Bio of Pro Golfer Clarence Hackney

Clarence Hackney was a Scotland-born golf pro who worked — and won tournaments — in America in the 1910s into the 1930s. He was the pro at a prominent club in the Northeast for nearly 30s years. Hackney's biggest tournament win was the Canadian Open, and he also took part in one of the foundational competitions that led to the Ryder Cup.

Full name: Clarence Winton Hackney

Date of birth: March 10, 1894

Place of birth: Carnoustie, Scotland

Date and place of death: January 4, 1941, in Morristown, New Jersey, USA

Also known as: C.W. Hackney

His Biggest Wins

Hackney is credited with seven PGA Tour wins:
  • 1923 Philadelphia Open Championship
  • 1923 Canadian Open
  • 1924 New Jersey State Open
  • 1925 New Jersey State Open
  • 1926 New Jersey State Open
  • 1930 Philadelphia Open Championship
  • 1931 Philadelphia Open Championship
He also won the Philadelphia PGA Championship, not counted today as an official tour win, in 1924 and 1928.

In the Majors

Hackney made 21 starts in major championships, first at the 1915 U.S. Open and last in the 1936 PGA Championship. He had two Top 10 finishes. His best showing was reaching the quarterfinals in the 1920 PGA Championship: After beating Jim Barnes in Round 2, Hackney lost to Harry Hampton in the quarterfinals (technically a tie for fifth place). Hackney's other Top 10 finish was a tie for eighth in the 1921 U.S. Open. He had five other major championship finishes inside the Top 20.

More About Clarence Hackney

Clarence Hackney was a Scotsman who, like many other Scottish pros of the early 1900s, was lured to America to work at the many golf courses that were springing up around the United States. After learning the game as a caddie on the Carnoustie links, and after a spell as an apprentice clubmaker, Hackney sailed for the U.S. in 1913.

Ultimately, there were four Hackney brothers working as pros in the United States. Clarence was two weeks past his 19th birthday when he disembarked in Boston. He first got work in Pennsylvania at a club called Pocono Manor. After a brief stint at Seaview in Galloway, New Jersey, Hackney was hired as an assistant to two-time U.S. Open champ Johnny McDermott at Atlantic City Country in New Jersey.

In 1914, though, after he suffered a mental breakdown, McDermott had to step down. He was replaced as head pro by Hackney, and Hackney had that job until 1940. He was a highly sought-after instructor of the game, too.

But Hackney was also a fine tournament player on the nascent professional circuit in America. His first brush with a big win was finishing runner-up to Jim Barnes in the 1916 North and South Open.

In late 1918 or early 1919, Hackney suffered a broken left arm. But according to Time magazine, that didn't stop him playing golf: He played one-handed, swinging his right arm only, for much of 1919. And, the magazine reported, he still played around par in friendly games.

He came back strong in 1920, nearly pulling off what would have been his biggest win. Hackney finished second by one stroke to Jock Hutchison in the 1920 Western Open.

Hackney did not yet have any tour victories when he joined an American squad that traveled back to Hackney's home country of Scotland in 1921 to face a British team in a match play competition. A precursor to the Ryder Cup (which was first played in 1927), the British side won, 9-3, at Gleneagles. Hackney lost his singles match to James Braid, 5 and 4. Braid was famous as one of the three members of the "Great Triumvirate," but he was also the designer of the Gleneagles golf course.

In 1922, Hackney had another second-place finish in the North and South Open. Then he had his breakthrough in 1923, winning impressively in consecutive weeks. First, he took the Philadelphia Open, played that year at Pine Valley in New Jersey (part of what we'd call today "the Greater Philadelphia area"), by 13 strokes. At 298, Hackney was the only golfer to finish in fewer than 310 strokes.

The following week he earned his biggest win at the 1923 Canadian Open. Once again Hackney was the only golfer to finish below 300. He was tied for the 36-hole lead, but pulled away over the final two rounds. He beat runner-up Tom Kerrigan by five strokes and third-place Gene Sarazen by six.

Over the next three years, 1924-26, Hackney won three consecutive New Jersey State Open titles. (He was also second in 1922.) He was immediately followed by Johnny Golden also winning three in a row (1927-29), but no other golfer since has had a threepeat in the New Jersey State Open.

In 1925, Hackney was second to Johnny Farrell in the Philadelphia Open. But a few years later he nearly pulled off another threepeat. Hackney won the Philly Open in 1930 and 1931. Going for a third consecutive (and fourth overall title in the tournament) in 1932, Hackney lost in a playoff to Clarence Smith.

In his 1989 book The History of the PGA Tour (affiliate link), sports journalist Al Barkow developed a statistical formula to rank golfers of different eras. He rated Hackney the 19th best golfer of the tour's 1916-1929 era, crediting Hackney with 42 Top 10 finishes during that period, and 17 Top 3 finishes. The highest Barkow's formula rated Hackney in any individual year was seventh in 1923 (the year of his Canadian Open victory).

Hackney's brothers James and William worked as professionals at clubs in the Philadelphia area. Another brother, Dave, also had some tournament successes, including winning the 1926 New England Pro Championship.

Clarence Hackney was only 46 years old when he died of a heart attack that he suffered while visiting his brother John in Morristown, New Jersey, in 1941.

Hackney is a member of the Philadelphia PGA Hall of Fame.

(Book titles are affiliate links; commissions earned)
Antique Golf Clubs from Scotland. "Clubmakers: Clarence Hackney,"
Barkow, Al. The History of the PGA Tour, 1989, Doubleday.
Brenner, Morgan. The Majors of Golf, Volume 3, 2009, McFarland and Company.
Campbell, Malcolm. The Scottish Golf Book, 1999, Sports Publishing LLC
Gibson, Nevin H. The Encyclopedia of Golf, 1964, A.S. Barnes and Company.
Golfdom Magazine. "Clarence Hackney Dies," February 4, 1941,
New Jersey State Golf Association. "Tyler Hall Aims For Historic Run At 97th State Open At Metedeconk National," June 30, 2017,
Spalding's Golf Guide, 1924 Edition. American Sports Publishing Company, "Golf In Canada"
Time Magazine. "Canadian Open," August 13, 1923
Trenham, Peter C. "A Chronicle of the Philadelphia Section PGA and its Members," Clarence Hackey,

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