You may know that our original Kennedy guest rooms are in the process of being renamed, now with direct connections to people and characters from the school's history and neighborhood. Once every month or so, we'll share one of these histories with you -- like this one, about an Oregon golf legend, Bill Eggers.
Read it through, become inspired and make your own golf reservations at Edgefield or Gearhart - remember that employees get a special rate at either course, depending on availability and providing you call ahead.
William "Bill" Eggers was a student at Kennedy School from 1939-1947; although the school didn't field a golf team, Eggers nonetheless went on to become one of the best players in the history of the PGA Pacific Northwest Section.
Bill was quite an ace at a young age. "I was a pretty good sticker and a little cocky when I was 11 and 12." Eggers never took golf lessons; it was all natural skill, plus hours and hours spent at Broadmoor Golf Course, still in operation just down the hill from Kennedy School on Columbia Boulevard. That course also has a Kennedy connection-its founders were graduates. (The family had an abundance of girls; hence the name of the course: Broadmoor.) One can imagine Bill bounding down the hill after school, looking forward to playing a round or two before heading home. One of his golfing pals, Don Krieger, remembers that he and Bill would play at Broadmoor "365 days a year." And in between rounds, they'd fish golf balls "out of the drink" and sell them back to players at thirty cents a pop, which was a good bit of change in the mid-1940s. "We made real good money doing that," Don recalled.
By the time Bill was 14 and a freshman at Jefferson High, he was making the papers. Though regularly noted (as a kid) for his bright-red hair, it was his skill with the clubs that made golf enthusiasts take notice. In 1949, Eggers was even a quarterfinalist in a national junior tournament in Houston, Texas, a trip sponsored by the Portland chapter of Jaycees civics group.
At the tender age of 17, Bill left high school, married his sweetheart, and got a job in golf-his first position was as the assistant pro at Tualatin Country Club, southwest of Portland, where he stayed for several years. At 21 years old, he became the annual Oregon assistant professionals' golf champ, with a 36-hole score of 144.
But Eggers was far from done. Within a decade (and after stints as the pro at courses in Portland, Gresham, McMinnville, and Wilsonville), Bill joined the PGA Tour. In the early-to-mid 1960s, he had three second-place finishes in tour events, and competed in the U.S. Open, the Masters Tournament, and the PGA Championship, to name a few. His best finish was a solo 2nd in the 1963 Denver Open Invitational, where he lost by just two strokes to Chi Chi Rodríguez. Throughout it all, it was never about the money for Bill-in those days, there simply wasn't money to be had, even playing the tournament circuit.
Back at home in Oregon, Eggers had also earned a reputation as one of the area's best teachers. "I was a potential protégé," his friend and golf partner Dennis King remembered. "Being around Bill, it was like getting a verbal history of the golf swing." Eggers also served as president of the Oregon PGA branch, was instrumental in the transaction that resulted in the Oregon Golf Association course being developed in Woodburn, Ore., and became one of the nation's leaders in teaching disabled golfers.
In 1993, Eggers was inducted into the PGA Northwest Section Hall of Fame. Sadly, just a year later, he suffered a fatal heart attack prior to the second day of play in a tournament. His golf partner, King, was devastated, but decided to play out the round. "I thought about Bill on every shot," he recalled. And when his new stand-in partner made a birdie putt on one hole, King thought to himself, "That was for you, Billy."
Having played in Oregon's Hudson Cup match 15 times between 1958 and 1982, and served as team captain in 1991 and 1992, it is fitting that the Pacific Northwest Section Hall of Fame today recognizes the outstanding senior amateur of the Hudson tournament with the Bill Eggers Award.
"He was a likeable rogue," said his childhood pal Don. "Just a great guy."