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Historic win of golfing great from Dornoch to be toasted at Texas Open centenary

By Ali Morrison

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A GOLFER from Dornoch who won the Texas Open in 1922, will be remembered at the event's centenary celebrations at the TPC San Antonio Oaks golf resort this week.

The 100th anniversary Texas Open - now sponsored by Valero Energy Corporation - tees off on Thursday (March 31) and runs until Sunday.

And toasts will be made to Dornoch ex-pat Bob MacDonald in memory of his century-old win.

Bob MacDonald.
Bob MacDonald.

Born in 1885, Bob was one of four brothers, two of whom – Bill and Jack – followed in his footsteps to become professional golfers in America. Another brother Jim stayed at home.

All the brothers caddied at Royal Dornoch Golf Club and Bob also played in club tournaments.

He kept two hickories from these days all his life which, along with other memorabilia from his stellar golfing career, are now in the keeping of his son, Bill MacDonald (77), who lives in Florida.

Bob fought in the Boer War with the 7th Squadron Scottish Horse as a teenager, having lied about his age. He was captured after a month and imprisoned in Pretoria with several thousand other soldiers.

After spells as a young golf pro in France, he moved to America in 1910 with his first wife, who was French.

His son Bill, who was 15 when Bob died in 1960, said: "My father was regarded as one of the longest drivers of his day, striking the ball over 300 yards."

"Long Bob", as he was known, beat a strong field at the then Brekenridge Park Links to win the 1922 Texas Open and was awarded a gold medal and $1633 prize money. It was reported to be the largest purse ever offered for a professional tournament.

An entrepreneur, Bob endorsed his own line of clubs and was the first to launch an indoor golf course, in Chicago. He also wrote a best-selling book on golf, along with a pocket instructional book that golfers could take out on the course.

And he coached movie stars Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford, along with Bob Hope and Bing Crosby, who was inspired to make the trip to play Royal Dornoch in 1971.

Bill said: "My father never spoke about his golfing successes. He was very modest but he was very proud of his Scottish roots."

Bill will be in attendance at the centennial Texas Open and will have with him the putter his father used at the 1922 event and also to win the Metropolitan Open in 1921 and 1923.

"I believe the winner of this year's tournament will be photographed with my father's putter," he said.

Keeping a close eye on the action unfolding in San Antonio will be Bob's 85-year-old niece and past Royal Dornoch ladies captain Christine Murray.

The retired teacher said: "The family has always been very proud of Bob and his accomplishments.

"When you think about the legendary golf course architect Donald Ross, his younger brother Alex, who won the 1907 US Open, and many others, it's amazing how influential this club in the Highlands of Scotland has been in the development of golf."

Celebrations planned for the Lone Star State golf milestone are lavish, including a country music concert and a centenary history penned by sports writer Kevin Robbins.

Renowned Scottish artist Graeme Baxter has also been commissioned to mark the occasion.

Christine Murray with the book written by Bob MacDonald.
Christine Murray with the book written by Bob MacDonald.
Bill MacDonald with his father's treasured hickory clubs which he is taking with him to the 100th anniversary Texas Open.
Bill MacDonald with his father's treasured hickory clubs which he is taking with him to the 100th anniversary Texas Open.

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