By Rick Wolffe
In the heyday of amateur golf in the Roaring ‘20s, Baltusrol was home to two great amateurs, August “Augie” Kammer and Edwin “Eddie” Wild. They dominated the Club and the New Jersey golf scene for the entire decade.
Kammer and Wild were friends and outstanding rivals at Baltusrol for years. Wild was of slight build, weighing only 135 pounds, and was handicapped by a crippled left arm from an ice-boating accident on the Shrewsbury River.
Nevertheless, he won the Baltusrol Club Championship eight times in a row from 1922 through 1929, and once again in 1931. In 1928, he shot a 66 member course record on the Lower, a score which would not be matched until Johnny Farrell, Jr. did it in 1964.
While Wild had the upper hand in the Baltusrol Club Championship, claiming nine titles to Kammer's two, he could not beat Kammer in the New Jersey State Amateur Championship, losing each time he faced Kammer in match play. Ultimately, Wild made it to the finals of the State Amateur five times, only to lose each time.
Kammer won three consecutive New Jersey State Amateurs, prevailing over Wild in two of them. In the 1926 event held at Deal Golf Club, Kammer bested his clubmate 5 and 4 in the 18-hole final. The victory marked the first time the State Amateur was won by the same player in three consecutive years. Kammer had won the Championship in 1925, beating Wild in the semifinals at Baltusrol and besting Bill Reekie of Upper Montclair 2 and 1 in the final, and also in 1924 when he defeated Wild in the final match 2 and 1 at Shackamaxon.
Kammer’s victory in 1926 gave Baltusrol permanent possession of the State Amateur trophy. The tradition of retiring the trophy and ceding it to the winner after three consecutive victories dates back to the 1870 British Open, when the Open Challenge Belt was permanently retired after Old Tom Morris’ son, “Young Tom,” won the Open for the third consecutive time. The Claret Jug that we all know was not introduced as the trophy until 1872.
Today, Kammer’s Amateur Championship trophy is on display at Baltusrol in the Trophy Room. Interestingly, several Baltusrol members donated the replacement trophy, still in use today, in Wild’s name. So, while Wild never won the State Amateur, the present trophy is named in his honor.
Wild made it to the State Amateur final one last time in 1931, losing to Paul Anderson of Canoe Brook, who incidentally would become the second champion after Kammer to win the title three times in a row. Unfortunately for Wild, his golfing career ended with his untimely death from heart disease in 1932.
Kammer continued to play competitive golf in the New Jersey and metropolitan districts through the 1940s, well into his senior years. His game was most renowned for great putting. Indeed, in his State Amateur victory over Wild in 1926, The New York Times wrote, “Deadly putting was Kammer’s forte and today he was almost uncanny.” To this day, Kammer’s putting talent is memorialized by a putting contest named after him every Labor Day weekend.
The golfing talents of Wild and Kammer would live on in two of their children, chips off their father’s blocks. Wild’s daughter, Gail, won the New Jersey Women’s Championship in 1937, and Kammer’s son, Augie Jr., won the New Jersey Junior in 1928 and 1929, reached the semifinals of the 1946 U.S. Amateur, and played on a Walker Cup team.