In October 1996, the Northwest lost one of its greatest golf champions in Portland's Frank Dolp. Dolp was not only one of the nation's finest players during his era, but a gentleman in every respect.
Like most great players of his time, Dolp's first exposure to golf came as a caddie. In 1913 at the age of nine, while another ex-caddie, Francis Ouimet, was winning the U.S. Amateur, Frank looped at Waverley Country Club. Shortly afterwards, he began winning championships, first in the caddie ranks and then at the city level.
It was on the Chandler Egan-designed municipal jewel, Eastmoreland Golf Course, that Frank honed his swing. At the time, some of Portland's finest players were Eastmoreland regulars, providing Dolp and his three brothers – Al, Ben and Vince – top-notch competition.
Frank's first significant win came in 1923 when he captured the Portland City Amateur. The following year he defeated his older brother, Al, in winning the same event. In 1925 Frank showed competitors from around the state and the private-club ranks that he was a force to be reckoned with by taking the first of his five state championships. In 1929 and 1931, Dolp won his two PNGA Men's Amateur titles.
Stepping on to the National Stage
It was in the prestigious Western Amateur that Frank gained national recognition. Dolp won his first Western Amateur in 1926 at White Bear Yacht Club in Minnesota. The victory helped A.S. Kerry in his quest to have the 1927 Western Amateur held at Seattle Golf Club. Unfortunately, Dolp was not successful in defending the title at Seattle, but the next best thing occurred when Bon Stein, another public links player, won. A year later Dolp won his second Western title at Bob-O-Link Golf Club in Chicago. In the process, he defeated the legendary Chick Evans in a semifinal match. The field that year was especially strong since the entire U.S. Walker Cup team was entered.
Though he never captured the U.S. Amateur during his illustrious career, Dolp competed in several of the national tournaments. In fact, when the city of Portland sent him to the U.S. Men's Amateur Public Links in 1923, he was the first Oregonian to participate in the new event.
Probably the most colorful Frank Dolp story surrounds the 1930 Oregon Amateur at Eugene Country Club, when Frank defeated younger brother Vince in the finals. Following the victory, Frank's mother scolded him "for not allowing his younger brother to win" since he (Frank) "had already won so many trophies and cups." Frank attempted to solve the dilemma by explaining that "not even Vince would want to win in that manner." Nonetheless, Frank's mother showed her displeasure by refusing to speak to him for two weeks.
In addition to his many lofty achievements in the field of golf, Frank Dolp was regarded as a fine gentleman. In recognition of his status in the Northwest golf community, he held honorary memberships at the Waverley, Seattle and Alderwood golf clubs. Not bad for a golfer who came up through the caddie ranks and learned the game on a municipal course. In 1978 the PNGA recognized Dolp's contributions by including him in the first-ever group of inductees in the Pacific Northwest Golf Hall of Fame.