Some of the words used to describe Jerry Travers have not been kind – cold, somber, ruthless – yet these were the qualities that made him the most feared golfer of his time. In a nine-year stretch from 1906-1915, Travers won four U.S. Amateurs, five Metropolitan Amateurs and a U.S. Open. Only Bob Jones won more amateur titles and Travers was one of only five amateurs to win the U.S. Open. And his battles with Walter Travis, in the words of Herbert Warren Wind, “formed the crucible in which a talented young golfer was made into the greatest match player of his decade.”
Yet, in assessing his career, the words unfulfilled and disappointing have been used, too. The truth is, Jerry Travers never became a true hero of American golf, and his accomplishments are the least remembered among history’s greats. Why? For the same reasons that Travers was so successful, and also because his run of greatness concluded so abruptly. Although he lived to 63, Travers’ championship career came to an end at age 28. In the midst of his heyday, he twice didn’t bother to enter the Amateur. And he never entered the Open again after winning in 1915.