Tournaments

Timeline: Firestone Country Club as a PGA Tour Stop

Firestone Country Club has come a long way from its days as a rec park for Firestone Tire & Rubber Company employees. Credit: Akron Chamber
Firestone Country Club has come a long way from its days as a rec park for Firestone Tire & Rubber Company employees. Credit: Akron Chamber

Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio, has hosted some of the most iconic golfers to ever play the game. Long before it became home to the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, it hosted major golf championships, and the legendary World Series of Golf.

Here are 12 things to know about the history of Firestone and its association with the PGA Tour.

1. The Name

Its name comes from Harvey Firestone, founder and owner of the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company. In 1929 he commissioned it as a park for his employees (hence the name).

2. Quick Design

It was designed by Bert Way and opened in August of 1929 (apparently, there were fewer regulations and zoning laws to navigate back then).

3. Big Three

As we all discuss the Big Three in golf, Mr. Firestone was part of his own (more important) Big 3 – the ‘Three Leaders of American Industry’ in the early 20th century.

Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, Harvey Firestone. Ft. Myers, Florida, February 11, 1929. Public Domain

4. The Rubber City Open

This was the first PGA Tour event held at Firestone. It ran from 1954-59, with the legendary Tommy Bolt winning the inaugural championship (and $2,400).

5. The PGA Championship

In 1960, following its final year of the Rubber City Open, Firestone hosted the PGA Championship – which continued its streak of seven straight years as a PGA Tour stop.

6. The American Golf Classic

In 1961, the AGC was launched and ran all the way through 1976. It was played on Firestone’s South Course until its final year with the North Course hosting the final event.

Jim Colbert, with the bucket hat, won the 1974 American Golf Classic. Credit: Historic Images

7. World Series of Golf

In 1962, it added the World Series of Golf, which ran up until 1998, essentially changing it’s name in 1999 to the WGC-NEC Invitational.

8. Live From Firestone

In 1974, it hosted three televised golf events: the American Golf Classic, the CBS Golf Classic (a made for TV event) and the World Series of Golf. No other golf club has hosted three televised golf events in the same calendar year.

9. The World Golf Championships are Launched

In 1999, the Word Series changed its name to the WGC-NEC Invitational, as part of a new series of World Championships. NEC was the title sponsor up until 2005. Bridgestone has been the title holder since 2005.

10. 63 Straight Years

So if you’ve been counting, Firestone has played host to a PGA Tour event each year since 1954 – which is 63 consecutive years.

11. The Monster

The 16th hole is known as the “Monster,” and it was Arnold Palmer who coined the name. Following a triple bogey, which knocked Palmer out of contention at the 1960 PGA Championship, The King termed it, “The Monster.” The hole now measures 667 yards for the PGA Tour pros.

Another Big Three – Professional golfers Gary Player, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus walking up a fairway in a practice round at the Firestone Country Club golf course in Akron, Ohio. Getty Images/Bettman

12. Another Big 3

There are 54 holes, over three unique golf courses at Firestone CC: South (1929), North (1969), West (1989). The South Course is considered the championship track, and the one which hosts the current annual PGA Tour event.

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