John Ball Jr

24th December 2014

On the anniversary of his birthday I thought I would research the career of arguably Britain’s greatest ever amateur golfer.  Indeed many commentators place him only behind the legendary Bobby Jones on the world’s greatest list.

John (‘Johnny’) Ball was born in Hoylake on the Wirral, England on 24th December 1861.

John Ball 1

John Ball

John Ball’s father, John Senior, owned the Royal Hotel at Hoylake.  The hotel became the club house for the Liverpool GC (the Royal was conferred in 1871) when it was first established in 1869.  Living adjacent to the famous links (and old race course) John soon took up the game and quickly became proficient.

He grew to know Royal Liverpool like the back of his hand. He proved it in 1907 when he took a bet that he could go round the course in a dense fog in under 90 shots, without losing a ball and taking no longer than two and a quarter hours. Playing with a single painted black ball he scored 81 well within the allotted time.

He had a natural talent and the most envied swing of the time, despite what Bernard Darwin described as a “curious right-handed grip”.  Darwin, the famous Times Golf Correspondent, who saw all of the old greats play in person, thought very highly of Ball, saying “The beauty of any particular player’s style must, like his exact placing in the golfing firmament, be a matter of individual feeling, and I can only say that I have derived greater aesthetic and emotional pleasure from watching Mr. Ball than from any other spectacle in any game”.

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John Ball Competing In The 1912 Amateur Championship (Photo: Royal North Devon G.C.)

In 1878, aged 16, he came to national prominence when he finished fifth in the Open Championship held at Prestwick GC.  The Open, largely aimed at professional golfers, had been inaugurated by Prestwick GC in 1860.

In 1885 his home club, Royal Liverpool, held an informal Open Amateur ‘Grand Tournament’, which was played during their Spring Meeting.  This match play competition attracted 44 leading players “from recognised clubs” of the time, including Ball (23) who had gained entry through some Committee shenanigans (having received a £1 payment for his Open place in 1878 and whose amateur stays was therefore questionable at the time).  In the middle of the competition the stroke play Club Gold Medal was contested.  Ball won this with a course record 77.  The following morning he played Horace Hutchinson in a titanic semi-final match in the resumed Grand Tournament, losing on the 18th 2 Down.  Later that day Allan Macfie beat a spent Horace Hutchinson 7&6 in the final.  The event proved to be the success the Club had hoped for and as planned a proposal was put to the Royal & Ancient Golf Club (R&A) for a formal Amateur Championship to be established thereafter.  The suggestion was accepted and the first Amateur Championship was staged at St. Andrews in 1886, albeit the 1885 Hoylake Tournament was subsequently recognised in 1922.

John Ball went on to win 8 Amateur Championships in total – 1888, ’90, ’92, ’94, ’99, 1907, ’10, and ’12.  His wins came at Prestwick (2), Hoylake (3), Sandwich (1), St. Andrews (1) and Westward Ho ! (1).  His final Amateur victory in 1912 came when he was 50 years old.  The gap of 24 years between his first and last victories is clearly a record that will never be broken.  He was also runner-up twice, in 1887 and 1895.  Playing his last Amateur in 1921 at Hoylake, aged 60, he reached the last 16 from a starting field of 223.  His Amateur win record of W99-L22 (81.8%) is unparalleled.

When one considers Ball was playing in The Open in 1878 (8 years before the first Amateur) and that he also missed the 1900, ’01 and ’02 Championships due to military commitments (see below) one can only hazard a guess at how many Amateurs he may have won if events had unfolded in a more favourable manner.

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John Ball’s Medals at Royal Liverpool GC (Photo: GolfBible) 

Ball also won the Open Championship in September 1890 at Prestwick GC – only the second time he had played since his 1878 debut.  He was the first Englishman and the first amateur to win the Championship.  He was also the first to hold both the Amateur and Open Championships – a feat matched by Bobby Jones in 1930 on his way to the Grand Slam.  Fellow Royal Liverpool member Harold Hilton is the third and only other amateur to win The Open.  He was runner-up in the 1892 Open at Muirfield, when he let a lead slip to his friend Hilton.

The importance afforded to the Amateur over The Open in these early years is clear when one considers that Ball played in every Amateur between 1885 and 1921, save for his three war years, but was sporadic in his Open entries.

Unsurprisingly given his match play record he was a stubborn and determined competitor who would fight to the very end.  Darwin once noted that Ball had “a strong vein of hostility and if he wanted a player’s blood, he would fight his way through a tournament with the sole object of getting him”.

In 1908 he created a record by winning every one of the Royal Liverpool G.C.’s scratch medals.

John Ball 2

John Ball’s ‘Vanity Fair’ picture

After his 6th Amateur win in 1907 at St. Andrews he was made an honorary member of the R&A.

He served for the Cheshire Yeomanry in the Second Boer War (October 1899 – May 1902) in South Africa.  During this period he played next to no golf and missed three Amateur Championships.  Indeed one of his fiercest competitors, Scotland’s Freddie Tait, was killed in the same conflict.  His later competitive years would also have been impacted by World War I (1915-19) when he served in the Home Forces and most competitions were cancelled.

Ball was a quiet, retiring, introverted character who said very little to anyone.  It is next to impossible to find any written words or quotes from the great man.  He was very modest preferring to let his golf do the talking for him.  This approach created a certain mythology around him which remains to this day.  The quality of his game meant that he was the first player to consistently go for nearly every flag, whereas his peers simply played for the green.  This led to many memorable, heroic shots in his matches which spectators would talk about for days afterwards.  It also helped nullify his main weakness which was his putting.

He was a traditionalist who fought against the introduction of the lofted iron.  He described the niblick (a modern 8-iron), which he refused to carry, as “just another bloody spade” and felt it de-skilled the game he loved.  He believed players should simply adjust the lie of their existing mid-iron clubs with their grip when height was required on an approach shot.

He retired a ‘legend in his own lifetime’ to his farm in Holywell, Flintshire in nearby North Wales where he eventually died on 2nd December 1940, just shy of his 79th birthday.

John Ball 3

John Ball’s World Gall Hall of Fame Plaque

He was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1977.

John Ball is a true great of the game who undoubtedly helped spread the popularity of the sport in Great Britain and Ireland in the early 20th Century.  He is clearly someone whose legacy should not be allowed to fade away and who should be remembered by us all.

ME.

Copyright © 2014-2020, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

ET Second Stage Q-School 2014: Day 4

10th November 2014

European Tour QS

The Second Stage European Tour Qualifying School (Q-School) events have been completed today.  293 players competed over 72-holes across four different courses.  In the end there were 69 qualifying spots available across these venues – 17 each at El Saler, Lumine and Panoramica and 18 at Las Colinas.

110 players from Great Britain & Ireland (GB&I) started the Second Stage competitions.  26 of these have progressed to the Final Stage.  Matthew Cort sadly missed out in the Las Colinas play-off.  I have collated the 72-hole Second Stage results of the GB&I Amateurs, some of the GB&I Pro’s and various Overseas Notables below so you can quickly see who has qualified. Players in bold have qualified.

If you want to look at the detailed results for each venue simply click on the underlined Course Names and a link will take you to the European Tour’s live scoring page for that site.

The Final Stage Q-School will start at the PGA Catalunya Resort this coming Saturday, the 15th November.  The top 25 and tied finishers after six rounds will secure Category 15 European Tour cards for 2015.

Campo de Golf El Saler
6,449 yards, Par 72 – 29 GB&I players / 17 Qualifying Spots

  •  1st  Garry Houston (WAL)  70, 71, 71, 65 (-11)
  •  3rd  Simon Griffiths (ENG)  72, 69, 69, 69 (-9)
  • T  5  Matthew Fitzpatrick (ENG)  72, 72, 67, 71 (-6)
  • T  5  Ben Parker (ENG)  71, 72, 68, 71 (-6)
  • T  5  Wallace Booth (SCO)  73, 68, 69, 72 (-6)
  • T  8  Billy Hemstock (ENG)  73, 72, 68, 71 (-4)
  • T12  Neil Chaudhuri (ENG)  72, 71, 72, 70 (-3)
  • T12  Michael McGeady (IRE)  73, 70, 72, 70 (-3)
  • T15  Chris Lloyd (ENG)  72, 69, 72, 73 (-2)
  • T18  Aaron Rai (ENG)  77, 74, 67, 69 (-1)
  • T18  Ryan Evans (ENG)  76, 70, 67, 74 (-1)
  • T21  Dominic Foos (GER)  74, 73, 72, 69 (Par)
  • T30  Elliott Saltman (SCO)  77, 70, 76, 68 (+3)
  • T50  Joshua White (ENG)  75, 73, 74, 75 (+9)

Las Colinas Golf & Country Club
6,974 yards, Par 71 – 25 GB&I players / 17 Qualifying Spots

  •  1st  Chris Paisley (ENG)  66, 66, 69, 66 (-17)
  • T  2  Sam Walker (ENG)  68, 63, 66, 73 (-14)
  • T  4  Jamie Elson (ENG)  65, 68, 68, 71 (-12)
  • T  6  Scott Fallon (ENG)  67, 69, 69, 69 (-10)
  • T  6  Richard McEvoy (ENG)  67, 65, 71, 71 (-10)
  • T  9  Lloyd Kennedy (ENG)  69, 70, 68, 68 (-9)
  • T  9  Emilio Cuartero Blanco (AM) (SPA)  69, 70, 66, 70 (-9)
  • T16  Geoff Drakeford* (AUS)  69, 67, 69, 72 (-7) AFTER PLAY OFF
  • T16  Matthew Cort (ENG)  70, 70, 69, 68 (-7)
  • T20  Raymond Russell (SCO)  68, 70, 71, 69 (-6)
  • T27  Jordan Smith (ENG)  73, 67, 69, 70 (-5)
  • T41  Alexander Culverwell (AM) (SCO)  66, 73, 74, 70 (-1)
  • T46  Chris Robb (SCO)  69, 72, 69, 74  (Par)
  • T51  Zane Scotland (ENG)  68, 69, 73, 75 (+1)

Lumine Golf & Beach Club (Lakes)
6,909 yards, Par71 – 27 GB&I players / 17 Qualifying Spots

  • T  4  Paul Maddy (ENG)  75, 65, 65, 65 (-14)
  • T10  Matt Ford (ENG)  76, 66, 70, 62 (-10)
  • T10  Paul Howard (AM) (ENG)  70, 67, 68, 69 (-10)
  • T14  Garrick Porteous (ENG)  67, 77, 64, 67 (-9)
  • T14  Nathan Kimsey (ENG)  72, 67, 69, 67 (-9)   
  • T16  Daniel Givens (ENG)  68, 70, 72, 66 (-8)
  • T21  James Heath (ENG)  72, 65, 71, 69 (-7)
  • T21  Neil Kearney (IRE)  70, 69, 66, 72 (-7)
  • T25  Neil Fenwick (SCO)  72, 67, 69, 70 (-6)
  • T32  Steven Tiley (ENG)  70, 69, 69, 71 (-5)
  • T34  Stiggy Hodgson (ENG)  73, 71, 70, 66 (-4)
  • T37  Luke Johnson (AM) (ENG)  75, 68, 70, 68 (-3)
  • T41  Ashley Chesters (AM) (ENG)  72, 66, 72, 72 (-2)
  • T64  Neil Raymond (ENG)  72, 70, 73, 76 (+7)

Panoramica Golf & Sport Resort
7,030 yards, Par 72 – 29 GB&I players / 17 Qualifying Spots

  •  1st  Matthew Southgate (ENG)  66, 69, 64, 67 (-22)
  • 2nd  Toby Tree (ENG)  66, 67, 65, 69 (-21)
  • T  8  Ross Kellett (SCO)  71, 68, 68, 65 (-16)
  • T  8  Renato Paratore (AM) (ITA)  70, 65, 71 (-16)
  • T  8  Duncan Stewart (SCO)  75, 63, 67, 67 (-16)
  • T13  Tom Murray (ENG)  65, 73, 66, 70 (-14)
  • T15  Zander Lombard (AM) (SA)  68, 70, 70, 67 (-13) AFTER PLAY-OFF
  • T15  Gary Lockerbie (ENG)  72, 67, 68, 68 (-13) AFTER PLAY-OFF
  • T24  Martin Sell (ENG)  68, 66, 69, 74 (-11)
  • T51  Scott Borrowman (AM) (SCO)  68, 71, 75, 69 (-5)
  • T56  Mark Young* (ENG)  72, 71, 70, 71 (-4)
  • 68th  Luke Joy (ENG)  75, 69, 72, 73 (+1)

* Turned Professional ahead of Q-School.

ME.

Copyright © 2014, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

ET Second Stage Q-School 2014: Day 3

9th November 2014

European Tour QS

The Second Stage European Tour Qualifying School events started on Friday in Spain. 293 players are competing over 72-holes across four venues.  All are looking to progress to the Final Stage which will take place at the PGA Catalunya Resort between 15th and 20th November. Ultimately the top 25 and tied finishers will secure Category 15 European Tour cards via the Q-School series.

I have collated the 54-holes scores of the GB&I Amateurs, some of the GB&I Pro’s and various Overseas Notables below.

This week there are 68 qualifying spots available across the four venues – 17 at El Saler, Las Colinas, Lumine and Panoramica (an extra one was added to Panoramica overnight).

If you want to look at the detailed results for each venue simply click on the underlined Course Names and a link will take you to the European Tour’s live scoring page for that site.

Campo de Golf El Saler
6,449 yards, Par 72 – 29 GB&I players / 17 Qualifying Spots

  • T  1  Wallace Booth (SCO)  73, 68, 69 (-6)
  • T  1  Simon Griffiths (ENG)  72, 69, 69 (-6)
  • T  4  Matthew Fitzpatrick (ENG)  72, 72, 67 (-5)
  • T  4  Ben Parker (ENG)  71, 72, 68 (-5)
  • T  6  Garry Houston (WAL)  70, 71, 71 (-4)
  • T  8  Chris Lloyd (ENG) 72, 69, 72 (-3)
  • T  8  Ryan Evans (ENG)  76, 70, 67 (-3)
  • T  8  Billy Hemstock (ENG)  73, 72, 68 (-3)
  • T16  Neil Chaudhuri (ENG)  72, 71, 72 (-1)
  • T16  Michael McGeady (IRE)  73, 70, 72 (-1)
  • T26  Dominic Foos (GER)  74, 73, 72 (+3)
  • T42  Joshua White (ENG)  75, 73, 74 (+6)
  • T48  Elliott Saltman (SCO)  77, 70, 76 (+7)

Las Colinas Golf & Country Club
6,974 yards, Par 71 – 25 GB&I players / 17 Qualifying Spots

  • T  1  Sam Walker (ENG)  68, 63, 66 (-16)
  • T  2  Jamie Elson (ENG)  65, 68, 68 (-12)
  • T  2  Chris Paisley (ENG)  66, 66, 69 (-12)
  • T  6  Richard McEvoy (ENG)  67, 65, 71 (-10)
  • T  8  Alex Wrigley (ENG)  69, 69, 66 (-9)
  • T10  Scott Fallon (ENG)  67, 69, 69 (-8)
  • T10  Emilio Cuartero Blanco (AM) (SPA)  69, 70, 66 (-8)
  • T10  Geoffrey Drakeford* (AUS)  69, 67, 69 (-8)
  • T25  Jordan Smith (ENG)  73, 67, 69 (-4)
  • T25  Raymond Russell (SCO)  68, 70, 71 (-4)
  • T38  Chris Robb (SCO)  69, 72, 69 (-3)
  • T38  Zane Scotland (ENG)  68, 69, 73 (-3)
  • T54  Alexander Culverwell (AM) (SCO)  66, 73, 74 (Par)

Lumine Golf & Beach Club (Lakes)
6,909 yards, Par71 – 27 GB&I players / 17 Qualifying Spots

  • T  6  Paul Howard (AM) (ENG)  70, 67, 68 (-8)
  • T  6  Neil Kearney (IRE)  70, 69, 66 (-8)
  • T  6  Paul Maddy (ENG)  75, 65, 65 (-8)
  • T14  James Heath (ENG)  72, 65, 71 (-5)
  • T14  Garrick Porteous (ENG)  67, 77, 64 (-5)
  • T14  Neil Fenwick (SCO)  72, 67, 69 (-5)
  • T14  Steven Tiley (ENG)  70, 69, 69 (-5)
  • T14  Nathan Kimsey (ENG)  72, 67, 69 (-5)
  • T26  Ashley Chesters (AM) (ENG)  72, 66, 72 (-3)
  • T46  Luke Johnson (AM) (ENG)  75, 68, 70 (Par)
  • T52  Stiggy Hodgson (ENG)  73, 71, 70 (+1)
  • T57  Neil Raymond (ENG)  72, 70, 73  (+2)

Panoramica Golf & Sport Resort
7,030 yards, Par 72 – 29 GB&I players / 17 Qualifying Spots

  •  1st  Toby Tree (ENG)  66, 67, 65  (-18)
  • 2nd  Matthew Southgate (ENG)  66, 69, 64  (-17)
  • T  7  Martin Sell (ENG)  68, 66, 69  (-13)
  • T  9  Tom Murray (ENG)  65, 73, 66  (-12)
  • T13  Duncan Stewart (SCO)  75, 63, 67 (-11)
  • T15  Renato Paratore (AM) (ITA)  70, 65, 71 (-10)
  • T28  Zander Lombard (AM) (SA)  68, 70, 70 (-8)
  • T54  Mark Young* (ENG)  72, 71, 70  (-3)
  • T59  Scott Borrowman (AM) (SCO)  68, 71, 75 (-2)
  • T66  Luke Joy (ENG)  75, 69, 72  (Par)

* Turned Professional ahead of Q-School.

ME.

Copyright © 2014, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

ET Second Stage Q-School 2014: Day 2

8th November 2014

European Tour QS

Second Stage European Tour Qualifying School events started yesterday in Spain.  293 players are competing across four venues, all looking to progress to the Final Stage which will take place at the PGA Catalunya Resort between 15th and 20th November.  Ultimately the top 25 and tied finishers will secure Category 15 European Tour cards via the Q-School series.

I have collated the scores of the GB&I Amateurs, some of the GB&I Pro’s and various Overseas Notables below.

There are 67 qualifying spots across the four venues – 17 at El Saler, Las Colinas, Lumine and 16 at Panoramica.

If you want to look at the detailed results for each venue simply click on the underlined Course Names and a link will take you to the European Tour’s live scoring page for that site.

Campo de Golf El Saler (6,449 yards, Par 72) – 29 GB&I players.

17 Qualifying Spots

  • T  1  James Ablett (ENG)  72, 69 (-3)
  • T  1  Simon Griffiths (ENG)  72, 69 (-3)
  • T  1  Garry Houston (WAL)  70, 71 (-3)
  • T11  Matthew Fitzpatrick (ENG)  72, 72 (Par)
  • T25  Ryan Evans (ENG)  76, 70 (+2)
  • T30  Elliott Saltman (SCO)  77, 70 (+3)
  • T30  Dominic Foos (GER)  74, 73 (+3)
  • T42  Joshua White (ENG)  75, 73 (+4)

Las Colinas Golf & Country Club (6,974 yards, Par 71) – 25 GB&I players.

17 Qualifying Spots

  • T  1  Sam Walker (ENG)  68, 63 (-11)
  • T  4  Jamie Elson (ENG)  65. 68 (-9)
  • T13  Geoffrey Drakeford* (AUS)  69, 67 (-6)
  • T17  Zane Scotland (ENG)  68, 69 (-5)
  • T21  Raymond Russell (SCO)  68, 70 (-4)
  • T27  Alexander Culverwell (AM) (SCO)  66, 73 (-3)
  • T34  Jordan Smith (ENG)  73, 67 (-2)
  • T42  Chris Robb (SCO)  69, 72 (-1)

Lumine Golf & Beach Club (Lakes) (6,909 yards, Par71) – 27 GB&I players.

17 Qualifying Spots

  • T  6  James Heath (ENG)  72, 65 (-5)
  • T  6  Paul Howard (AM) (ENG)  70, 67 (-5)
  • T11  Ashley Chesters (AM) (ENG)  72, 66 (-4)
  • T17  Neil Kearney (IRE)  70, 69 (-3)
  • T17  Nathan Kimsey (ENG)  72, 67 (-3)
  • T36  Neil Raymond (ENG)  72, 70 (Par)
  • T44  Luke Johnson (AM) (ENG)  75, 68 (+1)
  • T55  Garrick Porteous (ENG)  67, 77 (+2)
  • T55  Stiggy Hodgson (ENG)  73, 71 (+2)

Panoramica Golf & Sport Resort (7,030 yards, Par 72) – 29 GB&I players.

16 Qualifying Spots

  • T  2  Toby Tree (ENG)  66, 67 (-11)
  • T  6  Martin Sell (ENG)  68, 66 (-10)
  • T10  Renato Paratore (AM) (ITA)  70, 65 (-9)
  • T10  Matthew Southgate (ENG)  66, 69 (-10)
  • T19  Lauri Ruuska (AM) (FIN)  70, 67 (-7)
  • T26  Tom Murray (ENG)  65, 73 (-6)
  • T26  Zander Lombard (AM) (SA)  68, 70 (-6)
  • T38  Scott Borrowman (AM) (SCO)  68, 71 (-5)
  • T56  Mark Young* (ENG)  72, 71 (-1)
  • T63  Luke Joy (ENG)  75, 69 (Par)

* Turned Professional yesterday.

ME.

Copyright © 2014, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

ET Second Stage Q-School 2014: Day 1

7th November 2014

European Tour QS

The Second Stage European Tour Qualifying School events started today in Spain.  The 191 players who negotiated the First Stage have now been joined by 102 new players who through their past endeavours were exempt from September’s eight pre-qualifying competitions.

The six-round Final Stage will take place at the PGA Catalunya Resort between 15th – 20th November.  The number of qualifying spots available to the Final Stage will be confirmed tomorrow afternoon once the Challenge Tour Grand Final in Dubai has been concluded and that Tour’s rankings are finalised.

I thought it may be useful to collate the scores of the GB&I Amateurs, some GB&I Selected Pro’s and various Other Notables from the four courses in one place: –

Campo de Golf El Saler – 29 GB&I players in total.

  • T  9  Matthew Fitzpatrick (ENG)  72 (Par)
  • T27  Dominic Foos (GER)  74 (+2)
  • T36  Joshua White (ENG)  75 (+3)
  • T43  Ryan Evans (ENG)  76 (+4)
  • T53  Elliott Saltman (SCO)  77 (+5)

Las Colinas Golf & Country Club – 25 GB&I players in total.

  • T  2  Jamie Elson (ENG)  65 (-6)
  • T  5  Alexander Culverwell (AM) (SCO)  66 (-5)
  • T16  Zane Scotland (ENG)  68 (-3)
  • T16  Raymond Russell (SCO)  68 (-3)
  • T22  Chris Robb (SCO)  69 (-2)
  • T22  Geoffrey Drakeford* (AUS)  69 (-2)
  • T54  Jordan Smith (ENG)  73 (+2)

Lumine Golf & Beach Club (Lakes Course) – 27 GB&I players in total.

  • T  3  Garrick Porteous (ENG)  67 (-4)
  • T15  Paul Howard (AM) (ENG)  70 (-1)
  • T36  Ashley Chesters (AM) (ENG)  72 (+1)
  • T36  Nathan Kimsey (ENG)  72 (+1)
  • T36  Neil Raymond (ENG)  72 (+1)
  • T50  David Higgins (IRE)  73 (+2)
  • T50  Stiggy Hodgson (ENG)  73 (+2)
  • T62  Luke Johnson (AM) (ENG)  75 (+4)

Panoramica Golf & Sport Resort – 29 GB&I players in total.

  • T  2  Tom Murray (ENG)  65 (-7)
  • T  4  Toby Tree (ENG)  66 (-6)
  • T18  Zander Lombard (AM) (SA)  68 (-4)
  • T18  Scott Borrowman (AM) (SCO)  68 (-4)
  • T35  Renato Paratore (AM) (ITA)  70 (-2)
  • T52  Mark Young* (ENG)  72 (Par)
  • T68  Luke Joy (ENG)  75 (+3)

* Turned Professional today.  

If you click on the underlined Venue Names it will take you to the European Tour’s live scoring page for that site where you can see all of the day’s scores.

ME.

Copyright © 2014, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.