Bobby Locke defends his title
Despite the undoubted success of the first Open played at Troon in 1923 there was a long gap of 27 years before the Championship once again descended on Scotland’s west coast. In the post-war period few Americans were attracted to The Open and only Johnny Bulla and leading amateur Frank Stranahan posed any kind of trans-Atlantic threat. But home players were now facing a new challenge from Australia, South Africa, Europe and South America.
The run of British victories in pre and post-war Opens, broken only by the success of Sam Snead at St Andrews in 1946, had ended the year before at Royal St George’s when the stately and rather portly figure of Bobby Locke won a play-off against the luckless Irishman Harry Bradshaw. And it was Locke who again led from the front with rounds of 69-72-70-68 for a new Championship record aggregate of 279 and a two-shot victory over Argentinian Roberto de Vicenzo. Fred Daly, the champion in 1947, had a marvellous last day with rounds of 69-66 to jump into a tie for third place with Dai Rees. Stranahan also closed with a 66 to share eighth place.
A strong part of Locke’s game was always a fine putting touch, and the first-class condition of Troon’s greens helped him to victory. Every Christmas from that year onward he sent a card to the club which always bore the same message: ‘Best wishes for this year and the future. Still the best greens in the world.’
It was during the 1950 Championship that the 123-yard eighth hole, known as the Postage Stamp because of its tiny green, gained its fearsome reputation. German Amateur champion Herman Tissies was bunkered to the left of the green. Five shots later he found more sand on the opposite flank and his eventual recovery flew beyond the hillock that protects the left side of the hole. Two more shots put him back in the bunker which started his problems and he finally holed out in 15.