
The induction ceremony is planned for October, the date yet to be selected.
– Tim Cronin