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Sidney W. Noyes, Jr.

Threepeat national championship team member

Before his death in 2003, Sidney Noyes (Class of 1933) recounted a memory that could have come from “The Legend of Bagger Vance,” although Noyes had neither read the book nor seen the film. He had just finished the first qualifying round of the 1930 US Amateur Championship at Merion Cricket Club in Ardmore, Pennsylvania. His score of 70 left him just one shot behind the leader, Bobby Jones. While Noyes was changing his shoes in the locker room (just like the young Bagger Vance), Jones stopped to congratulate him on his fine play and wish him luck in the second round. Noyes followed his 70 with a 77, easily qualifying for the championship, but lost in the second round of match play. Jones shot 69-73 to lead the qualifiers and went on the win the match play title to complete the grand slam.

Noyes was born in Portland, Maine in 1910. His mother refused to allow him and his three brothers to play football, which was then the prestige school sport. They turned instead to golf, especially when the family moved into a mansion adjacent to the storied Ardsley Golf Club. Noyes started winning early in life. In 1924, at the age of fourteen, he won the second flight of the Maine Amateur Championship and, three years later, took the first flight of the Championship as well as the New York Metropolitan Golf Association Junior Championship and the Westchester County Junior Championship. He repeated both championships the next year, in 1928, and made his initial foray into the US Amateur Championship. As a student at the Hotchkiss School, Noyes won the Interscholastic Golf Association Championship before entering Yale in the fall of 1929. He earned three major Y letters by playing consistently in medal play qualifiers, taking second place in the 1931, 1932, and 1933 National Intercollegiate Championships. His performances helped Yale win all three team championships. His best match play was in reaching the 1932 semifinals before losing to J. W. Fisher of Michigan, the eventual winner.

Noyes finally qualified for match play in the 1932 US Amateur at Five Farms in Baltimore, only to lose to Francis Ouimet in the second round. He qualified again in 1933 at the Kenwood Country Club in Cincinnati, Ohio, shooting a four-under par 31 on the final nine. He advanced to the quarter-finals, losing to Max Marston on the thirty-eighth hole. It was during this match that Noyes was penalized with loss of hole for picking up a pear in front of his ball. Today that would be regarded as a loose impediment. Marston went on to the final.
In the 1934 US Amateur at The Country Club in Brookline, he reached the third round of match play, even though he was now working for Manufacturers Trust Co. in New York and had little time to practice. The same year, Bobby Jones invited him to his first invitational tournament, which was to become the Masters, but Noyes reluctantly declined, given the demands of his job.

The 1932 Golf Team. Top, left to right: Hamilton Wright; Ben Thomson (coach); Dave Gamble;

The year 1935 was perhaps Noyes’s best year. He qualified for the 1935 US Open Championship at Oakmont in Pittsburgh, noting proudly in his journal that at last he was able to play with the pros. He won the Green Meadow Country Club Invitational, which attracted many of the top amateurs, and again won the Maine Amateur Championship. He participated in an exhibition match at the Ardsley Country Club, partnering with the club professional, Dave Whyte, against Sam Parks, the US Open Champion, and long-hitting Jimmy Thompson, the US Open runner-up.

Noyes married Clare Smith of Pine Orchard, Connecticut that same year, and golf gradually became secondary to family and work. In 1936, he qualified for one more US Amateur at the Garden City Golf Club on Long Island but lost in the first round of match-play. Like many golfers of the time, his career was interrupted by military service in World War ii. His later competitive golf was limited to Connecticut state and local New Haven club events. Noyes donated his memorabilia to Yale, and his son George presented his father’s trophies and medals, where they remain on display at the David Paterson Indoor Golf Technology Center in the Payne Whitney ­Gymnasium.

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