The Open Championship’s Silver Medal

2nd May 2018

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 69 Championships since has been won 50 times by 44 different players.

Here’s 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.

In July 2018 the 147th Open will be played at Carnoustie Golf Links. It will be the eighth time this famous course in Angus, Scotland will have staged the Championship.

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 (IRE) 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 69 Championships from 1949 to 2017 the Silver Medal has been won by 44 players on 50 occasions (all in bold in the table below).

The Medal has not been awarded on 19 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 (IRE), 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

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

Joe Carr

18th February 2015

On the anniversary of his birth I thought I should record the career of Ireland’s best ever amateur golfer, Joe Carr.

Here are 20 facts you should know about the great man: –

1) Joseph Benedict Carr was born on 18th February 1922 in Inchicore, near Dublin.

2) He was the fifth of seven children born to George and Margaret Waters.  When he was just 10 days old he was adopted by his maternal Aunt Kathleen and her husband James Carr.  The Carr’s had recently been appointed steward and stewardess of Portmarnock GC so Joe was brought up with practice facilities literally on his doorstep.

3) It was not possible for him to join Portmarnock given his parent’s positions so he joined nearby Sutton Golf Club.  Sutton was his golfing home for his entire career and he spent much of his life living in Suncroft House, overlooking the course’s 2nd green.  He was an aggressive, big hitter and quickly developed into a fearless competitor.  The Joe Carr Room at Sutton Golf Club today houses much of his memorabilia.


Joe Carr Portrait at Sutton GC (Photo: John Hanna)

4) He won three British Amateur Championships in 1953, ’58 and ’60.  He was also runner-up to Michael Bonallack in 1968.  He competed in 26 Amateurs in total playing 119 matches.  He won 96 and lost 23 of these giving him a superb 81% win rate.  He was determined to win at St. Andrews in 1958 – “With all the practice shots I hit by way of preparation for St Andrews, I almost wore through the blades of my eight and nine irons,” he recalled.  He later estimated that he had hit 47,000 shots in preparation for that championship.

5) He was prolific in Irish amateur golf despite strong competition at the time, winning six Irish Amateur Close Championships (1954, ’57, ’63, ’64, ’65 and ’67), four Irish Amateur Open Championships (1946, ’50, ’54 and ’56), 12 West of Ireland Championships (1946, ’47, ’48, ’51, ’53, ’54, ’56, ’58, ’60, ’61, ’62 and ’66), 12 East of Ireland Championships (1941, ’43, ’45, ’46, ’48, ’56, ’57, ’58, ’60, ’61, ’64, and ’69) and three South of Ireland Championships (1948, ’66 and ’69).

Joe Carr Trophies

Joe Carr With A Selection Of His Golf Trophies

6) He also won the Gleneagles Saxone (1955), Golf Illustrated Golf Vase (1951), Berkshire Trophy (1959), Formby Hare (1962) and Antlers Royal Mid Surrey (1970) in Great Britain.

7) He played in a record (for both sides) 10 Walker Cup teams (1947, ’49, ’51, ’53, ’55, ’57, ’59, ’61, ’63 and ’67).  He was a non-playing captain in 1965 and the playing captain in 1967.  He played 20 matches but surprisingly has a relatively poor record; W5 L14 H1, perhaps worn down by the heavy responsibility he personally carried throughout this era.  GB&I lost every match in which he competed but halved the 1965 contest in Baltimore.

8) The Eisenhower Trophy started in 1958 and Joe played in the first two at St. Andrews (’58) and Merion (’60).  He was non-playing captain of the GB&I team in 1964 (Rome) and ’66 (Mexico City).

9) He also played for GB&I in the first St Andrews Trophy match against Europe in 1956, ’64 (playing captain) and 1968. He was non-playing captain of the team in 1966.  All of these matches were won by GB&I.

10) He played international golf for Ireland for an astonishing 22 years, from 1947 to 1969 inclusive, earning 157 caps. He played 138 games, accumulated 166 points and had a 56.5% win percentage (W 78, H 10 and L 50). The European Team Championships started in 1959 and Joe represented Ireland in this competition in 1965, ’67 and ’69, the team winning the first two of these.  As captain in later years he brought an organisation to the international team that had previously not been seen and that perhaps only he could deliver.

Joe Carr Swing

Joe Carr Plays An Approach Shot

11) He was the leading amateur at the Open Championship, winning the Silver Medal, in both 1956 (73 77 79 77 / T36) and 1958 (70 74 77 77 / 37th). Surprisingly he only played in four Opens, often because the dates clashed with Irish amateur events he wished to enter. His first Open was at Royal Portrush in 1951 (75 76 73 76 / T24) and the last at St. Andrews in 1960 (72 73 67 73 / 8th), his best finish, albeit one beaten by Guy Wolstenholme (6th).

12) He was also the leading amateur at the Irish Open in 1946, ’48, ’50 and ’53.

13) Joe played in many professional events during his career.  His best finish coming in the 1959 Dunlop Masters, played at Pormarnock, where he was second to Christy O’Connor Snr.

14) Joe was the first Irishman to play in the US Masters Tournament, competing in 1967, ’68 and ’69.  In 1967 he was paired with the defending champion Jack Nicklaus.  Carr made the cut but Jack missed it.  In 1968 he played with Arnold Palmer; again he made the cut, finishing 52nd, whilst Arnie missed it.  In 1969 he played with Sam Snead but this time both players failed to make the final two rounds.

15) Joe was made Captain of The Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews in 1991-92, the first Irishman to be afforded this honour.

16) He won numerous awards during his lifetime, including the Association of Golf Writers’ Award (1953), the Bobby Jones Award (1961), for distinguished sportsmanship in golf, and the Walter Hagen Award (1967) for his contribution to Anglo-American goodwill.

17) He was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame posthumously in 2007.  Jack Nicklaus gave the induction speech for his old friend.  He was again the first Irishman to have this golfing honour bestowed upon them.

18) He ran a successful clothing business for many years.  Joe was also a keen gambler and certainly enjoyed a wager on the course and elsewhere.  This approach to life was also reflected in his approach to the game, where he often took on brave recovery shots.  In 2002 Irish golf writer Dermot Gilleece wrote a biography on Joe Carr, ‘Breaking 80: The Life and Times of Joe Carr’.

Joe Carr ProfileJoe Carr

19) His first wife Dorothy (‘Dor’), died in 1976.  They had six children, Jody, Roddy, Sibeal, John, Gerry and Marty.  He married for a second time to Mary.

20) Joe died on 3rd June 2004 near Portmarnock, aged 82.  His golfing achievements and gentlemanly charm made him one of the most famous and popular Irishmen of the 21st Century.


Copyright © 2015, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.