Born: May 19, 1887
Died: March 29, 1951
Birthplace: New York, New York
Jerry Travers was a standout American amateur golfer in the early 20th century. Travers captured four U.S. Amateur titles and also, the 1915 U.S. Open Championship, becoming one of just five amateurs to win the title.
Born into wealth, Travers’ father was President of Standard Rope and Twine Company and a friend of Theodore Roosevelt’s family, young Jerry began experimenting with golf clubs as a 9-year old boy, setting up a makeshift 3-hole course on his family’s expansive estate.
As a teenager, he honed his skills at Oyster Bay Golf Club and Nassau Country Club. It was at Nassau that Travers received instruction from legendary Alex Smith, a Scotsman who would later win two U.S. Opens.
Travers was only 5 feet, seven inches and 135 pounds. He battled an erratic driver throughout his career but made up for it with precise iron play and his skilled use of a center-shafted Schenectady putter.
Historians have long speculated on the cause of a mild slump early in Travers’ career. In an interview his son mentioned that his father settled down when he got married. Legendary golf writer Herbert Warren Wind wrote this about this phase of Travers’s life: “having learned during his two lean years that a young man cannot be both a professional playboy and an amateur golf champion.”
After Travers won the U.S. Open in Baltusrol, he effectively retired from competitive golf and turned his eye towards making money on Wall Street. Travers and his family were friendly with Bernard Baruch, a noted financier.
After a successful decade, the Great Depression hit in 1929 driving Travers and many other people out of Wall Street. Travers turned back to golf and looked for a way to combine his sport with commerce. He struggled during the depression and eventually went to work for Pratt & Whitney during the Second World War.
Travers suffered a heart attack in 1951 and passed away at the age of 64.