Roderick Macleay, Inducted 2001

Roderick Macleay

In 1912 Portland's Spectator magazine continued a tradition by publishing short biographies of the most eligible local bachelors. Social graces of the time allowed a maiden to ask a gentleman's hand in marriage, but only during leap years. Here was the Spectator's "sales pitch" for one Roderick Macleay:

"Four years ago, The Spectator offered to the contemplation of the buds and blooms a list of fine Leap Year bargains, and we are happy to say that the result was eminently satisfactory."

"Roderick L. Macleay: Handsome, to the danger point; one of the champion golf players of Portland; socially, at once a deer and a lion; of Scotch descent, but modestly refrains from mentioning it, fearing people will think him boastful; fine singer, of the Caruso type; prominent in club life. Lady with a firm hand but generous impulses could find much happiness here. Would advise young ladies not to take no for an answer [as] we consider Mr. Macleay about the best article on our Leap Year bargain counter."

The hearts of many Portland lasses were broken when Roderick Macleay married Miss Barbara MacKenzie on April 24, 1917. The marriage made Macleay a member of an extended family with fine bloodlines (see sidebar). The Donald Macleay family was Portland's first exporter of canned salmon, and enjoyed considerable commercial success. The Peter and Thomas Kerr families owned a large shipping company, one of the first to export grain to Europe and Asia. Barbara was the daughter of Dr. Kenneth MacKenzie, whose family founded the University of Oregon Medical School. And Joseph Grant was the wealthiest man in San Francisco. All these families were linked through marriage.

Before he married, Rod Macleay was the best golfer of the lot. There were no fancy aspects to Macleay's game; he simply outscored opponents, averaging 85 per tournament round while opponents' scores lagged behind at an average of 95. In the process, Macleay won three PNGA Men's Amateur tournaments in a row (1903-1905) and four overall. He also was a four-time champion of the Oregon Men's Amateur tournament. In 1910 Macleay ventured to Switzerland and won that nation's Open.

Macleay was probably introduced to golf while attending Princeton from 1893-1897, a time when Ivy League schools regularly held matches and New Jersey, New York and Philadelphia were emerging as golfing hotbeds. Upon returning to Portland, Macleay joined Waverley Country Club and further honed his skills. In a 1910 interview he credited Jack Moffatt for teaching him the finer points of the game.

Rod Macleay's career was strikingly meteoric. He did not enter a PNGA event after 1911 as he was too busy maintaining his business near Wedderburn, in southwest Oregon. In 1910 Macleay had purchased the R.D. Hume estate, which included a salmon cannery, fishing equipment and large tracts of real estate along the Rogue River. Macleay developed the fishing enterprise into one of the largest companies of its type along the West Coast. Before it was ruined by the stock market crash in 1929, the Wedderburn operation maintained a hefty trade, shipping canned salmon to Europe and the Orient.

Roderick Lachlan Macleay died on February 2, 1939, following a four- month illness. One could safely assume that he never recovered from the loss of his beloved Wedderburn Cannery in Curry County. Nonetheless, he goes down in history as the first golfer of international distinction from the Pacific Northwest.

Accomplishments:

  • PNGA Men's Amateur Champion 1903, 1904, 1905 & 1910
  • Oregon Men's Amateur Champion 1904, 1905, 1907 & 1909
  • Swiss Men's Open Champion 1910