Francis Ouimet

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Francis Ouimet
— Golfer —
FrancisOuimetHead1913.jpg
Ouimet in 1913
Personal information
Full nameFrancis DeSales Ouimet
Born(1893-05-08)May 8, 1893
Brookline, Massachusetts
DiedSeptember 2, 1967(1967-09-02) (aged 74)
Newton, Massachusetts
Height6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)
Weight175 lb (79 kg; 12.5 st)
Nationality United States
SpouseStella Sullivan (m. 1918–65)
ChildrenJanice, Barbara
Career
StatusAmateur
Professional wins3
Best results in major championships
(Wins: 3)
Masters TournamentWD: 1941
U.S. OpenWon: 1913
The Open ChampionshipT56: 1914
PGA ChampionshipDNP
U.S. AmateurWon: 1914, 1931
British AmateurT3: 1923
Achievements and awards
World Golf Hall of Fame1974 (member page)
Bob Jones Award1955
 
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Francis Ouimet
— Golfer —
FrancisOuimetHead1913.jpg
Ouimet in 1913
Personal information
Full nameFrancis DeSales Ouimet
Born(1893-05-08)May 8, 1893
Brookline, Massachusetts
DiedSeptember 2, 1967(1967-09-02) (aged 74)
Newton, Massachusetts
Height6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)
Weight175 lb (79 kg; 12.5 st)
Nationality United States
SpouseStella Sullivan (m. 1918–65)
ChildrenJanice, Barbara
Career
StatusAmateur
Professional wins3
Best results in major championships
(Wins: 3)
Masters TournamentWD: 1941
U.S. OpenWon: 1913
The Open ChampionshipT56: 1914
PGA ChampionshipDNP
U.S. AmateurWon: 1914, 1931
British AmateurT3: 1923
Achievements and awards
World Golf Hall of Fame1974 (member page)
Bob Jones Award1955
Ouimet at the 1913 U.S. Open
Playoff participants Harry Vardon, Ouimet, and Ted Ray
Ouimet celebrating his victory with Eddie Lowery, his 10-year-old caddie with a white towel over his shoulders

Francis DeSales Ouimet (May 8, 1893 – September 2, 1967) was an American amateur golfer, who is frequently referred to as the "father of amateur golf" in the United States. He won the U.S. Open in 1913, and was the first non-Briton elected Captain of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews. He was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1974.[1][2]

Early life[edit]

Ouimet was born to Mary Ellen Burke and Arthur Ouimet in Brookline, Massachusetts, a suburb southwest of Boston. His father was a French-Canadian immigrant, and his mother was an Irish immigrant. When Francis was four years old, his family purchased a house on Clyde Street in Brookline, directly across from the 17th hole of The Country Club. The Ouimet family grew up relatively poor, and found themselves near the bottom of the economic ladder, which was hardly the position of any American golfer at the time. As far as the general public was concerned, amateur golf was reserved for the wealthy, while professional golf provided competition and income for former caddies, prohibited by the USGA from caddying after the age of 16 or lose their amateur status.[3] Ouimet found an interest in golf at an early age and started caddying at The Country Club at the age of 11. Using clubs from his brother and balls he found around the course, Ouimet taught himself the game. Soon enough his game caught the eye of many country club members and caddie master Dan MacNamara. It wasn't long before Ouimet was the best high school golfer in the state. When he was a junior in high school, his father insisted Francis drop out and finally begin to do "something useful" with his life. He worked at a drygoods store before a stroke of good luck helped him land a job at a sporting goods store owned by the future Baseball Hall of Famer George Wright.[3][4]

Golf career[edit]

1913 U.S. Open[edit]

In 1913 Ouimet won his first significant title at age 20, the Massachusetts Amateur, an event he went on to win five more times. He participated in the U.S. Amateur at the Garden City Golf Club in New York in early September, losing in the quarterfinals to the eventual champion, Jerome Travers. Soon after he was asked personally by the president of the United States Golf Association, Robert Watson, if he would play in the national professional championship, the U.S. Open, which had been postponed to mid-September from its original June dates to allow for the participation of British golfers Harry Vardon and Ted Ray, both of Jersey.[5] Vardon won the U.S. Open in 1900 and The Open Championship five times to that point; Ray won the Open Championship in 1912. The event was played at the course Ouimet knew best, The Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts. Ouimet originally declined to play, having just returned from an absence from work to play in the National Amateur. His participation in the Open was soon arranged, however, with the cooperation of his employer.

It was Ouimet's first appearance in the championship. After 72 holes of play finished in a three-way tie, Ouimet, Vardon, and Ray went on to an 18-hole playoff the next day in rainy conditions, won by Ouimet.[6] His victory was widely hailed as a stunning upset over the strongly-favored British, who were regarded as the top two golfers in the world. He was the first amateur to win the U.S. Open, the biggest crowds ever seen in American golf followed the playoff, and his achievement was front-page news across the country.

Ouimet's U.S. Open success is credited for bringing golf into the American sporting mainstream. Before his surprising win over Vardon and Ray, golf was dominated by British players. In America, the sport was restricted to players with access to private facilities. There were very few public courses (the first, Van Cortlandt Golf Course in The Bronx borough of New York City, opened in 1895). Ten years after his 1913 victory the number of American players had tripled and many new courses had been built, including numerous public ones.

In 1963 WGBH-TV, Boston's public television station, aired an interview with Ouimet at The Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts, to mark the 50th anniversary of his win at the 1913 U.S. Open. The kinescope of that interview was included in the DVD of the Walt Disney film, The Greatest Game Ever Played.

Controversy resolved[edit]

Ouimet never turned professional;[1] he wished to remain an amateur for his whole career, as he decided before his U.S. Open success that he wanted to work in the world of business. In 1916, however, the USGA, in one of the most controversial decisions in their history, stripped Ouimet of his amateur status. Its reasoning was that he was using his celebrity to aid his own sporting goods business, and was therefore making a living from golf. This was at the time when caddies were not allowed to continue caddying after they reached the age of 16, unless they declared themselves professionals. The decision was greeted with uproar from Ouimet's fellow golfers. In 1918, Ouimet enlisted in the U.S. Army and rose to the rank of lieutenant. After the war, the USGA quietly reinstated his amateur status. Ouimet did not bear a grudge against the USGA, and served on several committees. He was also a golf member of Charles River Country Club in Newton Centre, and was a member of the Woodland Golf Club of Auburndale.

Ouimet went on to win his second U.S. Amateur in 1931.[1] During the 1920s he lost several close matches to Bobby Jones, who dominated amateur golf for that decade.

Later achievements[edit]

Ouimet won the U.S. Amateur twice (1914 and 1931).[7] He played on the first eight Walker Cup Teams, and was Captain of the next four for a team record of 11-1. In 1951 he became the first non-Briton elected Captain of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews, and in 1955 was the first-ever winner of the Bob Jones Award, the highest honor given by the USGA, in recognition of distinguished sportsmanship in golf. Ouimet has been named to many golf halls of fame, and has a room named after him in the USGA Museum.

Two other aspects of Ouimet's golf career are important — Ouimet used the overlapping grip to hold the club, and was among the first top players to use this method. He very likely used the grip in emulation of Vardon, who often is credited with developing the grip. Many great golf champions since have used this technique. The method is named for the "overlapping' of the little finger of the top hand between the forefinger and middle finger of the bottom hand. Ouimet mentored and encouraged the young Gene Sarazen, who developed into one of golf's greatest champions and also used the overlapping grip.[8]

Francis Ouimet Scholarship Fund[edit]

In 1949 a group of Ouimet's friends started a scholarship in his honor, naming it the Francis Ouimet Scholarship Fund.[1] The scholarship was created to give college scholarship aid to young people who worked as caddies at clubs in Massachusetts. The inaugural class had 13 scholars who received a total of $4,600. Since then over 5,100 students have been selected as Ouimet Scholars, receiving over $26 million in need-based college tuition assistance. Today's requirements state that young people who have given at least two years of service to golf as caddies or worked in a pro shop or in course superintendent operations in Massachusetts are eligible to receive the Scholarship.

The Ouimet Fund is the second largest caddie scholarship in the United States, and the largest independent scholarship fund in Massachusetts. Students must go through a rigorous application and interview process before being selected as a Ouimet Scholar. Once selected, students may attend any school they wish, which is one of the major differences between the Ouimet Fund and the Evans Fund, the other major caddie fund in the U.S. Since the Ouimet Fund is a need-based scholarship, awards can range anywhere from a few thousand dollars to $30,000 or more over four years.

The Francis Ouimet Award for Lifelong Contributions to Golf was first presented in 1997, and is presented annually at the Francis Ouimet Scholarship Fund's annual banquet. Past winners include Arnold Palmer (1997), Peter Jacobsen (2006), Jack Nicklaus (2007) and Annika Sörenstam (2010).[9]

Depictions[edit]

In 1988 a portrait of Ouimet appeared on a commemorative 25-cent United States Postal Service postage stamp in his honor.[10]

In 2002 Mark Frost wrote a biographical account of Ouimet's U.S. Open victory titled The Greatest Game Ever Played: Harry Vardon, Francis Ouimet, and the Birth of Modern Golf. Shortly afterward, Frost was tapped by Walt Disney Studios to write a motion picture adaptation. The Greatest Game Ever Played was released in theaters in 2005. The film starred Shia LaBeouf as Ouimet, and was directed by Bill Paxton and produced by Larry Brezner.

Appearing on the cover of The Greatest Game is a photograph of Ouimet at the U.S. Open with his ten-year-old caddy, Eddie Lowery. This iconic image is one of the best known in American golf, and was used as the logo for the United States Golf Association's Centennial celebrations. A statue of Ouimet and Lowery based on the photograph stands in Brookline, Massachusetts and at the World Golf Hall of Fame in St. Augustine, Florida.

Personal[edit]

Ouimet always had an aspiration to become a businessman to elevate himself into the middle class. The life of a professional golfer at that time did not offer an avenue to reach that goal. Within ten years of his U.S. Open victory, Ouimet had started to work as a banker and eventually a stock broker, which had always been his intention. The culmination of Francis Ouimet's career was as one of the customer's financial advisors at Brown Brothers Harriman.

He married Stella M. Sullivan on September 11, 1918.[11] They had two daughters: Janice Salvi and Barbara McLean.

Ouimet died in Newton, Massachusetts, on September 2, 1967, at age 74.[12]

Tournament wins (26)[edit]

Professional and amateur majors shown in bold.

Major championships (3)[edit]

Professional wins (1)[edit]

YearChampionship54 holesWinning scoreMarginRunners-up
1913U.S. OpenTied for lead+8 (77-74-74-79=304)Playoff 1Jersey Harry Vardon, Jersey Ted Ray

1 Defeated Vardon and Ray in an 18-hole playoff - Ouimet 72 (−2), Vardon 77 (+3), Ray 78 (+4)

Amateur wins (2)[edit]

YearChampionshipWinning scoreRunner-up
1914U.S. Amateur6 & 5United States Jerome Travers
1931U.S. Amateur6 & 5United States Jack Westland

Results timeline[edit]

As an amateur, Ouimet could not play in the PGA Championship.

Tournament1910191119121913191419151916191719181919
Masters TournamentNYFNYFNYFNYFNYFNYFNYFNYFNYFNYF
U.S. OpenDNPDNPDNP1 LAT5T35DNPNTNTT18
The Open ChampionshipDNPDNPDNPDNPT56NTNTNTNTNT
U.S. AmateurDNQDNQDNQR161R16DNPNTNTQF
The Amateur ChampionshipDNPDNPDNPDNPR128NTNTNTNTNT
Tournament1920192119221923192419251926192719281929
Masters TournamentNYFNYFNYFNYFNYFNYFNYFNYFNYFNYF
U.S. OpenDNPDNPDNPT29DNPT3DNPDNPDNPDNP
The Open ChampionshipDNPDNPDNPDNPDNPDNPDNPDNPDNPDNP
U.S. Amateur2R16R16SFSFDNQSFSFR32SF
The Amateur ChampionshipDNPR128DNPSFDNPDNPR64DNPDNPDNP
Tournament1930193119321933193419351936193719381939
Masters TournamentNYFNYFNYFNYFDNPDNPDNPDNPDNPDNP
U.S. OpenDNPDNPDNPDNPDNPDNPDNPDNPDNPDNP
The Open ChampionshipDNPDNPDNPDNPDNPDNPDNPDNPDNPDNP
U.S. AmateurR321SFDNPR256R256R64WDDNPDNQ
The Amateur ChampionshipR32DNPDNPDNPR256DNPDNPDNPR64DNP
Tournament1940194119421943194419451946194719481949
Masters TournamentDNPWDDNPNTNTNTDNPDNPDNPDNP
U.S. OpenDNPDNPNTNTNTNTDNPDNPDNPDNP
The Open ChampionshipNTNTNTNTNTNTDNPDNPDNPDNP
U.S. AmateurDNQDNPNTNTNTNTDNPDNPDNPDNP
The Amateur ChampionshipNTNTNTNTNTNTDNPR32DNPR128
Tournament1950
Masters TournamentDNP
U.S. OpenDNP
The Open ChampionshipDNP
U.S. AmateurDNP
The Amateur ChampionshipR128

LA = Low amateur
NYF = Tournament not yet founded
NT = No tournament
DNP = Did not play
WD = Withdrew
"T" indicates a tie for a place
DNQ = Did not qualify for match play portion
R256, R128, R64, R32, R16, QF, SF = Round in which player lost in match play
Green background for wins. Yellow background for top-10

U.S. national team appearances[edit]

Amateur

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

References[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Kelley, Brent. "Francis Ouimet bio". About.com. Retrieved September 12, 2011. 
  2. ^ Duca, Rob. "America's triumph: Remembering a legend". Cape Cod Times. Archived from the original on December 15, 2000. Retrieved December 12, 2007. "The year was 1913. He was a young man of modest means, but he shook up the exclusive world of golf." 
  3. ^ a b Brookline Amateur Wins U.S. Open
  4. ^ Frost, Mark The Greatest Game Ever Played: Harry Vardon, Francis Ouimet, and the Birth of Modern Golf (Hyperion, 2002)
  5. ^ Francis D. Ouimet profile at www.hickoksports.com
  6. ^ "Ouimet Ties Great English Golfers. Twenty-Year-Old Schoolboy's Wonderful Performance in National Open Golf". New York Times. September 20, 1913. Retrieved January 2, 2011. "An American youth, Francis Ouimet, a stripling scarcely out of his teens, carved a niche for himself in international sporting history here to-day when he tied with England's famous professional golfers, Harry Vardon and Edward Ray, in the final round of the national open championship." 
  7. ^ "Ouimet's Aged Mother Is Happy, But His Health Is First Thought. New Golf Champion's 70-Year-Old Parent Hopeful That Her Son Did Not Tax His Strength--Tells How He Swang at Stones With Home-Made Clubs at 4". New York Times. September 6, 1931. Retrieved January 3, 2011. "To the rest of the world Francis Ouimet is a battle-scarred veteran, who returned from a golfers' Valhalla to win another national amateur championship, but to his sweet-faced ..." 
  8. ^ The Greatest Game Ever Played: Harry Vardon, Francis Ouimet, and the Birth of Modern Golf, by Mark Frost, 2003; Gettin' to the Dance Floor: An Oral History of American Golf, chapter on Sarazen, by Al Barkow, 1986
  9. ^ "Marblehead's Lynch tabbed for prestigious award". North Shore Golf Blog. April 10, 2010. Retrieved September 12, 2011. 
  10. ^ Scott catalog # 2377.
  11. ^ "Francis Ouimet Marries". New York Times. September 12, 1918. Retrieved January 3, 2011. "Lieutenant Francis Ouimet, former amateur national golf champion, and Stella Sullivan were married in Boston ..." 
  12. ^ "Francis Ouimet, Golfer, Is Dead; First Amateur to Win U.S. Open; Gardener's Son Who Won in 1913 Showed Sport Wasn't Only for the Affluent". United Press International. September 2, 1967. Retrieved October 18, 2010. "Francis D. Ouimet, who amazed the sports world 54 years ago by upsetting Britain's two greatest golfers to win the United States Open, died today. He was 74 years old." 

General references[edit]

External links[edit]