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You are here: Golf Club Membership > Golf Information > South African Golfers > Bobby Locke

South African Golfer - Bobby Locke

The Golf Club featuring South African Golfer Bobby Locke
Bobby Locke

Arthur D'Arcy "Bobby" Locke (20 November 1917 – 9 March 1987)

Locke was born in Germiston, South Africa. He played in his first British Open 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.

Locke resumed his career in America in 1946, and played a series of exhibitions against Sam Snead, one of the top American golfers of the day, winning 12 out of 14 matches. So impressed was Snead that he invited Bobby to come to the United States and give the PGA Tour a try, advice that Locke quickly followed. In two-and-a-half years on the PGA Tour, Locke played in 59 events; he won eleven, and finished in the top three in thirty -- just over half. In 1947, 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. Even more remarkably, Locke did all this after arriving in the United States for the first time in April.

In 1948, he won the Chicago Victory National by 16 strokes, which, as of 2006, remains a PGA Tour record for margin of victory. The following year, Locke was banned from the tour because of a dispute over playing commitments. The ban was lifted in 1951, but Locke chose not to return to play in the United States. Despite (or perhaps because of) his success, many American players disliked Locke, though not for anything Locke did. They simply resented a foreign player arriving on tour and "raiding" the prize money, as the highly skilled Locke often did.

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. Locke placed great emphasis on accuracy in hitting fairways and greens, and employed an extreme right-to-left ball flight (one that bordered on a hook) for nearly every shot. On the greens, Locke was a bona fide genius, using a strange putting style (he would bring the putter back far to the inside, then "cut" it with a hooded approach) 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.

After leaving the PGA Tour, Locke continued his career in Europe and Africa, where he felt more comfortable. He won twenty-three times in Europe, most notably a quartet of successes in the British Open titles, which came in 1949, 1950, 1952 and 1957. 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.

Locke was elected to the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1977. He was the first member who did not come from either the United States or the United Kingdom. He died in Johannesburg, South Africa in 1987.

Tournament Wins

PGA Tour wins (15)
1947 (6) Canadian Open, Houston Open, Philadelphia Inquirer Open, All American Open, Columbus Open, Goodall Round Robin
1948 (2) Phoenix Open, Chicago Victory Open
1949 (3) Cavalier Invitational, Goodall Round Robin, The Open Championship
1950 (2) All American Open, The Open Championship
1952 (1) The Open Championship
1957 (1) The Open Championship

Other wins
1931 South Africa Boys
1935 South African Open, South Africa Amateur, Natal Open, Natal Amateur, Transvaal Amateur
1936 Natal Open, Natal Amateur, Lucifer Empire Trophy
1937 South African Open, South Africa Amateur, Transvaal Amateur, Orange Free State Amateur
1938 South African Open, Irish Open, New Zealand Open, South Africa Professional, Transvaal Open
1939 South African Open, Dutch Open, South Africa Professional, Transvaal Open
1940 South African Open, Transvaal Open, South Africa Professional
1946 South African Open, South Africa Professional, Transvaal Open, Yorkshire Evening News, British Masters, Brand Lochryn Tournament
1949 Transvaal Open
1950 South African Open, South Africa Professional, Transvaal Open, Dunlop Tournament, Spalding Tournament, North British Tournament
1951 South African Open, Transvaal Open, South Africa Professional
1952 French Open, Mexican Open, Lotus Tournament
1953 French Open, Natal Open
1954 Egyptian Open, German Open, Swiss Open, Dunlop Tournament, British Masters, Egyptian Match Play, Transvaal Open, Swallow-Harrogate Tournament
1955 Australian Open, Transvaal Open, South African Open, South Africa Professional
1957 Daks Tournament, Bowmaker Amateur-Professional
1958 Transvaal Open

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