Hassan Hassanein: Profile of the Golfer

Hassan Hassanein was one of the first golfers from Africa (other than South Africans) to make a mark on the international golf scene. He won multiple times in Europe, but died in a horrible accident inside his own house.

Date of birth: 1916 (specific date unknown)

Place of birth: Cairo, Egypt

Date and place of death: January 2, 1957 in Cairo, Egypt

Hassanein's Biggest Wins

  • 1949 Egyptian Open
  • 1949 Italian Open
  • 1950 Egyptian Open
  • 1951 French Open
  • 1951 Egyptian Open
  • 1951 Egyptian Match Play Championship
  • 1952 Egyptian Open

In the Majors

Hassanein never played in The Masters, U.S. Open or PGA Championship. He played in the British Open four times, 1950, 1951, 1953 and 1955, making the cut all four times. His best finish was tied for 17th in the 1953 Open.

More About Hassan Hassanein

Hassan Hassanein is virtually unknown today, but he was quite well-known in his own time as one of the rare African golfers (outside of South Africa, anyway) to have an international profile. He was also a rarity in another way: He was Black at a time when Black golfers were rarely seen in top professional tournaments. In Hassanein's time, in fact, Black golfers in the United States were banned by a racist PGA of America because of the color of their skin.

The 1975 Encyclopedia of Golf referred to Hassanein as, at that time, being "the best (golfer) ever produced in the Arab world."

British Open winner Max Faulkner once named Hassan Hassanein as one of only three golfers whose swings "really impressed me." Hassanein, Faulkner said, "learnt on sand in bare feet and so needed wonderful balance to stop his feet sliding when he swung. His feet hardly moved and his heels remained very close to the ground. ... His swing was a treat to watch."

The following image is a screenshot of a page in an early 1950s issue of Jet magazine:

Hassan Hassanein in Jet Magazine

Hassanein got into golf through caddying, which he began doing early in childhood at the Heliopolis sand course outside Cairo. He started getting serious as a player of golf in the 1930s, and, after World War II, turned professional in 1946. Before long he was the head professional at Gezira Sporting Club in Cairo, a position he held for the rest of his life.

Hassanein won a local Egyptian tournament named the Desert Open in 1946, his first tournament victory. He won that event every year except one through 1956.

But he came to prominence internationally when he won the 1949 Italian Open, then, as now, a tournament on the European circuit.

The year 1951 was the magic one for Hassanein. He won the Egyptian Open at a time when that tournament boasted strong fields. During the 1950s (but prior to the Suez Crisis), golfers from the European circuit were commonly seen in the field. Bobby Locke and Bernard Hunt were among the winners and Dai Rees was runner-up one year.

At the 1951 Egyptian Open, Hassanein won by 10 strokes over the runner-up, Australian star Norman Von Nida. One week later, Hassanein beat Von Nida 1-up in the championship match to win the Egyptian Match Play Championship.

Then Hassanein won again in Europe, taking the 1951 French Open title by eight strokes over runner-up Jimmy Adams. And Hassanein finished second in the Belgian Open that year, as well.

Hassanein did play a few times in the United States in the early 1950s, but remember that tournaments run by the PGA of America at that time barred Black golfers. Businessman George S. May of Chicago ran his own tournament, however, and could invite anyone he wanted. And he liked inviting golfers from all the the world. That's how Hassanein played in the All American Open at Tam O'Shanter Golf Club three times.

In 1955 and 1956, Hassanein represented Egypt in the World Cup (then called the Canada Cup). Those tournaments, along with the last of his wins in the Desert Open in 1956, were his final marks on the world golf scene.

He was only 40 years old when he was instantly killed in the explosion of an oil stove in his house near Cairo in 1957.

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