Minnesota’s first Open Championship was hosted at The Minikahda Club in 1917. Tom Stevens, Minikahda’s junior professional, became the first winner of the Minnesota State Open Championship. In 1918, the event moved to Northland Country Club where Interlachen’s George Sargent won the 72-hole event by finishing with nine consecutive fours. The championship remained a 72-hole event until the late 1930’s.
The first decade of the State Open clearly belonged to professional Jack Burke of Town & Country Club who won four championships, three in succession. Burke won the Championship in 1919, 1920, 1921, and 1923. The 1920’s also saw the first amateur to win the Championship, when Minikahda’s Harry Legg won at Interlachen Country Club in 1925.
From 1934 to 1952 the State Open belonged to Highland Park’s amateur Joe Coria. During this stretch Coria won the State Open a record seven times and finished second five times. When Coria was not winning, other Minnesota golfing greats had their chance. Minnesota Golf Hall of Famers Les Bolstad, Pat Sawyer, George Shortridge and Ron Benson have each won three State Open Championships, and Wally Ulrich has won four.
1996 PGA TOUR Player of the Year and 1996 British Open Champion Tom Lehman won the Minnesota State Open Championship in 1989, 1990, and 1993. USGA Amateur Champion John Harris won the title in 1994 and 1995. Australian amateur sensation James McLean added the 1998 State Open title to his impressive resume that included the 1998 NCAA Championship, 1998 MGA Amateur Championship, and 1998 Pine-to-Palm title.