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John Ball Jr.

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John Ball Jr.

John Ball was a soft-spoken and shy person who does not have a great deal of commentary associated with him, but as a British golfer, his is considered one of the greatest amateur golfers of all time. He won eight British Amateur Championships and his American counterpart to this accomplishment would be Bob Jones born more than forty years after John Ball.

His stretch of Amateur golf championships began in 1888 and continued through to 1912, when he was 51 years old. He won both the British Amateur and British Open Championships in 1890, a feat that was only matched by Bob Jones in 1930. John Ball was the first amateur golfer to be named an ‘Immortal’ by the Royal Empire.

Here's a list of all of his tournament wins:

  • 1888 The Amateur Championship
  • 1890 The Amateur Championship
  • 1890 The Open Championship
  • 1892 The Amateur Championship
  • 1894 The Amateur Championship
  • 1899 The Amateur Championship
  • 1907 The Amateur Championship
  • 1910 The Amateur Championship
  • 1912 The Amateur Championship

 His grip on the club was somewhat unusual, and the kind of thing that would give today’s instructors fits, but his swing was graceful to the point that Bernard Darwin wrote, “I have derived greater aesthetic and emotional pleasure from watching John Ball than from any other spectacle in the game." He gripped the club tightly with both palms. 

In 1927, at the age of 66, John Ball tried to win his 100th British Amateur match, but came up short in the second round. He retired from the game shortly after this defeat and died in 1940. John Ball’s competitive nature was clearly evident at every tournament he played. He had a raw determination that set him apart from almost all other golfers of the time.