The Open Championship’s Silver Medal

July 2021 Update

The Silver Medal is awarded to the leading amateur at The Open Championship, provided they make the cut and complete all 72 holes.

It was first awarded in 1949 and in the 72 Championships since has been won 52 times by 46 different players. Prior to World War II amateurs were often amongst the leading competitors so a separate prize was not considered necessary.

The Silver Medal used to bear the inscription ‘Golf Champion Trophy’, with the edition of the words ‘First Amateur’ but my understanding is it now simply states “Open Golf Championship [Year]’ on one side and the winner’s name on the reverse.

Here is some background on the Silver Medal and a full list of the select group of past winners.


The Open Championship was first played on 17 October 1860 at Prestwick Golf Club in Scotland.

It is the oldest of the four major championships in professional golf and the only one played outside the United States.

The 150th Open will be played on the Old Course at St. Andrews on 14-17 July 2022.

Amateurs In the Field

Nowadays the field is made up of 156 players. These are mainly professionals but there are always a handful of amateurs too.

Exemptions to both categories are given by The R&A based on previous wins / performances and world rankings. There are currently 27 exemption categories that provide c.110 players.

There are five amateur exemptions which are awarded to: –
– The Amateur Champion (current year).
– The European Amateur Champion (current year).
– The Asia-Pacific Amateur Champion (previous year).
– The Mark H. McCormack Medal Winner – Men’s WAGR (previous year).
– The United States Amateur Champion (previous year).

The remaining c.46 players have to play in The Open Qualifying Series (11 International events) or Regional (13 GB&I events) and Final Qualifying (4 GB events) to earn their places. Additional amateur players often come through these latter events.

Best Amateur Performances

Bobby Jones (USA) was the last amateur to win The Open Championship in 1930, his famous Grand Slam year. Jones had previously won the event in 1926 and 1927.

Prior to that The Open had been won by just two other amateurs – Englishmen John Ball (1890) and Harold Hilton (1892 and 1897).

Frank Stranahan (USA) finished runner-up in 1947 and 1953, behind Fred Daly and Ben Hogan respectively.

Reid Jack (SCO) finished tied 5th in 1959 before more recently Justin Rose (ENG) tied 4th in 1998 and Chris Wood (ENG) tied 5th in 2008.

Finally, who can forget Paul Dunne’s (IRL) performance at St. Andrews in 2015. Dunne was tied for the 54 hole lead after rounds of 69, 69 and 66 before sadly a final round 78 saw him slip down the field for an undeserved tied 30th finish.


Alfie Plant – Winner of the 2017 Silver Medal (Photo: @GolfMonthly)

The Silver Medal Winners

In the 72 Championships from 1949 to 2021 the Silver Medal has been won by 46 players on 52 occasions (all in bold in the table below).

The Medal has not been awarded on 20 occasions during this period when no amateur was able to make the cut.

Frank Stranahan (USA) won it four times in its first five years. He was also the low amateur in 1947 before it came into existence.

Joe Carr (IRL), Michael Bonallack (ENG) and Peter McEvoy (ENG) are the only other multiple winners, having each won it twice.

Since 1972 a Bronze Medal has also been awarded to any other amateurs who complete all four rounds.

Here is the complete list of Silver Medal winners: –

Year Venue  Winner
1949 Royal St George’s  Frank Stranahan
1950 Troon  Frank Stranahan (2)
1951 Royal Portrush  Frank Stranahan (3)
1952 Royal Lytham & St Annes  Jackie Jones
1953 Carnoustie  Frank Stranahan (4)
1954 Royal Birkdale  Peter Toogood
1955 St Andrews  Joe Conrad
1956 Royal Liverpool  Joe Carr
1957 St Andrews  Dickson Smith
1958 Royal Lytham & St Annes  Joe Carr (2)
1959 Muirfield  Reid Jack
1960 St Andrews  Guy Wolstenholme
1961 Royal Birkdale  Ronnie White
1962 Troon  Charlie Green
1963 Royal Lytham & St Annes  Not awarded
1964 St Andrews  Not awarded
1965 Royal Birkdale  Michael Burgess
1966 Muirfield  Ronnie Shade
1967 Royal Liverpool  Not awarded
1968 Carnoustie  Michael Bonallack
1969 Royal Lytham & St Annes  Peter Tupling
1970 St Andrews  Steve Melnyk
1971 Royal Birkdale  Michael Bonallack (2)
1972 Muirfield  Not awarded
1973 Troon  Danny Edwards
1974 Royal Lytham & St Annes  Not awarded
1975 Carnoustie  Not awarded
1976 Royal Birkdale  Not awarded
1977 Turnberry  Not awarded
1978 St Andrews  Peter McEvoy
1979 Royal Lytham & St Annes  Peter McEvoy (2)
1980 Muirfield  Jay Sigel
1981 Royal St George’s  Hal Sutton
1982 Royal Troon  Malcolm Lewis
1983 Royal Birkdale  Not awarded
1984 St Andrews  Not awarded
1985 Royal St George’s  José María Olazábal
1986 Turnberry  Not awarded
1987 Muirfield  Paul Mayo
1988 Royal Lytham & St Annes  Paul Broadhurst
1989 Royal Troon  Russell Claydon
1990 St Andrews  Not awarded
1991 Royal Birkdale  Jim Payne
1992 Muirfield  Daren Lee
1993 Royal St George’s  Iain Pyman
1994 Turnberry  Warren Bennett
1995 St Andrews  Steve Webster
1996 Royal Lytham & St Annes  Tiger Woods
1997 Royal Troon  Barclay Howard
1998 Royal Birkdale  Justin Rose
1999 Carnoustie  Not awarded
2000 St Andrews  Not awarded
2001 Royal Lytham & St Annes  David Dixon
2002 Muirfield  Not awarded
2003 Royal St George’s  Not awarded
2004 Royal Troon  Stuart Wilson
2005 St Andrews  Lloyd Saltman
2006 Royal Liverpool  Marius Thorp
2007 Carnoustie  Rory McIlroy
2008 Royal Birkdale  Chris Wood
2009 Turnberry  Matteo Manassero
2010 St Andrews  Jin Jeong
2011 Royal St George’s  Tom Lewis
2012 Royal Lytham & St Annes  Not awarded
2013 Muirfield  Matthew Fitzpatrick
2014 Royal Liverpool  Not awarded
2015 St Andrews  Jordan Niebrugge
2016 Royal Troon  Not awarded
2017 Royal Birkdale  Alfie Plant
2018 Carnoustie  Sam Locke
2019 Royal Portrush  Not awarded
2020 Royal St. George’s  Cancelled – COVID19
2021 Royal St. George’s Matthias Schmid

Winners of the Boys’ Amateur Championship earn an exemption into Final Qualifying for The Open. Matthew Fitzpatrick came through Final Qualifying in 2013, the year he won the Boys’, to also pick up the Silver Medal.

Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy are the only Silver Medal winners to go on and become ‘The Champion Golfer of the Year’ too.

Hal Sutton (1983 P.G.A. Championship), José María Olazábal (1994 and 1999 Masters) and Justin Rose (2013 U.S. Open) are other Silver Medal winners to have subsequently secured a major Championship.


Copyright © 2014-2021, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

The St. Andrews Links Trophy – 2017 Preview, Reports & Results

11th June 2017

Royal Liverpool’s Matthew JORDAN continued his amazing run of form by today winning the St. Andrews Links Trophy.

Matthew Jordan (Photo: Kenny Smith)

He must now be assured of a place in the 2017 Great Britain & Ireland Walker Cup Team.

Final day rounds of 69 and 70 took Matthew to a finishing total of -11. He bogeyed the last two holes in round 4 as he played in conservatively.

JR GALBRAITH (IRE) shot 70 and 71 (-10) to secure second place with Ben FERGUSON (AUS) finishing 3rd on -9.

From a GB&I perspective there were also encouraging results for Laird SHEPHERD (-8) 4th, David BOOTE (-8) 6th, Liam JOHNSTON (-6) 7th , Gian-Marco PETROZZI (-5) 8th and Jack DAVIDSON (-5) 9th.

Click here to view the – 2017 St Andrews Links Trophy Results



10th June 2017

JR GALBRAITH (IRE) retained his 1 shot advantage over the field with a 71 (-1) over the Old Course.

Six players are 1 shot back on -6. These include Matthew JORDAN (ENG) 68 and Jamie STEWART (SCO) 71.

Recent Brabazon Trophy winner Kyle MCCLATCHIE (RSA) 69 moved up into tied 8th place on -5, alongside the impressive Alejandro TOSTI (ARG).

English pair Bradley MOORE (66) and Laird SHEPHERD (67) shot the best two rounds of the day to get their tournaments back on track. They’ll both start the final day on -2.

Colm CAMPBELL (IRE), Robin DAWSON (IRE) both -4 , Craig HOWIE (SCO) -3, David BOOTE (WAL), Liam JOHNSTON (SCO), Alfie PLANT (ENG) and Jack SINGH BRAR (ENG) all -2, Robert MACINTYRE (SCO), Gian-Marco PETROZZI (ENG) both -1 and Jack DAVIDSON (WAL) Ev also made the cut and will be hoping to boost their Walker Cup claims tomorrow.

Unfortunately Connor SYME (SCO) had to withdrawal early in his second round due to a severe migraine.

The Top 40 and Ties cut fell at Even par with a total of 45 players progressing.

With 32 players on -2 or better, i.e. within 5 shots of the lead, an exciting final day’s play appears guaranteed.



9th June 2017

Day 1 of the the St. Andrews Links Trophy on the Jubilee Course was dominated by the weather. A rainy and windy morning giving way to improved conditions in the afternoon enabling the later starters to shoot some impressive numbers.

Having started with two bogeys Ireland’s JR GALBRAITH reeled off 8 birdies in his remaining 16 holes to shoot a best of the day 66. His -6 total being good enough for a 1-shot lead over David MICHELUZZI (AUS) and Claudio CONSUL (GER).

On a good day for GB&I Walker Cup hopefuls, Craig HOWIE, Robin DAWSON (both 69 -3), Matthew JORDAN, Jack SINGH BRAR (all 70 -2), Jake BURNAGE, Jack DAVIDSON, Liam JOHNSTON, Robert MACINTYRE and Connor SYME, (all 71 -1) also finished round 1 in the Top 25.


7th June 2017

144 golfers from 21 different countries will tee off on Friday 9th June in the 29th St. Andrews Links Trophy.

This Championship has quickly established itself as one of the ‘Majors’ in men’s amateur golf.

A list of all the past winners can be found in an Appendix at the end of this article. The most famous is Justin Rose who won the Links Trophy in 1997.

St Andrews Clubhouse

R&A Clubhouse, St. Andrews (Photo: R&A Website)

Competition Format

The Links Trophy is a 72 hole scratch stroke play competition normally played over a combination of the Old and New Courses at St. Andrews in early June.

After various National Golf Union nominations the field is determined by World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR) rather than handicap as is normally the case.

This year Round 1 will be played on the Jubilee Course and Round 2 on the Old Course.

Following a top 40 and ties cut the leading players will play 36 holes on the Old Course on Sunday.

The Jubilee Course plays 6,742 yards to a par of 72. The front nine is 3,238 yards long with a par of 36 whilst the tougher back nine is 266 yards longer also with a par of 36.

Jubilee Course Scorecard (Photo: St. Andrews Links Trust)

The Old Course is 6,721 yards off the white tees and has a par of 72. Both nines have a par of 36 and have similar yardages – the front is 3,336 yards long whilst the back is a little longer at 3,385 yards.

Old Course Scorecard (Photo: St. Andrews Links Trust)

The winner will be the player who returns the lowest 72 hole score. In the event of a tie a sudden death play-off will be held over holes 1 and 18.

Ties for other places are decided by the lowest score for the last 18 holes or the last 9 or 6 or 3 or 2 or 1 hole if necessary.

The Field

The start sheet can be viewed here – 2017 St Andrews Links Trophy Rounds 1 and 2 draws

The Scratch Players World Amateur Ranking (SPWAR) placed the Links Trophy 6th in its 2016 Amateur Tournament Ranking based on the strength of it’s field. The 2017 field is impressive so there is no reason to think it will be any lower in this year’s list.

18 of the 21 members of the GB&I Walker Cup squad are in action this weekend. Many of them drawn together in the opening rounds to help the selectors follow them all closely. David BOOTE (WAL), Jack DAVIDSON (WAL), Craig HOWIE (SCO), Robert MACINTYRE (SCO) and Connor SYME (SCO) will all be looking to continue their good play whilst the others will be hoping to kick start their selection claims.

Of the missing trio Scott GREGORY (ENG) is preparing for the US Open and Stuart GREHAN (IRE) is competing in the Arnold Palmer Cup in Atlanta.

Other GB&I players who have been doing well this year, like Jake BURNAGE (ENG), Josh HILLEARD (ENG), Matthew JORDAN (ENG), Gian-Marco PETROZZI (ENG), Charlie STRICKLAND (ENG) and Jamie STEWART (SCO), are all playing.

The attraction of St. Andrews ensures a strong overseas entry. Players of particular interest to me this year are Harrison ENDYCOTT (AUS), Min Woo LEE (AUS – 2016 US Junior Amateur champion), Kyle MCCLATCHIE (RSA), David MICHELUZZI (AUS), Travis SMYTH (AUS), Alejandro TOSTI (ARG – Florida University) and Albert VENTER (RSA).

Weather Forecast (as at Wed 7th June)

Fri     9th June – Showers. Wind 13mph SW. Temp. Max. 16°C / Min 10°C.
Sat   10th June – Showers. Wind 13mph SE. Temp. Max. 17°C / Min 13°C.
Sun 11th June – Showers. Wind 18mph SW. Temp. Max. 17°C / Min 11°C.

Tee times in Rounds 1 and 2 start at 7.00am and end at 3.10pm so as with any links course the draw could play a big part in the outcome.


The winner receives The St Andrews Links Trophy and a cheque for £500.

The runner-up and third place finisher also receive commemorative medals.

Reducing cash prizes are awarded to the top 10 finishers in all.

In addition to the main prizes The Ian Forbes Memorial Cup is awarded for the best aggregate score on the first two days of the event.

2016 Event

In something of a surprise Ireland’s Conor O’Rourke won the 2016 St. Andrews Links Trophy with a magnificent performance that saw him lead from start to finish.  

Conor O'Rourke St Andrews Links Trophy 2016

 Conor O’Rourke (Photo: Kenny Smith / @TheHomeofGolf)

Conor shared the lead after a round 1 65 on the New Course and followed it up with rounds of 69, 71 and 70 on the Old to pick up by far the biggest title of his amateur career with a 275 (-12) total.

Prior to play commencing O’Rourke was ranked 1,245th in the SPWAR. He was a higher 549th in the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR).

Home players Sandy SCOTT (-11), who is the 2017 field, and Ewen Ferguson (-10) pushed the Naas man hard eventually picking up 2nd and 3rd spots respectively.

Click here to view the full results – 2016 St. Andrews Links Trophy Results 

Appendix – Past Winners & Notable Past Performances

As one would expect for a competition held at the home of golf the list of past winner’s is impressive:-

2016  Conor O’Rourke (IRE) 275
2015  Federico Zucchetti (ITA) 214 (54 holes only)
2014  Grant Forrest (SCO) 278 (after play-off)
2013  Neil Raymond (ENG) 282
2012  Daan Huizing (NED) 264 (lowest 72 hole score)
2011  Tom Lewis (ENG) 279
2010  Matthew Southgate (ENG) 275
2009  Alan Dunbar (N.I.) 285
2008  Keir McNicoll (SCO) 283
2007  Llewellyn Matthews (WAL) 273
2006  Oliver Fisher (ENG) 280
2005  Lloyd Saltman (SCO) 275
2004  Jamie McLeary (SCO) 284
2003  Richard Finch (ENG) 276
2002  Simon MacKenzie (SCO) 289
2001  Steven O’Hara (SCO) 281
2000  Matthew King (ENG) 140 (36 holes only)
1999  David Patrick (SCO) 152 (36 holes only)
1998  Craig Watson (SCO) 276
1997  Justin Rose (ENG) 284
1996  Barclay Howard (SCO) 282
1995  Graham Rankin (SCO) 276
1994  Barclay Howard (SCO) 294
1993  Garry Hay (SCO) 280
1992  Craig Watson (SCO) 281
1991  Ricky Willison (ENG) 289
1990  Stuart Bovier (AUS) 280
1989  Russell Claydon (ENG) 284

Only Craig Watson (1992 and 1998), the current Great Britain & Ireland (GB&I) Walker Cup captain, and Barclay Howard (1994 and 1996) have won the title twice.

Interestingly given the normally cosmopolitan nature of the fields the Links Trophy has only been won by players from outside GB&I on three occasions – Australia’s Stuart Bovier (1990), Daan Huizing from The Netherlands (2012) and last year Federico Zucchetti from Italy.

Huizing, who had won the Lytham Trophy by 11 shots just a few weeks earlier, set a scoring record of -23 in 2012 (65 New, 64, 68 and 67 all Old) and won by an astonishing 14 shots.


Copyright © 2015-2017, Mark Eley. All Rights Reserved.



Barclay Howard

27th January 2015

D. Barclay Howard, the Scottish amateur golfer, was born in Glasgow on 27th January 1953.  Whilst by no means an amateur great his roller coaster life on and off the course made him something of a legendary figure in Scottish and, to a degree, British golf.

Barclay Howard Open 1997

Barclay Howard at the 1997 Open Championship at Royal Troon

He was raised in Johnstone, a town 12 miles west of Glasgow in Renfrewshire.  He went to school with Sky Sports golf presenter David Livingstone.  Both played golf at their local club, Cochrane Castle Golf Club to which Barclay was associated all his life.  He joined his father, David, there starting as a Junior in 1960.  Indeed the family home was just a pitching wedge away from the course.  He was made an honorary life member of Cochrane Castle in 1980.

Howard tragically died from pneumonia on 19th May 2008, aged just 55.  His health had not been good for many years due to chain smoking, his well publicised alcoholism and the legacy of contracting leukaemia when he was 44.  The latter illness afflicted him just six weeks after probably his finest golfing moment, winning the Silver Medal at the 1997 Open.  He started to feel unwell at that year’s Walker Cup and later in 1997 underwent both a stem-cell operation and a course of chemotherapy to aid his recovery.  His weight dropped from 14st to 9st 6lb.  It took around 3 years for him to fully recover and return to the golf course; it was another two before he had the strength to enjoy his golf again.  He first contracted pneumonia in 2006 and already weakened by the cancer never really recovered from it.

His first competitive golf tournament for this ‘natural’ came as a 13-year-old when he played in the 1966 Scottish Boys Championship at North Berwick.  In his younger days he also lost the final of the 1969 West of Scotland Boys Championship 3 & 2 to Sam Torrance.  Torrance later recalled the two things that first struck him about Howard: “his unmistakeable golfing talent and his engaging personality.  He was good fun to be around”.  His game continued to develop and was sufficiently good for him to be selected for the Great Britain & Ireland (GB&I) Youths Team that played Europe in 1971.

Howard joined Clydesdale Bank straight from school in 1971.  While there he met and married Sandra in 1972.  He was just 19 and the marriage, triggered by the impending birth of a daughter, Linda (b. 1972), almost certainly came too soon for both of them.  The family struggled to make ends meet and Barclay ended up moving to Rolls Royce in 1973, where he worked at their Hillington factory.  He also started to drive an ice cream van in the weekday evenings to bring in more money.  A second daughter, Lorraine (b. 1976) followed which only added to the personal and financial pressures.  The couple inevitably split up in 1978 and sadly Barclay lost touch with all three of them.  With these work and family responsibilities any thought of turning Pro at an early age seems to have simply past him by.

Following his divorce, and now with a little more time on his hands, Howard started to drink more and it became clear to his friends that he was becoming an alcoholic.  With the benefit of hindsight Barclay later timed his drinking demise to 1980.  Despite this he remarried another local girl, Alison, in 1981.  With Barclay’s addiction now reaching something of a peak she showed huge patience in staying with him until 1985.  As he said himself: “I was a truly awful husband.  From the age of 18 to 38 my life was a mess.  I was a lost cause for a while”.

In 1979 he was called up for Scotland’s Mens team for the first time, playing against England.  Despite his drinking he still managed to perform on the course and continued to be selected for his country and GB&I in the early 1980s.  However, his alcoholism and all too frequent drunken and abusive behaviour – frequently whilst on team duty –  led to him being excluded from international competition in 1984.  At the time he tended to pack lager and vodka in his bag before his balls and tees, needing a regular drink during a round to steady his on-course nerves.


Barclay Howard (Photo: SNS)

Having lost most of his friends he was eventually persuaded in the summer of 1991 to join Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).  A decision almost certainly triggered by him receiving a 12 month ban from Cochrane Castle in June of that year and a handicap suspension (thus preventing him from playing in any competitions).  He had not helped himself by turning up to his disciplinary meeting with the Club’s Committee drunk.  He thankfully worked things out and eventually overcame the ‘disease’.  He hardly drunk at all in the following years and completely stopped in 1997.

A reformed character he started up a new relationship with Letitia, the daughter, of one of his AA sponsors, Davie Muir.  This also gave him more conviction in the new path he was treading and he soon married Tish in April 1992, who was already pregnant with their daughter Laura-Jane (b. August 1992).  It weighed heavily on the reformed Barclay that Laura-Jane turned five and started school while he was in the States playing in the 1997 Walker Cup and US Amateur.

He amazingly managed to keep his job at Rolls Royce throughout his personal turmoils – mainly by restricting his big drinking sessions to the weekend.  During the winter of 1991/92, the final months of his enforced exile, he used the company gym to get himself fit, losing two and half stone in the process.  Cochrane Castle got wind of his progress and eventually allowed him to return in April 1992, two months early.  He shot a gross 68 in the April Medal and was off and running.  He re-dedicated himself to the game and when he was made redundant in 1993, along with hundreds over other workers at his plant, he chose to commit himself fully to golf.  Tish was happy as long as he didn’t start drinking again.  Things went well and Barclay was re-selected for Scotland in 1993 and then for the GB&I St. Andrews Trophy team in 1994.  During his subsequent years as a full time amateur he did some work in customer relations for club-maker John Letters.

Over his career he won over 100 amateur competitions, many of which came after he had beaten the dreaded drink.  Whilst he fell short of winning any of the amateur majors he did record a number of notable victories: –

  • 1975, 1984 & 1995 Cameron Corbett Vase
  • 1993 West of Scotland Open
  • 1994 Leven Gold Medal
  • 1994 & 1996 St. Andrews Links Trophy
  • 1997 Scottish Open Amateur Stroke Play (at Monifieth and Panmure)

His status in the game in the 1990s and new found sobriety meant he was regularly picked for national team competitions again between 1993 and 1997.  He played on the GB&I team in the Eisenhower Trophy in 1996 and in the St. Andrews Trophy twice, 1994 and 1996.  Indeed in 1996 he was named Scottish Amateur Golfer Of The Year by the Scottish Golf Union.

However, it was his Walker cup appearances that obviously meant the most to him, particularly as they came when he was 42 and 44, an exceptional age for the GB&I Team in the modern era. Howard played in the Walker Cup twice, winning in 1995 at Royal Porthcawl (P3 W0 H2 L1) and losing in 1997 at Quaker Ridge, New York (P3 W0 H0 L3).  As can be seen in the photo below the 1995 GB&I team contained Padraig Harrington, David Howell and Stephen Gallacher and famously overcame a strong US team containing Tiger Woods.

The Great Britain And Ireland Team Wins The Walker Cup

Barclay Howard (front left) with the successful 1995 Walker Cup Team.

Without question Barclay’s most famous golfing achievement came at the 1997 Open at Royal Troon when he secured the low amateur Silver Medal.  In the end he finished 60th on 293, tied with the great Jack Nicklaus.  This was the first time a Scot had achieved the honour since Charlie Green in 1962.  In round one Howard birdied four of his first six holes to take a share of the lead.  He had a four foot birdie putt on the ‘Postage Stamp’ 8th to take the lead on his own but mistakenly looked at a leaderboard as he walked onto the green.  Despite falling back into the pack he carried this early momentum throughout the Championship to secure the famous prize.

His performance in The Open, and let’s remember he was 44, caught the public’s imagination and won him plaudits from around the world.  Indeed he was invited to play in a number of professional tournaments on the back of his impressive Open showing.  It even saw the Republic of Tadjikistan in Central Asia produce a commemorative stamp featuring him !

Barclay Howard Stamp

Barclay Howard’s Tadjikistan Commemorative 1997 Open Stamp

Howard made the news again shortly afterwards.  After playing in the Walker Cup match he stayed in the States to play in the US Amateur at Cog Hill.  Well rested he qualified for the match play stage after rounds of 70 and 71 – the only member of the Walker Cup team to do so.  However, he was later disqualified for signing a wrong scorecard – due to a matter that he brought to the attention of the USGA.  He had inadvertently been given a different make of ball by his caddie to play the 18th hole of his second round thus contravening the ‘one ball’ rule that existed in the US at the time.  Having bogeyed his last hole he put the ball in his pocket and whilst finishing his lunch came across it and realized the error that had been made.  Having not added the two penalty shots to his score for 18, with the benefit of hindsight he knew he should have, he quickly disqualified himself from the Championship.  To his eternal credit Howard said of his decision at the time: “I would know.  Say I was walking up to win this on the weekend, how could I live with myself. Yes, I’ve had my share of problems, but after 44 years, you’re going to start cheating? No! I could never do that”.  He was hailed a hero by the US golfing press in the days that followed.

Having returned to Scotland Barclay set about preparing for his supposed swan song – the 1997 Home Internationals – having announced his retirement from international play whilst at the Walker Cup the previous month.  Unfortunately he never got to play.  Illness beset him and he was soon diagnosed with the cancer he would fight for the rest of his life.

Looking back on his career and serious illness Barclay said: “The biggest regret I have is not turning professional.  Once I had got myself sorted out with the drinking I started to work much harder on my game.  I felt that even in 1997 I hadn’t reached my full potential.  I was 44 then and I was thinking about the Seniors Tour a few years down the line but then that was all taken away from me.”

In his 2001 autobiography, ‘Out Of The Rough: Booze, Birdies and a Driving Ambition’, written with the help of Jonathan Russell, he candidly discusses his career and battle with alcohol. It was typical of his generosity that he donated the royalties from the book to the leukaemia unit at Glasgow Royal Infirmary.

Barclay Howard Open 1997

Barclay Howard’s ‘Out Of The Rough’ Autobiography

In 2006, despite being frail, Howard was appointed Captain of the Scottish Youths team by the Scottish Golf Union, a role he relished.  Far from an act of compassion he earned the role having captained Renfrewshire to the Scottish Area Team Championship in 2005.

Upon his death Sir Michael Bonallack said “Barclay played golf the way he lived life.  He was a great fighter, someone who wouldn’t give up. He will be sorely missed”.

With the 2016 Open Championship again staged at Royal Troon the opportunity arose for a number of tributes to be paid to Barclay. Jimmy Roberts did a great job for NBC Channel.

Jimmy Roberts looks into the life of Barclay Howard for NBC and the Golf Channel. 

In a life and golfing career of real extremes Barclay Howard is a golfer and man we should all remember and can no doubt learn from when we face our own adversities.  What a comeback story.  Yes he made some poor decisions and missed some opportunities but who hasn’t.  His tenacity served him well on the course and in dealing with his numerous health issues, whilst his honesty and generosity were a credit to himself and the game he loved.


Copyright © 2015, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.