With the US Open in the recent news, an interesting story about Minnesota’s “First Family” of US Open Championship comes to mind. Did you know that the Carson Herron family has had three generations of men qualify to participate in the US Open Championship? It all started in 1933 when Carson’s dad, C. Lee Heron qualified for the US Open played at the North Shore Country Club in Chicago, IL. Then 40 years later, in 1963 Carson qualified for the Open at The Country Club in Brookline, MA. Finally Carson’s son Tim, better known as “Lumpy”, has earned several exemptions, by exceptional play on the PGA Tour, to play in the US Open Championships.
First in this line of Open qualifiers was C. Lee Herron who was born in Iowa and grew up with a golf club in his hand. Lee was so good he won the Iowa Amateur Championship, then beat all the pros and all the amateurs to win the Iowa Open. He then moved his family to Minnesota where he repeated this amazing feat, winning the Minnesota Golf Association Amateur Championship and then the Minnesota State Open. With a record like that, it is no wonder that Lee was able to qualify for the ’33 Open.
Then, in 1963, Carson, followed in his father’s footsteps as a great amateur, playing in the State of Minnesota and National amateur tournaments for years. Carson never won a “Big One” (except for qualifying for the ’63 Open) until age 56 when he won the MGA Senior Championship in 1997. That same year Carson finished 4th in the MGA Amateur Championship, an exceptional performance for a senior player.
Carson’s true claim to fame is the way he displayed fatherly patience in nurturing his kids, Tim and Alissa, to become GREAT golfers. With a fond look in his eye, Carson tells of the countless evenings he would walk with Tim and Alissa the half block to Wayzata Country Club and play golf with them until dark. In his early years Tim had some learning difficulties and lacked self-confidence. Carson credits some special teachers who found the solution to Tim’s learning problem and the game of golf that improved his self esteem. As for Alissa, Carson says that she is one of the most talented women golfers he has ever seen.
Alissa’s record proves her dad right. In addition to winning the 1999 Women’s Mid-Amateur, Alissa has won ten Minnesota State Championships. The fact that she is one of only four Minnesota golfers to win a USGA Championship makes her father extremely proud. “Records speak for themselves”, Carson says. Nowadays Alissa enjoys playing some social golf, but spends her time as mother to her three year old and acting as agent for her brother, Tim.
Tim Herron along with Tom Lehman and John Harris are the best known Minnesota golfers. Tim has only one MGA Amateur Championship to his credit, but his record just starts there. Tim was First Team All-American his junior and senior year at the University of New Mexico. With four PGA Tour victories and over $16,000,000 in career earnings Tim has definitely established a place in Minnesota golf history. Tim has a great US Open record. In 1999, the year Payne Stewart won at Pinehurst, Tim finished sixth. In the stretch from 2004 thru 2006 Tim made his presents felt at the US Open Championships.
True Minnesota golf fans remember Tim for his performance in the 1993 Walker Cup Matches at Interlachen CC in Edina. Tim was paired with fellow Minnesotan, John Harris and the match was all square standing on the 18th tee. With Harris in the water and Tim to the left of the 18th green behind a tree, things did not look good for the beloved boys from the gopher state. Tim sized up the situation… made a mighty swing and lofted a wonderful “cut wedge” to within two feet for the birdie and the win for the USA.
To get a feeling for this Minnesota Golf Family, I want to quote something that was said by Tim Herron’s grandmother, Gen, near the time of her death. She was in a discussion with her son Carson about her family. Her memory was not as good as it once was and she asked Carson, “What is Tim doing now?” When Carson replied, “Well mom Tim is doing well, he is playing golf on the PGA Tour.” Gen replied, “Well, your dad was a golf bum, you were a golf bum, your brother was a golf bum, it is good to hear that someone in the family is finally making some money playing golf.”