Laurie Auchterlonie, Early U.S. Open Winner

golfer Laurie Auchterlonie
Laurie Auchterlonie was part of a famous St. Andrews golf family, and also part of the wave of late 19th/early 20th century Scottish golfers who moved to the United States as golf was growing there. He was a winner of the U.S. Open in that tournament's first decade.

Full name: Lawrence Auchterlonie

Date of birth: December 8, 1867

Place of birth: St. Andrews, Scotland

Date and place of death: January 20, 1948 in St. Andrews, Scotland

Nickname: Laurie, which is the name by which he went.

His U.S. Open Win and Other Major Finishes

The eighth time the U.S. Open was played, it took place at Garden City Golf Club in New York in 1902. And Laurie Auchterlonie won it in record-setting fashion: His 307 score was the lowest to date for a 72-hole U.S. Open (that score was tied the following year and bettered in 1904).

The 1902 U.S. Open was only the fourth one played over four, 18-hole rounds (72 holes total). Auchterlonie's scores of 78-78-74-77 made him the first golfer to break 80 in all four rounds of a U.S. Open.

And Auchterlonie was also the first U.S. Open winner to play with the new, rubber-cored Haskell ball, which was in the process of taking over from gutta percha ("gutty") golf balls.

Auchterlonie was in second place following the first round, but moved into the lead by two strokes at the halfway point. Following the third round, he stretched his lead to five strokes. And Auchterlonie wound up winning by six over runners-up Stewart Gardner and Walter Travis.

Auchterlonie played in the U.S. Open 11 times, first in 1899, last in 1909, and had seven Top 10 finishes. His next-best finish was a tie for third in 1906. He was also fourth in 1900, tied fourth in 1904 and tied fifth in 1901. Auchterlonie also had three appearances in the British Open, all as an amateur and all Top 20 finishes. The last, in 1895, was his best finish, tied 13th, and he earned low amateur honors that year.

More About Laurie Auchterlonie

Laurie Auchterlonie was born in St. Andrews and into a family that produced not just one, but two major championship winners. The Auchterlonies also became a famous name in clubmaking. Laurie's brother David Auchterlonie trained in clubmaking under the legendary craftsman Robert Forgan. Brothers Willie and Tom were also involved in the family clubmaking business. Laurie Auchterlonie trained in clubmaking, too, and was involved in the family business, but along with Willie is better known for his playing ability.

Laurie Auchterlonie's first tournament performance of note was his entry in the 1888 British Open, which he also played in 1891 and 1895, all three times as an amateur. He played in the British Amateur Championship several times, too, and reached the semifinals in 1895.

His amateur career was topped off in 1897 when he won the Dundee Evening Telegraph Cup, which served as the unofficial Scottish amateur championship. And he also won the Scottish Foursomes championship.

Auchterlonie, in 1899, joined a wave of Scottish golfers moving to America to take club jobs in the growing USA golf scene. And all of Auchterlonie's professional tournament career took place in America.

At age 32, he arrived in Chicago in 1899 and took a job working in the pro shop at Glen View Club. Within a couple years Auchterlonie was promoted to head pro at the club, and held that position for a decade.

Auchterlonie first entered the U.S. Open in 1899, and that year finished second to Willie Smith (losing an 18-hole playoff) in the inaugural Western Open. The U.S. Open and Western Open were the two biggest golf tournaments in the United States, and it is Auchterlonie's play in those two events that makes him noteworthy from a historical perspective.

In 1901, Auchterlonie won the Western Open, and the following year won the U.S. Open. In addition to his 1899 playoff loss, Auchterlonie was runner-up in the Western Open in 1903, two strokes behind Willie Smith's brother Alex Smith.

In 1904, the 41-year-old Auchterlonie finished fourth in the U.S. Open and third in the Western Open. And although he had some good finishes in those two tournaments still to come, he never really challenged for a win in either again.

In 1911, Auchterlonie returned to Scotland. In 1925, at the age of 57, Auchterlonie recorded a score of 68 on The Old Course, which tied the then-professional record earlier established by George Duncan. He was 80 years old when he died in 1948.

Laurie's younger brother Willie Auchterlonie won the 1893 British Open. When Willie had a son, he named the boy after his brother, and that Laurie Auchterlonie later served (as had Willie) as honorary professional to the R&A.

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