The United States Seniors’ Golf Association (“USSGA”) is the nation’s oldest golf association for “senior” golfers, i.e., those who are at least 55 years old. It was started in 1905 when Horace L. Hotchkiss, a member of Apawamis Golf Club in Rye, NY, invited a group of friends and acquaintances, all of whom were at least 55 years of age, for a one-day, 36-hole stroke play competition at Apawamis. Some 50 players gathered on October 12, 1905 for the world’s first-ever “seniors” tournament.
The tournament continued on an annual basis thereafter, with the number of participants increasing each year, requiring the expansion of the tournament to two days, and even four days in 1915. By then, the participants recognized it was time to organize in a more formal way, and in January 1917 the USSGA was officially chartered. Since then, membership in the USSGA has increased to approximately 1,150 persons, and the annual tournament has some 500 players (“Seniors) from all over the country competing at Apawamis, and its neighboring clubs of Round Hill, Blind Brook and Bedford.
In the early 1960s, however, it occurred to some Seniors who travelled a long distance for a short tournament in Rye, NY that it would be fun if an additional tournament could be arranged on the East Coast to coincide with the annual tournament in Rye. Weller Noble, a Senior from Berkeley, California discussed the idea with, among others, Henry C. Flower, Jr., then a former Ekwanok Board member and president-elect of the USSGA, and a plan was soon thereafter approved to have Ekwanok host the first “additional” USSGA tournament.
In June, 1962, 41 Seniors came to Ekwanok after the annual tournament to play in their first Invitational golf tournament. The 1962 tournament, won by Weller Noble, was declared a huge success and has continued at Ekwanok to this day. In 1964, the tournament was changed to a match play, better-ball-of-partners’ format, which proved so successful that it has been adopted by each of the 12 other Invitational Seniors Tournaments subsequently started at other distinguished clubs around the country. A distinctive flavor of the Ekwanok Invitational is the presence of a select group from the Canadian Seniors Golf Association to participate with their U.S. counterparts.
Since the 1962 introduction of USSGA play at Ekwanok, thousands of fine Senior golfers from around the country and Canada have enjoyed the beauty and hospitality of both Ekwanok and the Green Mountains of Vermont. A number of USSGA members have become members of Ekwanok, and the Seniors tournament continues to introduce visiting golfers and their spouses to the Manchester area each year to enjoy all that southern Vermont has to offer.