On October 4, 1895, the first U.S. Open Championship was hosted by the United States Golf Association on the nine-hole course of Newport Country Club.
The first U.S. Open was considered something of a sideshow to the first U.S. Amateur, which was played on the same course and during the same week. Both championships had been scheduled for September but were postponed because of a conflict with a more established Newport sports spectacle, the America’s Cup yacht races.
Ten professionals and one amateur started in the 36-hole competition, which was four trips around the Newport course in one day.
At the end of the first 18-holes Willie Campbell, Willie Dunn, and James Foulis were tied for the lead with 89, with Horace Rawlins two back at 91. Rawlins shot 41 on each of the last two loops of the course to post an 82 and 173 total, two ahead of Dunn and three ahead of Foulis and Canadian Andrew Smith, the lone amateur in the field.
The surprise winner was Horace Rawlins, 21, an English professional who was the assistant at the host course. Rawlins scored 91-82—173 with the gutta-percha ball.
Prize money totalled $335, of which Rawlins won the $150 first prize. He also received a gold medal and custody of the Open Championship Cup for his club for one year. With this victory, he became the first winner of a “major” outside the United Kingdom.
The U.S. Open was played a day after the U.S. Amateur championship. The two championships were held on the same course for the next two years, at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in 1896 and the Chicago Golf Club in 1897. The U.S. Open was 36 holes total through 1897, increased to 72 in 1898.
The golf championships at Newport in 1895 were originally scheduled for September, but were postponed due to the America’s Cup yacht races, won by Defender.
Rawlins finished second at the U.S. Open in 1896, but did not win any other major tournaments.