Horton Smith (2 Masters, 5 Ryder Cup's)
1908 - 1963
Click to view autograph galleryHorton Smith (May 22, 1908 – October 15, 1963) was an American professional golfer, best known as the winner of the first and third Masters Tournaments.
Born in Springfield, Missouri, Smith turned professional in 1926 and won his first tournament, the Oklahoma City Open in 1928. In 1929 he won eight titles. This was an era of expansion and reorganization for professional golf. The PGA Tour was founded in 1934, and Smith was one of the leading players of the early years of the tour, topping the money list in 1936. He accumulated 32 PGA Tour titles in total, the last of them in 1941, and his two major championships came at the Masters, at the inaugural tournament in 1934 and again in 1936.
Smith was a member of five Ryder Cup teams: 1929, 1931, 1933, 1935, and 1937. His career Ryder Cup record was 3–0–1, his only blemish a halved singles match against Bill Cox in 1935 at Ridgewood Country Club in New Jersey. Smith was the only golfer to defeat Bobby Jonesduring the latter's Grand Slam year of 1930, at the stroke play Savannah Open in February. He played in every Masters through 1963, the year of his death.
Smith served in the U.S. Army Air Forces during World War II, served in the special services division coordinating athletics, and was discharged as a captain.
After the war, he became the club pro at Detroit Golf Club in Michigan in 1946, where he remained until his death. He was president of the PGA of America from 1952 to 1954, and continued the exclusion of black professionals in PGA events. (Former boxer Joe Louis was allowed to play in San Diego in January 1952 as an invited amateur.) The "Caucasian only" clause in the PGA of America's constitution was not amended until November 1961.
When he resigned as head professional of Oak Park Country Club in 1936, his elder brother Renshaw (1906–1971) replaced him at the club in River Grove, Illinois.
Smith died in 1963 at age 55 of Hodgkin's disease in Detroit. He had lost a lung to cancer six years earlier, and is buried in his hometown of Springfield, Missouri. He was the first of the former Masters champions to pass away, followed by Craig Wood in 1968 and Jimmy Demaret in 1983.