Horton Smith

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Horton Smith
Bundesarchiv Bild 102-07807, Berlin, Golfmeisterschaften.jpg
Walter Hagen and Smith (right) in 1929
Personal information
NicknameThe Joplin Ghost
Born(1908-05-22)May 22, 1908
Springfield, Missouri
DiedOctober 15, 1963(1963-10-15) (aged 55)
Detroit, Michigan
Sporting nationality United States
CollegeSouthwest Missouri State - Now Missouri State University
Turned professional1926
Former tour(s)PGA Tour
Professional wins34
Number of wins by tour
PGA Tour30
Best results in major championships
(wins: 2)
Masters TournamentWon: 1934, 1936
PGA ChampionshipT3: 1928
U.S. Open3rd: 1930, 1940
The Open ChampionshipT4: 1930
Achievements and awards
World Golf Hall of Fame1990 (member page)
PGA Tour
leading money winner
Bob Jones Award1962

Horton Smith (May 22, 1908 – October 15, 1963) was an American professional golfer, best known as the winner of the first and third Masters Tournaments.

Tournament career[edit]

Born in Springfield, Missouri, Smith turned professional in 1926 and won his first tournament, the Oklahoma City Open in 1928. In 1929 he won eight titles. This was an era of expansion and reorganization for professional golf. The PGA Tour was founded in 1934, and Smith was one of the leading players of the early years of the tour, topping the money list in 1936. He accumulated 30 PGA Tour titles in total, the last of them in 1941, and his two major championships came at the Masters, at the inaugural tournament in 1934 and again in 1936 (the latter was the first Masters to end on a Monday due to rain).[1][2]

Smith was a member of five Ryder Cup teams: 1929, 1931, 1933, 1935, and 1937. His career Ryder Cup record was 3–0–1, his only blemish a halved singles match against Bill Cox in 1935 at Ridgewood Country Club in New Jersey. Smith was the only golfer to defeat Bobby Jones during the latter's Grand Slam year of 1930, at the stroke play Savannah Open in February.[1][3] He played in every Masters through 1963, the year of his death.[4]

Post-playing career[edit]

Smith served in the U.S. Army Air Forces during World War II[5] in the special services division coordinating athletics[6] and was discharged as a captain.[7]

After the war, he became the club pro at Detroit Golf Club in Michigan in 1946, where he remained until his death.[8] He was president of the PGA of America from 1952 to 1954. During that time black professionals continued to be excluded from PGA events despite Smith stating that he would support reviewing this rule when, in January 1952, Bill Spiller was excluded from the San Diego Open while former boxer Joe Louis was allowed to play as an invited amateur.[9][10] The "Caucasian only" clause in the PGA of America's constitution was not amended until November 1961.[11][12]

When he resigned as head professional of Oak Park Country Club in 1936, his elder brother Renshaw (1906–1971) replaced him at the club in River Grove, Illinois.


Smith died in 1963 at age 55 of Hodgkin's disease in Detroit. He had lost a lung to cancer six years earlier,[4] and is buried in his hometown of Springfield, Missouri. He was the first of the former Masters champions to pass away, followed by Craig Wood in 1968 and Jimmy Demaret in 1983.

Awards and honors[edit]

  • Smith was inducted into the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame in 1984.[13]
  • Smith was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1990.
  • In 1960, awarded the Ben Hogan Award by the golf writers for overcoming a physical handicap and continued active participation in golf.[14]
  • In 1962, he was voted the Bob Jones Award, the highest honor given by the United States Golf Association in recognition of distinguished sportsmanship in golf.
  • The PGA of America bestowed the Horton Smith Award, presented annually since 1965, to a PGA professional who has made "outstanding and continuing contributions to PGA education."[15] On July 2, 2020, it was renamed the PGA Professional Development Award by the board of directors because Smith had been a supporter of the PGA's "Caucasian-only' membership clause that was part of their by-laws from 1934 to 1961.[15]
  • A municipal golf course in his hometown of Springfield, Missouri, is named for him.[16]
  • A golf tournament at the Detroit Golf Club is named for him.[17]
  • He is attributed with being the first professional golfer to study putting as a means to beat his opponents.[18]
  • In September 2013, Horton's green jacket, awarded in 1949 for his Masters wins in 1934 and 1936, sold at auction for over $682,000; the highest price ever paid for a piece of golf memorabilia.[19][20] It had been in the possession of his brother Ren's stepsons for decades.[21]

Professional wins[edit]

PGA Tour wins (30)[edit]

Major championships are shown in bold.


Other wins[edit]

this list is probably incomplete

Major championships[edit]

Wins (2)[edit]

Year Championship 54 holes Winning score Margin Runner-up
1934 Masters Tournament 1 shot lead −4 (70-72-70-72=284) 1 stroke United States Craig Wood
1936 Masters Tournament (2) 3 shot deficit −3 (74-71-68-72=285) 1 stroke United States Harry Cooper

Results timeline[edit]

Tournament 1927 1928 1929
U.S. Open T44 T28 10
The Open Championship T25
PGA Championship SF R32
Tournament 1930 1931 1932 1933 1934 1935 1936 1937 1938 1939
Masters Tournament NYF NYF NYF NYF 1 T19 1 T19 T22 T26
U.S. Open 3 T27 T55 T24 T17 T6 T22 T36 T19 15
The Open Championship T4 T12 T14 10
PGA Championship QF QF R32 R32 QF QF R16 QF QF
Tournament 1940 1941 1942 1943 1944 1945 1946 1947 1948 1949
Masters Tournament T47 T19 5 NT NT NT T21 T22 34 T23
U.S. Open 3 T13 NT NT NT NT CUT WD CUT T23
The Open Championship NT NT NT NT NT NT
PGA Championship R64 R16 NT R64 R32
Tournament 1950 1951 1952 1953 1954 1955 1956 1957 1958 1959
Masters Tournament T12 T32 T30 T45 T38 T59 76 CUT CUT CUT
The Open Championship
PGA Championship R64 R16
Tournament 1960 1961 1962 1963
Masters Tournament CUT CUT CUT CUT
U.S. Open
The Open Championship
PGA Championship
  Top 10
  Did not play

NYF = tournament not yet founded
NT = no tournament
WD = withdrew
CUT = missed the half-way cut
R64, R32, R16, QF, SF = Round in which player lost in PGA Championship match play
"T" indicates a tie for a place


Tournament Wins 2nd 3rd Top-5 Top-10 Top-25 Events Cuts made
Masters Tournament 2 0 0 3 3 11 27 20
U.S. Open 0 0 2 2 4 12 23 17
The Open Championship 0 0 0 1 2 5 5 5
PGA Championship 0 0 1 7 10 14 17 17
Totals 2 0 3 13 19 42 72 59
  • Most consecutive cuts made – 43 (1927 U.S. Open – 1946 Masters)
  • Longest streak of top-10s – 3 (twice)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "1934: Horton Smith wins first Masters Tournament". Augusta.com. March 21, 2012. Retrieved April 17, 2014.
  2. ^ Gould, Alan (April 7, 1936). "Horton Smith wins Augusta golf title". Milwaukee Sentinel. Associated Press. p. 10. Archived from the original on February 14, 2020. Retrieved September 20, 2016.
  3. ^ Erwin, Robert A. (February 23, 1930). "Horton Smith beats Bobby Jones by one stroke in tourney". Palm Beach News. United Press. p. 5.
  4. ^ a b "Ex-Masters king Horton Smith dies". Palm Beach Post. Associated Press. October 16, 1963. p. 15.
  5. ^ Martin, Whitney (December 28, 1942). "Horton Smith now hears putt-putt instead of putt". St. Petersburg Times. Associated Press. p. 10.
  6. ^ "Lt. Horton Smith given army athletic posts". Milwaukee Journal. Associated Press. November 6, 1944. p. 6, part 2.
  7. ^ "No Ryder Cup match until '47, says Smith". Milwaukee Journal. Associated Press. November 13, 1945. p. 2, final.
  8. ^ "Hall of fame golfer, Horton Smith, dies at 55". Miami News. Associated Press. October 15, 1963. p. 2B.
  9. ^ "PGA clears way for Joe Louis to compete in San Diego Open meet". Daytona Beach Morning Journal. Florida. Associated Press. January 16, 1952. p. 6.
  10. ^ "Bunker Mentality: On This Day in 1961: PGA lifts ban on non-white players". Yahoo Eurosport UK. Archived from the original on February 8, 2015. Retrieved February 8, 2015.
  11. ^ "PGA opens its doors to Negroes, world golfers". Florence Times. Alabama. Associated Press. November 10, 1961. p. 4, section 2.
  12. ^ "PGA group abolishes 'Caucasian'". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Florida. Associated Press. November 10, 1961. p. 22.
  13. ^ "Michigan Golf Hall of Fame Members". Archived from the original on May 9, 2012.
  14. ^ "Horton Smith wins Ben Hogan Award". Ludington Daily News. Michigan. Associated Press. December 28, 1960. p. 7.
  15. ^ a b "PGA of America renames Horton Smith Award". Golf Channel. July 2, 2020. Retrieved August 2, 2020.
  16. ^ "Horton Smith Municipal Golf Course". Springfield-Greene County Park Board. Archived from the original on April 19, 2014. Retrieved April 17, 2014.
  17. ^ "Horton Smith". Detroit Golf Club. Retrieved April 17, 2014.
  18. ^ Mickelson, Paul (June 7, 1934). "Secret of touch in putting given by Horton Smith". St. Petersburg Independent. Florida. Associated Press. p. 4A.
  19. ^ Harig, Bob (September 9, 2013). "Green jacket nets $682K at auction". ESPN. Retrieved September 15, 2013.
  20. ^ "1934 & 1936 Masters Champion Horton Smith's Green Jacket". Green Jacket Auctions. Archived from the original on September 13, 2013. Retrieved April 17, 2014.
  21. ^ Kindred, Dave (August 2013). "The case of the missing green jacket". Golf Digest. Retrieved April 17, 2014.
  22. ^ Barkow, Al (1989). The History of the PGA TOUR. Copyright PGA Tour. Doubleday. ISBN 0-385-26145-4.

External links[edit]