Legendary player and Pacific Coast Amateur champion Updegraff passes
Dr. Edgar R. (Ed) Updegraff, who won the 1967 Pacific Coast Amateur and 1981 U.S. Senior Amateur, both being held at Seattle Golf Club, passed away on Dec. 23, 2022 in his adopted hometown of Tucson, Ariz. at the age of 100.
When the Pacific Coast Golf Association (PCGA) revived the Pacific Coast Amateur in 1967 after more than a half-century hiatus, Updegraff, who already had established himself as an international golf phenomenon, captured the inaugural title, providing the championship with instant cache.
In 2009 the PCGA created a new perpetual Pacific Coast Amateur Championship trophy named for Updegraff. The then-87-year-old retired urologist was on hand when the trophy was unveiled before the playing of the 43rd Pacific Coast Amateur at The Gallery Golf Club in Tucson, Ariz.
One of the finest amateur golfers of his era, Updegraff competed on three U.S. Walker Cup Teams and captained the 1975 side to victory on the Old Course at St. Andrews in Scotland.
Updegraff was born in Boone, Iowa, in 1922, and developed a love of golf by caddying for his grandfather, Clarence Edgar Updegraff, at Boone Country Club. His first major golf triumph came in the 1938 Iowa state high school championship.
He later earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Iowa State University, and his medical degree from the University of Iowa. Following a stint in the U.S. Navy, he moved to Tucson in 1951 to set up his medical practice, mainly because it gave him year-round opportunities to play golf.
Along with his Pacific Coast Amateur title, his decorated amateur career also included a pair of Western Amateur titles (1957, 1959) and the Sunnehanna Amateur (1962).
In 1981, he captured the U.S. Senior Amateur at age 59, defeating Dale Morey, of High Point, N.C., 2 and 1, in the 18-hole final at Seattle (Wash.) Golf Club.
Updegraff also reached the U.S. Senior Amateur final in 1982, losing to Alton Duhon, 2 up, at Tucson Country Club, his home club. He was also the medalist in the championship in his winning year of 1981 and in 1983.
Updegraff represented the U.S. on the victorious 1963 Walker Cup Team at Turnberry in Scotland and again in 1965 when the U.S. tied Great Britain and Ireland, but retained the Cup at Baltimore (Md.) Country Club. In 1969, he helped the U.S. win, 13-11, at Milwaukee (Wis.) Country Club. He also competed in six Masters Tournaments, with his best finish a tie for 44th in 1966.
His best U.S. Amateur finish in 17 starts came in 1969 at Oakmont (Pa.) Country Club, when he ended up solo seventh in the fifth of the eight years that it was a 72-hole, stroke-play competition. He also was a semifinalist in the 1963 British Amateur.
Updegraff remained a lifelong amateur. In 1999, his dedication to the game earned him the Bob Jones Award, the USGA’s highest honor, given annually to an individual who demonstrates the spirit, personal character and respect for the game exhibited by Jones.
“I love to play golf,” Updegraff told the Arizona Daily Star in 2017. “But I wasn’t a pro. I would’ve lost my appreciation of the game, and it would’ve taken all the fun out of it for me. My medical practice was different – there was a new challenge every day.”
Updegraff won 27 club championships at Tucson Country Club and finished tied for seventh in the PGA Tour’s Tucson Open in 1962. He also won four Arizona Amateur titles before retiring from competitive golf in the 1980s.
William C. Campbell, a three-time USGA champion, past USGA president and Walker Cup teammate, said of Updegraff when he nominated him for the Bob Jones Award: “Whether winning or losing, he was the same unassuming, modest and courteous person, which is why his circle of good and lasting friends grew wider wherever he played. His dry wit adds to the fun of being with him, on and off the course.”
Updegraff was inducted into the Arizona Golf Hall of Fame in 1969 and the Iowa Golf Association Hall of Fame in 2006.
(David Shefter of the USGA contributed to this article.)