Profile: Irish Golfer Hugh Boyle

Hugh Boyle was an Irish golfer who won tournaments on the British pro circuit mostly in the late 1960s, as well as playing in the Far East and Africa. He has the distinction of being the first golfer from Britain or Ireland to win in Japan.

Date of birth: January 28, 1936

Place of birth: Omeath, County Louth, Ireland

Date of death: May 23, 2015

Boyle's Biggest Wins

  • 1966 Yomiuri International
  • 1966 Daks Tournament
  • 1967 Irish PGA Championship
  • 1967 Blaxnit Tournament
  • 1970 Irish Dunlop Tournament
  • 1975 Midland Professional Championship

In the Majors

Boyle played in only one of the majors, the British Open, and he played that tournament all but one year from 1962 through 1974. In those 12 appearances, however, Boyle made the cut only four times. When he did make the cut, though, he played pretty well. His best finish was a tie for eighth in the 1967 Open Championship. Boyle's other finishes were tied 27th in 1962, tied 12th in 1965 and tied 18th in 1973.

More About Hugh Boyle

Hugh Boyle was born in Ireland, but his family moved to Birmingham, England, when High was just two years old. He later got into golf through caddying.

And after getting into the game, he quickly got serious: By the age of 16, in 1952, Boyle had turned pro. Before he gained notice for his tournament play, Boyle served in various club roles. For a while he was an assistant professional at Coombe Hill Golf Club in England under 1939 British Open winner Dick Burton (future World Golf Hall of Fame member Neil Coles was also on Burton's staff). And for a time Boyle served as golf coach for the Pakistan Golf Union.

He was 29 years old before he really gained national notice for tournament golf. That happened at the 1965 Senior Service Trophy when Boyle fired a 61, at the time the second-best score recorded in any British pro tournament. He finished as runner-up to Christy O'Connor, the first of several second-place showings for Boyle over the years on the British and European circuits.

The year 1966 marked Boyle's breakthrough into the winner's circle. It happened at the Yomiuri International, part of the Far East Circuit, in Japan. Boyle thus became the first golfer from the British Isles to win a pro golf tournament in Japan.

He also won the Daks Tournament on the the British circuit that year. But 1967 was Boyle's best year. He he won his home title, the Irish PGA Championship (aka the Irish Close) plus the Blaxnit Tournament in Ireland, and finished second in the British circuit's biggest tournament other than the Open Championship, the British PGA Championship. And he had his best showing in the Open, finishing eighth.

Boyle represented Ireland in the World Cup in 1967, and made the Great Britain & Ireland team for the 1967 Ryder Cup. But Boyle went 0-3-0 in that event, running up against Arnold Palmer in two doubles losses, and falling to reigning Masters champ Gay Brewer in singles. There was a highlight for Boyle, however: He was one of several members of the GB&I team taken for a flight by Palmer in Palmer's private plane, with Palmer at the controls. Palmer did some steep climbs and dives and buzzed the golf course. A few of his passengers, Palmer said, without naming names, "lost their cookies."

Boyle's next win wasn't until the 1970 Irish Dunlop Tournament. He was still 10th on the British circuit's Order of Merit in 1971 (the year before the European Tour was founded), but started sliding after that. His only other win of note beyond 1970 was in a regional PGA tournament, the 1975 Midland Professional Championship. There were a few close calls, however. Boyle was runner-up in the 1972 Irish Professional Championship. And he finished second on the Safari Circuit in Africa at the 1973 Mufulira Open (the event where, in 1976, an English pro was murdered by the man in whose house he was staying during the tournament).

Peter Alliss once wrote of Boyle that he "was a dedicated practicer, but his game was sometimes marred by a fiery temperament." The strength of Boyle's golf game was accuracy — he was known for hitting it down the middle.

In 1983, Boyle took over as head professional at Royal Wimbledon Golf Club, and served in that position until 2002. He was 79 years old at the time of his death in 2015.

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