Jock Hutchison’s addition to the World Golf Hall of Fame & Museum reunites “The American Triumvirate” and pens a fitting final chapter for one of the most dominating golfers of the 1910s and ’20s.
Hutchison, along with fellow World Golf Hall of Fame members Walter Hagen and Jim Barnes, earned their moniker after winning a combined 71 times – including 17 major championships – on the fledgling American professional golf circuit during those two decades.
Hutchison is the least-known member of the triumvirate and joined Barnes and Hagen in the Hall of Fame nearly 34 years after his passing in 1977. But Hutchison no doubt deserved it. Perhaps most notable among his achievements is when he became the first U.S.-based player to win the Open Championship in 1921.
"Sailing, sailing, over the bounding main -For many a stormy wind shall blow 'Ere we go back again"
Jack Fowler Hutchison was born in St. Andrews, Scotland in 1884. He immigrated to the U.S. in the early 1900s, settling in Pittsburgh at the Allegheny Country Club. By 1918, he was at Glen View Club in the Village of Golf, Illinois. In 1919, he became a PGA professional and in 1920, he earned his U.S. citizenship.
Jovial Jock, as he was known outside of competition, was, in the words of World Golf Hall of Fame member Herbert Warren Wind, “talkative, high-spirited, and a contagious chuckler.”
Wind’s summary is perhaps best illustrated in the July 11, 1921 New York Times account of Hutchison’s return to America after he won the 1921 Open Championship at St. Andrews:
“Sailing, sailing, over the bounding main –
For many a stormy wind shall blow
‘Ere we go back again”
Those are the words Hutchison sang as he emerged from the ocean liner Carmania, leading a group of eight Americans off the ship as he brought the Claret Jug across the Atlantic Ocean for the first time in the tournament’s storied history.
“I’m glad to get home,” Hutchison was quoted as saying before he produced the Claret Jug for the small crowd of fans who gathered for their arrival. “Well, here it is.”
In 1921, Jock Hutchison was the first U.S.-based player to win the Open Championship.
Hutchison might have underplayed the historic victory, but the press on both sides of the Atlantic ran huge headlines. They trumpeted Hutchison becoming the first player to take golf’s oldest championship trophy outside of Europe.
Hutchison’s victory at the Old Course was also notable for the heavily ribbed clubs in which he used to master the rock-hard greens in 1921. Hutchison had been playing – and setting course records – with grooved clubs he had been working on.
The R&A’s Rules of Golf Committee actually met in May of 1921 and decided that such ribbed or grooved clubs would be banned effective July 1 of that same year. Hutchison won The Open on June 25, defeating amateur Roger Wethered by nine shots in a playoff.
On the course, Hutchison was a far different man than he was off it.
“In competition,” Wind wrote, “he was dourness itself and as nervous as a mosquito. He walked around restlessly between shots. He sweated lavishly and took to waving his arms in the air to dry them. He literally twiddled his thumbs… [But] when he shifted into a brilliant streak, Jock could play one plus-perfect hole after another, each shot, like mountain views in Switzerland, seemingly more breathtaking than the one that went before.”
Hutchison, the 1920 PGA Championship winner, put on one of these legendary displays during the opening round of the 1921 Open Championship. He aced the 135-yard eighth hole and then narrowly missed back-to-back aces after driving the 278-yard ninth, catching the corner of the cup and lipping out to within inches.
Later that year Hutchison, along with reigning U.S. Open winner Barnes, began a barnstorming tour of the United States to mark the first time the two titles had been held concurrently by Americans.
Hutchison competed in 99 PGA TOUR events from 1916-1961, including 14 victories. He also won the inaugural Senior PGA Championship in 1937, which was held at Augusta National. He won a second Senior PGA in 1947.
The folks at Augusta National recognized the measure of Hutchison’s career when they made him one of the first two honorary starters of the Masters, along with Fred McLeod. Hutchison served from 1963-73.
Hutchison’s entry into the World Golf Hall of Fame is fitting — the American Triumvirate is reunited.