Alfonso Angelini: Bio of the Italian Golfer

Alfonso Angelini was one of the "Three Musketeers" of post-World War II Italian golf. He won national opens across Europe in the pre-European Tour days of the continental golf circuit.

Date of birth: June 26, 1918

Place of birth: Rome, Italy

Date of death: 1995

Nickname: Lillo

Angelini's Biggest Wins

  • 1945 Rome Open
  • 1955 Dutch Open
  • 1957 Swiss Open
  • 1962 Portuguese Open
  • 1966 Swiss Open
  • 1966 Portuguese Open
  • 1968 Lancia d'Oro
  • 1970 Lancia d'Oro
Angelini was also an 11-time winner of the Italian Native Open, in 1947, 1951-53, 1958-58, 1961-62, 1964-65 and 1969.

In the Majors

Angelini played The Masters once, missing the cut in 1964. He played the British Open six times, making the cut twice, with a best finish of tied 12th in 1954. He never played the U.S. Open or PGA Championship.

More About Alfonso Angelini

Alfonso Angelini's first significant professional tournament victory was the 1945 Rome Open, which was played while World War II was still ongoing, mere months after the Allies had liberated Italy from the Nazis. The tournament's field was filled with American and British servicemen, among them future Masters champ Tommy Bolt.

There must have been some awkwardness in the situation given than many of the Italian pros in the field had recently been the enemy: They had served in the Italian Army. Angelini himself had served in Russia, where the Italian Army supported (or attempted to) the Nazi invasion. But Angelini was discharged after suffering frostbite in Russia and losing a few of his toes.

And there he was, a year later, his country freed from Mussolini and under Allied control, playing in a professional golf tournament in Rome. And he won it, beating countryman Cesidio Croce in a playoff.

Once described as "a portly but handsome man" who "had a strong swing for such a small man," Angelini's success in golf relied on a terrific putting stroke. He didn't win another major European tournament outside Italy for 10 years, but during those 10 years, he won the Italian Native Open (open only to those born in Italy) in 1947, 1951, 1952 and 1954. He ultimately won that title 11 times, not last until 1969.

The biggest miss in his career was never winning the Italian Open. Angelini finished runner-up four times: He lost a playoff to countryman Ugo Grappasonni in 1950; was second by one stroke to Jimmy Adams in 1951; was runner-up to Peter Alliss in 1958; and was again second by one stroke in 1959, this time to Peter Thomson.

From 1955 through 1966, Angelini won five European national opens (just not his own): Two Swiss, two Portuguese, and, to start it off, the 1955 Dutch Open. There he won a 36-hole playoff against home-country favorite Gerard de Wit, 142 to 143.

Angelini's final two wins on the European circuit of the era were in the Italian tournament the Lancia d'Oro in 1968 and 1970, the latter at the age of 52. By that point Angelini was eligible for senior tournaments, but few existed in Europe at the time. One that did, and the most important of those that did, was the PGA Seniors Open. In 1972 Angelini and Ken Bousfield tied for the 72-hole lead in that event, but Bousfield emerged victorious in the playoff.

Throughout the 1950s and 1950s, Angelini also represented Italy in international team events. The Joy Cup pitted a Great Britain team against the Rest of Europe, and Angelini was on Team Rest of Europe in 1954, 1955 and 1958.

In the much-better-known World Cup, Angelini played for Team Italy 13 times — every year from 1955 through 1965, plus 1968 and 1969.

Angelini and his countrymen Ugo Grappasonni and Aldo Casera were famous friends known as the three musketeers of Italian golf. Together, they founded the Italian PGA in 1962. Angelini and Grappasonni were teaching pros together for many years at Golf Club Villa d'Este in Como. Angelini was also the pro for a time at Golf Club Varese in Luvinate, and later served as pro at Swiss clubs.

A story told about Angelini's club pro work by Peter Alliss goes like this:

"He used frequently to play with the wife of ex-King Leopold of the Belgians, the Princess de Rethy, who would encourage him by giving him different amounts of money for various scores. On one occasion, Alfonso asked what a 64 would be worth. An Alfa Romeo, said the Princess. He got it."
In 1964 Angelini's instructional book, simply titled Golf, was published. A year later he was featured in an episode of Shell's Wonderful World of Golf playing Phil Rodgers.

When the Italian PGA created the Italian Golf Hall of Fame in 2013, Angelini was honored as one of the inaugural members.

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