Arnaud Massy was the first overseas winner of The Open at Royal Liverpool in 1907. He remains the only Frenchman to win the Claret Jug and no one from continental Europe won again until Seve Ballesteros in 1979. Massy was a pioneer for the game in his home country.
He was born in Biarritz and started as a caddie, while the only clubs he could find to play with were left-handed. As a 21-year-old he moved to North Berwick where he married and practised hard, switching himself round to play right-handed.
He was the first ever winner of each of the French, Belgium and Spanish Opens. He won his national title four times, lastly as a 48-year-old and his third Spanish Open came three years later. He was described as holding himself like a Grenadier and playing with a “ferocious gaiety”.
He was a fine player in the wind which served him well at Hoylake in 1907 when he came from a stroke behind JH Taylor to win by two. Massy was a popular player and his victory was appreciated by public and fellow players alike.
Four years later at Royal St George’s, when he hoped the wind would blow hard enough to uproot all the trees in Sandwich, he got blown away by the brilliance of Harry Vardon.
Massy was trailing by ten strokes when he conceded on the 35th hole of their play-off, sighing: “I cannot play this damn game.” He fought in WWI and later became the professional at Chantaco.
One of his three daughters born to his Scottish-born wife during the 1907 Open was named Margot Hoylake in honour of the victory. After his death in France in 1950, he was buried in Newington Cemetery in Edinburgh, alongside his wife and Margot Hoylake.