Horton Smith 1908 – 1963
Horton Smith was born in Springfield, Missouri in 1908. He grew up in Springfield eventually attending Southwest Missouri State before turning pro in 1926. Soon after he won his first tournament, the Oklahoma City Open in 1928. In 1929 he won eight titles. This was an era of expansion and reorganization for professional golf.
FACT: In September 2013, Horton’s green jacket, awarded in 1949 for his Masters wins in 1934 and 1936, sold at auction for over $682,000; the highest price ever paid for a piece of golf memorabilia.
The PGA Tour was founded in 1934, and Smith was one of the leading players of the early years of the tour, topping the money list in 1936. He accumulated 32 PGA Tour titles in total, the last of them in 1941, and his two major championshipscame at the Masters, at the inaugural tournament in 1934 and again in 1936.
Fact: Horton Smith was the last man to defeat Bobby Jones in competition prior to Jones’ 1930 retirement.
Smith joined the United States Air Force during World War II. After the war, he became the club pro at Detroit Golf Club in 1946, where he remained until his death. He was president of the PGA of America from 1952 to 1954, and continued the exclusion of black professionals in PGA events. Smith died in 1963 at the age of 55 from a battle with Hodgkins disease.