Francis Ouimet was a pioneer of the American golf scene, a lifelong amateur whose unlikely victory in the 1913 U.S. Open is widely credited with growing the game of golf in the United States.
Date of birth: May 8, 1893
Place of birth: Brookline, Massachussetts
Date of death: Sept. 3, 1967
Nickname: Ouimet is sometimes referred to as "the father of amateur golf" in the United States.
• U.S. Open: 1913
• U.S. Amateur: 1914, 1931
Awards and Honors:
• Member, World Golf Hall of Fame
• 8-time member, U.S. team, Walker Cup
• Captain, U.S. Walker Cup team, 1932, 1934
• When Francis Ouimet won the 1913 U.S. Open, he used as his caddie Eddie Lowery. Lowery was 10 years old.
• In 1951, Ouimet became the first American to serve as captain at the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews.
Francis Ouimet Biography:
Francis Ouimet put American golf on the map. In the early 20th Century, golf was dominated by the English and Scots. In 1913, the great Harry Vardon and his British compatriot Ted Ray were in America for the U.S. Open. Ouimet, an unknown, 20-year-old amateur and former caddie, forced the formidable duo into a playoff.
And when Ouimet won that playoff, he became an instant folk hero in the U.S.
A biography of Ouimet on the website of the Francis Ouimet Scholarship Fund says: "There were very few players in America, no public courses, and the game was confined mostly to the wealthy. Ouimet's victory changed all of that. His victory and unlikely background combined to create an inspirational moment. Within ten years the number of players tripled."
Furthering the folklore, Ouimet's win came at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass., a course Ouimet had grown up close to and had caddied at. A former caddie winning the U.S. Open? America was ready to embrace golf.
Says the World Golf Hall of Fame: "Ouimet's stunning triumph captured the imagination of sports fan across the globe, sweeping away the notion that golf was a stuffy game for the old and rich."
Ouimet's accomplishments extended beyond just that one event. Twice Ouimet won the U.S. Amateur. After winning the 1914 U.S. Amateur, Ouimet opened a sportings goods store and was banned by the USGA from amateur competition. That ruling was overturned a couple years later. Ouimet won another U.S. Amateur at age 38 in 1931.
Ouimet never turned pro. Today, the Francis Ouimet Scholarship Fund is considered "The Golf Charity of Massachusetts," and is one of the largest independent scholarship organizations in New England. The Ouimet Fund was founded in 1949.
Ouimet's impact on golf is detailed in the book, Greatest Game Ever Played: Harry Vardon, Francis Ouimet, And The Birth Of Modern Golf () by Mark Frost. And that book was the basis for the movie The Greatest Game Ever Played () starring Shia LaBeouf as Ouimet.
Francis Ouimet was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1974.