Some families congregate toward certain professions. The father and sons tend to have the same interests and work toward the same goals, though some of them have varying degrees of success. For Alex Smith's family, this was the case as he came from a long line of golfers.
In fact, he was a member of a famous Scottish golfing family. Smith won a total of 2 U.S. Opens, but also won the Western Open twice and the Metropolitan Open four times. During the era in which he played, the Western Open was often considered a major, since many of the top players were always in competition.
Imagine growing up surrounded by siblings and others who had an ability and understanding to help guide and support the game. Alex's older brother Willie won the U.S. Open in 1899 and Alex won the same tournament twice, in 1906 and again in 1910. Alex Smith spent a large portion of his adult life working as a golf professional when he moved to the United States. In those days, the prize purses weren't going to do much to help a golfer work full-time on his game.
Instead, these men had to devote most of their energy to providing for themselves and their families, putting golf as a second consideration. Alex Smith fortunately had the skills, understanding of the game, and motivation to fulfill his dreams by teaching others how to play. In 1901, Alex Smith came ever-so-close to winning the U.S. Open when he lost to Willie Anderson in a playoff. Some men fold after being so close to a major championship, falling into a rut and not being able to lift themselves back out of it. Fortunately for Alex Smith, or perhaps because of his familial ties to golf itself, he didn't let this defeat keep him down.
In 1906, Alex Smith made all of his hard work and dedication pay off by winning the U.S. Open at Onwentsia Club in Lake Forest, Illinois. He posted a 72-hole score of 295, which at the time was the lowest score ever posted at either the U.S. Open or the British Open. For his victory, he won a grand prize total of $300. Throughout his career, Alex Smith played in eighteen U.S. Opens and had eleven top ten finishes. His 1910 victory at the U.S. Open was at the St. Martin's course at the Philadelphia Cricket Club. He took this championship in a three man playoff, besting American John McDermott and MacDonald Smith, one of his own golfing brothers.