Great Golfers Americans Don’t Know #1
Great Golfers Americans Don’t Know #1, Bobby Locke.
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Bobby Locke won 4 British Open championships, 9 South African Opens, and 7 South African PGA Tournaments. He won on the US PGA Tour 15 times from 1947 to 1950. He finished in the top 3 30 times, just over half the tournaments he played in.
I was extremely fortunate when I was 19 years old and assistant professional at Observatory Golf Club in Johannesburg, South Africa, to play golf with the resident touring professional Bobby Locke. His golfing career was over by then, but I was still in awe of his beautiful putting stroke. Though I did not see him in his prime, he was still a great putter and lightened my wallet several times!
Controversy and PGA Tour ban.
In 1948, he won the Chicago Victory National by 16 strokes. Which remains a PGA Tour record for margin of victory. (tied for margin of victory with J. Douglas Edgar’s win in the 1919 Canadian Open).
The following year the Tour banned Locke. Ostensibly because of a dispute over playing commitments. Locke had indeed given several advance commitments to appear at tournaments and exhibitions, then had not turned up nor given adequate notice nor explanations for his absences. However, the 1948 Masters champion Claude Harmon stated, unsolicited, to another golf personality during that era: “Locke was simply too good. They had to ban him.” The Tour lifted the ban in 1951, but Locke did not to return to play in the United States, except for a few isolated appearances.
Locke explains his point of view and events leading up to the banning. He had accepted invitations, organised through the PGA to play in two local tournaments, The Inverness Fourball and Western Open. Bobby explained that he had help to fix a putting problem which helped him win the 1949 British Open. Locke gave the “Open” win as one of his reasons to breach his contract. The text indicates that he understood the contractual nature of his dealings with the PGA.
Jim Ferrier’s take.
Australian contemporary pro Jim Ferrier, played the U.S. Tour during the late 1940s with Locke. He described Locke’s putting method had the design to overcome the very heavy grain present on many Bermuda-grass greens of that era. Particularly in warm-climate regions such as South Africa and the southern United States. In these regions, greens had to be constructed using Bermuda-grass in order to survive the extreme summer heat. Turfgrass research eventually developed a wider variety of strains to use.
Bobby Lock’s Putting method.
Locke’s putting method was to allow the ball to glide on top of the grass with little affect by the grain. Ferrier went on to explain that Locke had the desire to learn the technique from an Englishman in Egypt, while being stationed there during World War II.
Thanks for reading Great Golfers Americans Don’t Know #1 Now you know more about this great golfer.
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