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Great Golfers Americans Don't Know - #1 Bobby Locke.

Great Golfers Americans Don’t Know – #1 Bobby Locke.

Great Golfers Americans Don’t Know – #1 Bobby Locke.

Golf Chats is a website to encourage discussions on various subjects relating to the game of golf. I am Mel Sole, Director of Instruction of the Mel Sole Golf School and SAPGA Master Professional.  I invite you to enter into a discussion on this or any article on the website.  The input is for the entire subscriber base to learn something new each time!  Please post your comments below.  Keep it clean and tasteful.  We are here to learn from one another!

I was extremely fortunate when I was 19 years old and an 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! (but he would always buy me a beer after the round.)

Bobby won 4 British Open championships, 9 South African Opens, and 7 South African PGA Tournaments.  He won on the PGA Tour 15 times from 1947 to 1950.  He finished in the top 3 30 times, just over half the tournaments he played in.

Great Golfers Americans Don't Know - #1 Bobby Locke.

Bobby Locke was a South African golfer who most pros regard as one of the best putters EVER!

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, 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. 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.” The ban was lifted in 1951, but Locke chose not to return to play in the United States, except for a few isolated appearances.

Locke built his success around his outstanding putting ability, coining the phrase “You drive for show, but putt for dough.” 

Wearing his trademark knickerbockers, white shoes, and stockings, Locke would play the game at a slow and deliberate pace, perhaps another reason that American pros were not happy 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.  He would hood and close 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. Locke, believing he could put spin on putts (similar to full-swing shots) he would make them “hook” and “slice”, and would use 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, played the U.S. Tour during the late 1940s with Locke.  He 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.

Great Golfers Americans Don’t Know – #1 Bobby Locke.

Great Golfers Americans Don't Know - #1 Bobby Locke.

Bobby Locke won the Open Championship 4 times!

To read more on Bobby Lock’s amazing career, go here.

Source: Mel Sole  Wikipedia

Pictures: wbryant   AngieCueto

Thanks for reading – Great Golfers Americans Don’t Know – #1 Bobby Locke.

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