Horton Smith

    Born: May 22, 1908

    Died: October 15, 1963

    Birthplace: Springfield, MO

    College: State Teacher’s College (MO)

    Turned Pro: 1926

    Horton Smith was born in Missouri in 1908. He turned professional when he was 18 years old in 1926, some eight years before the founding of the PGA Tour.

    Smith was one of the dominant players on the fledgling tour. He won the money title in 1936 and finished his career with 32 victories. Smith’s two biggest wins occurred at Augusta National where he won the inaugural 1934 Masters Tournament and the 1936 Masters.

    Another lesser-known but impressive fact of Smith’s career was his victory over Bobby Jones in 1930 at the Savannah Open. It was Jones’ only defeat that year in a season that saw Jones win the U.S. Amateur, the U.S. Open, the British Amateur and the Open Championship.

    Smith was a fixture of every U.S. Ryder Cup team from 1929 to 1937. He came close to victory in the other Major championships. He finished 3rd at the U.S. Open in 1930 and a decade later in 1940. In 1928, he reached the semi-finals of the PGA Championship (a match play tournament until 1958).

    Smith served as president of PGA of America in the early 1950’s where a part of his legacy unfortunately included working to exclude African-American players from participating in PGA events.

    After his competitive playing days, Smith served as club professional at Detroit Country Club until his death from Hodgkin’s disease in 1963.