Who Is the 'Champion Golfer of the Year'?

"Champion Golfer of the Year" is a phrase that golfers might hear any time of year, but particularly in the summer months, around the time of the British Open. Do you know to whom this term applies?

"Champion Golf of the Year" is what the winner of The Open Championship (aka British Open) is called. That title has been bestowed on The Open winner every since the tournament began in 1860.

The reigning Champion Golfer of the Year is Brian Harman, winner of the 2023 British Open.
When The Open Championship was first played in 1860, it was the only professional golf tournament in the world. So the winner of it, at that time, was literally a world champion. And the phrase "Champion Golfer of the Year" was created to apply to the Open's winner. There was no need to specify "Open Championship golfer of the year" because there were no other professional tournaments.

In the tournament's guide written and published by the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews, today the organization that runs The Open, the R&A writes very early on, "The first winner of The Open received not one penny in prize money. The prestige of being crowned Champion Golfer of the Year was considered sufficient reward."

Of course, today that winner gets lots of money, along with a gold medal, possession of the Claret Jug for one year, and a replica of the Claret Jug for keeps.

The very first Champion Golfer of the Year was Willie Park Sr. in 1860. The first Champion Golfer of the Year to receive the Claret Jug as a trophy was Tom Kidd in 1873, although Young Tom Morris, winner of the 1872 Open, was the first to have his name inscribed on the trophy.

The first golfer who wasn't a Scotsman to be Champion Golfer of the Year was amateur John Ball when he won the 1890 British Open.

The first non-British Champion Golfer of the Year was Arnaud Massy in 1907.

The first American to earn the title of "Champion Golfer of the Year" by winning the British Open? Jock Hutchison was an American citizen when he won in 1921. Walter Hagen was the first golfer born in the USA to win The Open when he claimed the crown in 1922.

You can find every Champion Golfer of the Year with our list of British Open winners.

Related articles:

R&A. The Open Media Guide, 2019, The PPL Group.
TheOpen.com. "1890 / Prestwick," The R&A, https://www.theopen.com/previous-opens/30th-open-prestwick-1890
TheOpen.com. "1907 / Royal Liverpool," The R&A, https://www.theopen.com/previous-opens/47th-open-royal-liverpool-1907
TheOpen.com. "1921 / St Andrews," The R&A, https://www.theopen.com/previous-opens/56th-open-st-andrews-1921
TheOpen.com. "1922 / Royal St George's," The R&A, https://www.theopen.com/previous-opens/57th-open-royal-st-georges-1922

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