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Captain of 1956 Golf Team
Interviewed on November 9, 2004
Interview: part one (1 hr 5 mins) | part two (57 mins)
Ned Vare learned to play golf from his father at the Philadelphia Golf Club. His mother, Glenna Collett Vare, was the US woman amateur champion six times through 1920-30’s. He played for an undefeated prep school team (Episcopal Academy of Philadelphia), and won the 1952 eastern interscholastic team championship played at Yale where he was the individual champion. In fact, the first hole he ever played at Yale was in practice for that tournament (the tenth hole) and he eagled it with an eight iron second shot. That same year he won the Philadelphia Junior and Eastern Pennsylvania Junior. His maternal grandfather was also a national champion bicycle racer who competed in Europe.
[Image to right: Coach Al Wilson and Capt. Ned Vare, 1956]
At Yale, Vare was the captain of the freshman and varsity golf and squash teams. Neither his father nor his mother ever played at Yale. His father did follow him for 36 holes when he won the individuals and his team won the eastern intercollegiate championship played at Yale in 1955. He was most impressed that Yale’s #1 player, Gerald “Jerry” Fehr (father of current PGA player Rick Fehr) beat Harvard’s #1, Ted Cooney, in seven of seven matches over four years. The last match scored Cooney 68, Fehr 66. He was also proud of the team victory over a touring U. of Miami team that left in defeat and “with thin wallets..after betting against Yale with the team manager.” He played in the National intercollegiate each of his four years at Yale. In Columbus, his caddy was a high school classmate of Jack Nicklaus, who the caddy said could have beaten all of the members of the Yale team (which was probably true since he had won the Ohio Open Championship that year at age 16). During the winter, the team would go south to Bermuda for practice. At the time the course was very difficult; if you were off the fairway, your ball was likely a lost ball because the woods came right up to the fairway. That has now changed, but today the fairway on the course is the same as 50 years ago. He believes that the restoration of the twelfth bunker was a good thing, and similarly that the eighteenth bunker at the top of the hill should not be restored.
After graduation, Vare spent a year and a half in architecture school, then played in the 1954 and 1955 US Amateur. He lost in the first round of ’54 but stayed to follow Palmer in his matches to the championship. After he got out of the Army in 1959, he played in four PGA events by Monday, qualifying as an amateur with a 1 handicap. He placed first in New Orleans where the entry fee of $25 returned $1/$1000 in prize money. After that, he was then a member of Pine Valley for $135 per year. During the next 20 years, he filled many roles as a schoolteacher, contractor, furniture designer, ski instructor and rancher. In Tucson in 1979, he took out an advertisement for “teaching playing lessons by former PGA Tour player at student’s own course,” thus becoming a golf “pro” though he was not a member of the PGA. He then wrote a book on the golf swing, and in 1984 he returned to New Haven as a golf instructor.