#24 Johnny Goodman


Tiger couldn't do it. Neither could Jack, Arnie, Phil or Jordan Spieth. Johnny Goodman remains the last amateur to win the U.S. Open.

You probably knew that about the Omaha golfer. And that he also won the U.S. Amateur in 1937, four years after winning the Open.

And you may be aware that he was from a poor family in South Omaha, learned to golf by caddying at the Field Club and stunned the sports world by beating Bobby Jones in the opening round of the 1929 U.S. Amateur at Pebble Beach.

What might be new to you:

» He dropped out of high school for a time to support five younger brothers and sisters after their mother died.

» With a set of borrowed clubs, he won the city championship at 16 at Field Club.

» He was South High's boys World-Herald Scholar in 1927. The same month as his graduation, he won the Trans-Mississippi Amateur.

» He attended the University of Nebraska, aided by a scholarship fund created for him by The World-Herald.

» He rode only once to a tournament in the cattle car of a freight train, for the 1926 Trans-Mississippi at St. Louis, but the "Boxcar Trio" tag stuck to Omahans Goodman, Frank Siedlik and Jack Pollard.

» He "retired" once, following a first-round loss in the 1930 U.S. Amateur at Merion. He said his expenses for the U.S. Open and Amateur left him so broke that he couldn't return to college.

» He was the qualifying leader five years in a row at the Nebraska Amateur and was champion in 1929, 1930 and 1931. The next year, he severely hurt a finger playing baseball on the eve of the tournament and lost to Rodney Bliss in the second round.

» In his first four U.S. Opens, including his 1933 win at North Shore in suburban Chicago, the only amateurs to finish ahead of him were Jones and George Von Elm. Goodman was low amateur in 1932, when he tied for 14th, and also in 1937, when he was eighth.

» He qualified for match play 11 consecutive years in the U.S. Amateur. Besides his 2-up victory in 1937 over Raymond Billows at Alderwood in Portland, Oregon, Goodman was in the finals in 1932, the semifinals in 1935 and 1936, and the quarterfinals in 1939.

» He played in the Walker Cup, the amateur version of the Ryder Cup, against Great Britain in 1934, 1936 and 1938.

» He made the cut in eight U.S. Opens from 1929 to 1937. He forgot to enter in 1931, and in 1938, he was chosen for the Walker Cup that was in Great Britain the week before the tournament.

» His first airplane trip was to the 1936 Masters. He had turned down invitations to the first two Masters, citing business reasons.

» His last hurrah in championship golf was in the 1947 U.S. Amateur, back at Pebble Beach for the first time since 1929. He won his first three matches before being eliminated.

In 2000, Omaha renamed its 18-hole Applewood municipal course in memory of Goodman. He had been living in southern California, turning pro late in life to support his family, when he died in 1970.

Goodman is in the Nebraska Golf Hall of Fame, the Nebraska High School Sports Hall of Fame, the Omaha Sports Hall of Fame and South’s Packer Greats honor program.

Quick facts about Goodman

Best athlete from Nebraska played with or against: Could have been seven-time state amateur champion Sam Reynolds of Omaha, five-time winner Rod Bliss Jr., of Omaha or the rest of the "Boxcar Trio," Jack Pollard and Frank Siedlik.

Best moment as an athlete: Winning the 1933 U.S. Open, or beating Bobby Jones in the first round of the 1929 U.S. Amateur

Nebraska 100: 2005 edition

Goodman was No. 20 in the inaugural Nebraska 100 list in 2005. See more about the 2005 list »