Bio of Golfer Jimmy Adams

Jimmy Adams was a Scottish golfer who won multiple times on the British and European circuits of the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s. He was distinguished by having a very long backswing that went well past parallel, ala John Daly.

Date of birth: October 21, 1910

Place of birth: Troon, Scotland

Date and place of death: January 9, 1986, in London, England

Adams' Biggest Wins

  • 1933 Irish Professional Championship
  • 1936 Penfold Scottish Open
  • 1946 British Masters*
  • 1948 Silver King Tournament*
  • 1949 Dutch Open
  • 1949 Belgian Open
  • 1951 Italian Open
  • 1952 Lakes Open
(*Tournaments denoted with an asterisk were ties. At the 1946 British Masters, Adams shared first place with Bobby Locke; at the 1948 Silver King, with Charlie Ward. Playoffs were not held.)

Adams in the British Open

Jimmy Adams never played The Masters, the U.S. Open or the American PGA Championship, so the only major he participated in was the British Open. And while he didn't win the Open Championship, Adams had five Top 10 finishes, four of those in the Top 5, and two of those runner-up.

Adams was second in the 1936 British Open and in the 1938 British Open. In the 1936 Open, Adams was the co-leader after the second round and again after the third round. He shot 73 in the final round, but Alf Padgham carded a 71 for the win. Adams finished one stroke behind.

In 1938, Adams was the first-round co-leader and was in solo third going into the final round. He carded a 78 in the final round, which was actually a decent score in bad conditions, and finished two strokes behind Reg Whitcombe. Adams was one of only three golfers to score under 80 in all four rounds that year.

Adams first played the British Open in 1930 and last played in 1959, when he finished tied for 20th at the age of 49. His other Top 10 finishes were in 1948 (tied eighth), 1951 (tied fourth) and 1954 (tied fifth).

The Tooting Bec Challenge Cup is awarded every year to the the British or Irish member of the PGA who has the best round in the Open. Adams earned the cup in 1949 (67) and 1951 (68).

More About Jimmy Adams

Jimmy Adams was a large man for his golf era, and it seems that observers were frequently surprised by how limber he was and how far back he took the club on the backswing. He was also known as an excellent putter.

The Encyclopedia of Golf (Donald Steel/Peter Ryder, 1975) stated that Adams' successes "owed much to his beautifully smooth putting stroke." And, from that same book: "He was an interesting player because his unusually long swing displayed remarkable lissomness for a person of substantial build but, although the club went far beyond the horizontal at the top of the backswing, it was a lovely, easy swing."

In a club history on the Wentworth Club website, Adams is noted for "a long and languid golf swing, remarkable for one of his somewhat ample build and girth. Indeed, it was only possible to swing the way he did because he was double-jointed." (Note: Adams does not appear all that large by modern standards.)

Adams grew up near the famous links at Troon, and as a boy he caddied for 1883 British Open winner Willie Fernie there. He first gained national notice when he was runner-up in the 1932 Scottish Professional Championship. A year later, the 1933 Irish PGA was his first national victory.

In winning the 1939 Scottish Open, Adams beat Tom Collinge by 11 strokes in a 36-hole playoff with scores of 68 and 69. His last win of note, although not a tour event, was the 1955 Southern Professional Championship.

The period from 1949 (when he won the Dutch and Belgian national opens) through 1951 (when he took the Italian) was Adams' best. Those were his only wins, but he was frequently in the mix and had multiple runner-up finishes. Those included seconds at the Daily Telegraph Foursomes Tournament in 1949 and 1951; in the 1949 News Chronicle Tournament, 1949 Spalding Tournament, 1950 Spanish Open, 1951 French Open and 1951 Dunlop Tournament.

Adams lost in the championship match of the 1951 British PGA Match Play Championship to Harry Weetman in 1951, one of three times he reached the final without winning that prestigious event.

Adams never spent any significant time playing golf in the United States. But as part of the 1951 Ryder Cup team that traveled to America, he entered and finished fourth in the PGA Tour North and South Open that year.

Adams was on the Team Great Britain & Ireland Ryder Cup squad four times: 1947, 1949, 1951 and 1953. In the 1949 Ryder Cup, he went 2-0-0 with a singles win over Johnny Palmer.

He also had a great career as a club pro, working at multiple prestigious clubs. In 1949, he replaced Archie Compston as pro at Wentworth Club, a position he held until 1952. Then Adams went to Australia for a year as the pro at Royal Sydney (during which time he won The Lakes Tournament). Returning to the U.K., Adams took over from Max Faulkner as the pro at Royal Mid-Surrey Golf Club in 1953 and held that position until 1969.

In the 1957 golf instruction book Golfing Technique in Pictures, Adams authored the chapter on grip and stance.

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