Jack Burns was described as a “strapping young fellow” who was a big hitter. Originally from St Andrews, he was the professional at the Warwick Golf Club in England at the time of The Open in 1888 at the Home of Golf, which Burns won in unusual circumstances.
With scores of 87 and 85 he thought he had tied on 172 with Davie Anderson, brother for former three-time Champion Jamie, and Ben Sayers, the clubmaker from North Berwick and three men were expecting to take part in a play-off the following Monday.
However, an R&A member was scrutinising the scorecards at the end of play and discovered that the scores for Burns’s front nine in the first round added up to 46 and not 47 as stated.
Since the player is only responsible for the correct figures for each hole and not the addition, Burns was awarded an 86 for the first round and declared the Champion Golfer on 171 by one stroke.
On a difficult day of strong winds, the decisive part of his victory was Burns going to the turn in 42 in the second round, compared to 45 for Anderson and 46 for Sayers. Burns only played intermittently in The Open and had only one other top-ten finish in seven appearances in total.
Later in life he returned to St Andrews and worked on the railway, which enabled him to say, when asked how he was, that he had never been better: “I haven’t been off the line for years.” Once he retired from the railway, he returned to the Old Course and worked as a caddie.