Bobby Locke

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Bobby Locke
— Golfer —
Personal information
Full name Arthur D'Arcy Locke
Nickname Bobby
Old Baggy Pants
Old Muffin Face[1]
Born (1917-11-20)20 November 1917
Germiston, South Africa
Died 9 March 1987(1987-03-09) (aged 69)
Johannesburg, South Africa
Nationality  South Africa
Spouse Mary Fenton (m. 1958–87, his death)
Children Caroline
Career
Turned professional 1938
Former tour(s) PGA Tour
Professional wins 72
Number of wins by tour
PGA Tour 15
Sunshine Tour 30 (3rd all time)
Other 57
Best results in Major Championships
(Wins: 4)
Masters Tournament T10: 1948
U.S. Open 3rd/T3: 1947, 1951
The Open Championship Won: 1949, 1950, 1952, 1957
PGA Championship T33: 1947
British Amateur T33: 1937
Achievements and awards
World Golf Hall of Fame 1977 (member page)

Arthur D'Arcy "Bobby" Locke (20 November 1917 – 9 March 1987) was the first internationally successful South African professional golfer. He won four Open Championships,[2] nine South African Opens, seven South African PGA Championships and 15 PGA Tour events.

Biography[edit]

Early years[edit]

Locke was born in Germiston, South Africa. He won the South African Open for the first of nine times in 1935, playing as an amateur. He played in his first Open Championship in 1936, when he was eighteen, and finished as low amateur. He turned professional two years later and was a prolific tournament winner in his native country, eventually accumulating 38 wins on the Southern Africa Tour (now the Sunshine Tour). His golf career was interrupted by service in the South African Air Force during World War II.

Success in the United States[edit]

Following the end of World War II, Locke successfully resumed his career in South Africa in 1946. He hosted Sam Snead, one of the top American golfers of the day, for a series of exhibition matches in South Africa in 1946, winning 12 out of the 16 matches. So impressed was Snead that he suggested that Locke come to the United States and give the PGA Tour a try, advice that Locke quickly followed.[3]

Locke arrived in the U.S. for the first time in April 1947, well after the American Tour season had begun. In two-and-a-half years on the PGA Tour, Locke played in 59 events; he won 11, and finished in the top three in 30, just over half. In 1947, despite a late start, Locke dominated the American tour, winning six tournaments (including four in a five-week period), and finishing second to Jimmy Demaret on the money list.

Controversy and PGA Tour ban[edit]

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, Locke was banned from the tour, 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.[3] However, it is most likely he was banned because of growing resentment towards him from many of the other PGA players. 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."[4] The ban was lifted in 1951, but Locke chose not to return to play in the United States, except for a few isolated appearances.

Worldwide success[edit]

After leaving the PGA Tour, Locke continued his career in Europe and Africa, where he felt more comfortable. He won 23 times in Europe, most notably a quartet of successes in The Open Championship, which came in 1949, 1950, 1952 and 1957. He was the first of many South Africans who subsequently won major championships, including Gary Player, Ernie Els, Retief Goosen, Trevor Immelman, Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel. His win in the 1957 Open Championship was with some controversy. Locke had failed to properly replace his ball after marking on the 72nd green, and proceeded to putt out. This had been confirmed through newsreel footage provided to the R&A after the trophy presentation. The rules at the time made no provision for a two shot penalty, thus Locke's win could have been overturned through disqualification. However, the Championship committee did not enforce the disqualification rule, citing "equity and spirit of the game" as overriding factors in sustaining the posted result.

During this time Locke also played many other parts of the world. In 1955 he won the Australian Open held at Gailes Golf Club in Queensland; he later rated this as one of the best courses he had ever played. In 1959, Locke was involved in a serious car accident, and subsequently he suffered from migraines and eye problems that put an end to his competitive career, although he continued competing occasionally after that, without much success.

Locke was elected to the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1977. He was only the second member (after Gary Player) who did not come from either the United States or the United Kingdom. He died in Johannesburg, South Africa in 1987.

Playing attributes[edit]

Locke built his success around his outstanding putting ability, coining the phrase "You drive for show, but putt for dough." Wearing his trademark knickers, white shoes, and stockings, Locke played the game at a slow and deliberate pace, perhaps another reason that American pros were annoyed with him. On the greens, Locke was a bona fide genius, using a very unusual putting style (he would bring the putter back far to the inside on the backstroke, then virtually "trap" the ball with a hooded, closed clubface on the forward stroke, imparting a tremendous amount of overspin), and a great eye for reading breaks, to put on veritable putting clinics every time he played. Locke believed he could put spin on putts (similar to full-swing shots) and make them "hook" and "slice", and used his unorthodox technique to great success.

Locke was not particularly long from the tee, but placed great emphasis on accuracy in hitting fairways and greens; he employed an extreme right-to-left ball flight (one that bordered on a hook) on nearly every full shot.

Australian contemporary pro Jim Ferrier, who played the U.S. Tour during the late 1940s with Locke, described Locke's putting method as being designed 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 during that era using Bermuda-grass turf in order to survive the extreme summer heat; turfgrass research eventually developed a wider variety of strains which could be used. Locke's putting method allowed the ball to glide on top of the grass without being affected very much by the grain. Ferrier explained that Locke had apparently learned the technique from an Englishman in Egypt, while he was stationed there during World War II.[5]

Amateur wins (9)[edit]

  • 1931 South Africa Boys
  • 1935 South Africa Amateur, Natal Amateur, Transvaal Amateur
  • 1936 Natal Amateur, Lucifer Empire Trophy
  • 1937 South Africa Amateur, Transvaal Amateur, Orange Free State Amateur

Professional wins (72)[edit]

PGA Tour wins (15)[edit]

Major championships are shown in bold.

Other wins (57)[edit]

Major championships[edit]

Wins (4)[edit]

Year Championship 54 holes Winning score Margin Runner-up
1949 The Open Championship Tied for lead −5 (69-76-68-70=283) Playoff 1 Republic of Ireland Harry Bradshaw
1950 The Open Championship (2) Tied for lead −9 (69-72-70-68=279) 2 strokes Argentina Roberto De Vicenzo
1952 The Open Championship (3) 1 shot deficit −1 (69-71-74-73=287) 1 stroke Australia Peter Thomson
1957 The Open Championship (4) 3 shot lead −9 (69-72-68-70=279) 3 strokes Australia Peter Thomson

1 Defeated Harry Bradshaw in 36-hole playoff: Locke (135), Bradshaw (147)

Results timeline[edit]

Tournament 1936 1937 1938 1939
Masters Tournament DNP DNP DNP DNP
U.S. Open DNP DNP DNP DNP
The Open Championship T8 LA T17 LA T10 T9
PGA Championship DNP DNP DNP DNP
The Amateur Championship R256 R64 - -
Tournament 1940 1941 1942 1943 1944 1945 1946 1947 1948 1949
Masters Tournament DNP DNP DNP NT NT NT DNP T14 T10 T13
U.S. Open DNP DNP NT NT NT NT DNP T3 4 T4
The Open Championship NT NT NT NT NT NT T2 DNP DNP 1
PGA Championship DNP DNP DNP NT DNP DNP DNP T33 DNP DNP
Tournament 1950 1951 1952 1953 1954 1955 1956 1957 1958 1959
Masters Tournament DNP DNP T21 DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
U.S. Open DNP 3 WD T14 5 DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
The Open Championship 1 T6 1 8 T2 4 DNP 1 T16 T29
PGA Championship DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Tournament 1960 1961 1962 1963 1964 1965 1966 1967 1968 1969
Masters Tournament DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
U.S. Open DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
The Open Championship DNP CUT CUT CUT CUT DNP DNP CUT DNP DNP
PGA Championship DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Tournament 1970 1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978
Masters Tournament DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
U.S. Open DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
The Open Championship CUT T49 CUT DNP CUT CUT CUT WD CUT
PGA Championship DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP

NT = No tournament
LA = Low amateur
DNP = Did not play
WD = Withdrew
CUT = missed the half-way cut
"T" indicates a tie for a place
Green background for wins. Yellow background for top-10

Sources: 1936 British Amateur,[6] 1937 British Amateur[7]

Summary[edit]

Tournament Wins 2nd 3rd Top-5 Top-10 Top-25 Events Cuts made
Masters Tournament 0 0 0 0 1 4 4 4
U.S. Open 0 0 2 5 5 6 7 6
The Open Championship 4 2 0 7 12 14 28 16
PGA Championship 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 3
Totals 4 2 2 12 18 24 42 29
  • Most consecutive cuts made – 19 (1936 Open Championship – 1952 Masters)
  • Longest streak of top-10s – 5 (1949 U.S. Open – 1951 Open Championship)

Team appearances[edit]

  • Canada Cup (representing South Africa): 1954, 1956, 1960

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Kelley, Brent. "Bobby Locke". About.com. Retrieved 28 February 2009. 
  2. ^ "1949 Bobby Locke". The Open. Retrieved 17 October 2013. 
  3. ^ a b Barkow, Al (1974). Golf's Golden Grind: The History of the PGA Tour. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. ISBN 978-0151908851. 
  4. ^ South African Open television broadcast, 19 December 2010, Golf Channel
  5. ^ Barkow, Al (1986). Gettin' To The Dance Floor: An Oral History of American Golf. Atheneum. ISBN 978-0689115172. 
  6. ^ "Amateur Championship". The Glasgow Herald. 27 May 1936. p. 6. 
  7. ^ "Scot Wins "Classic" Match". The Glasgow Herald. 27 May 1937. p. 12. 

External links[edit]