Born St Andrews, Fife (1872 to 1963). One of the youngest to win the Open, Willie Auchterlonie-alas for Scotland was one of the last Scottish-born players resident in Scotland to have won the championship. After J.H. Taylor’s dazzling first round of 75, Auchterlonie went into the lead after two rounds (78, 81) and his 81, 82 was good enough to give him a two-stroke margin over amateur Johnny Laidlay. It says something about his temperament that he was able to score so well after recording 5, 8, 6 and 6 on Prestwick’s par-4 opening hole.
Having served his clubmaking apprenticeship, Auchterlonie won the Open with clubs he made himself (only seven and it is claimed he used only five!) and started his own business, which became D. & W. Auchterlonie. He featured amongst the leaders in the Open only once again, being fifth in 1900. He was far more devoted to club making and remarked: ‘It’s an awful empty life hitting golf balls every day; you are not giving much service’ – not a thought that would be expressed by many modern professionals.
In 1935 he succeeded Andrew Kirkaldy as honorary professional to the R&A and in 1950, with James Braid and J .H. Taylor, he was the first to be made an honorary member of the club. Willie’s son Laurie, who also became an excellent club maker and was considered an authority on the history of the craft, was made honorary professional on his father’s death.
Open Champions at Prestwick
Extract taken from “British Open Champions” by Michael Hobbs 1991.