"Bruce Cudd and Dick Yost named to the 1955 U.S. Walker Cup Team"
Much to the delight of Northwest golfers, that was the headline appearing in Portland's Oregonian in the spring of 1955. Cudd and Yost were not the first Northwesterners to be so honored, and certainly won't be the last. Other stars from the region to be named to prior U.S. Walker Cup Teams – the pinnacle of amateur golf in America – included the Northwest's first honoree, Oscar F. Willing from Portland. Subsequent team members included Don Moe, Albert E. "Scotty" Campbell and Harry Givan of Seattle, Marvin "Bud" Ward of Olympia and later Spokane, and Everett's Jack Westland.
When the announcement was made, Portland golfers and members of Columbia-Edgewater Country Club – where Cudd and Yost belonged – believed this was the first time two players from the same club were on a Walker Cup Team. Cudd straightened them out, saying it happened on "two or three other occasions." Regardless, young Bruce and Dick were thrilled to be selected. Ever since the two protégés of the Oregon Golf Association's junior program began playing golf, they dreamed of becoming Walker Cuppers.
Dick Yost became interested in golf as a sophomore at Central High School in Portland. After being diagnosed with a heart murmur during a physical examination he took before joining Central High's basketball team, Yost switched to golf. His move to the sport was helped by the location of his home, which was near Rose City Golf Course. This unique set of circumstances led Yost, a fine athlete, to a wonderful amateur golf career.
The naming of Yost to the 1955 Walker Cup Team was a minor surprise to those who analyzed the selections. After all, he had spent most of 1953 and 1954 as a soldier, and his golf career was essentially on hold. But Yost's impressive "pre-Army'' list of wins between 1950 and 1952 caught the eye of the Walker Cup selectors.
Yost's first victory of note was the individual championship of the Pacific Coast Northern Division Intercollegiate Conference in 1949. In 1950, his winning of the Oregon Amateur over Bob Atkinson, another of Columbia-Edgewater's brilliant youngsters, was the highlight of the year. In 1951 Yost captured the Oregon Men's Stroke-Play Championship, defeating Atkinson by four shots. He won the 72-hole Royal Oaks Invitational Open, in which he was pitted against the Northwest's top professionals. In the 50th Anniversary PNGA Men's Amateur Championship at Spokane Country Club, Yost lost to eventual winner, Jack Westland, in the semifinals.
In 1952 Yost again won the Oregon Men's Stroke-Play Championship and the Royal Oaks Invitational, while adding the Pendleton Open title to his list of victories. In the Pacific Northwest Open, Dick finished as the runner-up behind the amateur winner, Al Mengert.
Two of Yost's contemporaries, Atkinson and Dick Price, called him "Richard the Great," a tall, blond and handsome golfer with a "pro" swing that was a joy to watch. Yost's strongest showings were in medal play, but his match-play ability was also formidable. Though somewhat wild off the tee, Dick had a knack for brilliant recoveries from almost any lie. According to Carl Jonson, Yost was one of the Northwest's best-ever "scramblers." Yost had a shaky driver but was a great recovery artist. Matching this unique ability was a crafty touch around the greens; he seldom missed putts less than eighth feet and was apt to reel off a string of birdies at any time.
In 1955 the PNGA altered its Men's Amateur Championship somewhat. The Board of Directors introduced a marathon, 72-hole qualifying, followed by match play. The 16 players who survived the 72-hole qualifier then played matches to determine the champion. Rod Funseth and Tal Smith led all qualifiers with 287's over Inglewood Country Club's tough course. Yost kept his shots in the fairway at the most crucial moments, recovered when he had to, and holed some long and snaky putts to defeat Bob Roos, 4 & 2, in the final. Roos, a 37-year-old from San Mateo, California, was a bulldog in the same mold as Bud Ward, and Yost had his hands full until he fired three straight birdies on the fourth nine to take control of the match.
Oregon Most Prolific U.S. Amateur Entrant
Bill Mulflur, long-time Oregon golf writer, asserted that Dick Yost "played in more U.S. Amateur tourneys than any golfer in Oregon history." Yost qualified seven times for the championship when it was a match-play format, and an eighth time in 1965 when the tournament went to stroke play. Yost recalled his adventures in the national event. "I've met a lot of good guys and made some great friends over the years in the U.S. Amateur." One of those friends was Billy Joe Patton, whom Yost defeated in the 1952 U.S. Amateur at Seattle Golf Club. Yost lost in the quarterfinals to eventual champion, Jack Westland.
Yost lost twice in the quarterfinals of the U.S. Amateur, to Mason Rudolph in 1957 and Jack Nicklaus in 1959. Before bowing to Rudolph, Yost defeated Jackie Cupit, 5 & 4, and Nicklaus, 3 & 2. After his match with Yost, Nicklaus described the loss. "I lost to Dick Yost 3 & 2 in the fourth round of the 1957 U.S. Amateur at The Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts. [I was] a little unlucky. l was out in 32, but Dick was so hot I was still 1-down. It seemed that as soon as anyone came up against me in the Amateur, he'd promptly play one of his career rounds."
Yost commented on his upset of the fabled Golden Bear. "Jack had been the national junior champion and I threw what gin rummy players call a 'no-brainer' at him. I had nine birdies in the match."
In 1962 Yost told Pat Slattery, sports reporter for the Vancouver Sun: "All I want to do this year is to play in the PNGA and qualify for the U.S. Amateur. Now that I have a family on the way perhaps it is time to settle down and play only competitive golf when it is in my backyard. My golf days are numbered."
In his later years, Yost said his most memorable moment in golf occurred in 1955 at the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews during the Walker Cup Matches. "Eight of us on the Walker Cup Team played a practice round in a gale over the Old Course and the best score in the group was 86. It seems crazy when you think about it. Here were the best eight amateurs in the U.S., and nobody could better 86."
High scores from such accomplished players as Dick Yost and Bruce Cudd were very unusual. Indeed, their consistently low scoring and exemplary play in competition set standards of excellence unrivaled among Northwest men amateurs during the 1950's.