E. Harvie Ward Jr.

18th October 2019

The story of Harvie Ward is something of a rollercoaster – great golfing achievements followed by public humiliation and self destruction before thankfully redemption and a happy ending.

Ward’s place in golfing history is founded upon him being a past winner of both the Amateur (1952) and U.S. Amateur (1955 & ’56) Championships. He is just one of 13 golfers to have achieved this feat.

Edward Harvie Ward Jr. was born on 8th December 1925 in Tarboro, North Carolina. He was a charismatic man with Hollywood good looks who lived life to the full.

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Harvie Ward at the 1948 North & South Championship (Photo: The Tufts Archive)

Ward was a successful junior and quickly became one of the U.S.’s leading amateur golfers. He was a natural who seemed to find the game relatively easy. He had a smooth three quarter length swing and an impeccable short game. He played aggressively but normally in a relaxed fashion, although when the mood took him he could also reveal a steely determination to win. This made him a popular figure amongst both his peers and the public. He also enjoyed the patronage of Bobby Jones, who saw him as his heir apparent, which only added to his appeal.

Herb Warren Wind, the American golf writer, called Ward “the most talented amateur of the decade”. In addition to his majors Ward also won the 1948 North and South Amateur, the 1949 NCAA Division I Individual Championship, representing the University of North Carolina where he earned a degree in Economics, and the 1954 Canadian Amateur.

His breakthrough win came in his first Amateur Championship in 1952 where he beat his American rival Frank Stranahan 6&5. He was runner-up in 1953 with Joe Carr getting the better of him in that year’s final.

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Harvie Ward with the Amateur trophy in 1952 (Photo: Old Sports Auctions) 

He played on the USA’s Walker Cup teams of 1953, 1955 and 1959 and won all six of his 36 hole games. The highlights were a 9&8 foursomes win alongside Jack Westland against John Langley and Arthur Perowne in 1953, a 6&5 singles win against Ronnie White in 1955 and another 9&8 singles win in 1959 against Guy Wolstenholme.

Ward had entered eight U.S. Amateurs before finally winning the Championship in 1955. He beat Bill Hyndman by 9&8 at the Country Club of Virginia in Richmond. He then successfully defended the title in 1956 at Knollwood Club, near Chicago overcoming Charles Kocsis 5&4.

He was prevented from going for a hat trick of U.S. Amateur’s (and from playing in that year’s Walker Cup match) when his amateur status was revoked for 12 months by the USGA on 7th June 1957. Ward’s employer Eddie Lowery, coincidentally caddie for Francis Ouimet when he won the 1913 U.S. Open, became embroiled in a tax investigation which exposed the fact that he had paid the golfer expenses to support his participation in various amateur events. As Ward was the reigning U.S. Amateur champion and Lowery a current member of the USGA Executive Committee it was not a matter that could simply be ignored as many other amateur status cases seemed to be at that time.

Peaking in a very different era to the one we see today Ward opted for a flexible career in business that allowed him to continue playing amateur golf whenever he wished to. He was initially a stockbroker in Atlanta before moving to San Francisco where he was a car salesman.

In total Ward played in 11 Masters as an amateur from 1948-66, finishing in the top 24 four times. His best finish of 4th came in 1957. He was only one behind Sam Snead with 18 holes to play before Doug Ford shot a final round 66 to come through for a 3-shot win. Jones and Roberts were appalled at the treatment of Ward by the USGA and encouraged him to play in the 1958 Masters despite his ongoing ban from USGA events. Sadly his game wasn’t up to the challenge and he missed the cut. He wouldn’t play at Augusta again until his final Masters in 1966.

Ward competed in eight U.S. Opens; his best finish being sixth in 1955.

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Suzanne and Harvie Ward with the U.S. Amateur trophy (Photo: Getty Images)

Harvie Ward was one of the four participants in ‘The Greatest Match Ever Played’, contested on 11th January 1956 at Cypress Point G.C. The match was arranged between Lowery and fellow millionaire George Coleman at a pre Crosby Pro-Am Tournament cocktail party. “My two amateurs (Ken Venturi and Ward were both ‘employed’ at his Van Etta Motors car dealership business) can beat any two pros in the world. I’ll put ten thousand dollars on it.” bragged Lowery. Coleman’s response was “I’ll get Nelson and Hogan and we’ll play tomorrow.” The full story of ‘The Match’, was told in a book by Mark Frost (2007). The Pros won by 1-hole with Hogan reportedly shooting 63 (-9), Venturi 65, Ward 67 and the by then 10 year retired Nelson 67.

The 1957 ban over his amateur status had a profound impact on Ward’s life. His friendship with Lowery, who he had trusted with his finances, collapsed and he left his role at Van Etta shortly afterwards. He started to drink heavily and became something of a womaniser both of which led to the collapse of his three year old marriage to Suzanne, the couple having also adopted two children.

He successfully sought his reinstatement as an amateur via the USGA in May 1958 but much of his golfing spark had gone and he never really rediscovered his best from. With Arnold Palmer making waves in the professional game and a dominating Jack Nicklaus now emerging on the amateur side America’s golfing eyes had started to look elsewhere for their next hero. It took Ward nearly 20 years, including two more marriages, to get over how his life had changed from the heady days of the early 1950’s and he played little golf during this period of his life.  

Ward eventually turned professional in 1974 to try and earn a living and to simply get back on track. He was 48 by then and obviously was unable to compete with the youngsters on the mini-tours let alone the PGA Tour. Instead he returned to his native North Carolina to become head golf professional at Foxfire Country Club. As he helped ordinary golfers improve he gradually started to find his feet again. He went on to work at Grand Cypress Golf Club in Orlando at the invitation of the designer Jack Nicklaus.

Ward even started to play a few events on the PGA Senior Tour at this time. The highlight of this renaissance was his win at the 1980 Senior Open, the year before it became an official USGA Championship.

He subsequently worked at Interlachen Golf Club in Winter Park, Florida before moving back home to the Pinehurst area in 1989 where he further cemented his reputation as a teaching professional. He was named “Teacher of the Year” by the PGA in 1990 during a 15 year career at Pine Needles Lodge & Country Club in Southern Pines. Notably Payne Stewart turned to Ward after his own dad, and only coach up until that point, had died. 

Harvie Ward died at his home in Pinehurst, North Carolina on 4th September 2004, aged 78, having previously been diagnosed with advanced lung cancer. He was survived by his fourth wife Joanne who he had met 20 years earlier during his time in Orlando.

Ward is rightly considered one of the best amateur golfers of all time but one can not help but think that is potential was ultimately not fulfilled.

ME.

Copyright © 2014-2019, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

Frank Stranahan

28th April 2019

Frank Richard Stranahan is one of golf’s greatest amateurs and, alongside his friend Arnold Palmer, a player who crucially helped regenerate The Open Championship in the post World War II years.

He was a slightly controversial figure in his day with his love of fitness, questionable temperament and ‘spoilt rich kid’ attitude leading to a number of minor incidents which blighted his golfing legacy to a small degree.

Stranahan was born on 5th August 1922 in Toledo, Ohio to Robert and Page Ellyson Stranahan. They had seven children in total. Robert and his brother Frank were the co- founders of the Champion Spark Plug Company. The Stranahan’s became multi-millionaires on the back of the growth in the automobile industry and Frank, named after his Uncle, was born into a life of luxury.

When young Frank started to take an interest in golf, a game his father already played to a high standard, he was enrolled at the Inverness Club in Toledo. Byron Nelson, one of the best players in the world and conveniently the club pro at Inverness between 1940-44 was one of his teachers.

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Frank Stranahan Aged 16 (Photo: Toledo Blade) 

He won the Ohio Amateur Championship in 1941 and played golf at the University of Miami before serving as a bomber pilot in the U.S. Army Air Forces during World War II (1943-45). Upon his return he focussed full time on being the best golfer he could be.

Given the financial advantages he enjoyed his amateur status was often called into question with his role as a Champion ‘salesman’ very much seen as a position of convenience. In an interview with Sports Illustrated in 1998 he said “I’m sure the players were jealous. They had every right to be. My dad was bankrolling me, and I could play every week without worrying.” His often blatant arrogance and reputation as a playboy in his youth no doubt didn’t endear him to his fellow competitors.

He won 51 amateur tournaments and six PGA Tour events. He played amateur golf between 1936 and 1954, competing in over 200 tournaments across three continents. He played in many pro events as an amateur winning four of his PGA Tour titles without picking up a cheque.

He first came to prominence at the 1947 Masters when he tied Byron Nelson for second, two shots behind the winner, Jimmy Demaret. The following year he ran into controversy at The Masters when he was barred by Clifford Roberts, then Chairman of Augusta National, from competing due to repeatedly playing more than one ball into the greens in practice. Stranahan always denied this. Curt Sampson, in his book ‘The Masters: Golf, Money and Power in Augusta, Georgia’ tells the story of how Stranahan was set up by Roberts who was upset that he had dated his blonde secretary the year before and how Bobby Jones refused to intervene on his behalf. Stranahan brought a ticket and stayed to watch the tournament without further incident. He was low amateur in 1946 (tied 20th), 1947, 1950 (tied 14th) and 1953 (tied 14th) and played in a total of twelve Masters.

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Frank Stranahan (Photo: Unknown / USGA Archives)

He had little success at the U.S. Open. His best finishers were tied 13th in 1947 and tied 10th in 1958.

Stranahan won the 1948 and 1950 Amateur Championships. He beat Charlie Stowe 5&4  at Royal St. George’s and compatriot Dick Chapman 8&6 at St. Andrews respectively. It was some turnaround as his previous visits to Great Britain hadn’t exactly gone according to plan. In the 1946 Amateur Championship he fired his caddie on the sixth hole for giving him a wrong line to the hole. Then in 1947, after his Scottish opponent holed a short putt for a four before conceding Stranahan his by tapping his ball into the hole, the American claimed the hole on the ground that he had only played three shots. He also reached the final in 1952 at Prestwick but was beaten 6&5 by fellow American E. Harvie Ward.

He has the best overall Amateur Championship record in the history of the event for those playing a minimum of 30 matches. Stranahan played in a total of 9 Championships and 50 matches. He won 43 of these and lost just 7, an impressive 86% win record.

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Frank Stranahan With The Amateur Championship Trophy in 1950

Amongst his more notable amateur triumphs Stranahan won the Canadian Amateur Championship (1947,’48), the Mexican Amateur (1946,’48,’51), the Western Amateur (1946,’49,’51,’52), North and South Amateur (1946,’49,’52) and the All-American Amateur at Tam O’Shanter (1948,’49,’50,’51,’52,’53).

He also played on three victorious U.S. Walker Cup teams in 1947, 1949 and 1951, posting an overall individual record of W3-L2-H1, with a W2-L1 mark in Singles.

He most wanted to win the United States Amateur Championship. However, it always alluded him. The closest he came was in 1950 when he lost to Sam Urzetta on the 39th hole at Minneapolis Golf Club; it remains the joint longest Final in the history of the event.

He turned pro in September 1954, aged 32, shortly after losing 3&1 to a 24-year-old Arnold Palmer in the U.S. Amateur’s Round of 16. The Championship at the Country Club of Detroit was his 11th and final attempt to capture the title.

In a 10 year pro career his most notable win came at the 1958 Los Angeles Open. In his combined amateur-pro career he won six times, came runner-up seven times and posted 67 top-10s. Past his very best when he finally took the plunge most of Stranahan’s better performances in the pro game came as an amateur.

With finance and time never a problem Stranahan took instruction with many coaches over the years and as a result he developed a repution as a mechanical, technical player. His swing was far from natural and not at all attractive it was said.

Frank first got into body building and healthy living as an aspiring high school American Football player. When his attentions turned to golf he continued with his fitness programme becoming known as the ‘Toledo Strongman’.  Arnold Palmer nicknamed him ‘Muscles’. The extent of his interest is clear when one learns he was a nationally ranked powerlifter in his weight class between 1945 to 1954. He travelled with weights and argued passionately for the benefits it brought his game at a time when most of his peers were still concerned that it would reduce their flexibility. Gary Player described Frank as his “fitness mentor, friend and inspiration”.

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Frank Stranahan Competing In Over 70’s Body Building Competitions (Photo: Toledo Blade)

He swore by a vegetarian diet and never drank coffee or alcohol. He never smoked either which was also unusual for much of his lifetime.

After he retired from competitive play in 1964 he studied at Harvard University before  earning a master’s degree in business from the prestigious Wharton School and pursuing a new career in investment banking with his own Stranahan Investments with offices in New York and Palm Beach, Florida, where he primarily lived from 1968 onwards. He lost much of his inherited fortune in the Black Monday stock market crash of October 1987.

Stranahan took up running in his late ‘40s and as with everything else in his life dedicated himself fully to his new interest. He ran 102 marathons, including Boston, Chicago and New York, and often chose to jog in Central Park and Florida in the early hours of the morning.

His private life was marred in sadness. Stranahan married Ann Williams in Chicago in July 1953 and under his tutelage she became a first rate amateur golfer too. She finished runner-up in the 1960 Canadian Women’s Amateur, competed nationally and won 25 local tournamants. However she died aged just 45 in April 1975 from cancer. They had three sons but two of them also died young; Frank Jr. died from bone cancer in August 1966 aged 11, having already had a leg amputated, and Jimmy in 1977 from a drug overdose at college in Houston,Texas when he was only 19. Stranahan’s youngest son Lance was his only survivor.

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Frank And Ann Stranahan With Frank Jnr (Photo: Toledo Blade) 

In his later years in Florida he chose to live modestly in minamilist fashion with next to no furniture and with all of his golfing mementoes removed from display. He simply spent his time running and lifting weights. In 1997 he won the over-70 division of the National Physique Committee Gold Cup Classic bodybuilding competition. On his 78th birthday he was videoed dead-lifting 265 pounds (which can still be viewed on You Tube).

Stranahan sadly started to suffer from dementia in his late 80’s and died after a brief illness on Sunday 23rd June 2013 in West Palm Beach, Florida aged 90.

ME.

Copyright © 2014-2019, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

Johnny Goodman

18th December 2018 

Johnny Goodman was the last amateur to win a major Championship, securing the 1933 U.S. Open. A relative unknown nowadays he holds a record which is unlikely to ever be broken.

He was the underdog who came good but never got the recognition or financial rewards he deserved.

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Johnny Goodman (Photo: omaha.com)

John George Goodman was born on 28th December 1909 in South Omaha, Nebraska, the fifth child of Lithuanian immigrants, William and Rose Goodman. His father worked in the local slaughterhouses and faced with horrific working conditions and poverty drifted into alcoholism. Shortly after his wife died in late 1924 giving birth to their 13th child (who also died) William chose to desert his family and the home he owned.

Abandoned at 15 and ultimately left to fend for himself it’s fair to say Johnny’s prospects appeared poor. The game of golf and the generosity of friends proved to be his saviour.

By accident Johnny had become a caddie at the nearby Omaha Field Club a few years earlier when he was 11. Playing on the railway which criss-crossed the golf course he had found a stray golf ball. Whilst selling it to a passing player he had learnt that more money was available for carrying bags at the Club. Within days he was earning on the weekends and given his natural intelligence and hard work soon became the best caddie at the Club. In 1922, reflecting this status, he was handed the bag of Walter Hagen by the caddie-master when the reigning Open champion arrived in Omaha on an exhibition tour with Australian Joe Kirkwood.

After briefly sleeping rough his friend Matt Zadalis persuaded his family to take him in and the skills he had developed as a caddie in dealing with adults quickly made him a respectful and welcome house guest. Whilst he continued to take his studies seriously his attendance at school became more sporadic. The need to earn, to feed and clothe himself, took priority and over the next few years he secured jobs as a Western Union messenger, a printing factory assistant and even occasionally as a cleaner in the slaughterhouses. To his credit he later did night classes to catch up and completed his high school diploma on time in June 1927.

He had continued to caddie in the spring and summer months and having cobbled together a set of clubs began discretely practising on the Omaha Field course. It wasn’t long before he became proficient and at 15, having won the 1925 Metropolitan Golf Tournament, could rightly call himself one of the best golfers in Omaha.

Like most sports fans at the time Bobby Jones was his hero and understandably given the era Johnny was taken with the amateur ideal. Given his hand to mouth existence at home he had no aspirations to turn professional and to be treated as a second class citizen at the golf course like most professionals still were. He was happy to continue travelling to events in the cheaper boxcars used to transport livestock and mail on the trains if it meant he could continue to have the sanctuary of golf clubhouses.

He developed a sound posture and a repeatable swing where he hit the ball late, more on the upswing than driving the club into the ground at impact. What started off as a draw became a power fade as he practiced more and sought greater consistency. As a small and slender man of 5ft 8” he never hit the ball far but the closer he got to the hole the deadlier he became; there were few who could pitch and putt better.

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Johnny Goodman (Photo: Lester Jones Collection)

The next step up the golfing ladder should have been the Nebraska Amateur Championship but ambitiously in June 1926 Johnny went for the regional Trans-Mississippi Championship in St. Louis. Playing in his first major competition Goodman showed his potential, first breaking Hagen’s course record in qualifying before falling to the more experienced Johnny Dawson 2&1 in the semi-finals. Despite the loss his performance made headline news back in Omaha. As he said himself: “One day I woke up and I was famous”.

Whilst his appearance, at least in his early playing years, often left a little to be desired he now realised he needed to look the part every day even if his finances made that hard to achieve. More importantly he now also understood that controlling his emotions on the course would help his scoring. Observers noticed how mentally strong he was and how he played with a competitive focus few others could match.

Goodman won the Trans-Mississippi Championship the following year at Broadmoor C.C. in Colorado Springs beating James Ward 2&1 in the Final. He would go on to become a 3-time Trans-Mississippi champion; wins in 1931 and 1935 bookending a loss in the 1934 final.

Goodman won the Nebraska Amateur Championship in 1929 and went on to retain it in 1930 and 1931. However, his sights were increasingly set at a national rather than state level. He didn’t have to wait long to make his mark.

At the 1929 U.S. Amateur at Pebble Beach Golf Links, in one of the great upsets in the history of the game, he beat medalist Bobby Jones 2&1 in Round 1 of the match play stage. Disappointingly but perhaps not surprisingly he lost in Round 2 by the same scoreline in the afternoon to a 19 year old Lawson Little, who was just setting out on his own path to greatness.

The event started ominously for Goodman. Upon arrival in California he had been summoned to a USGA meeting to explain a new Spalding sporting goods store assistant’s role he had recently started amid concerns about his amateur status. His $8 per week salary appeared to be nothing to him when compared with some of the employment and writing arrangements other leading amateurs, like Jones and Chick Evans, were benefiting from. At the time the USGA appeared happy to show a little more flexibility to the more affluent gentleman players who met their concept of the perfect amateur. Unfortunately “Boxcar Johnny” fell very much at the other end of the spectrum; just the kind of player who they could make an example of and who they felt should be earning a living as a pro. Thankfully he was able to dissuade the Committee of any major impropriety and take up his place in the field. Although relations weren’t subsequently helped when he removed the star player from the field and attendances (and takings) over the final days were decimated. The USGA introduced a seeded match play draw the following year which perhaps played a part in helping Jones complete his 1930 grand slam.

Johnny’s trip to the Monterey Peninsula ended well. The victory over Bobby Jones caught the attention of a watching Bing Crosby who invited Johnny to play a $100 per hole 9 hole cash game at Pebble Beach the day after the Final. Goodman won $500 off the entertainer and with the Wall Street Crash and the onset of the Great Depression just days away the timing couldn’t have been better.

After a disappointing Round 1 defeat in the 1930 U.S. Amateur Goodman was struggling to balance the competing priorities in his life. “Amateur golf is a rich man’s game, and I am far from rich. I am forced to make a living, and find it impossible to combine competitive golf with business.” However, he had no where to go. He was a man of the amateur era, one who believed the U.S. Amateur to be the greatest Championship in the world and who harboured strong Walker Cup hopes. Professional golf was no real solution at the time as the tour was still embryonic and only a handful were making a living on it. Whilst the retirement of Bobby Jones and the continuing Depression saw amateurism lose some of its attractiveness, save for the very wealthiest in society, Johnny chose steadfastly to continue along this path. However, with his fiancé Josephine Kersigo and her family to consider he did decide to take a job selling insurance in early 1931, offered to him by Pete Lyck, a friend from the Omaha Field Club.

Goodman looked odds on for a place in the 1932 USA Walker Cup team after he qualified and then finished 14th and the leading amateur in that year’s U.S. Open. However, revealing the snobbery of the time, some regional prejudice and perhaps an implied accusation of professionalism, the USGA overlooked Johnny, neither naming him to their 10 man team or as an alternate. Many of those selected for the match at Brookline were either past their best or clearly did not have the recent playing record of the man from Omaha. The accompanying outcry from the nation’s golf correspondents finally led to the USGA making a statement. The Selection Committee, despite making their public announcement three days after the U.S. Open had finished, explained that their decision had actually been made before the Championship. Showing maturity beyond his years Johnny largely kept his own counsel and vowed to do his talking on the course. As the USA team comfortably beat GB&I 8-1 in Boston the selection soon became a moot point anyway.

The disappointment fuelled a run at the 1932 U.S. Amateur which started at Baltimore C.C. just ten days after the Walker Cup match finished. Gaining some redemption for his snub Goodman beat Francis Ouimet in the semi-final and was the last U.S. player left standing. However, despite being 2Up with 9 holes to play in the Final, he sadly failed to deliver the ultimate coup de grâce he had hoped for, losing 2&1 to Canadian Ross Somerville in their 36 hole match.

The 1933 U.S. Open took place at North Shore C.C. at Glenville, Illinois, a long, tight course made tougher by the baked fairways from a hot early summer. Rounds of 75, 66 – the joint lowest in Championship history at the time – and 70 gave Goodman a 6-shot lead heading into the final round. After a good start to Rd 4 his game deserted him on the final four holes of the front nine which he played in +4. Nevertheless to his credit he collected himself; playing the back nine in +1 he recorded a final round of 76. Thankful for a bogey 5 by his nearest challenger Ralph Guldahl on the 72nd hole Goodman ended up winning the Championship by 1-shot. Showing their continued disdain for the social standing of Johnny the USGA refused to formally present the famous trophy to their new 23 year old champion. Unusually there are no photos of USGA President Herbert H. Ramsey or any other official presenting the trophy to Goodman – reports said he simply lifted it off a presentation table himself.

Johnny Goodman – 1933 U.S. Open Pathe News

This win in June 1933 saw Johnny Goodman became the last member of a select group which already included Jerry Travers, Francis Ouimet, Chick Evans and Bobby Jones – amateurs to beat the pros and win the U.S. Open Championship. 85 years later he remains the last amateur to win a major Championship.

In the light of his U.S. Open win Goodman refused to turn Pro. He continued with his insurance job turning down numerous touring, publishing and sponsorship opportunities that came his way. “Golf is a game for me, not a business” he said.

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Johnny Goodman With the U.S. Open Championship Trophy (Photo: USGA Museum)

The Masters was first played in late March 1934. Despite being the reigning U.S. Amateur champion it appears Johnny Goodman was not invited to compete by Bobby Jones, although he may simply have not been able to afford the time or cost of the trip. Ironically it was Goodman’s defeat of Jones at Pebble Beach in 1929 that created the time for him to visit the newly opened Cypress Point G.C. So taken with the course was Jones that he immediately decided that its designer Dr. Alistair MacKenzie would be handed control of any new course that he may build in the future. That course proved to be Augusta National. Despite clearly being one of America’s leading players in the 1930’s Goodman ended up playing in just one Masters. In 1936 he shot rounds of 80, 81 and 79 to finish 43rd. Perhaps Goodman didn’t take to the course and chose not to play in the event again.

Johnny finally made his Walker Cup debut aged 24 at St. Andrews in May 1934. Captain Francis Ouimet played him No. 1 for the U.S. team and he didn’t disappoint, taking to links golf quickly. Paired with fellow rookie Lawson Little in the Day 1 Foursomes they beat a fading Cyril Tolley and Roger Wethered 8&6, Wethered in particular struggling throughout the 36 hole match. On Day 2 Goodman beat the British Captain and reigning Amateur champion, a 55 year old Hon. Michael Scott 7&6. The USA won the match 9.5-2.5 with golf writer Bernard Darwin describing Goodman’s play as “appallingly good.”

The following week Goodman crossed Scotland to play at Prestwick G.C. in the Amateur Championship. A straight knockout in those days the Omaha man reached the Quarter Finals where he succumbed to young Englishman Leslie Garnett 3&1. Johnny’s Foursomes partner Lawson Little went on to beat James Wallace by a record breaking 14&13 score. Little recorded twelve 3’s on the 23 holes played in the Final.

At the 1936 Walker Cup, played at Pine Valley G.C., Goodman was one of four returning USA players and again played at No. 1. Paired with Albert “Scotty” Campbell he won his Foursomes 7&5 against Hector Thomson and Harry Bentley. On Day 2 he again beat Thomson this time 3&2 in the Singles, maintaining his 100% win record and leading the USA to a famous 9-0 victory. There were no points awarded for halved matches in those days so it was not quite the whitewash it appeared.

The 1937 U.S. Amateur was played at Alderwood C.C. in Portland, Oregon. It would prove to be Johnny Goodman’s crowning glory. In his 1Up semi-final win against Bud Ward he one putted 15 greens. ‘Cinderella Man’ Ray Billows, known for his relaxed temperament (as well as finishing second), waited for him in the Final. Johnny stumbled down the home straight again but finished strongly to ultimately win by 2 holes. Finally accepted by the USGA, President John G. Jackson happily made the trophy presentation to a man who had now achieved the American double.

Just 11 players have won the U.S. Amateur and U.S. Open – Francis Ouimet (1914 / 1913 respectively), Jerome Travers (1907 / 1915), Chick Evans (1916 / 1916), Bobby Jones (1924 / 1923), Johnny Goodman (1937 / 1933), Lawson Little (1934 / 1940), Arnold Palmer (1954 / 1960), Gene Littler (1953 / 1961), Jack Nicklaus (1959 / 1962), Jerry Pate (1974 / 1976) and Tiger Woods (1994 / 2000). Goodman is the last player to win the U.S. Amateur after the U.S. Open.

The 10th Walker Cup match, played on 3-4 June 1938 at St. Andrews, again featured Johnny Goodman, the reigning U.S. Amateur champion. The U.S. team first travelled to Troon to play in the Amateur. An ‘unlucky’ draw saw Goodman beat Ray Billows 4&2 in Round 2 before falling 3&2 to Charles Kocsis in Round 4, both U.S. teammates. Unfortunately any form he had deserted him in his Walker Cup matches as he lost on both days as GB&I won for the first time 7-4. Hector Thomson got revenge for his 1939 defeat comfortably winning their repeat Singles 6&4. With World War II interrupting proceedings the next match would not be played until 1947 and hence this proved to be Johnny’s last involvement.

Back home Johnny Goodman remained well known and respected. He featured on the cover of the popular Time Weekly Newsmagazine on 6 June 1938 under the heading ‘The King of Swings’ and in a story about him being the natural successor to Bobby Jones. To my knowledge Jones, Sam Snead, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods are the only other golfers to grace the cover of this famous U.S. magazine.

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Johnny Goodman – Time Magazine, 6th June 1938

Shortly afterwards Johnny married Josephine in Omaha, Lawson Little acting as his best man, and with little money moved in with his mother in law.

However, on the golfing front his play started to drift and he was never to contend in a big event again.

The Pearl Harbour attack just a few days before Johnny’s 32nd birthday in December 1941, which led to the United States’ entering World War II, changed more than just the golfing landscape. Goodman found himself called up to serve in the Quartermaster Corps and ended up being posted to India.

Once the War was over Johnny settled back into family life. He left the insurance world and started working for his brother in law John Atkins who had become a successful beer distributor and club owner in Omaha. 1947 proved to be a pivotal year in his life. Firstly he and Josephine had a son, Johnny Goodman Jr. and then he was involved in a serious car crash, badly breaking his right arm. Any hope of resurrecting his top level golf career was lost in the crash.

The Goodman’s eventually decided a change of scene was needed and in 1950 the family moved to South Gate in Southern California. He used his knowledge and trade connections to obtain a sales job for Canada Dry.

Unfortunately a restructuring led to Johnny losing this job eventually and he started to drink more than he should. In 1959 he became ill and very nearly died from complications brought about by cirrhosis of the liver.

He survived and having adopted a healthier lifestyle started to play more golf. He enjoyed playing with Johnny Jr. and shortly afterwards turned Pro to take up a teaching position at the Bellflower Golf Center in California.

On the 8th August 1970 Johnny Goodman died in his sleep aged 60. Just a few days earlier he had travelled back to Omaha Field and played a round at his old club with his nephew Jack Atkins. It was his goodbye to the game he loved. He was buried in Omaha in a nondescript grave without headstone. More recently a municipal golf course in the southwest of the City has been named in his honour.

Johnny Goodman earned next to nothing for his golfing exploits and faced discrimination throughout most of his career. However, his story is one of the more interesting ones and his U.S. Amateur and U.S. Open wins mean he has his place in the record books forever and should perhaps be better remembered by the golfing world.

ME.

Copyright © 2018, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

Harold Hilton

16th November 2017

Harold Hilton was born on 12th January 1869 in West Kirby, near Liverpool in England’s North West.

Following in the footsteps of his father he joined the nearby Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake when he was 8 years old. The Club, which received its patronage in 1871, is the one he was associated with all of his life and where his collection of medals are still proudly displayed to this day.

Harold Hilton (Photo: Royal Liverpool Golf Club)

It was fellow Hoylake junior member Willie More that helped him most in his formative years, encouraging him to watch better players and practice as much as he possibly could. He was of course fortunate that Johnny Ball, 8 years older than him and arguably Britain’s greatest ever amateur, was a fellow member of Royal Liverpool and clearly someone to aspire to and learn from.

Harold Hilton was one of the very best players for the 25 years between 1890 and 1915. Freddie Tait was the only player of this era he rarely got the better of. Whilst Hilton did beat Tait in stroke play he never beat him in a match play game and this drew a lot of comment at the time. Tait to a lesser degree had the same problem with Ball in match play.

His outstanding golfing achievement was winning both the 1911 Amateur Championship and the U.S. Amateur Championship. He was the first player to complete this double and he did so at the age of 42. Until Matthew Fitzpatrick won in 2013 Hilton had been the last Englishman to win the U.S. Amateur.

The 1911 U.S. Amateur has gone down in history for two reasons; firstly the manner of the victory and secondly the impact it had on the growth of the game in the United States.

Harold Hilton at Apawamis CC (Photo: The Ron Watts Collection)

The 1911 U.S. Amateur took place at Apawamis Country Club in Rye, New York State. Hilton won the stroke play by two shots (76+74=150) leading 32 qualifiers into the match play stage. He then reached the 36 hole Final where he faced Brooklyn-born Fred Herreshoff (24). At lunch Hilton led 4Up and he quickly extended this to 6Up early in the afternoon round. Herreshoff fought back bravely and managed to draw level after 34-holes. The American had chances to win on both of the final two holes but putts just missed for him as Hilton struggled for halves.

Playing their 37th hole (the par 4 1st), with both players having driven into the fairway, Hilton sliced his 3-wood approach. What happened next remains uncertain. The ball either hit the rocky outcrop to the right of the green (in those days surrounded by trees and rough) or benefitted from a kind bounce on the slope before it. Either way from looking dead off the club face it ended up in the middle of the green 20 feet from the hole. In shock Herreshoff – no doubt thinking he had one hand on the trophy just moments earlier – topped his own approach short and then proceeded to take three more to get down. Despite his experience Hilton nervously two-putted for par, in the end having to hole a 3 footer to secure the Havemeyer Trophy.

Herbert Warren Wind described the ‘rock shot’ many years later in his The Story of American Golf (1948) as “the most discussed single shot ever played in an American tournament.” He went on to explain why it had motivated the next generation of U.S. golfers so much: “Americans were not at all pleased over the idea that a foreigner had carried one of our championship cups out of the country, and that men who had never cared about golf before now wanted to know the real inside story.”

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Hilton’s Rock on the 1st Hole of Apawamis CC in 2015
(Photos: Dave Donelson, Westchester Magazine)

In total Harold Hilton won four Amateur Championships:-
1900 – at Royal St. George’s GC v. James Robb SCO (8&7)
1901 – at St. Andrews v. John L. Low SCO (1 Up)
1911 – at Prestwick v. Edward Lassen ENG (4&3)
1913 – at St. Andrews v. Robert Harris SCO (6&5)

It was perhaps no coincidence that his success in the Amateur started in 1900, the first year that both Tait (who had been killed that February in the Second Boer War) and Ball (who was still serving in South Africa) were both absent.

Hilton also lost three Amateur Finals; in 1891 to John Laidlay (19th hole), 1892 to Johnny Ball (3&2) and 1896 to Freddie Tait (8&7).

He achieved an impressive Won 95, Lost 29 (76.6%) overall Amateur Championship record. Between 1887 and 1927, he appropriately started and finished at Royal Liverpool, he played more Championships (33) and matches (124) than anyone else has in history. World War I deprived him of 5 Amateurs between 1916-1919 too.

Harold Hilton also won the Open Championship in 1892 (Muirfield, 305 – 66 entrants) and 1897 (Royal Liverpool, 314 – 86 entrants). The 1892 Open was the first played over 72 holes.

Just Johnny Ball (the first to do so in 1890), Bobby Jones (1926, 1927 & 1930) and Hilton have achieved this feat as amateurs. All three were members of Royal Liverpool GC.

It is in some respects surprising that Hilton won both of his Opens before he had secured an Amateur Championship but he was a renowned stroke player. In total he played in 20 Open’s between 1891 and 1914.

It’s worth noting that Hilton also finished tied third in the 1911 Open Championship at Royal St. George’s with Sandy Herd, one shot behind Harry Vardon, who won the subsequent play-off, and Arnaud Massy. What a hat trick of wins that would have been !

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Harold Hilton’s Medals at Royal Liverpool GC (Photo: GolfBible)

It is easy to forget that many equipment changes took place around the the turn of the century. Hilton dealt reasonably well with the transition, coping better than many of his peers with new clubs such as the Driver and the rubber-cored Haskell ball which replaced the old gutta-percha one. Interestingly of the seven Majors Hilton won the first four saw him use the more exacting gutty whilst the final three were with the easier rubber-core ball.

He also won the St. George’s Challenge Cup in 1893 and 1894, a major amateur competition back in the day.

He won the Irish Open Amateur Championship three years in a row and in some style too. In 1900 he beat S.H. Fry 11&9 at Newcastle, in 1901 P. Dowie 6&5 at Dollymount and in 1902 W.H. Hamilton 5&4 at Portrush.

In October 1910 Hilton (41) played Miss Cecil Leitch (19), a future women’s champion golfer, in a two day 72 hole exhibition match at Walton Heath and Sunningdale. Hilton had publically said he or for that matter any other first class male golfer could give 9 shots to an equivalent women over 18 holes. The Ladies’ Field magazine wanting to see if he could deliver on his word arranged the match and the publicity drew large crowds to the famous courses. Helped by the 18 shots she received Leitch ended up winning 2&1 but Hilton had largely made his point particularly as had been 2 Up after the first day’s play at Walton Heath.

Hilton’s last major win came in 1914 when he won the Golf Illustrated Gold Vase at Sunningdale with a 151 total. As one of the organisers of this event he paired himself with Francis Ouimet, the reigning U.S. Open champion, and proceeded to comprehensively out play him over the 36 holes.

Hilton’s swing was ungainly and notable for the fact he started by moving onto his toes before then very noticeably re-gripping the club at the point of transition. He almost always played whilst smoking too although it is said he limited himself to 50 cigarettes a day. However, like all the greats he practiced hard and honed his style. As he said himself “(I) served a long apprenticeship in the art of learning how to control the club in the upward swing.”

As Robert Harris, the runner-up in the 1913 Amateur, said: “His cap used to fall off his head at the end of full swings, as if jerked off, but this did not indicate if the swing was pure if unduly forceful. He was a small man with a powerful physique; it was exhilarating to watch his perky walk between shots. His assiduity was his greatness.”

Harold Hilton’s Swing (Photo: ingolfwetrust.com)

Hilton also spent a lot of time thinking about the mental side of the game. He believed it was “possible to develop the habit of concentration” and believed “that the majority of good match players are inclined to be very silent men” and tend to be those that play the game “without allowing any outside influence to affect them in any way whatever.”

Hilton was also a member of West Lancashire Golf Club and was this club’s first paid Secretary in the early 1900’s. He was also Secretary of Ashford Manor Golf Club later in his life.

In 1912 he played a leading role in designing the highly regarded Old Course at Ferndown Golf Club in Dorset. The 16th hole is still named ‘Hilton’s’ in memory of his involvement with the Club.

He turned his hand to writing about the sport as he came to the end of his playing career. As well as a frequent contributor he was the first editor of Golf Monthly magazine (from 1911) before taking on the same role at Golf Illustrated, then a weekly paper (from 1913).

He wrote three books My Golfing Reminiscences (1907), The Royal and Ancient Game of Golf (with Garden C. Smith, 1912) and Modern Golf (1913). The fact that he wrote his autobiography in 1907 is probably down to opportunity but also reveals that at 38 he probably thought his best playing days were behind him. It was in 1903 that he also started to suffer with rheumatism and sciatica. His confidence in his own game was such that he chose not to even enter The Open in 1906, 1907 (at Hoylake), 1908 or 1910. History of course shows how wrong he was to nearly retire from competitive golf.

‘Hoylake’ – the chain smoking Harold Hilton depicted by ‘Spy’ (Sir Leslie Ward)

Hilton died aged 73 on 5th May 1942 at his home in Westcote, near Stow on the Wold in Gloucestershire. He had a heart attack but had been suffering with Parkinson’s Disease for some time prior to this.

Harold Hilton was admitted to the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1978 in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the game.

In 1992 John L.B. Garcia wrote Harold Hilton His Golfing Life and Times. It was published in a limited edition of 750 copies by Grant Books.

Royal Liverpool Golf Club inaugurated the Harold Hilton Medal for amateur golfers over the age of 30 in 1997 to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of their member’s famous home Open Championship victory. It is played in early June annually.

The Harold Hilton Medal (Photo: Royal Liverpool Golf Club)

Whilst small in stature, he was just 5 foot 6 inches tall, Harold Hilton is unquestionably one of the giants in the history of British golf.

It is amazing that Royal Liverpool produced first Johnny Ball and then just a short while afterwards Harold Hilton, two of the leading players of the time and looking back a 100 years later two of the biggest names in the history of amateur golf.

ME.

Copyright © 2014-2017, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

Ronnie White

26th March 2017

Great Britain & Ireland (GB&I) lost all four Walker Cup matches between 1947 and 1953 securing a disappointing total of 12 points in the process. It may therefore come as surprise to learn that one of our player’s achieved a record of P8 W6 L1 H1 during this same period.

That player was Ronnie White. His loss and a half both coming in foursomes matches played with Joe Carr. All four of his singles were won.

A name rarely mentioned by anyone nowadays White was arguably the best amateur golfer in the world in the initial post World War II period.

Ronnie White

Ronald James White was born on 9th April 1921 in Wallasey on The Wirral in England.

When Ronnie was 5 he started accompanying his Dad, a member of Southport & Ainsdale GC, to golf, quickly picking up the game and it’s etiquette. Inevitably it wasn’t long before he started playing himself.

Ronnie attended the Merchant Taylors’ school in Crosby and soon developed into one of the country’s leading Juniors. In 1936 he played in the Boys Amateur Championship held at Birkdale. the club he had joined aged 12 three years earlier. He lost 5&3 in the fourth round to William Innes of Lanark. Innes went on to lose the final 11&9 to the famous Irish player Jimmy Bruen.

White fared better in 1937 when he won the U18 Boys’ Carris Trophy, in those days played exclusively at Moor Park, with rounds of 72 and 75.

Fortunately for young Ronnie the Ryder Cup came to town in 1937 and he had the opportunity to see his hero Sam Snead up close. In an interview in 2001 he said “Snead was my role model. I was there for every moment of practice and competition, and was greatly impressed both by the way in which he and the other Americans played, and their style”.

His golf continued to improve and between 1936 and 1938 he was selected for the English Boys Team for their annual match against Scotland. He captained the team in 1938. He played six games winning four, halving one and losing the other.

Ronnie had just started a law degree when Great Britain entered World War II. He volunteered for the Royal Air Force and was first stationed, somewhat fortuitously, at RAF Leuchars for his initial 3 months of training. This enabled him to carry on practicing his golf at nearby St. Andrews. His intelligence and leadership skills saw him selected for flying instructor training. He qualified as a pilot at the British Flying Training School in Texas and appears to have seen out the War well away from the front line.

Understandably very little competitive golf was played whilst the country was at War so just as White was coming into his peak years all of the major championships and events were cancelled (1940-45). The world was a different place after the war too with families devastated, food and petrol rationing in place and responsibilities altered. As Britain tried to rebuild itself as quickly as it could golf was certainly well down the list of most people’s priorities.

White was demobilised in 1946 and moved back to the Birkdale area of Southport where he would stay for the rest of his life. Now aged 25 he re-commenced his law studies and qualified as a solicitor in London in 1949.

White’s commitment to his family and the law meant he was a true amateur playing only a limited schedule, often as close to home as possible. However, he practiced regularly at Birkdale and was ambitious for himself – “the ladder of fame was empty” after the War and I was determined “to reach the top in amateur golf.”

After the 1946 season came to a close White set about remodeling his swing. “Experience had made me appreciate that if I were to achieve success my ambition must be consistency. The star players were all consistent”. He therefore set about gaining more knowledge, used photography and mirrors and practiced hard to create a ‘grooved’ swing. Whilst he never reached his unattainable aim of being as consistent as a golf ball testing machine he was to reap the benefits of this effort in the years that followed.

Unusually at the time he also aimed to spend at least an hour a day on his physical and mental fitness, normally early in the morning. He would run along the shoreline at Birkdale as well as skip and weight lift at home. “Tired legs are the death knell of a competitive golfer, because when the legs get tired concentration lapses follow, and I was always determined to avoid this, particularly towards the end of a championship. I felt as good at the end of a 36-hole match or 72 holes over a weekend as I did at the beginning” he reflected in later life. He sought to manage his nerves by regularly practicing his breathing and by strengthening his stomach muscles.

According to Leonard Crawley his mechanical approach enabled White to become “the most accurate hitter of a ball between tee and green since Henry Cotton” although he went on to say he was a “comparatively poor putter”.

Surprisingly during his career White only played in two Amateur Championships, in 1946 and 1949. He lost in the fourth and fifth rounds respectively in close matches. He was perhaps a victim of his own success. In those days the Amateur was often scheduled around the Walker Cup (trials and match – in 1947, 1951 and 1955) or the Home Internationals (1948 and 1952). With a family to support he was simply unable to take extended leave from his studies and later work as a solicitor and thus sacrificed his own individual competition entries. Of course White was criticized by frustrated onlookers at the time for consistently missing our major amateur Championship.

White did play in many other national events although many of these, certainly his victories, appear to have been in close proximity to home and work. In addition to his starring role in the Walker Cup it was his performance in these that secured his standing in the game.

He won the Lancashire Amateur championship (1948 Birkdale), the English Amateur (1949 Formby), the Golf Illustrated Gold Vase (1949 Birkdale) and the Brabazon Trophy (the English Open Stroke Play title) in both 1950 (by 8 shots after rounds of 75, 72, 75 and 72 at Birkdale) and 1951 (by 4 shots after rounds of 77, 69, 73 and 74 at Formby).

His 1951 Brabazon victory summed up his approach to golf. It was widely reported that both before and after each round White was seen rushing off to his office or to Wigan Magistrates’ Court.

White also had some success in the Daily Telegraph Amateur-Professional Foursomes Tournament. He won it in both 1947 with Charlie Ward at Formby and in 1949 with Reg Horne at Moortown. “With a partner like Ronnie White, you just can’t lose” said Horne at the prize giving ceremony.

He represented England in the Home Internationals of 1947-48-49-53-54 and in matches against France in 1947-48.

After the 1953 Walker Cup White largely stopped playing competitively not that he was overly active beforehand. He was therefore surprised to be called up by England in 1954 for the international matches at Porthcawl.

He performed well enough in Wales to merit a final selection for the 1955 Walker Cup match at St. Andrews. This proved controversial as White had declined an invitation to attend the pre-match trials. It was also a shame because he lost both matches and these failures took the edge of his superb overall Walker cup record. Playing first in both the foursomes and singles he came up against E. Harvie Ward in both, who had won the Amateur in 1952 and went on to win the US Amateur in both 1955 and 1956. Ward a full time amateur with a superb game simply had too much for White by then.  White never played an international match again.

White couldn’t resist a final outing when the Open Championship came to Birkdale in1961. Rounds of 71, 79, 80 and 76 were good enough for him to secure the low amateur Silver Medal in tied 38th place. He had previously only played in one other Open, at St. Andrews in 1946, where he finished tied 30th and fourth best amateur.

In March 1953, somewhat unusually for an amateur but reflecting his standing in the game, White published an instructional book entitled ‘Golf As I Play It’. Given the rules on amateur status the book caused something of a furore at the time. Unsurprisingly, given his legal background, it transpired that White had obtained the prior written approval of the Secretary of The R&A before embarking on the project. In this regard a note was included at the beginning stating “the author wishes to make it clear that he is not a teacher of golf.”

‘Ronnie White’s Golf As I Play It’ Book

One question I haven’t been able to answer concerns Ronnie’s club attachment. He joined Birkdale as a Junior, lived virtually opposite the course for most of his life and subsequently became an Honorary Member of this Club. Yet despite this all of his competition entries from 1947 onwards listed him as representing Royal Liverpool. Even his book states ‘by Ronnie White, Royal Liverpool GC and the 117 photos were all clearly taken at Hoylake too. Matters are made more confusing when one looks through Royal Liverpool’s club histories and find’s not a single reference to Ronnie White.

Ronnie won the R&A British Seniors in 1978 and 1979.

When asked, as all great amateurs are, if he regretted not turning professionally White said: “It crossed my mind on a few occasions but the risks were too great. Winning a professional event in the 1950s meant a few hundred pounds in your pocket, not the hundreds of thousands today. I had a family to take care of, and professional golf was too uncertain.”

He died in 2006 aged 85 to little fanfare in the golfing world. This is a shame because for a brief spell he was one of the best golfers in the world, a highly respected (true) amateur on both sides of The Atlantic. Given his approach to the game it was remarkable that he maintained his competitiveness for so long.

______________________________________________________________

APPENDIX 1 – SELECTED QUOTES ON RONNIE WHITE

Tom Scott on the 1949 Amateur Season: “The first national title, the English Amateur Championship (Formby April 25-30), went to R.J White, as we all expected it would. White played superlative golf and won the title with comparative ease by the margin of five and four. White’s victory was most comforting to all of us, for quite clearly he was at peak form, which meant he was the equal of any amateur in the world, British or American. Here was our No. 1 against the Americans and one who could be relied on to hold his own”.

“There are many who unhesitatingly describe him as the outstanding British amateur of golfing history, and some Americans call him the best unpaid striker of the golf ball since the incomparable Bob Jones.” – New Zealand Golf Illustrated , 5th January 1952

“Ronnie White is a genuine week-end golfer who intends to stay that way and considers it a pleasant accident that nature endowed him with the golfing ability of a world champion.” – New Zealand Golf Illustrated , 5th January 1952

“Many of the highest authorities in American golf today are of opinion that he is the soundest British amateur of the last thirty years. That, of course, is just a matter of opinion, but since he is blessed with the three greatest attributes of a golfer – style, physique and temperament – he is unquestionably a tremendous player”- Leonard Crawley, A History of Golf In Britain (1952).

Leonard Crawley in the Foreword to ‘Golf As I Play It’ (1953) said:

“He has become a famous player and even in America they talk of him as the best amateur in the world today. I think ‘they’ are right, since if ever there was a real amateur he is one. As I know him he is a kindly but hardheaded Lancashire man with certain obvious tracks to his mind from which no one can shake or divert him. He has as his first object a life to live with his family, as his second a living to earn for his family, and as his third, and only when time permits, his golf to play as his hobby.”

“A very keen golfer from the South of England who had never seen him in action recently asked me what type of player he was ? I replied ‘He has a classical but fully modern style. He is as a strong as a horse, and he fears no one.’”

Reflecting on golf in 1953 Pat Ward-Thomas said “Had it been necessary at that time to examine an amateur golfer’s character to the limit he would have been sent to play Ronnie White over 36 holes on his own course at Birkdale with much at stake. I still think that White was one of the finest amateurs ever to emerge in Britain, certainly as a striker of the ball. His swing was so solid and true that there was a sense of the inevitable about his shots. The ball flew from the clubface with an unerring flight that few professionals, apart from Cotton, and no amateur could consistently match, and what is more, in any conditions.”

Peter Alliss described Ronnie White as ”the most professional-looking amateur I have seen” – ‘Golf Heroes’ (2002)

APPENDIX 2 – RONNIE WHITE’S DETAILED PLAYING RECORD

WALKER CUP MATCHES

1947 St. Andrews – 16th and 17th May – GB&I 4 USA 8
F4. RJ White and C Stowe v. RD Chapman and FR Stranahan WON 4&3
S6. RJ White v. AF Kammer WON 4&3

“Charlie was the ideal partner for me to have, never a dull moment, always able to see the humour of life and yet a dogged competitor” recalled White in 2001.

Fred Kammer was a semi-finalist in the US Amateur of 1946.

1949 Winged Foot GC – 19th and 20th August – USA 10 GB&I 2
F1. JB Carr and RJ White v. W Turnesa and R Billows WON 3&2
S1. RJ White v. W Turnesa WON 4&3

Willie Turnesa was the 1938 and 1948 reigning US Amateur champion and runner-up in the Amateur championship; arguably the best player on either side.

Henry Longhurst said “(The team) managed to get just two points – and without Ronnie White, whose form in the warm, windless conditions of American summer golf was so consistent that his team-mates christened him ‘One Height White’ (because every shot he hit, whatever the club, was the same height), we should assuredly have come home without a point at all”.

“Everything about his game has the same professionally polished air – the safe and sound driving, the long iron shots that look as good as Cotton’s the immaculate short game, the confident putting. With half a dozen White’s we would have won that Walker Cup with the greatest ease”.

1951 Birkdale – 11th and 12th May – GB&I 3 USA 6
F1. RJ White and JB Carr v. FR Stranahan and W Campbell HALVED
S3. RJ White v. CR Coe WON 2&1

Watching the Foursomes match with a crowd estimated at 10,000, GB&I 3Up and playing well, Bernard Darwin reported: “Poor Joe Carr had a bout of missing short putts and the holes melted away.” Nevertheless it took a 10-footer by Campbell at the last green to deny the GB&I pair a full point.

In his singles White trailed 3 down after six holes against Charles Coe, but he rallied to win, 2 and 1.

In his post match report Darwin said: “Ronnie White’s record of five wins and one halved match in three Walker Cup matches is certainly one of the finest achievements of British amateur golf for many years. No wonder the Union has taken so much trouble – and given other people so much trouble – in order to give him the sole representative of a plus two handicap.”

1953 Kittansett – 4th and 5th September – USA 9 GB&I 3
F2. JB Carr and RJ White v. S Urzetta and K Ventura LOST 6&4
S6. R Chapman v. RJ White WON 1 HOLE

White still playing a restricted schedule gained selection in 1953 after reaching the English Amateur final in 1953, a match he surprisingly lost at Birkdale to teammate Gerald Micklem.

“When Carr and White are a little older it will dawn on them that young successful partnerships are apt to wear out” wrote Leonard Crawley in 1954 having watched them struggle on Day 1. The opposition was tough though; Sam Urzetta was the 1950 US Amateur champion and Ken Venturi went on to win the 1964 US Open.

On Day 2 according to Crawley “White lunched two down having taken 77 to go round (the first 18). At the 30th hole…he was 3 down with 6 to play. He finished 3-3-4-4-3-4 (to) beat his adversary on the last green. It was a tremendous performance”. Bobby Jones, by now quite ill and using his buggy, came to the match and chose to follow the White game. He later praised White for putting on a “great performance.”

1955 St. Andrews – 20th and 21st May – GB&I 2 USA 10
F1. JB Carr and RJ White v. EH Ward and DR Cherry LOST 1 HOLE
S1. RJ White v. EH Ward LOST 6&5

In the foursomes Carr and White were 1Up with three holes to play. On the 34th hole they three putted whilst Cherry chipped in from off the green. More poor play around the Road Hole green cost the GB&I pair before the last was halved. Both players were gutted and criticised heavily in the press. It was no surprise then that they both lost their Single matches heavily the following day.

HOME INTERNATIONAL MATCHES

1947 Royal Liverpool – 24th, 25th and 26th September – England won
Ireland
F1. RJ White and J Rothwell v. J Burke and C Ewing WON 2&1
S3. RJ White v. C Ewing LOST 2&1

Wales
F1. RJ White and J Rothwell v. SB Roberts and JV Moody WON 3&2
S3. RJ White v. AA Duncan LOST 4&3

Scotland
F2. RJ White and J Rothwell v. H McInally and JG Campbell WON 4&3
S3. RJ White v. AT Kyle WON 2&1

E. Harvie Ward went on to play in two further matches and finished with a 100% win record from his 6 games played.

1948 Muirfield – 22nd, 23rd and 24th September – England won
Scotland
F2. PB Lucas and RJ White v. JC Wilson and H McInally HALVED
S3. RJ White v. JC Wilson WON 3&2

Ireland
F2. PB Lucas and RJ White v. JB Carr and BJ Scannell LOST 1 DOWN
S3. RJ White v. W O’Sullivan WON 4&3

Wales
F2. PB Lucas and RJ White v. RM de Lloyd and JV Moody WON 6&4
S2. RJ White v. SB Roberts LOST 2&1

1949 Portmarnock – 16th, 17th and 18th May – England won
Wales
F1. RJ White and C Stowe v. SB Roberts and JL Morgan WON 4&3
S1. RJ White v. AA Duncan WON 5&3

Scotland
F1. RJ White and C Stowe v. AT Kyle and JM Dykes WON 2UP
S1. RJ White v. JC Wilson HALVED

Ireland
F1. RJ White and C Stowe v. J Bruen and SM McCready HALVED
S1. RJ White v. C Ewing WON 3&2

1952 Troon – 24th, 25th and 26th September – Scotland Won
Results unknown.

“England were without R.J. White the best golfer of his generation and regarded even in America as one of the finest amateurs in the world. His absence was deplorable” – Leonard Crawley, 1953 EGU Golf Annual

1953 Killarney – 10th, 11th and 12th June – Scotland won
Ireland
F1. RJ White and D Rawlinson v. BJ Scannell and J Glover WON
S2. RJ White v. WM O’Sullivan LOST

Scotland
F1. RJ White and D Rawlinson v. DA Blair and JR Cater LOST
S2. RJ White v. JC Wilson LOST

Wales
F1. RJ White and D Rawlinson v. JL Morgan and SB Roberts LOST
S2. RJ White v. JL Morgan WON

“For most of the week, White’s golf was very poor, and until he faced John Morgan in the Welsh match, he was but a shadow of the great player we know him to be” wrote Crawley.

1954 Porthcawl – Dates Unknown – England
Results unknown.

ENGLAND v. FRANCE MATCH
1947 Wentworth 21st July – England 8 France 1
F1. C Stowe and RJ White v. M Carlihan and J Leglise LOST 3&1
S3. RJ White v. J Leglise WON 3&1

1948 St. Cloud 5th and 6th June – England 5 France 3 (Halved 1)
F1. GH Micklem and RJ White v. M Carlihan and J Leglise HALVED
S2. RJ White v. M Carlihan WON 7&6

BOYS INTERNATIONAL MATCHES

1936 Birkdale – Scotland 8.5 England 3.5
F4. TS Foggett and RJ White v. DG O’Brien and WH Gibson WON 2 HOLES
S7. RJ White v. DG O’Brien WON 5&3

1937 Bruntsfield Links – Scotland 9.5 England 2.5
F1. P Hunt and RJ White v. RG Inglis and DB Fraser HALVED
S2. RJ White v. C Gray LOST 2 HOLES

1938 Moor Park – Scotland 7.5 England 4.5
F1. RJ White and T Hiley v. C Gray and W Smeaton WON 3&1
S1. RJ White v. C Gray WON 5&4

AMATEUR CHAMPTIONSHIP

1946 Birkdale – 4th Rd lost to Frank Stranahan by 1hole.

“The round between RJ White and FR Stranahan took three hours and forty minutes which is farcical and monstrous. Golf is not a funeral, although both can be sad things” – Bernard Darwin.

Stranhan has the best Amateur Championship record of any player winning 43 of his 50 matches between 1946-54. He won the Amateur in 1948 and 1950 and was runner up in 1952.

1949 Portmarnock – 5th Rd lost to Ernest Millward by 1 hole.

In the 2nd Rd White beat Dr. W Twedell 3&2 and in the 3rd Rd PB ‘Laddie’ Lucas on the 20th hole. Millward won the English Amateur Championship in 1952.

OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP

1946 St. Andrews – 76 79 84 77 (T30)
1961 Birkdale – 71 79 80 76 (T38) – Silver Medal winner for leading amateur.

ME.

Copyright © 2017, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

Rodney Foster

13th October 2016

Rodney Foster is one of England’s and for that matter Great Britain’s best ever amateur golfers. After years of international representation this career amateur became a much respected and well liked ambassador for the game of golf.

As Rodney is 75 today I thought I would produce ‘an everything you need to know ‘list to record his more notable achievements in the amateur game.

1. He was born in Shipley on 13th October 1941. A lifelong Yorkshireman he was educated at Bradford Grammar School, before embarking on a career in insurance locally and living in the area to this day. He plays most of his golf at Ilkley nowadays.

2. His mother and father were both members of The Bradford Golf Club, his father being Captain in 1956. It was therefore inevitable that Rodney and his brother George would take up the game and quickly become proficient at it – both became scratch players, representing The Bradford club during their careers. It was at Bradford that Rodney developed his very upright swing for which he was known.

3. He won the Yorkshire Amateur Championship five times, in 1963, ’64, ’65, ’67 and ’70. Locally he is also known for his dominance of the Bradford Open, which he won a record 10 times between 1960 and 1982.

Rodney Foster competing in 1966 (Photo: Getty Images / Ed Lacey)

4. He was capped for both England Boys (1958) and Youths (1959).

5. Rodney became a full Men’s International in 1963 and played for England annually in the Home Internationals between 1963 and 1971 (save for 1965). His elite playing career coming to end slightly prematurely in 1973 after he had a serious accident.

6. Rodney represented England in the European Amateur Team Championship in 1963, ’65, ’67, ’69, ’71 and ’73. England won this event three times with him in their team, in 1963, ’69 and ’71.

7. He won many other major amateur titles, most notably the Berkshire Trophy (1964) and the Lytham Trophy (1967 and 1968).

8. In 1964, probably his best playing year, he lost the final of the English Amateur Championship to Dr. David Marsh by 1 hole at Hollinwell.

9. He reached the semi-finals of The Amateur Championship in both 1962 (Hoylake) and 1965 (Porthcawl), losing firstly to Richard Davies from the USA by 3&2 and then to Michael Bonallack by 1 hole on his way to the title. He played in 20 Amateurs between 1962-82, winning 37 and losing 20 of his 57 matches.

10. He tied with Michael Bonallack for the English Open Amateur Stroke Play Championship (Brabazon Trophy) in 1969 at Walton Heath (no play-off in those days) before successfully defending the title in 1970 at Little Aston.

11. He was a member of the winning GB&I Eisenhower Trophy team in 1964. He played with Michael Bonallack, Michael Lunt and Ronnie Shade in Olgiata, near Rome. He also represented Great Britain and Ireland (GB&I) in 1970 in this competition.

img_4188Rodney Foster (Photo: R&A / 1979 Walker Cup Programme)

12. He played in five consecutive Walker Cup‘s for GB&I, 1965, ’67, ’69, ’71 and ’73. However, as was the case with most golfers of this era, his playing record was disappointing – he played 17 games winning 2, losing 13 and halving 2.

13. He also represented Great Britain in the St. Andrews Trophy match against Europe in 1964, ’66, ’68 and ’70. GB won all four of these matches.

14. He was non-playing captain of England in 1976, ’77 and ’78, England winning the Home Internationals’ Raymond Trophy in his last two years.  He went on to become captain of the GB&I Walker Cup team in 1979 (Muirfield) and 1981 (Cypress Point). Both matches were lost, the former 8.5-15.5 and the latter 15.5-9.  In the middle year, 1980, he captained the St. Andrews Trophy Team which won at Royal St. George’s 19.5-10.5.

15. Rodney also played for Great Britain in 1967 (Canada) and 1971 (New Zealand) in the now defunct Commonwealth Tournament, competing against teams from Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa.

16. He set many course records during his career including those at The Bradford (66), Leeds (64), Prestbury (66) and Troon 70.

17. He has honorary membership of many Yorkshire clubs in recognition of his service to the county and international playing achievements. These include The Bradford, East Bierley, Halifax, Ilkley, Keighley, Shipley, West Bowling and Woodsome Hall.

18. Finally, as one would expect he is also a member of The Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews.

ME.

Copyright © 2016, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

Ronnie Shade MBE

15th October 2016

Ronnie Shade is one of Great Britain & Ireland’s best amateur golfers of all-time and probably Scotland’s very best. Indeed for a while in the mid-1960’s he was considered the best amateur in the world.

Ronald David Bell Mitchell Shade MBE was born on 15th October 1938 in Edinburgh.

He grew up playing golf at Duddingston Golf Club on the east side of the city where is father John was the club pro. He attended the nearby Portobello Secondary School.

Coached exclusively by his father he developed a somewhat mechanical swing but one that he could repeat and rely upon. He was known for keeping his head down well through impact.

“Before each shot, Ronnie goes through a series of seemingly odd contortions. These are his father’s idea. He believes that the muscles have to be ‘reminded’ of their role before each shot. Young Shade can be observed standing away from the ball posing in the top of the backswing position and flicking his hips. This is to ‘remind’ his hips to move first. His most unusual pose is the follow through which he performs and holds three three times before each stroke”  – World Sports Magazine, 1962. 

He quickly showed promise on the links winning the Edinburgh Boy’s Championship in 1954-55-56.

He represented Scotland in the Boys’ International Match in 1954-55-56, captaining the side in his final year.

He took his junior victories onto the national stage in 1954 firstly winning the British Youth’s Under 18 Open Championship by 3-shots at Dumfries and County GC. In 1956 he secured the Scottish Boys’ Amateur Championship beating AJ Hanley at North Berwick 7&6 in the final.

His best finish in the Boys’ Amateur Championship came in 1956 when he reached the semi-finals before losing 4&3 to CW Cole.

He was first selected for Scotland’s Men’s team in 1957, playing one match in The Amateur Internationals (now the Home internationals) against Ireland. He played in the Internationals in 1960-61-62-63-64-65-66-67-68 competing against all the home nations.

He is best known north of the border for winning five consecutive Scottish Amateur Championships between 1963-1967.

1963 – beat N Henderson 4&2 at Troon.
1964 – beat J McBeath 8&7 at Nairn.
1965 – beat GB Cosh 4&2 St. Andrews.
1966 – beat CJL Strachan 9&8 at Western Gailes.
1967 – beat AB Murphy 5&4 at Carnoustie.

When he lost in the fourth round of the 1968 Championship it brought to an end a staggering run of 43 successive match wins, 35 of them coming over 18 holes. His record could have been even better too as he also lost the 1962 final to SWT Murray 2&1 at Muirfield.

img_4165

Ronnie Shade (Photo: The Golfer’s Handbook 1964)

In 1968 Shade won the second Scottish Open Amateur Stroke Play Championship, held at Prestwick, with a 282 total score.

He won the the English Amateur Open Strokeplay Championship (for the Brabazon Trophy) three times, in 1961-63-67.

In 1966 he lost the final of The Amateur Championship to South African Bobby Cole. Shade played in 8 Amateur’s between 1961 and 1968 winning 26 of his 34 games Whilst his 76.5% win percentage is nothing to be ashamed of Shade must have been disappointed that he couldn’t have performed better in our most prestigious event.

1961  Turnberry               –  5th rd loss to J Walker 2&1
1962  Royal Liverpool     – 2nd rd loss to GJ Butler 20th hole
1963  St Andrews            – 5th rd loss to Dr. ER Updegraff 3&2
1964  Ganton                   – 2nd rd loss to PF Brady 1 hole
1965  Royal Porthcawl    – 4th rd loss to W Hyndman III 2&1
1966  Carnoustie            – Runner up losing to RE Cole 3&2
1967  Formby                  – 5th rd loss to RB Dickson 2&1
1968  Troon                     – 6th rd loss to RL Glading 1 hole.

He represented Great Britain and Ireland (GB&I) four times in the Walker Cup, playing in 1961-63-65-67. Ronnie Shade played  14 games winning 6, losing 6 and halving 2. In this era this represents a very creditable record.

1961  Seattle                      – USA 11 – 1 GB&I     P2  W0  L2  Ho
1963  Turnberry                 – GB&I 8 – 12 USA     P4  W2  L1  H1
1965  Baltimore                 – USA 11 – 11 GB&I   P4  W3  L1  H0
1967  Royal St. George’s  – GB&I 7 – 13 USA     P4  W1  L2  H1

Shade was selected for the 1962-64-66-68 GB&I teams for the Eisenhower Trophy. During the 1962 event he set a new course record at Kawana in Japan (66), in 1964 GB&I won the Trophy in Mexico (Shade played with Michael Bonallack, Rodney Foster and Michael Lunt) and in 1966 he was the leading individual player (283) with GB&I coming second (this time with Peter Oosterhuis and Gordon Cosh joining up with him and Bonallack).

In 1966 he won the Silver Medal for the low amateur at The Open Championship, finishing tied 16th. His only major championship appearances came in The Open which he played 14 times during his career.

The third Carling World Championship was held at Birkdale in 1966. Shade won the low amateur honours at this mixed pro and amateur event.


Ronnie Shade (Photo: The Golfer’s Handbook 1967)

In recognition of his outstanding 1966 he was awarded The Association of Golf Writers Trophy.

Ronnie was often referred to by his fellow players as “Right Down the Bloody Middle” – based on his initials – due to his consistent driving, which formed the bedrock of his play.

“No one I have ever seen, even to this day, hit the ball as straight as Ronnie did. He was an extraordinary player.” – Bernard Gallacher, The Scotsman, 2009. 

He was awarded an MBE in 1967 for services to golf whilst he was still an amateur and aged just 28.

Ronnie turned pro in late 1968 aged 30 and whilst he didn’t quite make it the move was not without some success. He won both the 1969 Carroll’s International and Ben Sayers Tournament in his rookie season. A smooth transition was not unexpected as Shade had a reputation for meticulous preparation in the amateur game which no doubt stood him in good stead. He finished 20th in the 1969 PGA Order of merit with prize money of £2,689. Fellow Lothians man Bernard Gallacher won the Order that year with £6,793. He got to 14th in the rankings in 1970 and finished in the top 60 every year until the mid-1970’s.

His only other pro wins came at the Scottish Professional Championship (1970) and Mufulira Open in Zambia (1975).

He represented Scotland at the World Cup three times, in 1970-71-72, and in the Double Diamond Internationals five times, in 1971-72-73-74-75.

Shade remained a strong match play exponent in the pro ranks, finishing runner-up at the British PGA Matchplay Championship in 1970 as well as reaching the semi-finals on two other occasions.

Ronnie Shade in 1973 (Photo: Fionnbar Callanan)

In 2005 in a Sunday Herald article by Golf Correspondent Nick Rodger Ronnie Shade was ranked 17th in a list of the Greatest Scottish Golfers.

After a long battle with cancer Ronnie Shade sadly died on 10th September 1986, just over 30 years ago, aged only 47. By this time he had been reinstated as an amateur golfer.

I have now written three profiles of Scottish golfers, Barclay Howard and Freddie Tait being the other two, and all of them have died well before their time.

His failure to lift The Amateur Championship leaves him just short of the greats of the GB&I amateur game in my eyes but his record remains one of the best and as such he deserves to be recognised and remembered.

ME.

Copyright © 2016, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.