Davenport | Inducted 1993 | Category: Club Professional

Born November 29, 1922 in Keokuk, Bob Fry was nine years old when he was introduced to golf as a caddy. He later worked as the caddy master at Elks Country Club, when he also started to play the game. His development as a golfer was halted by World War II. Bob served as a Sergeant in the 69th Squadron, 433rd Troop Carrier Group in New Guinea and Guam. He spent 26 months as a radio operator on a C-46 Army plane. Upon his return, Bob had a golf club in his hands. He was 24 years old when he faced John Jacobs of Cedar Rapids in the semifinals of the Iowa Amateur at the Davenport Country Club. Jacobs had a 25-match winning streak snapped by Fry, who rolled in a 20-foot putt on the 18th green for the 1-up victory. Fry lost in the final to Fred Gordon of Belmond, 3 and 2.

In 1960 Bob became the head professional at the three municipal golf courses in Davenport (Emeis, Duck Creek, Credit Island). One of his greatest accomplishments, while a pro in the Davenport area, was being able to convince Arnold Palmer and Gary Player to come and play in an exhibition match at Emeis in 1961. That exhibition allowed Bob to begin the Quad Cities Open, which is still currently a tournament on the PGA Tour (now called the John Deere Classic). Because of the success of the exhibition match and the Quad Cities Open, Bob, along with Johnny Lujack, Franklin Barnard, Jim and Ray McGloughlin from John Deere, Nic Chirekos, and others developed Crow Valley Golf Club in Bettendorf. Crow Valley was designed with the PGA Tour and Fry was able to bring the Quad Cities open to the club for the first four years of the tournament.

Besides the fact that he was a great golf promoter, Bob was also a great teacher of the game. Three of his most famous students included touring pros Lonnie Nielsen, Tommy Aaron and Jim Jamieson. Nielsen, also an Iowa Golf Hall of Fame member, once said, “I learned more about golf in a two-hour conversation over coffee with Bob Fry than I learned in a lifetime of lessons and practicing.”

When the duties of a PGA Professional allowed Fry to play, he was able to take full advantage of his skills. Fry was a five-time Iowa PGA Section champion. He also won the 1967 Iowa Open played at Davenport Country Club. He played in several tour events including the Western Open, Los Angeles, Tucson, and Phoenix, while also qualifying for six PGA Championships.Bob recorded an incredible 18 hole-in-ones in his lifetime. Said Joe Phillips of Wilson Sporting Goods after Bob’s passing, “Bob Fry was the epitome of a golf professional. Although an expert golfer himself, he dedicated his life to teaching golf and helping others improve their game.” Mr. Fry was 71 when he passed away on Jan. 12, 1993.

Career Highlights

  • 1947 Iowa Amateur Runner-Up
  • 1967 Iowa Open Champion
  • 1959, ’63, ’65, ’66, ’74 Iowa Section PGA Champion
  • 1957-59 Iowa Section PGA President
  • 1972 Iowa-Western Illinois Match Play Champion
  • Developed Crow Valley Golf Club and started the Quad Cities Open, now the John Deere Classic a current PGA Tour stop.

Bob Fry Tells Club Pros What's Most Important:

         1. He must be a good professional instructor and know the fundamentals and mechanics of the golf swing.

          2. He must be a good merchandiser and stock his shop to the satisfaction of club members.

          3. He must be familiar with every phase of golf activity at his club and must understand tournament operations.

          4. He must be a public relations man for his club.

          5. He must have knowledge of the golf course, and the many problems connected with it.

          6. He must understand the problems of the club manager and give him all possible cooperation.

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