jim_barnes

Thoughts on Jim Barnes, first PGA Championship Winner

Jim Barnes and Walter Hagen

Jim Barnes and Walter Hagen

As all eyes turn to this year’s 101st PGA Championship at Bethpage Black, golfers can reflect on the winner of the first two PGA Championships (1916 and 1919), England’s Jim Barnes.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of Barnes’ 1919 PGA triumph.  Barnes also won a U.S. Open at Columbia Country Club in Maryland(1921) and an Open Championship at Prestwick(1925) in match play. Those four major championship titles put Barnes on the list of 17 golfers who have won at least three of golf’s four professional majors.  Only, Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, and Tiger Woods have won all four professional majors.

Barnes is the least well known of the players on that list. In 1925 Barnes was the host pro for the Florida Open which was contested at the Tom Bendelow 1921 designed Temple Terrace Golf & Country Club which is part of the Florida Historical Golf Trail and the only Florida 18-hole golf club listed on the National Register of Historic Places from Florida.

It can be argued that Barnes — and Walter Hagen — deserve to be members of the career Grand Slam circle of major championship winners because both Barnes and Hagen won the Western Open and the North and South Opens, both of which were considered ‘majors’ before the creation of the Masters.  Barnes won three Western Opens and two North and South Opens.  Hagen won five Western Opens and three North and South Opens.

Barnes was actually invited to play in the first Masters tournament, but didn’t play.  There’s no official reason why he chose not to travel to Augusta for that inaugural event.  Barnes may not have accepted the invitation because of his somewhat advanced age – 47. During his long and distinguished career Jim generated 28 tournament wins and was an inaugural inductee into the PGA of America Hall of Fame in 1940, and then again in the World Golf of Fame in 1989.

Barnes, born in 1886, grew up in Cornwall and was introduced to golf at the Lelant Golf Links, which is now known as West Cornwall Golf Club. He originally worked as a caddie then became an assistant club maker. After having some success as a golfer Jim moved to the United States in 1906 to pursue his craft. His success as a professional golfer in those early days prompted Golf writer Herbert Warren Wind once to refer to Barnes, Hagen, and Sarazen as being the “American” Triumvirate, discounting amateur Bobby Jones. At the West Cornwall Golf Club the members still celebrate him with Jim Barnes Trophy in a Stableford match ever year.

Now you know the rest of the story.

 

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Mike May is a freelance sports industry writer from Wellington, Florida with 25 years of writing experience on various sports. He writes for multiple media outlets on golf, and travel here in the United States and the British Isles. Mike brings a fresh take to his subjects with his considerable knowledge and work in the industry.

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