The Amateur Championship – 2020 Preview, Reports & Results

Sunday 30th August 2020

Joe LONG (ENG) won the 2020 Amateur Championship at Royal Birkdale G.C. to become the 51st Englishman to lift the famous silver trophy.

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Joe Long (Photo: Richard Heathcote / The R&A / R&A via Getty Images)

Joe beat his namesake Joe HARVEY (ENG) 4&3 in the 36 hole Final.

Long built up a 3Up lead after 11 holes helped by birdies on the 5th, 6th, 9th and 10th holes. Whilst Harvey battled till the end Long steadied himself after a shaky opening nine in the afternoon to see out the match.

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Long v. Harvey (Photo: The R&A / Golfbox Scoring)

Long and Harvey were well known to each other coming into the Final; hailing from the Gloucestershire County and golf clubs just 10 miles apart, namely The Kendleshire and Lansdown respectively.

It was the first all-England final since Graeme Storm defeated Aran Wainwright 7&6 at Royal County Down in 1999. The last English champion was Harry Ellis who won at Royal St George’s in 2017.

Joe LONG was the clear favourite before play commenced. At the beginning of the Championship he was ranked 102nd and 31st in the WAGR and SPWAR whilst Joe HARVEY was 897th and 387th.

With his victory Joe LONG secured exemptions into the Open, Masters Tournament and US Open in 2021. He also guaranteed a place in the Great Britain & Ireland Walker Cup Team.

Joe Long shot a 74 (-3) in the stroke play qualifying to finish tied 30th. In then reaching the Final he also had to care of three of England’s leading players Olly HUGGINS, Barclay BROWN and Jake BOLTON. All in all a well deserved victory for the 23 year old.

img_3759Joe Long’s Match Play Results (Photo: The R&A / Golfbox Scoring)

Click here to follow the – 2020 Amateur Championship Match Play Scores

ME.

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Saturday 29th August 2020

Semi-Finals

Here are the results from Saturday afternoon’s Semi-Finals: –

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Semi-Finals Results (Photo: The R&A / Golfbox Scoring)

Joe HARVEY (ENG) beat Mark POWER (IRL) by 3&2 in the first Semi-Final at Royal Birkdale G.C. The Bristolian made a good start and having moved into a 3Up lead after 6 holes saw out the match relatively comfortably despite Power improving down the home stretch.

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Harvey v. Power Scorecard (Photo: The R&A / Golfbox Scoring)

Joe LONG (ENG) beat Jake BOLTON (ENG) by 2&1 in the second Semi-Final at Royal Birkdale G.C. The standard of play doesn’t appear to have been as good as the first semi but at this stage it’s all about the result. After a demanding week perhaps Long’s much easier Quarter Final when compared with Bolton’s gave him an advantage.

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Long v. Bolton Scorecard (Photo: The R&A / Golfbox Scoring)

Quarter Finals

Here are the results from Saturday morning’s four matches: –

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Quarter Finals Results (Photo: The R&A / Golfbox Scoring)

Joe HARVEY (ENG) did what was required to overcome an out of sorts Victor H.S. SVENDSEN (DEN) in the first Quarter Final.

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Svendsen v. Harvey Scorecard (Photo: The R&A / Golfbox Scoring)

Barclay BROWN (ENG) couldn’t find the game he had enjoyed yesterday and succumbed easily to a very steady performance form Joe LONG (ENG).

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Brown v. Long Scorecard (Photo: The R&A / Golfbox Scoring)

Five birdies in his opening 10 holes provided Mark POWER (IRL) with a strong foundation against Callan BARROW (ENG) and he saw out the match to secure the third semi-final place.

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Barrow v. Power Scorecard (Photo: The R&A / Golfbox Scoring)

The fourth match proved to be the tightest with Jake BOLTON (ENG) taken all the way by Hamish W. BROWN (DEN).

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Bolton v. Brown Scorecard (Photo: The R&A / Golfbox Scoring)

ME.

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Friday 28th August 2020

Round 4

Joe HARVEY (ENG), Callan BARROW (ENG), Mark POWER (IRL), Barclay BROWN (ENG), Joe LONG (ENG) and Jake BOLTON (ENG) all won their Last 16 matches to progress to the Quarter Finals.

Some of the results were a little more comprehensive this afternoon as the mental and physical stresses perhaps started to show up a little more in the play.

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Round 4 Results (Photo: The R&A / Golfbox Scoring)

The SPWAR was updated after Round 4 of The Amateur so heading into the Quarter Finals I thought it would be interesting to review the current rankings of the remaining players: –
Joe LONG (ENG) – #8
Jake BOLTON (ENG) – #19
Mark POWER (IRL) – #34
Barclay BROWN (ENG) – #37
Callan BARROW (ENG) – #94
Joe HARVEY (ENG) – #151
Victor H.S. SVENDSEN (DEN) – #192
Hamish W. BROWN (DEN) – #236

Round 3

22 GB&I players became 11 after the completion of Round 3 this morning.

Three Danes, Victor H.S. SVENDSEN, Frederik KJETTRUP and Hamish W. BROWN make up the majority of the five overseas players still standing and are clearly finding Royal Birkdale to their liking.

Svendsen beat Ilari SAULO (FIN), who having won two matches yesterday, quickly fell back down to earth with a heavy defeat in the opening game of the day.

Callum FARR (ENG) enjoyed a solid 3&2 victory over his England teammate Tom PLUMB (ENG).

Mark POWER and Marc BOUCHER ensured Irish interest remained well and truly alive in the Championship overcoming the in form English pair Jack DYER and Matty LAMB respectively.

The other Irish player in the draw Tom MCKIBBIN saw his hopes ended at the hands of Barclay BROWN (ENG).

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Round 3 Results (Photo: The R&A / Golfbox Scoring)

ME.

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Thursday 27th August 2020

Round 2

The ‘Curse of the Medalist’ struck Ruben LINDSAY (SCO) who lost 2&1 to Finland’s Ilari SAULO. Saulo, who won the 2020 Finnish Amateur in early August, had already given notice of his continued good form when he knocked out Sam BAIRSTOW (ENG) in the Preliminary Round.

David RAVETTO (FRA), winner of the Brabazon Trophy last week, beat Jack COPE (ENG), the English Amateur champion, by 5&4 in an interesting match up thrown up by the draw.

Dubai-based Josh HILL (ENG) completed a long day on the links with a smile on his face after winning his second match on the 19th hole. His victory over Sam BROADHURST (ENG) suggests that he may now be ready to fulfil his undoubted potential over here.

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Round 2 Results (Photo: The R&A / Golfbox Scoring)

Preliminary Round 1

Day 3 of The Amateur Championship started with the Preliminary Round 1 which featured the eight lowest qualifiers. The four winners feeding into the Round 2 draw against the top four qualifiers.

Josh HILL (ENG) and Matthew MCCLEAN (IRL) were the two GB&I players to progress to Round 2.

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Preliminary Round 1 Results (Photo: The R&A / Golfbox Scoring)

ME.

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Wednesday 26th August 2020

In form 16 year old Ruben LINDSAY (SCO), the reigning Scottish Boys’ Amateur champion, shot a 67 (-4) to win the 18 hole Stroke Play Qualifying competition.

Play started at 7.30am this morning with the original Round 2 tee times being used by the 120 players contesting this year’s Amateur Championship.

36 hole Stroke Play Qualifying was introduced in 1983 and this was the first time in 37 years that The R&A have been unable to complete it in full.

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Ruben Lindsay’s Scorecard (Photo: The R&A / Golfbox Scoring)

Four other players broke par at the challenging Lancashire links today. Mason ESSAM (ENG), 21, finished 2nd on -3 with Sam BROADHURST (ENG), 23, and Ben SCHMIDT (ENG), 18, a shot further back in tied 3rd with Jack DYER (ENG), 22, securing the 5th seed on -1.

The decision to reduce the Stroke Play Qualifying competition to just 18 holes saw The R&A extend qualifying to the leading 64 players and ties. The original competition rules had stated that a card count back approach would be adopted for the first time in the Men’s event this year.

As a result 68 players progressed to the Match Play Stage with the cut coming at scores of 76 (+5) or better.

The qualifiers comprise 29 English players, 7 Scottish, 6 Irish, 6 Danish, 5 German, 5 Italian, 4 Swiss, 2 Finnish and 1 each from Estonia, France, Norway and Wales.

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The Leading Stroke Play Qualifying Results (Photo: The R&A / Golfbox Scoring)

Amongst the more notable players to narrowly miss out were England Internationals Harry GODDARD +6, Robin WILLIAMS +6, Max MARTIN +6 and Conor GOUGH +7.

Click here to view the – 2020 Amateur Championship Stroke Play Qualifying Results

ME.

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Tuesday 25th August 2020

Round 1 of the Stroke Play Qualifying competition at the 2020 Amateur Championship was abandoned at 4.00pm. All of the scores that had been posted today, and there were some very good completed rounds in atrocious conditions, were cancelled.

Play had started on time at 7.30am but was quickly suspended at 7.50pm due to heavy rain and strong winds. It re-commenced at 9.50am before again having to be suspended at 2.50pm. No resumption in play was possible.

The R&A has decided to reduce the Stroke Play Qualifying to 18 holes which will now be played tomorrow. The top 64 players and ties will now go through to the Match Play Stage.

Assuming no time extension was possible I would have retained the 36 holes of stroke play and reduced the qualifiers to the top 32. The proposed one round of stroke play and six rounds of match play is now too lopsided a format for my liking.

18 holes of stroke play turns qualifying into a shootout and may not see all of the best players progress.

I would also have retained the new card count back rule that had been introduced to The Amateur this year. This is primarily because The R&A have historically not conducted the match play draw correctly when trying to accommodate a Preliminary Round, i.e. the medalist hasn’t played the 64th seed (or higher), etc. [These latter concerns proved to be unfounded on Wednesday evening as The R&A made the draw correctly this year – see above.]

ME.

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24th August 2020

The 125th Amateur Championship will be played at Royal Birkdale G.C. in Southport, England on 25th – 30th August 2020.

The Amateur is the most prestigious amateur golf event played outside of the United States and without question the highlight of the Great British and Irish (GB&I) amateur season.

The 2020 Championship was originally due to be co-hosted by Royal Birkdale and West Lancashire G.C.’s in England from 15th – 20th June 2020 but was re-scheduled as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

West Lancs. is now hosting The Women’s Amateur Championship, being staged  concurrently with the men’s event, having replaced Kilmarnock (Barassie) G.C. for logistical reasons.

In order to receive Government and Local Authority approval to proceed The R&A have agreed that the Championship will be played behind closed doors with no spectators and only essential / authorised personnel on-site.

Format

The normal field of 288 players has been reduced to 120 this year.

Two stroke play qualifying rounds will be completed on Tuesday 25th August and Wednesday 26th August.

English Amateur champion Jack COPE (ENG) will hit the first shot of the Championship at 7.30am. With an 11 minute gap between tee times the final group will go out at 2.54pm on each of the opening days.

Click here to view the – 2020 Amateur Championship SP Qualifying Tee Times

The 64 players with the lowest 36 hole scores will advance to the match play stage.

In a welcome change by The R&A a Round 2 card countback will be used to ensure a clean 64 players advance. Ties for 64th place will not advance as they have done in previous years and as a result there will be no preliminary round and a standard match play draw will be made made.

The Match Play stage will then be played between Thursday 27th and Sunday 30th August.

Matches will be played over 18 holes except for Sunday’s Final which will be contested over 36 holes. Extra sudden death holes will be used in all games if necessary.

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Royal Birkdale G.C.’s 18th Hole and Clubhouse (Photo: thetravellinggolfer.com)

Players

The 120 players have been firstly drawn from a number of exempt categories covering various historic Championship performances and representative team selections.

Thereafter places have been allocated to those players ranked 1st – 2,000th in the WAGR as at Week 30 2020, i.e. the Wednesday 29th July release.

Players from 13 different countries will contest the 2020 Amateur Championship. 34 countries were represented in 2019 highlighting the impact of the COVID-19 travel restrictions and the 60% reduction in the field size.

England have 44 players in the field (37%), Scotland 17, Ireland 10 and Wales 4.

The COVID-19 travel restrictions mean that James SUGRUE (IRL) is unable to defend his title ahead of appearing in the 2020 U.S. Open Championship at Winged Foot G.C. on 17-20th September.

Outside of the home nations the best represented countries are Italy (10), Germany (9), Switzerland (9) and Denmark (8).

Notably there are no players this year from Australia, South Africa and USA.

Current circumstances mean this is probably the weakest field ever assembled for an Amateur Championship. There are just 9 players in the WAGR top 100 competing (as at 29th July). These are Ben SCHMIDT (ENG) #27, Ben JONES (ENG) #30, Conor GOUGH (ENG) #37, David RAVETTO (FRA) #52, Jannik DE BRUYN (GER) #62, Jake BOLTON (ENG) #77, Mark POWER (IRL) #81, Matty LAMB (ENG) #87 and Tom MCKIBBIN (IRL) #93. The picture isn’t improved by looking further down WAGR either; there are 23 players starting the event in the top 200 and 31 in the top 300.

France’s David RAVETTO and Denmark’s Christoffer BRING, winner and runner-up in this week’s Brabazon Trophy at Sherwood Forest, will arrive in Southport full of confidence.

Host Course

Royal Birkdale G.C. is one of the most famous golf courses in GB&I staging numerous Championships and International Matches since coming to prominence after World War II.

Birkdale G.C. was formed in 1889 with the club moving to the current site in 1897.

Hawtree and former Open Champion J.H. Taylor set about routing the course between the sandhills in the 1930s. Major changes were subsequently made in the 1960s and 1990s to ensure the layout remained at the forefront of the game.

The Club received it’s royal patronage from King George VI in 1951.

Birkdale has previously hosted the Amateur Championship in 1946, 1989 and 2005.

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Royal Birkdale Scorecard (Photo: The R&A / Golfbox Scoring)

The course will play to around 7,100 yards during the Championship and a par of 71.

The formidable final six holes will no doubt come into play during the match play stage.

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Royal Birkdale Course Map (Photo: Royal Birkdale G.C.)

Weather Forecast (as at Monday 24th August)

The weather forecast looks generally wet for the week with scoring unlikely to be helped by moderate to strong breezes throughout: –

Tues 25th – Heavy Rain. Wind 45 mph SE. Temp. Max. 19°C / Min 15°C.
Wed 26th – Sunny Intervals. Wind 26 mph NW. Temp. Max. 18°C / Min 12°C.
Thurs 27th – Light Rain Showers. Wind 8 mph S. Temp. Max. 16°C / Min 12°C.
Fri 28th – Light Rain Showers. Wind 16 mph NE. Temp. Max. 16°C / Min 9°C.
Sat 29th – Sunny Intervals. Wind 16 mph NW. Temp. Max. 16°C / Min 9°C.
Sun 30th – Sunny Intervals. Wind 11 mph NW. Temp. Max. 16°C / Min 9°C.

Click here to view the – Latest BBC Weather Forecast For Southport

Tee times between 7.30am and 2.54pm mean changes in the weather can have a material impact on the stroke play qualifying scoring.

Royal Birkdale G.C.’s 12th Hole (Photo: visitliverpool.com)

Prizes / Exemptions

A momento is presented by The R&A to the leading player in the stroke play qualifying competition, with any ties decided on the lowest second round score (or final nine, six or three or one if necessary).

The winner of the match play stage will become the The Amateur Champion receiving the Championship Trophy and a Gold Medal.

The runner-up receives a Silver Medal and each losing semi-finalist a Bronze Medal.

The winner of The Amateur Championship will be exempt into the 149th Open Championship being staged at Royal St. George’s G.C. in Kent, England in July 2021.

Traditionally, the champion is also invited to compete in the following year’s Masters Tournament at Augusta National G.C. and also exempted into the 2021 U.S. Open Championship which is being held at Torrey Pines G.C. in San Diego, California.

Finally, given the May 2021 staging of the next Walker Cup match any GB&I player who wins this Amateur Championship will be assured of a place in our team.

2019 Amateur Championship

James SUGRUE (IRE) won the 124th Amateur Championship at Portmarnock G.C. beating Euan WALKER (SCO) by 2 Holes in a competitive Final which went the full 36 holes.

James from Mallow G.C. was the 8th Irish winner of the title following in the footsteps of Jimmy Bruen, Max McCready, Joe Carr, Garth McGimpsey, Michael Hoey, Brian McElhinney and most recently Alan Dunbar in 2012.

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James Sugrue (Photo: The R&A / Sam Barnes / Getty Images)

Click here to view the – 2019 Amateur Championship Match Play Results

Tom PLUMB (ENG) secured Stroke Play medalist honours at the 2019 Amateur after posting an aggregate 36 hole score of 139 (-4). Plumb shot a 68 at The Island in Round 1 and a 71 (-1) on Day 2 at Portmarnock. John AXELSEN (DEN) also recorded a 139 (-4) total but lost out by 4-shots on combined back nine count back.  

Click here to view the – 2019 Amateur Championship Stroke Play Qualifying Results

The top 64 and ties Match Play cut fell at 147 (+4) with a total of 76 players progressing. The 24 lowest scoring qualifiers participated in a Preliminary Round to establish the final 64 players.

A Short History of The Amateur

The Amateur Championship was first played in April 1885 at Royal Liverpool G.C. Allan Macfie (SCO) was the first champion beating Horace Hutchinson (ENG) 7&6 in the Final.

Up until the Second World War it was a hugely prestigious event and in many of these early years was afforded a much higher standing in the game than The Open Championship. Players like Johnny Ball (ENG), Harold Hilton (ENG) and Freddie Tait (SCO) were all amateurs and as good if not better than most of the professionals of the day.

With only modest rewards available in the professional game many of the better players simply stayed amateur. The great American Bobby Jones, who won The Amateur in 1930 on the way to his Grand Slam, remains the most well known career amateur.

Even after the war players remained amateur for much longer and famous names like Frank Stranahan (USA), Joe Carr (IRE), Sir Michael Bonallack (ENG) and Peter McEvoy (ENG) all built their reputations on Amateur Championship wins.

With the growth and transformation of the professional game from the early 1980s onwards both the better players and the media increasingly started to turn their backs on the amateur game.

Save for exceptional cases like Gary Wolstenholme (ENG) all continuity has been lost over the last 30 years and most of the young golfing stars of today rarely play any more than 2 or 3 Amateurs before being lured into the pro ranks by the huge rewards on offer.

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The Amateur Championship Trophy (Photo: Dominik Holyer) 

Past Winners

The greatest player in the history of The Amateur is Johnny Ball. The Hoylake man won the Championship a record 8 times between 1888 and 1912.

Only three other players have won the competition more than twice; Sir Michael Bonallack (5), Harold Hilton (4) and Joe Carr (3). Bonallack amazingly won it three years in a row between 1968-1970. The last person to retain The Amateur was Peter McEvoy in 1977 and ’78.

Prior to James Sugrue’s win in 2019 the previous 10 winners of The Amateur Championship were: –

2018  Jovan Rebula (RSA) – Royal Aberdeen G.C.
2017  Harry Ellis (ENG) – Royal St. George’s G.C.
2016  Scott Gregory (ENG) – Royal Porthcawl G.C.
2015  Romain Langasque (FRA) – Carnoustie G.L.
2014  Bradley Neil (SCO) – Royal Portrush G.C.
2013  Garrick Porteous (ENG) – Royal Cinque Ports G.C.
2012  Alan Dunbar (IRE) – Royal Troon G.C.
2011  Bryden Macpherson (AUS) – Hillside G.C.
2010  Jin Jeong (KOR) – Muirfield
2009  Matteo Manassero (ITA) – Formby G.C.

A great achievement and honour for all of the players listed above. However, it’s also another reminder of how incredibly tough golf is and that wins in the biggest events are no guarantee of success in the professional game.

Click here to view a complete list of – Past Amateur Championship Winners

ME.

Copyright © 2014-2020, 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 to James and Edith White (née Johnstone).

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.

In 1939 the English Amateur Championship was played at Birkdale and the 18 year old White reached the Quarter Finals before losing to Sydney Banks by 3&2.

Ronnie had just started a law degree at Liverpool University 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 for over 55’s in 1978 and 1979. In 1978, playing out of Caldy GC, at Formby White shot rounds of 76, 74 and 75 to win by 1-shot. He retained the Championship at Royal St. David’s, this time representing Royal Birkdale GC, after a play-off with HD Moseley and LL Shelley.

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.

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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.