NJSGA Inducting Class of 2020 and 2021

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Marian Castner

This November, the New Jersey State Golf Association celebrates both its 2020 and 2021 Hall of Fame classes in a ceremony at Galloping Hill Golf Course in Kenilworth, home of the NJSGA’s headquarters. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 reception was delayed and now the pair of star-studded NJSGA Hall of Fame classes.

Established in 2018, the mission of the NJSGA Hall of Fame is to honor New Jersey’s finest amateur and professional golf competitors, as well as those who have made outstanding contributions in other areas of golf such as architects, journalists, superintendents, mentors, volunteers and others. The Hall of Fame recognizes men and women who, as New Jersey natives or residents at their time of achievement, have impacted New Jersey golf and/or have made extraordinary contributions to the game through competitive and non-competitive accomplishments. 

A look at the Class of 2020: 

Leighton Calkins (1868-1955) 

The first handicap system in the United States dates back more than a century, and it was Leighton Calkins of Plainfield Country Club who created it. 

In 1904, Calkins — who later served as the mayor of Plainfield from 1915 through 1920 — unveiled a new handicapping concept, which adapted the British system of averaging the three best scores, in a work titled “A System for Club Handicapping.” Before taking the system to the USGA, Calkins tested his ideas, first at Plainfield Country Club and then on larger platforms with the NJSGA and the Metropolitan Golf Association. 

At a meeting on October 11, 1911, at the Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, the USGA adopted a modified form of Calkins’ system, which essentially became the first USGA Handicap System. 

Several of Calkins’ visionary concepts survive to this day. He was adamant in insisting that each club “have a Handicap Committee which is willing to work.” Calkins also introduced the concept of a par rating, which later became known as the USGA Course Rating, the baseline from which all players would receive strokes. 

Calkins served as a member of the USGA Executive Committee, chairman of the Handicap Committee for both the NJSGA and MGA, and served a two-year term as president of the NJSGA in 1907-08. 

Michael Cestone (1904-1988) 

Playing out of Branch Brook Golf Course (now Hendricks Field) in Belleville, as well as Jumping Brook, Crestmont, and Forsgate, Cestone was one of the most successful amateurs in state history. In 1960, when he won the U.S. Senior Amateur, he became only the second New Jersey-born player to win a USGA championship (the 1933 U.S. Amateur Champion, George Dunlap, was the first). To this day, he remains one of few native-New Jerseyans to win a USGA title. 

His local championships included the NJSGA Caddie (1923), NJPGO Public Links (1938), and NJSGA Senior Amateur (1960, ’63) Championships. Other titles included the Met Amateur (1941), the Met Public Links (1937), the Met Senior Amateur (1960), four NJSGA Four-Ball triumphs with four different partners (1935, ’37, ’38, ’47), six NJSGA Father and Son titles (with son Michael in 1949, ’50, ’56, ’59 and with son Alan in 1953, and ’60), four runner-up finishes in the NJSGA Amateur (1938, '43, '44, '45), and one runner-up in the NJSGA Open (1944 to Hall of Famer Vic Ghezzi). He also was a member of six winning NJSGA Stoddard Trophy teams. 

A postman by trade, it was typical for him to play five rounds of golf every weekend, not to mention 18 holes at Branch Brook each weekday when he was finished with his mail route. 

His greatest year was 1960 when, at age 56, the resident of Upper Montclair won the NJSGA Senior Amateur, the Met Senior Amateur and the U.S. Senior Amateur – an unmatched triple. He won the championship match of the U.S. Senior in dramatic fashion, needing 20 holes at the Oyster Harbors Club on Cape Cod to claim victory. 

Sherry Herman 

Longtime New Jersey resident Sherry Herman is one of the most prolific golfers in the history of New Jersey. She is one of the few from the Garden State to win a USGA championship, having claimed victory at age 51 in the 2009 U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur at The Homestead’s Cascades Course in Virginia.

Locally, Herman is a five-time NJSGA Women’s Amateur champion (1995, ’96, ’97, ’98 and 2009); the four consecutive championships (’95-’98) make her the only female player in NJSGA history to win as many women’s titles in succession. She also won the 2008 NJSGA Women’s Senior Championship, as well as two NJSGA Four-Ball Championships (with Helen Bernstein in 2014 and 2016).

Herman has played in a total of 32 USGA championships. Her highlights in USGA play include a pair of semifinal appearances in the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur (1994 and 2001), reaching the quarterfinals of the U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur in 2010 and the Round of 32 in the U.S. Women’s Amateur in 2001. Herman twice represented New Jersey in the U.S. Women’s State Team Championship in 1995 and 2001; she claimed individual medalist honors in her second State Team appearance. 

Herman’s other achievements include representing the USA in the 1993 Maccabi games, where she participated on the Gold medal winning squad and won the individual silver medal. She also won the prestigious 2009 North & South Senior Women’s Amateur Championship, and is a four-time Women’s Metropolitan Golf Association Player of the Year (1997, ‘99, 2000, ’01). 

Herman and her husband, Ben, have two children, Jillian and Stacy. The couple currently resides in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, where Sherry continues to play in USGA and Florida State Golf Association events.

John J. McDermott (1891-1971) 

The first American-born (and youngest-ever U.S. Open champion) was John J. McDermott, a 19-year-old head professional at Atlantic City Country Club when he won the Open in a playoff at Chicago Golf Club in 1911. 

McDermott, representing ACCC in 1912, backed up his first U.S. Open Championship by winning again at the Country Club of Buffalo. That year, he was the first player to break par over 72 holes in the Open, finishing at two-under par 294 (par was 74). 

He is one of only seven men to have won back-to-back Opens. In the shortest career of any multiple U.S. Open champion, McDermott’s three-year Open record from 1910 through 1912 (two wins and a playoff loss) places McDermott in rarified air. Of the seven who have won back-to-back Opens, only Willie Anderson (with three consecutive wins), Bobby Jones, Ben Hogan and Brooks Koepka can touch McDermott’s record. 

McDermott was a native of West Philadelphia, Pa., the son of a mailman. He was introduced to the game at age nine at his grandfather’s farm, just across the road from Aronimink Golf Club. His first professional job was as an assistant at Camden Country Club followed by another assistant’s job at Merchantville Golf Club. In 1909, he finished fourth in the Philadelphia Open and fourth in his first U.S. Open. In the 1910 U.S. Open at Philadelphia Cricket Club, McDermott was in a three-way playoff, eventually won by Scotland’s Alex Smith. 

After winning the Philadelphia Open and garnering his second-place finish at the 1910 U.S. Open, McDermott replaced Bill Robinson as the head golf professional at ACCC in 1911. 

He had completed his amazing run by the age of 21, which included an eighth-place finish in the 1913 U.S. Open. By 1916, just short of his 25th birthday, McDermott’s mother committed him to the State Hospital for the Insane in Norristown, Pa. Later, he would visit ACCC on occasion where he was the guest of owner Leo Fraser. His last public appearance was at the 1971 U.S. Open at Merion, shortly before he died at age 79, where he was greeted by many of the world’s greatest golfers. 

His 1911 U.S. Open gold medal, given by the McDermott family to the ACCC, was donated by the Fraser family to the USGA Museum, where it remains on display. 

Allan Small 

The first player to win the NJSGA Amateur, Mid-Amateur and Senior Amateur, Allan Small of Fairmount flourished for decades as one of the top players in New Jersey. 

His crowning achievement came in the 2004 NJSGA Amateur at Spring Brook, leading to NJSGA Player of the Year honors that season. That triumph was bookended by victories in the NJSGA Mid-Amateur in 1986 at Colonia and again in 2006 at Galloway National. Small also won five Senior Amateurs (2008, ’09, ’11, 12, ’13). 

Besides his eight NJSGA titles, he added two MGA Senior Amateur championships (2009, 2017), and has been a dedicated member of the NJSGA Compher Cup and Stoddard Trophy teams, appearing a total of 56 times in those events. He has also represented New Jersey three times in the USGA Men’s State Team Championship. 

Small twice reached the semifinals of the Met Amateur, and twice more made the quarterfinals. He has seven top-five finishes in the MGA Ike (stroke-play) Championship and he has competed on nine MGA International Teams – as well as the 1997 International Team Championship in Peru. He has played in 23 USGA championships. 

The former longtime resident of Florham Park has been a member of Fairmount Country Club since 1981, where he has 30 different match and stroke play club championships to his credit. 

An electrician by trade, Small’s love for golf knows no bounds. He has served as president of the MGA, as a long-time tournament and rules official, and was coach of the Seton Hall University men’s team from 1990-96. 

Currently retired and living in Georgia, Small was named the Georgia State Golf Association’s Super Senior Player of the Year in 2018. He continues to play competitively in both Georgia and the New Jersey regions. 

A look at the Class of 2021:  

Jim Barnes

By the time “Long” Jim Barnes became the fifth professional to work at Essex County CC, in 1939, he had already made his mark on the world of golf. 

Born in 1886, he left England in 1906 for California. He won the 1916 and 1919 PGA Championships, the 1921 U.S. Open, and the 1925 British Open. He was the first player to win three legs of the four majors (he was invited to the inaugural Masters at age 47 but did not play), and today is among elite company as one of only twelve to accomplish the feat. 

His last notable triumph came in 1939, when he won the NJSGA Open Championship in his first year at Essex County Country Club, making him the oldest ever at 53 to win it. In the ‘39 Open, played at defunct Yountakah Country Club in Nutley, Barnes recorded a 289 total (playing through a rainstorm in the final round) to defeat two-time champion, Johnny Kinder of Plainfield Country Club, by three strokes. 

Barnes was a distinctive individual who stood out on the golf course, not only for his statuesque size of 6-feet-4, but for his curly hair and a stalk of clover hanging from his mouth. It is said he chewed the stem to relieve his thirst, but equally as much he believed it was a good luck charm. 

The moniker “Long Jim” came about not only from his height but also from his penchant for wearing long trousers in the era of “knickerbockers,” or “knickers,” short pants worn just below the knee. 

In 1940, Barnes was among the inaugural class of 12 golfers inducted in the PGA’s Hall of Fame. The class included legends Willie Anderson, Tommy Armour, “Chick” Evans, Walter Hagen, Robert Tyre “Bob” Jones, Francis Ouimet, Alex Smith, Jerry Travers, and Walter Travis. 

Barnes passed away in 1966 at the age of 80 in East Orange, N.J. In 1989, twenty-three years after his death, he was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame. 

Max Marston (1892-1948) 

It’s been nearly a century since Max Marston, who grew up in Cranford, won the 1923 U.S. Amateur Championship. Marston’s 1923 season is regarded as one of the best single-year performances by an amateur golfer and is considered by most golf historians as second only to Bob Jones' iconic Grand Slam of 1930 as the era's best amateur competitive season. 

Marston’s stellar 1923 campaign began with winning his two matches in Scotland during his second Walker Cup appearance. He returned home to capture the Golf Association of Philadelphia’s stroke play (Patterson Cup) and match play championships in successive weeks. In June, he won the Pennsylvania Amateur Championship and finished as the low amateur in the Philadelphia Open at Pine Valley two weeks later. Shortly thereafter, he won the Merion club championship. 

At the U.S. Amateur in September of 1923, played at Flossmoor Country Club in Illinois, Marston defeated some of golf’s biggest names. He came from behind to beat Jones (then the current U.S. Open champion) in the second round, topped Joseph Wills of Ohio, 4 and 3 in the quarterfinals, defeated former U.S. Open champion Francis Ouimet in the semifinals, 3 and 2, and beat defending champion Jess Sweetser in a 38-hole final match. 

To cap his season for the ages, Marston returned to Pine Valley in October where he won the famed Crump Cup. 

Born in Buffalo, N.Y., the Marston family moved to Cranford when Max was a child. He attended Pingry School in Elizabeth and the Pawling School in New York. As a youngster, the Marstons were members of the Cranford Golf Club before they joined Baltusrol Golf Club. While a member of Baltusrol, Marston won the NJSGA Amateur Championship in 1915 and 1919, and he won the Baltusrol’s club championship from 1914 through 1916. During these years, Marston served in the U.S. Navy during World War I. 

After finishing his service in the U.S. Navy and winning his second NJSGA Amateur title in 1919, Marston joined his father’s investment firm in Philadelphia. He became a member of Merion Golf Club, and later Pine Valley Golf Club. 

Marston’s fine play extended beyond his banner 1923 year; he also won the Pennsylvania Amateur in 1921 and 1922 and was named to the Walker Cup team in 1922, 1924, and 1934. His 1934 effort came on the heels of finishing as runner-up in the 1933 U.S. Amateur, where he lost in the final match to Kearny, N.J. native George Dunlap, 6 and 5. 

Marge Mason (1917-1974) 

Marge Mason of The Ridgewood Country Club was one of the most dominant players in New Jersey history. Over a two-decade period beginning in 1949, she won six NJSGA Women’s Amateur Championships (1946, '49, ’51, ’53, ’58, 62), two Women’s Metropolitan Golf Association Amateur Championships (1952, ’60), and a U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur Championship in 1967 at age 50. 

When Mrs. Mason won the sixth annual U.S. Senior Women’s Championship at the Atlantic City Country Club on Oct. 6, 1967, she finished with a three-round score of 236 that broke the former record of 239 set in 1963 by NJSGA Hall of Famer Maureen Orcutt and Allison Choate of Rye, N.Y. (Choate won that year in a playoff.) 

In the 54-hole event, Mrs. Mason had scores of 77, 80, and 79 for her record 236, each day coming in with the lowest round. Mrs. Hulet Smith of Pebble Beach, who won the event in 1964 and 1965 was runner-up at 240. 

Mrs. Mason played six times in the U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur, including a victory in her first try. She was third in 1968, tied for third in 1969, tied for 11th in 1970, tied for 17th in 1972, and tied for 21st in 1973. 

She was truly the outstanding player in the Garden State Women’s Golf Association for a sustained period of time. Mrs. Mason, a resident of Englewood, won that organization’s match play title eight times, its Elizabeth Goss Round Robin 10 times, its stroke play championship six times, and its Better-Ball-of-Partners event three times with partner LaJunta White. 

In addition, she won the Women’s New Jersey Golf Association Match Play and the WNJGA Stroke Play Championships six times each. 

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