Park Jr., clubmaker and British Open champion, selected for Hall of Fame

Willie Park Jr.
Willie Park Jr. won the British Open twice in a three-year span, and excelled at both designing golf courses and making balls and clubs.
By news services

Series: Industry News

Published: Thursday, November 15, 2012 | 7:50 p.m.

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- Willie Park Jr. will be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2013, Hall of Fame officials said Thursday. Along with his father, World Golf Hall of Fame member Willie Park Sr., Park helped form one of the legendary families in golf history.

He will be inducted along with Fred Couples and Ken Venturi on May 6, 2013, at World Golf Village in St. Augustine, Fla. His father, a four-time British Open champion, was inducted in 2005.

Park Jr. is one of the British Open’s most distinguished players, winning in 1887 and 1889 while compiling 12 top-10 finishes in golf’s oldest major. He also did pioneering work in many other areas of the game both in Europe and the United States.

"Willie Park Jr.’s contributions to the game as a player, architect, innovator and writer were truly extraordinary," said USGA Exective Director Mike Davis, wo also serves as chairman of the World Golf Foundation Board of Directors. “He not only advanced the status of professional golfers, but also was influential in shaping the early development of golf in the United States. This is an overdue, well-deserved recognition.”

Park was born in Musselburgh, Scotland, in 1864 -- four years after his father won the very first British Open at Prestwick. Young Willie quickly took to the family business of ball and club making, and developed a reputation as an outstanding player.

After five top-10 finishes without a victory, Park finally broke through to win the Open title in 1887, fittingly at Prestwick. Park added his second Open title in 1889 at another special place, his home of Musselburgh -- the last time it was played there.

Park used his prowess as a player as a springboard to other feats within the game. He continued pioneering ball and club design, registering several patents and expanding the family business. Park's seminal 1896 book, “The Game of Golf,” was the first about golf written by a professional golfer. His widely acclaimed “The Art of Putting” was published in 1920.

Park made an impressive mark in golf course architecture as well, having designed or modified more than 200 courses in Europe, the United States and Canada. Sunningdale Golf Club outside of London is one of his most famous designs. His success in this arena carried him to North America in 1916, where he continued to design courses of the highest quality, including the Maidstone Club in New York and Royal Quebec in Canada.

"It is a tremendous honor for the family to have a second member recognized for his contribution to the game,” said Mungo Park, Willie Park Jr.’s great nephew and family historian. “Willie Jr., possibly more than any other, marked the transition from the old-school caddie and player to the modern professional golfer and businessman. He gave up high-stake money matches for energetic golf course design. His playing skill was undoubted, particularly with the putter, but it is his courses that provide the most impressive legacy.”