Bobby Locke (1917 - 1987)

Born Arthur D'Arcy Locke of Irish stock in Germiston, South Africa, Locke is remembered as one of the great golfers of the post war period.

Locke displayed a natural talent for golf from an early age. When he was 8 he had a handicap of 14. By the age of 16, he was playing off scratch. Although he was a very successful amateur he decided on a career in the mining industry rather than becoming a professional. In 1936, his employer sent him to London and he took the opportunity to contest the Open. Although he did not win he was awarded the Amateur Medal.

In 1938, Locke turned professional but the war interrupted his career. He served with the South African Air Force and flew over 2000 hours in bombers. After the war he returned to golf and played primarily in the USA. He played a series of exhibition matches where he beat the great Sam Snead. In 1947, he came 3rd in the US Open. His relationship with the PGA soured and he was banned from the tour. Locke won 59 US tournaments and although the ban was lifted in 1951, he never returned. Instead he concentrated on European golf.

He won his first major, the Open, in 1949. He would go on to win the event a total of 4 times. A car crash in 1959 impaired his eyesight and therefore cut short his professional career. He was always a character on the course wearing his trademark plus-fours and white cap. His forte was his short game and his intense concentration.

Locke is fondly remembered in Europe for his great golf and professionalism. He laid the foundation for South African golf which Gary Player and Ernie Els would later benefit. In recognition of his achievements the R&A awarded him honorary membership in 1976. South Africa can be proud of him.