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Francis Ouimet is considered America’s First Golf Hero and one of the most important figures in the history of golf.
Ouimet was a relatively unknown 20-year-old amateur and former caddie, when he tied Harry Vardon and Ted Ray after 72 holes at The Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts. Ouimet had grown up in a modest home across the street from the 17th hole at TCC, and was self-taught, learning to play in his backyard.
Prior to his victory, golf was dominated by the British and Scots. There were very few players in America, virtually no public courses, and the game was confined mostly to the wealthy or elite. Ouimet’s victory changed all of that. His victory and unlikely background combined to create an inspirational moment. Within ten years the number of American players had tripled and many new courses were built, including public courses.
Another great moment in golf occurred just before the start of the Open playoff. Francis Ouimet turned down the offer of an experienced TCC member who wished to caddie for him, deciding instead to stay with ten-year-old Eddie Lowery. The photo of Ouimet and Lowery marching down the fairway together is one of the most famous in golf history, and symbolizes Ouimet’s great victory and kindness to a young person. As one of golf’s most enduring images, it was selected by the United States Golf Association as the logo for its own Centennial celebration.
Ouimet went on to a distinguished amateur golf career. He won the U.S. Amateur in 1914 and 1931. He also played on the first eight Walker Cup Teams and was Captain of the next four, compiling an 11-1 team record. Revered as a golfing goodwill ambassador, he became the first American elected Captain of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews in 1951.
Francis Ouimet is one of the most honored players in history. He has been named to every golf Hall of Fame, has a room named after him in the USGA Museum, and he is also one of only four golfers to have a U.S. Commemorative stamp issued in his name. The 1963 and 1988 U.S. Opens at The Country Club celebrated the 50th and 75th anniversaries of his dramatic U.S. Open win. The U.S. Senior Open Trophy is also named after him, as are several others around the country. More recently, the Francis Ouimet Scholarship Fund began a Francis Ouimet Award for Lifelong Contributions to Golf.