Allegheny Country Club hosted the 2022 Western Pennsylvania Golf Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and Champions Dinner, where Janet Anderson, Dennis Darak, Sr., S. Davidson Herron, and Paul Schlachter were inducted on November 3, 2022.
By Mike Dudurich • December 27, 2022
Mike Dudurich is a freelance writer and host of The Golf Show on 93.7 The Fan Saturday mornings from 7-8 AM. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeDudurich.
Janet Anderson has her name on a special list in the world of golf.
She is a U.S. Women’s Open champion.
In 1982, Anderson came to Del Paso Country Club in Sacramento, California as a good player but not one thought to be a strong candidate for the Women’s Open title. After all Anderson was surrounded by women’s golf superstars like JoAnne Carner and Beth Daniel to name just two.
At the U.S. Women’s Open, she posted rounds of 70-73-72-68 for a 283 total and a 6-shot victory over Carner, Daniel, Sandra Haynie and Donna White.
While she registered 42 top-10 finishes in the LPGA, she didn’t post another pro win and retired in 1997.
As with any golfer, winning a huge tournament like a national Open is a pinnacle moment in Anderson’s career. Not far behind that moment, however, is her induction into the Western Pennsylvania Golf Association Hall of Fame.
“It doesn’t get any better than that,” Anderson said. “It was totally unexpected and very surprising. I am greatly honored for sure.”
Her induction into the Hall of Fame brought back to mind her past, something she doesn’t often spend much time doing.
“It really is so interesting because I really don’t think much about the past,” she said. “But this is such an honor. To be part of this awesome family of great folks, well, I’m very humbled.”
Dennis Darak grew up on and around a golf course. His father, John, was the long-time golf professional at what was known as Aliquippa Country Club and would take little Dennis to work with him.
Dennis became a clubhouse assistant, starting a journey that led to him being the Executive Director of the Tri-State Section PGA from 1973-2016.
Perhaps his most significant achievement as the Executive Director of the Tri-State was to bring the organization from its’ meager existence at that time to one of the model organizations in the PGA.
>Over the course of his time at the helm, the TSPGA increased the number of tournaments, the number of sponsors, the amount of the purses available to players and the amount of respect the section received around the country.
His tenure at the TSPGA led him to a career bound for the West Penn Golf Association Hall of Fame.
“I was flabbergasted,” Darak said without hesitation. “This is such an honor and to be recognized like this by the West Penn, well, it’s very special.”
He is no stranger to being inducted into Halls of Fame. He’s in the Tri-State PGA HOF and the Beaver County Hall of Fame.
Darak and his wife, Karen, moved to Florida five years ago. They now live in Port St. Lucie, the national home of the PGA of America.
"Golf has been so good to me," he said. "It's meant everything. It's been my whole life."
The 1919 U.S. Amateur was the first major championship to be played at Oakmont Country Club and produced one of the best “hometown boy does good” stories in the early days of the game in the United States.
Herron grew up across the street from and played Oakmont as often as he could, often getting on with his friend, “Heinie” Fownes, the son of Henry C. Fownes, the founder and designer of Oakmont. Legend has it that on those long summer Pittsburgh, Herron could make it around Oakmont as many as six times in a day.
Oakmont had opened just 15 years prior to the ’19 U.S. Amateur but proved up to the task of a major championship. His opponent in the finals was Bobby Jones, who hung a 5&3 decision on W.C. Fownes, the oldest son of Oakmont’s architect.
The finals match was a close one, but Herron won the 31st hole and got a half on the 32nd, he closed out the great Bobby Jones and won the original two-handed U.S Amateur Trophy. Jones wouldn’t win the first of his 9 national championships until the 1923 U.S. Open.
But for Herron, the win at home was his greatest in golf. He represented the USA on the second Walker Cup in 1923 and won the Pennsylvania Amateur in 1920 and 1929. He never challenged again on a national stage.
Take a casual stroll through the record books of the West Penn Golf Association and you won’t find much mention of Paul Schlacter. At least in the “early part” of WPGA golf existence like the Junior, Amateur or Mid-Am.
But there’s a good reason for that.
He wasn’t able to play in many of them.
“I was a teacher and didn’t get the opportunity to play on Mondays and Tuesdays,” Schlacter said. “By the time school was out, it was summer, and I missed some events that were played earlier.”
Once he retired from the Upper St. Clair School District, he was able to become a force on the Senior side of golf and that’s when he started making his way to his place in the WPGA Hall of Fame class of 2022.
He was named the WPGA Senior Player of the Year 12 times, winning the Senior Amateur five times. Schlachter holds the scoring record for both the 18-hole version and the current 36-hole version of the event. Schlachter set those records with rounds of 69-68—137 at the Field Club.
In addition to the five Ams, Schlachter thinks he won another five or so other WPGA events.
He also played in the National Senior Network, which was a collection of courses across the country. He won twice at Inverness, Bandon Dunes, Castle Pines.
Being inducted into the WPGA Hall of Fame is also a lot of fun for the 73-year-old resident of Naples Fla.
About the WPGA
Founded in 1899, the Western Pennsylvania Golf Association is the steward of amateur golf in the region. Started by five Member Clubs, the association now has nearly 200 Member Clubs and 33,000 members. The WPGA conducts 14 individual competitions and 10 team events, and administers the WPGA Scholarship Fund.