Frederick Guthrie Tait

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Frederick Tait redirects here. For those with a similar name, see Frederick Tate (disambiguation).

Frederick Guthrie Tait
Tait in 1896 after winning
The Amateur Championship
Personal information
Full nameFrederick Guthrie Tait
Born(1870-01-11)11 January 1870
Edinburgh, Scotland
Died7 February 1900(1900-02-07) (aged 30)
Height5 ft 11.5 in (1.82 m)
Weight174 lb (79 kg; 12.4 st)
Nationality Scotland
Best results in major championships
(wins: 2)
U.S. OpenDNP
The Open ChampionshipT3: 1896, 1897
U.S. AmateurDNP
British AmateurWon: 1896, 1898

Frederick Guthrie Tait (11 January 1870 – 7 February 1900) was an amateur golfer and Scottish soldier. He won the Amateur Championship twice, in 1896 and again in 1898, by convincing margins. Over his short golf career, Tait recorded at least 28 tournament victories. He tied for third place in the Open Championship in both 1896 and 1897.

Early life[edit]

Tait as a toddler golfer with a hand-made club, c. 1875

Born at 17 Drummond Place[1] in the Second New Town in Edinburgh, Tait was the third son of eminent physicist and fanatical amateur golfer Peter Guthrie Tait.

The young Tait was educated at the Edinburgh Academy and Sedbergh School. He was admitted to the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, at his second attempt, and is credited with introducing golf there. Tait was commissioned a second lieutenant in the 2nd battalion the Leinster Regiment in 1890, and then transferred as a lieutenant to the 2nd battalion, the Black Watch, in 1894.

He learned golf at an early age and was already swinging golf clubs as a 5-year-old child. As an adult, Tait was an extremely powerful and long hitter of the ball. At The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews on 11 January 1893, he hit the ball 250 yards, the ball then rolling on frozen ground and coming to rest 341 yards from the tee.

250 yards was the exact driving distance predicted possible through a careful application of backspin by Tait's father in a paper of 1891, significantly further than the 180 yards achieved at that time.[2] Tait won The Amateur Championship twice (1896 and 1898), finished third in The Open Championship twice (1896 and 1897) and was leading amateur in the same competition on three occasions.

Death and legacy[edit]

Memorial plaque to Frederick Guthrie Tait, Black Watch Museum, Perth

Tait was killed in action at Koodoosberg, South Africa, during the Second Boer War on 7 February 1900 and is buried there.

A memorial plaque to his (and his father's) memory stands on the inner north wall of St Johns Episcopal Church on Princes Street in Edinburgh.

He is also remembered in the adjacent churchyard by a granite Celtic cross on the Tait family plot on the second burial terrace down from Princes Street.

A memorial plaque from Dunalister Veterans Home is now rehoused in the Black Watch Museum in Perth.


The Freddie Tait Cup is awarded annually to the leading amateur in the South African Open.

Tournament wins (28)[edit]

Tait's birthplace at 17 Drummond Place, Edinburgh
Note: This list may be incomplete.
  • 1893 Royal and Ancient Golf Club Spring Club Gold Medal[3]
  • 1894 Royal and Ancient Golf Club Royal Medal
  • 1894 Hampshire Isle of Wight and Channel Islands Amateur Champion[4]
  • 1895 Royal and Ancient Golf Club Autumn Bombay Medal,[3] Royal and Ancient Golf Club Jubilee Vase,[3] New Luffness Leconfield Medal,[3] New Luffness Silver Quaich,[3] New Luffness Hope Medal[3]
  • 1896 The Amateur Championship, St. George's Challenge Cup, Royal and Ancient Golf Club Silver Cross Medal,[3] Royal and Ancient Golf Club Royal Medal,[3] Royal and Ancient Golf Club Glennie Aggregate Medal,[3] Royal and Ancient Golf Club Calcutta Cup[3]
  • 1897 Royal and Ancient Golf Club Silver Cross Medal,[3] Royal and Ancient Golf Club Spring Club Gold Medal,[3] Royal and Ancient Golf Club Glennie Aggregate Medal,[3] New Luffness Leconfield Medal[3]
  • 1898 The Amateur Championship,[5] St. George's Challenge Cup, Royal and Ancient Golf Club Spring Club Gold Medal,[3] New Luffness Hope Medal,[3] New Luffness East Lothian County Cup[3]
  • 1899 St. George's Challenge Cup, Royal and Ancient Golf Club Silver Cross Medal,[3] Royal and Ancient Golf Club Calcutta Cup,[3] Royal and Ancient Golf Club Royal Medal,[3] Royal and Ancient Golf Club Glennie Aggregate Medal[3]

Major championships[edit]

Tait at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, c. 1888
Tait (back turned) with Edward Blackwell (center) and Old Tom Morris (right), 1899 at St Andrews, Scotland

Amateur wins (2)[edit]

Year Championship Winning Score Runner-up
1896 The Amateur Championship 8 & 7 England Harold Hilton
1898 The Amateur Championship 7 & 5 Scotland Samuel Mure Fergusson

Results timeline[edit]

Tournament 1891 1892 1893 1894 1895 1896 1897 1898 1899
The Open Championship T30 T21 DNP 9 LA T15 T3 LA T3 5 T7 LA
The Amateur Championship DNP R32 SF SF SF 1 R32 1 2

Note: Tait played in only The Open Championship and The Amateur Championship.

LA = Low amateur
DNP = Did not play
"T" indicates a tie for a place
R32, R16, QF, SF = Round in which player lost in match play
Green background for wins. Yellow background for top-10

Sources: Open Championship,[6] Amateur Championship: 1892,[7] 1893,[8] 1894,[9] 1895,[10] 1897[11]


  • Darwin, B. (1933). "Memories of Freddie Tait". The American Golfer. selections reprinted in Price, C. (ed.) (1964). The American golfer.
  • Durran, R. A. (2004). "Tait, Frederick Guthrie (1870–1900)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 26 June 2006. (subscription or UK public library membership required)
  • Low, J. L. (1900). F. G. Tait: A Record.
  • Low, J. L. (ed.) (1909). Nisbet's Golf Yearbook.
  • Ryde, P. (ed.) (1981). Royal & Ancient Championship Records, 1860–1980.


Memorial plaque to Peter Guthrie Tait and Frederick Guthrie Tait, St Johns Episcopal Church, Edinburgh
  1. ^ Edinburgh and Leith Post Office Directory 1870-71
  2. ^ On the path of a rotating spherical projectile, Trans. Roy. Soc. Edin. 37, 427-440; Scientific Papers II, 356-370
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u Duncan, David Scott, ed. (1900). The Golfing Annual, 1899–1900. London: Horace Cox. p. 3.
  4. ^ "County Champions" (PDF). Hampshire Golf. Retrieved 4 November 2015.
  5. ^ "The World Almanac and Book of Facts (1908)". Retrieved 16 April 2015.
  6. ^ "31st Open - St Andrews 1891". The Open. Retrieved 4 November 2015. (and succeeding years)
  7. ^ "The Amateur Golf Championship". The Glasgow Herald. 12 May 1892. p. 11.
  8. ^ "The Amateur Golf Championship". The Glasgow Herald. 12 May 1893. p. 11.
  9. ^ "Golf: The Amateur Championship – Victory of Mr John Ball, Jun". The Glasgow Herald. 28 April 1894. p. 11.
  10. ^ "Golf: The Amateur Championship – Fifth and Semi-Final Rounds". The Glasgow Herald. 10 May 1895. p. 11.
  11. ^ "The Amateur Championship". The Scotsman. 29 April 1897. p. 4. (Subscription required (help)).[permanent dead link]

External links[edit]