The Fort Wayne Open (1950-1956)
The Fort Wayne Open, which played for one year as Fort Wayne Invitational, was a golf tournament on the PGA Tour in the 1950s. It was played at the Orchard Ridge Country Club in 1950 before moving to the Fort Wayne Elks Lodge No. 155 golf course, now Coyote Creek Golf Club.
Past Champions of the Fort Wayne Open include:
1950: Lloyd Mangrum 1951: Jim Ferrier
Winner of the 1946 US Open Winner of the 1947 PGA Championship Championship Runner Up in the 1940 & 1949 Master's Runner up at the 1950 Master's
Runner Up 1950 US Open Runner up 1960 PGA Championship 3rd at the 1952 Master's
1952: Jimmy Clark 1953 & 1956: Art Wall Jr
Winner of the 1947 PGA Championship Winner of the 1959 Master's.
Runner Up in the 1950 Master's
Runner Up 1960 PGA Championship
Third at 1952 Master's
1954: Doug Ford 1955: Dow Finsterwald Jr
Winner of the 1955 PGA Championship Winner of the 1957 PGA Championship
Winner of the 1957 Master's Winner of the 1958 PGA Championship
Runner Up for the 1958 Master's Third at the 1960 Master's
Third at the 1960 US Open
Third at the 1960 Master's
Third at the 1963 PGA Championship.
You never know who you are going to run into! During a January 2017 visit to Bay Hill Golf Club, in Orlando FL, Coyote Creek Golf Club's PGA Director of Golf Bill Blumenhurst, ran into Dow Finsterwald.
Beside's winning the 1955 Fort Wayne Open, Dow had a very successful golf career, winning 11 PGA events between 1955-1963.
The Arnold Palmer Connection
Perhaps the most popular golfer of all time earned his first official tour money at Coyote Creek Golf Club on May 29, 1955. This is truly a heritage Coyote Creek is very proud of.
After finishing his fourth round at the Fort Wayne Invitational, Palmer pocketed $145 for finishing T-25. It was the first official PGA Tour payday Palmer was allowed to keep, having served the long-since abandoned, six-month probation against earning money in tour events after turning pro.
The $145 from Fort Wayne were the start of Palmer's launch into making golf in general -- and
the tour specifically -- financially lucrative. His star power helped the tour grow in popularity,
which in turn increased prize money substantially. He was the first to make $100,000 in a season,
first to $1 million in career earnings and the first to make advertising marketability an art form,
something he still excels at today at age 85. The huge tour purses he helped grow came much
after Palmer was capable of winning on tour, but the money he was able to keep at the Fort
Wayne Invitational 60 years ago must have felt like a fortune at the time, which is what he
turned it into. - Golf Digest
Oh, and three years after his Fort Wayne Invitational placing, Palmer won the Master's in 1958.