Willie Park Jr.
Born: February 4, 1864
Died: May 22, 1925
Birthplace: Edinburgh, Scotland
The son of top-flight golfer and golf businessman Willie Park, Sr., Park Jr. would go on to put his own name in the history books.
Park Jr. was exposed to golf early and often. His father made custom-design golf clubs and golf balls. The Parks did their business on the Musselburgh Links, one of golf’s top tracks at the time and a regular stop in the British Open rotation before being replaced by Muirfield.
The father and son found natural rivals on the course and in club-design with the Morris family (Old Tom Morris and Young Tom Morris) of St. Andrews, Scotland. Park Sr. won the inaugural Open Championship and three more titles. His brother, Mongo Park, also won the Open Championship.
Willie Jr. was determined to emulate the success of his father and uncle. He would play in his first Open Championship as a 16-year old in 1880. In 1887, Willie Jr. would win the Open Championship, overcoming a five shot deficit going into the final 18 holes. Two years later, Park Jr. would add a second title, defeating Andrew Kirkaldy in a play-off.
Park would finish his career with a dozen top ten performances in golf’s oldest Major championship.
Park was sometimes erratic of the tee, but he was well known for a top-notch short game. His putting was especially good and a big part of the success he enjoyed during his career.
The prize money during this era of golf was remarkably less than what today’s professionals receive. Even the top players of the day depended on other jobs to supplement their winnings. Park Jr. took over his father’s club making business. Park Jr. received several patents for club design and also began exporting his clubs outside of Scotland.
Park Jr. also was an accomplished author, writing a very well-received book entitled The Game of Golf in 1896. He also authored The Art of Putting in 1920.