Ossie Pickworth: Bio of Australian Golfer

Cover of Ossie Pickworth golf book
Ossie Pickworth was one of the winningest golfers in the Australian pro ranks in the late 1940s, early 1950s, but he almost never played outside of his home country. He was also one of the most colorful players, a super-fast-playing, smooth-swinging man from Manly with a cigarette dangling and a colorful (sometimes off-color) quip at the ready.

Full name: Horace Henry Alfred Pickworth

Date of birth: January 17, 1918

Place of birth: Manly, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Date and place of death: September 23, 1969 in Parkville, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Nickname: Ossie

Pickworth's Biggest Wins

Ossie Pickworth had one win on the British PGA/European circuit that predated the modern European Tour:
  • 1950 Irish Open
He had many more wins in his native Australia, including these:
  • 1946 Australian Open
  • 1947 Australian Open
  • 1947 Australian PGA Championship
  • 1947 Ampol Tournament
  • 1947 Lakes Open
  • 1947 Dunlop Cup
  • 1948 Australian Open
  • 1948 Victorian PGA Championship
  • 1948 Ampol Tournament (April)
  • 1948 Ampol Tournament (November — yes, this tournament was played twice in the same year)
  • 1948 Western Australian Open
  • 1948 Adelaide Advertiser Tournament
  • 1948 Dunlop £200 Cup
  • 1948 Peninsula £100 Pro Purse
  • 1949 Ampol Tournament
  • 1949 Victoria Park Pro Purse
  • 1949 Dunlop Cup
  • 1950 Victorian Closed Championship
  • 1950 Dunlop Cup
  • 1951 Ampol Tournament
  • 1951 Queensland Open
  • 1951 Dunlop Cup
  • 1952 Queensland Open
  • 1953 Australian PGA Championship
  • 1953 Ampol Tournament
  • 1954 Australian Open
  • 1954 Victorian PGA Championship
  • 1954 Liquor Industry £100 Tournament
  • 1955 Australian PGA Championship
  • 1955 Victorian PGA Championship
  • 1956 Victorian PGA Championship
  • 1957 Victorian Open

More About Ossie Pickworth

Peter Alliss called Pickworth "a superb putter" and wrote that "(h)is fairway wood play was very highly rated, Henry Cotton thinking him the best in the world. He had a curious dip of the knees coming into the ball, which he felt helped to keep the hands low through the hitting area and beyond."

As a person and club pro, Pickworth was uncouth, funny, with a knack for, ahem, "colorful" language. As a golfer, Pickworth often appeared nonchalant, and was a very fast player. (Once asked why he played so fast, he replied, "My feet ache from walking.")

"One of the quickest shotmakers in the game and seldom without a cigarette dangling from his lips, Pickworth, who wore a tie, sleeveless jumper and sleeves buttoned to the wrists, made the game look ridiculously easy." — Author Terry Smith in his book, The Champions
Pickworth gave up school when he was 14 years old and started caddying at Manly Golf Club near Sydney, the same club that Jim Ferrier would also come out of. In 1934, Pickworth was made an assistant pro at the club, and in 1938 he won a regional assistants' tournament. He won another seven such regional titles before enlisting in the Australian military in 1940.

During World War II, Pickworth spent four years as a cook in the Navy, serving, among other places, in Borneo. He took pride in his skills as a cook for the rest of his life.

He was discharged in 1946 and was playing out of Manly Golf Club again at the time of his first Australian Open win in 1946. Pickworth repeated as champ in 1947, then again in 1948 — to this day Pickworth is the only golfer to win the Australian Open three consecutive years.

His 1948 victory was one of his sweetest: He beat his arch-rival Ferrier in an 18-hole playoff to earn it. Pickworth and Ferrier were not friendly rivals. The Australian newspaper The Age once explained that "Pickworth had begun his golfing journey as an assistant pro and a caddie, and had to fetch balls from the range hit by Ferrier. ... Pickworth's future wife, who worked as a kitchen hand at the club, was required to clean Ferrier's shoes as part of her duties." Once, during an argument between the two, Pickworth jumped onto a table and shouted at Ferrier, "I'm the king here!"

By 1948, Pickworth had moved from Manly Golf Club to the country's most prestigious club, Royal Melbourne, where his salty language and back-slapping jocularity didn't go over well with the then-head pro, or with some of the most tony members.

But Pickworth was always a hit with golf fans and supporters. There wasn't much money in Australian golf at the time, and Pickworth was notorious for taking his tournament winnings directly to a bar, where he would treat everyone in the house.

Pickworth rarely traveled outside of Australia to play tournaments. In 1950, however, he decided to try to the British PGA circuit, and there he proved his talents. Pickworth wound up third on the British Order of Merit that year, won the Irish Open, lost in a playoff at the Daily Mail Tournament, and was runner-up to John Panton at the Silver King Tournament. His bona fides proved, Pickworth headed back home to Australia.

"He was a jovial fellow, bordering on the cheeky. At his peak, which I guess was from about 1945 to 1950, he was a beautiful player. He was incredibly consistent. He wasn't a long hitter, but he was a daring putter and he was better than his contemporaries around that time." — Peter Thomson
Pickworth left Royal Melbourne in 1953 and moved to Cranbourne Golf Club outside of Melbourne in 1954, the same year he also won his fourth and final Australian Open title. By that time, Pickworth had also won his sixth title in the Ampol Tournament, one of the country's top events. In 1955, he added his third Australian PGA Championship, and in 1956 his fourth Victorian PGA Championsip.

In addition to his wins, Pickworth finished second in the Australian Open twice, in the Australian PGA Championship once, and in the Ampol Tournament three times.

Pickworth was president of the PGA of Australia from 1955-58, and represented Australia (along with Peter Thomson) in the World Cup of Golf in Canada in 1957.

There is a legend that Pickworth gave up tournament golf after winning the lottery. And there is some truth to that legend: In 1957, Pickworth won £10,000, a very large sum at the time, in an Australian lottery. He could afford to travel to the World Cup in Canada only because he'd won the lottery.

And the lottery surely made it easier for him, one year later in 1958, to retire from competitive golf. He felt his health starting to falter a bit (a reliance on beer and cigarettes catching up to him), and wanted to spend more time with his family.

After tournament golf ended, Pickworth still played golf socially, worked drumming up business for a hotel, and owned a bar. In 1968, he was made an honorary lifetime member of the PGA of Australia. Pickworth was only 51 years old when he died the following year; the cause of death was chronic hypertensive renal failure.

Pickworth was the author of the instructional book Golf the Pickworth Way, published in 1949.

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