Who Was the Last Amateur Winner of British Open Golf Tournament?

Bobby Jones plays a drive in the 1930 British Open, which he won as an amateur.
Bobby Jones tees off during the 1930 British Open, which he won. Bettmann/Getty Images 

The last golfer to win the British Open while playing as an amateur was Bobby Jones, who was victorious in his Grand Slam year of 1930.

Let's go over Jones' victory and find out if any other amateurs have come close to winning the Open Championship since them.

Amateur Jones' 1930 Open Victory

The year 1930 was Bobby Jones' best, and, some have argued, the best by any golfer in history. It definitely ranks among the best years ever because it was the year in which Jones won what came to be called the Grand Slam: Victories in the U.S. and British Opens, and the U.S. and British amateur championships.

A week prior to the 1930 Open Championship, Jones won the British Amateur. That was Leg 1 of his Slam, so the Open was Leg 2. Jones wasn't at his best in the final round of the Open, but his 75 included a brilliant bunker recovery on the 16th hole and he won by two strokes.

And that was the last time an amateur golfer won the Open Championship.

All Amateur Winners of the Open

His 1930 win was Jones' third in the British Open. And he is one of just three golfers to win the Open as an amateur:

  • 1890 — John Ball
  • 1892 — Harold Hilton
  • 1897 — Harold Hilton
  • 1926 — Bobby Jones
  • 1927 — Bobby Jones
  • 1930 — Bobby Jones

Ball wasn't just the first amateur to win the Open. An Englishman, he was also the first golfer who wasn't Scottish to win the Open. And Ball (like Jones in 1930), had already won the British Amateur, so he also was the first golfer to win the British Amateur and Open in the same year. Nice work, Mr. Ball.

Hilton bettered Ball's feat by repeating as champion in 1897. And then Jones came along 30 years later and won three times as an amateur.

Has An Amateur Come Close to Winning the British Open Since Jones in 1930?

Yes, a handful of amateur golfers have posted Top 5 finishes in the Open since 1930. Twice an amateur finished tied for runner-up, and both times it was American Frank Stranahan.

From Toledo, Ohio, Stranahan was nicknamed "The Toledo Strongman" because he was one of the first significant golfers to get into weightlifting. Stranahan first tied for second at the 1947 Open, but finished one behind winner Fred Daly after 3-putting the 71st hole. At the 1953 Open, Stranahan again tied for second but this time four strokes behind winner Ben Hogan.

These are all the amateur golfers who've posted Top 5 finishes in a British Open since the last amateur winner in 1930:

  • 1935 — Lawson Little, tied for 4th
  • 1947 — Frank Stranahan, tied for 2nd
  • 1953 — Frank Stranahan, tied for 2nd
  • 1957 — Willie Smith, tied for 5th
  • 1959 — Reid Jack, tied for 5th
  • 1998 — Justin Rose, tied for 4th
  • 2008 — Chris Wood, tied for 5th

Golfers Who Won the British Open and Amateur In the Same Year

Winning the British Open and British Amateur championships in the same year is quite the feat. And we know nobody has done it since at least 1930, since that was the last year an amateur golfer won the Open. How many times has it happened?

It happened only twice, and you already know the golfers who did it: John Ball in 1890 and Bobby Jones in 1930.