Marcel Dallemagne: French Golfer Won Many National Opens in 1930s

Marcel Dallemagne won numerous national Opens across Continental Europe, mostly in the 1930s. He was a long hitter and a straight talker. Dallemagne was arguably the best French golfer of the inter-war period.

Date of birth: December 11, 1898

Place of birth: Le Port-Marly, France

Date and place of death: December 30, 1994, in Menetreol-sur-Sauldre, France

Nickname: The Professor of Saint-Germain (for his skills as a teacher of golf)

Dallemagne's Biggest Wins

Dallemagne won 10 national European opens between 1927 and 1949 (all but one prior to World War II), including three French Opens:
  • 1927 Belgian Open
  • 1931 Swiss Open
  • 1933 Dutch Open
  • 1936 French Open
  • 1937 Italian Open
  • 1937 French Open
  • 1937 Swiss Open
  • 1937 Belgian Open
  • 1938 French Open
  • 1949 Swiss Open
He also won the French Closed Championship (only golfers born in France could play) and French PGA Championship multiple times each:
  • French Closed Championship: 1930, 1932, 1935, 1937, 1939
  • French PGA Championship: 1937, 1939, 1948

In the Majors

Dallemagne played in only one of the four professional majors, the British Open, and played that major just eight times. But he finished 26th or higher five of those eight times, including twice in the Top 5.

His first appearance was in the 1929 Open Championship, his last in the 1938 Open. In the 1934 British Open, Dallemagne was in third place after three rounds, but a full 11 strokes behind eventual winner Henry Cotton. Dallemagne shot 77 in the final round and tied for fourth place.

His best showing was a tie for third place in the 1936 Open Championship. This time he went into the final round five strokes off the lead. Dallemagne was the only golfer to break 70 in the final round, shooting 69. But he finished two strokes behind the winner, Alf Padgham.

More About Marcel Dallemagne

French pro Marcel Dallemagne was, according to the 1975 The Encyclopedia of Golf (affiliate links appear in this article), "tall and easy of movement" with "a fine swing with plenty of power."

How much power? In the book Bobby Jones on Golf, Jones wrote that the "longest hitters in my day were Charles Lacy, Charlie Hall, Cyril Tolley, Bill Stout, and a Frenchman, Marcel Dallemagne. A noticeable feature of the style of play of each was a fast pivot or hip turn as the club approached the ball coming down."

Dallemagne, along with Auguste Boyer, was in the second wave of French pro golfers to emerge, after Arnaud Massy. He was arguably the best French golfer between the end of World War I and beginning of World War II (Boyer being another possibility, but Boyer never won the French Open). The reference book, The Who's Who of Golf, published in 1980, called Dallemagne "the best French golfer of the 1930s."

Dallemagne was peaking as he hit his 40s, just before France was invaded during World War II. But he was closing on 50 by the time the war ended.

In 1922, Dallemagne became a pro on the staff at Golf de Saint-Germain. It was a club he remained with for almost the entire rest of his life.

He started winning big Continental championships in 1927 with the first of his two Belgian Open titles. In 1930 and 1932, he won the first two of his five titles in the French Closed Championship.

Dallemagne's biggest win was at the 1936 French Open. And not just because it was his home Open, but because of the way he won it. He rolled in a 10-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole to tie Henry Cotton (two years removed from his first British Open title) at 277, nine strokes better than any other golfers. They played a 36-hole playoff the next day. Cotton shot 70-70, but Dallemagne had 69-70 to win by a stroke.

That win came just one week after Dallemagne's best British Open showing of tied third. It was the first of three consecutive French Open wins for Dallemagne, and he is still the only golfer to pull off that three-peat.

In addition to his three wins in the French Open, he was also runner-up to Bert Gadd in 1933 and second to Ugo Grappasonni in 1949, when he was 50 years old.

The 1936 French Open was his greatest individual achievement, but 1937 was his finest year: Dallemagne won the French Open, Italian Open, Swiss Open and Belgian Open that year, as well as the French PGA Championship and French Closed Championship. He was the first golfer ever to win all three of the French Open, French Closed and French PGA in the same year — and no other golfer has done it since.

Going for a fourth consecutive win in the French Open in 1939, Dallemagne finished ninth.

After the war, Dallemagne's last hurrah in European tournament play was winning the 1949 Swiss Open at nearly 51 years old.

In addition to his 10 victories in national Opens, Dallemagne came close to adding several more. He lost a playoff to Percy Alliss at the 1927 Italian Open, and was runner-up in that event to Boyer in 1931.

He was second to Arthur Lacey in the 1931 Belgian Open, and runner-up to Sid Brews in the 1935 Dutch Open. He also finished second in the 1931 German Open, one of the national Opens he never won.

After the war and after turning 50, Dallemagne began devoting himself more and more to teaching. He gave lessons at Golf de Saint-Germain in France and also, for many years, at Golf-Club Crans-sur-Sierre in Switzerland.

He was often present in his later years at the French Open to present to the trophy to the winner.

Throughout his life, Dallemagne was known as a plain speaker, someone not afraid to speak bluntly even to royalty. And he counted royalty among those to whom he taught golfer. King Leopold III of Belgium was a student.

And so was Princess Murat, descendant of French royalty. Once, during a round with the princess, Dallemagne, fearing bad weather moving in and tired of waiting on the Princess to play her shots, said to her, "Let's move it your highness, it's going to piss with rain!"

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