Brantly, Malarkey - Chattanooga's Southern Amateur Golf Champions

Wednesday, July 16, 2014 - by B.B. Branton
Mike Malarkey (left) and Ed Brantly with Southern Amateur trophy
Mike Malarkey (left) and Ed Brantly with Southern Amateur trophy

Let’s Play Double Jeopardy!

Answer: Ed Brantly and Mike Malarkey

Question: Who are the two Southern Amateur champions in the modern era who played out of the Signal Mountain Golf Club?

Note: A third Chattanooga golfer – Albert W. Gaines – playing out of the Chattanooga Golf and Country Club, won the second annual Southern Amateur in 1903. He also served as president of the Southern Golf Association.

As the 108th edition of the Southern Amateur is under way in the Chattanooga area (The Honors in Ooltewah), it’s worth looking at how a pair of Chattanoogans won the Southern Am in the modern era and how their career paths got them there.

Playing out of the same golf club – Signal Mountain – both Brantly and Malarkey won Jaycee State Juniors and important prep titles a decade apart, played collegiately at Memphis State and are members of the Greater Chattanooga Sports Hall of Fame.

Back Together Today: Their paths will also cross today during the Southern Amateur second round as they plan to park their folding chairs behind the ninth or 16th greens for a few hours and with golfing buddy Charlie Taylor, tell old war stories and see old friends.

“My last Southern Amateur was 1967 (he was tied for fifth, one shot behind Lew Oehmig who was fourth) before going into the military service and I have not attended a Southern Am since then. So it will be fun to watch some great amateur golfers,” said Malarkey.

One who could put his short game up against anyone in Chattanooga history, Brantly prepped at Baylor School in the early 1950s and won the Mid-South Conference title (1952) a year after battling future PGA pro Don January at the Southern Amateur, losing on the final hole.

1957 was a one of his best years as he won the Southern Amateur, claimed the first of four state amateurs and the first of six titles on his home course - Signal Mountain.

While being a Southern Amateur champion is important to him, 1961 was a better year as he finished third low amateur (behind Jack Nicklaus and Dean Beamon) and 27th overall at the U.S. Open, won the first of seven Chattanooga Metro crowns and a second state am.

“Ranking all my accomplishments, I would have to put making the cut at the U.S. Open and the being third low amateur is number one,” said Brantly.

The Summer of 1961: While New York Yankee greats Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle were chasing the ghost of Babe Ruth that famous summer, Brantly was going toe-to-toe and holding his own with Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and company at the Open.

And nearer to home, a 15-year-old Malarkey was proving why he was one the best junior golfers ever out of Chattanooga as he claimed the first of a record three straight high school state championships while at Chattanooga City and won the first of his two Jaycee State Junior tourneys.

Two years later, he became the second youngest golfer at 17 to win the Southern Amateur after winning a third TSSAA title.

“I was not a terrifically talented player, but in 1963 I was able to pretty much play mistake-free golf and did not run into anyone who was hot the day I played them,” Malarkey stated.

As a junior golfer, Malarkey won nine of 14 major state junior tournaments, came in second in four others and tied for second in the fifth.

1957 Southern Amateur – June 17-22 Miami Beach, Fla. … La Corse Country Club

Opening Round: Ed Brantly def. Jack Penberthy, 3 & 1

Round of 32: Brantly def. Bill Brooker, 3 & 2

Round of 16: Brantly def. Bill Watts, 4 & 3

Quarters: Brantly def. Huston La Clair, 7 & 5

Semis: Brantly def. Jerry Greenbaum, 8 & 7

*Final: Brantly def. Arnold Blum, 3 & 2

(* Blum was the defending champion and also won it in 1951)

1963 Southern Amateur - July 8-13,  Rome, Ga. … Catoosa Country Club

(the last Southern Amateur played in match play format)

** Medalist: Lew Oehmig (141); received Sam Perry Medal

Opening Round: Mike Malarkey def. J.R. Brumby, 7 & 5

Round of 32: Malarkey def. Jack Bandy, 1-up

Round of 16: Malarkey def. Burgett Mooney Jr. (from Rome, Ga.), 10 & 8

(Mooney had beaten defending champion Bunky Henry in the opening round … Malarkey beat Mooney on his home course, 10 & 8)

Quarters: Malarkey def. Sam Marsh, 1-up

Semis: Malarkey def. Howell Fraser, 2-up  

Final: Malarkey def. David Boyd, 4 & 3 in 36 hole final

(Boyd had beaten Lew Oehmig, 3 & 2, in the second round)

1903 Southern Amateur - May 20-24 …  Asheville, N.C. Swananno Golf Club

Chattanooga Strong: Champion: Albert W. Gaines … Consolation Winner: Robert Davidson … Medalist: John T. Lupton (father of Jack Lupton) … all three players represented the Chattanooga Golf & Country Club

contact B.B. Branton at william.branton@comcast.net




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