Willie Park Jr.

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Willie Park Jr.
Willie Park.JPG
Personal information
Full nameWilliam Park Jr.
NicknameWillie
Born(1864-02-04)4 February 1864
Musselburgh, Scotland
Died22 May 1925(1925-05-22) (aged 61)
Edinburgh, Scotland
Nationality Scotland
Career
StatusProfessional
Best results in major championships
(wins: 2)
Masters TournamentNYF
U.S. OpenCUT: 1919
The Open ChampionshipWon: 1887, 1889
PGA ChampionshipDNP
Achievements and awards
World Golf Hall of Fame2013 (member page)

Willie Park Jr. (4 February 1864 – 22 May 1925) was a Scottish professional golfer. He won The Open Championship twice.[1] Park was also a successful golf equipment maker and golf writer. In his later years, Park built a significant career as one of the world's best golf course architects, with a worldwide business. He was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2013.[2]

Early years[edit]

Park was born in Musselburgh, Scotland (near Edinburgh) on 4 February 1864.[3] His father, Willie Park Sr., was one of Scotland's top golfers, winning the first Open Championship in 1860[4], and three further Open Championship titles. Park Jr. learned golf from childhood. His father also ran a successful golf equipment business, producing clubs and balls to order. Park Sr. also played challenge matches for stakes, and competed in professional tournaments.

The Musselburgh Links course in the family's home town was one of the main centres of golf at the time, and was on the rota for The Open Championship from 1873 to 1891. In 1892 it was removed from the rota in favor of Muirfield, a new course which became the home of the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers. Mungo Park, younger brother of Park Sr., also won the Open in 1874. The Park family had a deep and fierce golf rivalry, both in competition and in business, with the Morris family (led by Old Tom Morris and Young Tom Morris) of St. Andrews during most of the 19th century.

Open champion[edit]

Park caddied and played golf professionally, in stakes matches and tournaments, from his mid-teens. He developed his golf skills and played in his first Open Championship in 1880, at age 16, at which time he was already one of Scotland's best players. He worked in the family golf equipment business. Park won the Open in 1887 and 1889. In the latter year he was taken to a playoff by Andrew Kirkaldy. During his competitive career, Park placed in the top ten 12 times at the Open, and was out of the top eight only twice between 1881 and 1892. He was notable for his excellent short game, which compensated for a sometimes unreliable long game. He is famous for the saying: "A man who can putt is a match for anyone."

Businessman[edit]

At the time, it was very difficult, if not impossible, for a golfer to make a living from prize money alone. Park often played challenge matches. He took over the family ball and club making business, establishing an export business just when golf was beginning to spread internationally. He patented several golf club designs.

Golf writer[edit]

Park's The Game of Golf (1896) was the first book about golf written by a professional golfer. It was well received, and has proven continuously popular since, being available in a modern, unabridged edition from Arcturus Publishers (2010). Park's second book, The Art of Putting, was published in 1920.

Golf course architect[edit]

He also worked as a golf course designer, with 170 designs to his credit in the British Isles, Europe, the US and Canada. Park entered this profession, while winding down his competitive play, in his mid-30s, just as golf was beginning an enormous increase in popularity, in both the British Isles and especially North America. New golfers needed new courses to play, and Park took advantage of the opportunities. His services were much in demand, and he became one of the first people, along with fellow Scot Donald Ross, to become a full-time golf course architect.

Sunningdale Old[edit]

Park's first well-known design was the Old Course of the Sunningdale Golf Club near London, just at the turn of the 20th century. This club's brilliant success on heathland property, which earlier had been thought unsuitable for golf, brought him worldwide fame.[5] Sunningdale Old has frequently been ranked among the world's top courses.

Canadian designs[edit]

Park's highly regarded course designs in Canada include Weston Golf and Country Club in Toronto (host of the 1955 Canadian Open, Arnold Palmer's first professional victory), the Ottawa Hunt and Golf Club in Ottawa, Ontario (host of the 1994, 2008, and 2017 Canadian Women's Opens), the Calgary Golf and Country Club in Calgary, the Mount Bruno Club in suburban Montreal, and Le Club Laval-sur-le-Lac in Laval, Quebec. Weston G&CC hosts an annual elite amateur men's Willie Park Jr. Memorial tournament, held over 36 holes in one day in late summer; it was started in 1925 to memorialize Park's passing.

United States designs[edit]

Park's well-known United States courses include the Hot Springs Country Club in Hot Springs, Arkansas, the Maidstone Golf Club on Long Island, Woodway Country Club in Darien, Connecticut, the New Haven Country Club in Hamden, Connecticut, Shuttle Meadow Country Club in Kensington, Connecticut, the North Course of the Olympia Fields Country Club near Chicago (host of two U.S. Open (golf) events (1928 and 2003), as well as the 1961 PGA Championship), Berkshire Country Club in Reading, Pennsylvania and Glen Ridge Country Club in Glen Ridge, New Jersey. Massachusett, The Milton Hoosic Club. Bellefonte Country Club in Ashland, Kentucky (Home of the longest continuously played AJGA event). Battle Creek Country Club (Battle Creek, Michigan) holds an annual Symetra Tour event, and Dustin Johnson qualified for his first US Open there. He also laid out the original six holes [6] of The Sadaquada Club (1895) in Whitestown, NY, which were later improved to a full nine by Horace Rawlins, the first winner of the U.S. Open. He also made a stop in State College, Pennsylvania in 1922 laying out plans for the schools White Course which reopened in 1926. The only remaining holes are 6-14. Six was originally a par3 now plays as a dog leg par-5.[7]

Park also designed the Castine Golf Club in Castine, Maine in 1921. However, his final design would be a nine hole course, St. Johnsbury Country Club in 1924 located in St. Johnsbury Vermont. His brother Mungo Park had to come to Vermont to finish the construction after Willie Park became ill and returned to Scotland.

Family[edit]

Park's daughter, Doris Park, was runner-up in the 1937 British Ladies Amateur Championship.[8]

Death[edit]

Overwork on his design business led to a decline in health and his eventual death, at age 61 on 22 May 1925.[9] His health had been in decline for some time; Park knew he was dying, and traveled home from the United States to Scotland, in order to die in his home country.[5] He died in Edinburgh, although his "usual residence" was given as Musselburgh.[9]

Major championships[edit]

A group photo of Scotland's 1903 international golf team. Park is standing in the back row, second from the right. They defeated the English team that year.

Wins (2)[edit]

Year Championship 18 holes Winning score Margin Runner-up
1887 The Open Championship 5 shot deficit 82-79=161 1 stroke Scotland Bob Martin
1889 The Open Championship (2) 1 shot deficit 39-38-39-39=155 Playoff 1 Scotland Andrew Kirkaldy

1 Park defeated Kirkaldy by five strokes in a 36-hole playoff.

Results timeline[edit]

Tournament 1880 1881 1882 1883 1884 1885 1886 1887 1888 1889
The Open Championship 16 T5 T18 8 T4 T4 T4 1 T11 1
Tournament 1890 1891 1892 1893 1894 1895 1896 1897 1898 1899
The Open Championship T4 6 7 T19 12 T14 T22 2 14
Tournament 1900 1901 1902 1903 1904 1905 1906 1907 1908 1909
The Open Championship 6 T18 T23 T15 T12 T13 WD
Tournament 1910 1911 1912 1913 1914 1915 1916 1917 1918 1919
U.S. Open NT NT CUT
The Open Championship T38 CUT NT NT NT NT NT

Note: Park only played in The Open Championship and the U.S. Open.

  Win
  Top 10
  Did not play

NT = No tournament
WD = Withdrew
CUT = missed the half-way cut
"T" indicates a tie for a place

Team appearances[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "1887 Willie Park Jr". The Open. Archived from the original on 26 November 2011. Retrieved 16 October 2013.
  2. ^ "Willie Park Jr. selected for World Golf Hall of Fame". PGA Tour. 15 November 2012. Retrieved 16 October 2013.
  3. ^ "Births in the District of Inveresk and Musselburgh in the County of Edinburgh". Statutory Births 689/00 0051. ScotlandsPeople. Retrieved 15 February 2015. (Subscription required (help)).
  4. ^ Duncan, George (1951). Golf At The Gallop. p. 7.
  5. ^ a b Whitten, Ronald; Cornish, Geoffrey (1981). The Golf Course. Rutledge Press. ISBN 978-0004900308.
  6. ^ http://www.fultonhistory.com/Newpapers%20Disk2/Utica%20NY%20Daily%20Observer/Utica%20NY%20Observer%201896%20pdf/Utica%20NY%20Observer%201896%20-%200418.PDF#xml=http://www.fultonhistory.com/dtSearch/dtisapi6.dll?cmd=getpdfhits&u=58ba770b&DocId=3438957&Index=Z%3a%2fFulton%20Historical&HitCount=3&hits=167+168+169+&SearchForm=C%3a%5cinetpub%5cwwwroot%5cFulton_New_form%2ehtml&.pdf
  7. ^ https://onwardstate.com/2015/08/31/a-history-of-the-penn-state-golf-courses/
  8. ^ BBC – A Sporting Nation – Jessie Valentine: Queen of Golf 1958
  9. ^ a b "Deaths in the District of Morningside in the City of Edinburgh". Statutory Deaths 689/00 0124. ScotlandsPeople. Retrieved 15 February 2015. (Subscription required (help)).