This week, the 106th NJSGA Amateur Champion will be crowned at Rockaway River Country Club. He will earn the right to have his name engraved on the Edwin M. Wild Championship Trophy. The what, you might ask? Who is this man whose name graces the trophy for the State´s leading amateur golf tournament?
We have to turn the calendar back many years for the answer. Edwin M. Wild was a prominent amateur golfer in the 1920s and 1930s. He was a member of Baltusrol Golf Club, where he won eight consecutive club championships from 1922-1929. He was a close friend and golfing rival of Augie Kammer, who won the Baltusrol club championship twice, in 1919 and 1921. If Wild had Kammer´s number at Baltusrol, Kammer certainly had Wild´s number on the State golfing scene. Kammer won three consecutive NJSGA Amateur Championships from 1924-1926, while Wild was a five-time runner up, including twice to Kammer. In the 1924 Amateur, played at Shackamaxon, Kammer beat Wild 1-up in a closely fought match. In the 1926 Amateur, played at Deal, Kammer crushed Wild in the eighteen hole final match 5&4. “Deadly putting was Kammer´s forte,” wrote The New York Times, “and today he was almost uncanny.” To this day, there is an annual putting contest held at Baltusrol over the Labor Day weekend named for Augie Kammer.
So, how did the NJSGA Amateur Championship trophy come to be named for a gentleman who finished second five times and never won the Championship? We can only speculate as to the answer, as no records remain to reveal the truth. Following Kammer´s third win in 1926, the Amateur Championship Trophy was retired and presented to Kammer. This was the custom in early championship golf when a player won the same event three times. In fact, this original trophy remains on display today at Baltusrol. Thus, in 1926, the NJSGA found itself without a trophy for next year´s Championship. We believe that Edwin M. Wild, gracious competitor that he was, donated the new trophy to the NJSGA. Although he never won the Amateur Championship, he competed in it successfully multiple times and many of his friends and fellow Baltusrol members did win it. We believe Wild donated the trophy in this spirit of sportsmanship. Perhaps he thought it was the one way to guarantee that his name would appear on the trophy?