Martin Davis - July 19, 2012


Martin Davis is the historian for Golf Channel. Bobby Jones won the first of his three Open Championship titles in 1926 at Royal Lytham & St. Annes and what is interesting is that he almost did not play in The Open Championship that year. He usually did not play in The Open Championship in a Walker Cup year in large part because of the expense of making the trip from the United States. He went over to Britain to play in the British Amateur and decided to stay to try to qualify for The Open Championship. It was the first year of sectional qualifying and he shot rounds of 66 and 68 to make the field. When he won at Lytham, he became the first American amateur to win The Open Championship and the first amateur to win in many years.


Seve Ballesteros’ two wins at Royal Lytham bookend his more famous Open Championship win at St. Andrews in 1984 but both 1979 and 1988 are known for famous shots. In 1979, he hit that amazing shot from the car park to make birdie on his way to his first Major title and in 1988, he got up and down at 18 on his way to his fifth and final Major win.


In 1926, the final two rounds of The Open Championship were played over one day. After his morning round, Jones decided to go into town for a quiet lunch instead of sitting in a more noisy clubhouse. Upon returning to Royal Lytham, the guard at the gate refused to let him in so Jones went and bought a ticket to get back in the gates. As a result, Jones became the first and probably only Open Champion to ever buy a ticket to get into the tournament.


Peter Thomson, Bobby Locke, Tom Watson, and Jack Nicklaus are all on his short list of the best links golfers of all-time in his opinion but the best was Harry Vardon. Everyone on this list has many merits but in his mind, the 6-time Open Champion Harry Vardon was and still is the best links golfer.