Ronnie White: The Homebody of Golf

Ronnie White was one of the best British amateur golfers of his era, he just didn't feel the need to play a lot to prove it: He usually didn't even enter the British Amateur. He was a regular on Team GB&I in the Walker Cup, however, and compiled what is easily that side's best record of his time.

Full name: Ronald James White

Date of birth: April 9, 1921

Place of birth: Wallasey, Cheshire, England

Date and place of death: December 17, 2005, in Lancashire, England

Ronnie White's Biggest Wins

These are all amateur tournaments:
  • 1937 Carris Trophy
  • 1947 Daily Telegraph Foursomes Tournament (team event, partnered by Charlie Ward)
  • 1948 Lancashire Amateur Championship
  • 1949 English Amateur
  • 1949 Golf Illustrated Gold Vase
  • 1949 Daily Telegraph Foursomes Tournament (team event, partnered by Reg Horne)
  • 1950 English Amateur Stroke Play Championship
  • 1951 English Amateur Stroke Play Championship
  • 1978 British Seniors Amateur
  • 1979 British Seniors Amateur

White's Walker Cup Record

Ronnie White played in five Walker Cups for the Great Britain & Ireland side (1947, 1949, 1951, 1953, 1955). And Team GB&I earned, total, in those five cups 14 points. White won six of those 14 points (or 6.5 if halved matches counted as a half-point at the time, as they do now).

White's overall record was six wins, three losses and one halve (6-3-1). In the 1949 Walker Cup, GB&I won only two points, both earned by White (and, in the case of his foursomes match, partner Joe Carr).

White won his singles match each of his first four appearances, defeating, in order, Fred Kammer, Willie Turnesa, Charles Coe and Dick Chapman. Against Chapman — who was playing on his home course — White came back from 3-down with six holes to play at the 1953 Walker Cup. Not until his final appearance in 1955 did White lose a singles match (to Harvie Ward).

More About Ronnie White

After World War II, Peter Alliss once wrote, White "was for a short while incomparably the finest English amateur," and also called White "the most professional-looking amateur I have ever seen."

Why, then, did White almost never play the British Amateur Championship? Two reasons: White had a family and he didn't like to leave them to travel to tournaments, not even The Amateur Championship; and, he was very busy with his legal practice as a solicitor. So, most years, he simply didn't have time for much tournament golf.

And The Amateur Championship usually fell at times on the calendar, and locations around the U.K., such that White was unwilling to enter. The USGA once referred to White as "a Liverpool lawyer who cannot find the time to play in the British Amateur."

As a sign of how close to home White usually stuck, consider that the English Amateur he won in 1949 and English Amateur Stroke Play (also called the Brabazon Trophy) he won in 1950 were both played at Formby Golf Club; and the English Amateur Stroke Play he won in 1951 was played at Royal Birkdale. Those two clubs are in Merseyside. Where did White and his family live, and where did he practice law? In Liverpool, Merseyside.

White played The Amateur Championship only twice: In 1946, when it was at Royal Birkdale; and in 1949 at Portmarnock, in Ireland, a rare venture for White.

He also played the British Open only twice, in 1946 and 1961, finishing inside the Top 40 both times. He was low amateur in 1961, when the Open was played at ... Royal Birkdale. Even as a senior golfer he was still sticking mostly close to home: One of the British Senior Amateurs he won was played at Formby.

Perhaps no golfer in the post-World War II era who was considered among the best of his peers in his own time traveled less to tournaments than did Ronnie White.

More tidbits about White: He was 17 years old at the time of his first big win, the Carris Trophy, and was then named captain of the England Boys' International team. ... He probably would have made his Walker Cup debut in 1939, but for the war.

In addition to his one English Amateur win, he was runner-up to Gerald Micklem in 1953. ... He is sometimes referred to in print as Ronald J. White or R.J. White. ... He authored an instructional book, Golf As I Play It, first published in 1953.

White was one of the early proponents of physical fitness for golfers and what we now call "the mental game." He ran daily, jumped rope and lifted weights. He practiced deep-breathing exercises to calm his nerves.

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