Hall of Fame Class of 2020: Calkins, Cestone, Herman, McDermott and Small
On Thursday, April 30, New Jersey’s rich golf history will be celebrated as five local legends are honored for their achievements with induction to the New Jersey State Golf Association Hall of Fame Class of 2020. The ceremony and reception will take place at Galloping Hill Golf Course in Kenilworth, home of the NJSGA’s headquarters.
The Class of 2020 boasts some of the Garden State’s most accomplished players, as well as Leighton Calkins, credited with developing an early iteration of golf’s handicap system.
Four of New Jersey’s greatest players will be honored, including Michael Cestone, winner of the 1960 U.S. Senior Amateur Championship; Sherry Herman, winner of the 2009 U.S. Women’s Senior Amateur Championship; John McDermott, the first American-born (and two-time U.S. Open champion), and Allan Small, the only player to win the NJSGA Amateur, Mid-Amateur and Senior Amateur championships.
“The individuals elected to the NJSGA Hall of Fame this year, like those in the first two classes, have had an enormous impact on the game of golf in New Jersey,” explained NJSGA president Eric Houseknecht. We look forward to recognizing their accomplishments and contributions.”
Established in 2018, the NJSGA Hall of Fame exists to recognize and enshrine 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. Its mission 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 inaugural Class of 2018 included professionals Johnny Farrell, Vic Ghezzi and Byron Nelson, plus legendary amateurs, Carolyn Cudone, Charlotte Glutting, Bob Housen, Maureen Orcutt, Chet Sanok, Jerome Travers and Charles Whitehead.
Other 2018 inductees include renowned architect A.W. Tillinghast, groundbreaking African-American golf professional John Shippen, noted journalist Arthur (Red) Hoffman, Dr. Ralph Engel, founder of the Rutgers' Professional Golf Turf Management School, and benefactors William Y. Dear (youth golf pioneer), and Nestor J. MacDonald (driving force behind the creation of the NJSGA Caddie Scholarship Foundation).
The nine members of the 2019 Hall of Fame class included professionals Leo Fraser, Babe Lichardus, Dennis Walters, Craig Wood and Billy Ziobro. Distinguished amateurs included Bobby Jacobson, Joseph McBride, Dorothy Porter, and Jeff Thomas.
A look at the NJSGA Hall of Fame 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.
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.
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.
Information regarding ticket sales for the highly anticipated celebration will be announced shortly.