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Arnaud Massy |
1877, Biarritz, France.
Died: April 1950, Etretat, France.
Arnaud Massy at La Boulie
© Digitalsport UK
Bass Rock Sea Bird Sanctuary
Canty Bay, North Berwick
© Digitalsport UK
Quadrant, North Berwick
© Digitalsport UK
French Open :1906 1907,1911, 1925
British Open :1907
Belgium Open :1910
British Open : runner-up,1911
Monte Carlo Open: 1912
French Open :runner-up,1908,1910,1926
Inter-Allied Games - First Medals 1919
(Pershing Stadium, Colombes, France)
La Ville De Cannes Au Golf Club, 1907
Societe De Golf De Paris, 1911
Championnat des Professionels Francais, 1911
Frenchman grasps the |
coveted silver jug
By Douglas Seaton
North Berwick Factfile
Arnaud Massy, born 6th July 1877 in Biarritz, southern France, son of Bernard Massy,
a road surfaceman and his wife Marie Lauga. On leaving school Arnaud was employed as a sardine fisherman and from the age of fourteen
caddied at Biarritz, for mostly English visitors to the Basque region. Massy was also a pelota player in his youth
Massy was taught the rudimentary skills of club making by sixteen year old Willie Tucker when he was assistant to Willie Dunn at
Biarritz. William H. Tucker Snr. was a club maker with Willie Dunn on Wimbledon Common before following him to France.
Massy carried for many well known players at Biarritz including Horace Hutchison, Charles Hutchings and Everard Hambro. It was
Hambro, a member of North Berwick New Club since 1894, who brought Massy to North Berwick for the summer season when he was
twenty-one. Massy was met at Drem station by Davie Grant in a horse and cart. Grant was an excellent teaching pro at North
Berwick where Hambro had made arrangements for Massy to learn the craft of club making in James Hutchison's workshop (present
Pros Shop beside the first tee). Arnaud was granted a professional license on the West Links in August 1899 and he returned to
North Berwick with Hambro each season. Massy lodged with Robert Slimmand, a master tailor, residing at Glenanbuck, 11 School
Road, North Berwick. His daughter Isabella Slimmand was a teacher in the school opposite. Also boarding with the family was
Philip Wylie, the tailor's assistant who was Massy's best-man when the Frenchman got married in 1903.
" He had a distinctive twirl at the top of his backswing
which dated back to when he played left handed as a youngster."
Arnaud was a popular figure with a keen sense of humour, and returned to the West Links on six occasions, teaching for four
months during the summer season. He was enormously impressed with Harry Vardon when he watched him at North Berwick during a
match against Willie Park in 1899.
Massy used a two-handed grip and an open stance. A powerful man, he was a long hitter and highly thought of as a cleek player.
He had an unusual action, described as a 'Pig Tail' swing which was very upright with a curious flourish at the top.
Massy played regularly with the best Scottish 'cracks', amateur and professional, until he gained the
necessary experience to compete at the highest level. He entered his first Open Championship from Biarritz G.C in 1902, and
finished tied for tenth place with Andrew Kirkaldy. This was the first time a foreign player had entered the Open Championship.
In 1903 he joined the PGA and listed his employment as assistant to Ben Sayers. In October that year he married North Berwick
girl Janet Punton Henderson known as 'Jinty', daughter of Captain Henderson. Jinty worked as a Telephone Operator and her family
lived in Harmony Cottage which was demolished to make way for 9 Forth Street, North Berwick. His best-man was Philip Wylie who
also boarded with Massy at 11 School Road, North Berwick.
Jinty's brother James Henderson, a joiner to trade was a fine golfer and member of Bass Rock Golf Club in North Berwick. Playing
off scratch he won the Summer Medal 1892, 1893 and was the first winner of the Fyshe Medal in 1894. The following year James
Henderson was appointed Burgh Surveyor at Moffat. Their father Captain Thomas Henderson was a founder member of the Yacht Club
and was appointed the first Commodore in 1901. James Henderson was also a keen yachtsman and won many regattas in his boat Dragon.
| The growth in the popularity of golf in Europe can be attributed to Arnaud
Massy, Ben Sayers, Jack White and Davie Grant, who took part in exhibition matches throughout the continent.
|In 1904 the News of the World Tournament was played at Mid-Surrey Golf Club. Jack White and Andrew Kirkaldy
failed to qualify for the finals. Sayers and Massy were drawn together in the first round, and the two men saw no point in both
travelling south from North Berwick. They tossed a coin to see who should make the trip and Sayers won the call. |
In 1905 Massy entered the Open Championship at St. Andrews from North Berwick, when he finished in 5th place and received £7-10s.
The following year he won the inaugural French Open at La Boulie where he was later appointed professional, this was his first of a
record four wins in the French Open.
In 1907, Arnaud and his wife Jinty entertained a number of North Berwick pros at his club La Boulie, near Versailles about a
dozen miles from Paris when they played in the French Open Championship that year. The group included Ben Sayers, Jack White,
Ben Sayers Jnr. and Arthur Grant travelled from Biarritz. Despite the distraction Arnaud successfully retained the title with
rounds of 77, 72, 74, 75 = 298. The winning of this event meant a good deal to Massy as he had an engagement hanging on the
championship which would not have matured had he failed to win. This was with a French millionaire who had taken to golf and
wanted two months coaching. Massy went to the Engadine Valley and played chiefly at Samaden. He returned to North Berwick in
September where his matches with Mr. A. J. Balfour and Mr J. E. Laidlay and others were always of a private nature.
At this time George Nicoll from Leven, Fife made clubs stamped A. Massy, La Boulie G.C Paris, for sale at the club. He was also
supplied with heads from Tom Stewart, a cleek maker in St Andrews. Massy finished in 6th place at the 1906 Open at Muirfield, and
was described by the press as a 'Frenchman with the soul of a Scot' became the first overseas player to win the Open Championship.
The weather was appalling at Hoylake in 1907, but Massy had the game to combat the strong winds and torrential rain. His putting
was steady and he used a driving-iron given to him by Andrew Kirkaldy to great effect. The qualifying round were played on June
18th and 19th and the Championship itself on the 20th and 21st. The new eliminating system claimed Jack White who failed to qualify.
Arnaud Massy and Walter Toogood were the first round leaders with 76 each. At the end of 36 holes, Massy held a one stroke lead over
Taylor and Tom Ball. In the third round, Taylor shot a 76, while Massy carded a 78, the Englishman now led by one shot. In the final
round Taylor reached the turn in 41 and came home in 39 for a total of 314. Massy took the lead by doing the front nine in 38 and
came home in 39 for a total of 312, two stokes ahead of J.H. Taylor one of the best bad-weather players of them all.
During the championship, his wife gave birth to a daughter, and he cut short his celebrations to return to Scotland. He arrived
back in North Berwick accompanied by Ben Sayers and when news spread that the Champion was arriving at 3 o'clock, a large crowd
gathered at the Railway Station. A string-band in town for the summer season was hastily assembled, and an open top charabanc
put at their disposal. The band played 'See The Conquering Hero Comes' from Judas Maccabeus part of Handel's Auditoria and Massy
and Sayers took their seats in the vehicle which proceeded down Station Hill and east into Westgate, then a two way
| Massy holding the claret jug aloft, acknowledged their applause. The motorcade continued slowly along
Westgate, the streets lined with people, until the procession reached Captain Henderson's house at Harmony Cottage, 5, Forth Street.
There with the cheers still ringing in his ears, and clutching the Open Trophy, Massy was reunited with his wife and daughter,
who was born four days before the Open but news did not reach Massy until after the second qualifying round. He cut short his
victory celebrations and returned home. They later christened her Margaret Lockhart 'Hoylake' Massy after his triumph.|
Massy had a lucrative engagement hanging in the balance which would not have happened had he lost the championship. A French
millionaire who had recently taken up golf, wanted Massy to coach him for two months. Massy visited the Engadine Valley and
played at Samaden before he returned to North Berwick to play in matches with A.J. Balfour and J. Laidlay which were private
In 1907 Massy was invited to Cannes to play in the most prodigious golf tournament in Europe up to that date. The event was
organised by Grand Duke Michael of Russia and the Cannes Golf Club. Massy won the stroke play event and the four-ball foursome
event with Rowland Jones which carried £150 in prize money and £150 in expenses.
As part of the summer season in North Berwick many of the local golfers and visiting personalities took part in a putting
competition in aid of the North Berwick Parish Church Funds. In 1908, Dorothy Campbell, the current Scottish Ladies Champion,
Arnaud Massy, and Ben Sayers were among the competitors.
The tournament was played over a week on the nine-hole putting green at the Royal Hotel, now occupied by Craigleith View.
Sixpence being charged per round with seven hundred rounds played, raising over £17. Massy tied for first place along
with another five on 21 strokes, but scratched to his opponents in the play-off. Campbell tied for second place in the Ladies
competition, which was won with 23 strokes by Miss Faith Laidlay Invereil House, the sister of the famous amateur golfer John E.
Laidlay. In 1908, Massy was the first winner of a professional tournament to be held at Turnberry. The same year he won a tournament
at Blackpool and in 1909 he won the professional competition at the opening of Pitlochry Golf Club. |
In July 1909, Arnaud was joined in North Berwick by Frenchman Jean Grassiat, a fellow professional at Biarritz. They played in
the 300 guinea tournament on the newly opened North Berwick Burgh course (Glen golf course). Massy finished 4th behind George
Duncan, Alex Herd and Harry Vardon. Three years later Jean Grassiat won the French Open for the first time.
In 1911, Massy and his foursomes partner Jimmy Braid defeated Chick Evans and John Ball in the final of an Amateur versus Professional
match for the George V Coronation Cup played at Sandwich the week before the Open Championship. Massy came close to winning that Open
when he made up four strokes on Harry Vardon to tie at Sandwich. In the playoff, however, he conceded on the 35th hole. Massy bounced
back quickly, crossing the channel to win his third French Open by seven strokes with all the top players in the field.
At the opening of the Monte Carlo course in April 1912, Arnaud Massy won the Professional Tournament. That year he entered the
Open at Muirfield from La Nivelle Golf Club, and finished in 10th place. La Nivelle, the other great club in the Basque region was
a twelve hour train journey from Paris. The course was laid out between the Rhume mountain, the Nivelle river and the sea. The
view from the 10th hole over the Bay of Biscay was described as spectacular.
| Massy was the first winner of the French Open (1906), first winner of
the Belgium Open (1910) and first winner of the Spanish Open (1912) |
Arnaud Massy had an outstanding record in the Open Championship, consistently finishing in the top twenty from 1902 until 1922.
Among his pupils at La Nivelle Golf Club, were Andre Vagliano, Pierre Maneuvrier, and Simone Thion de la Chaume. Massy was
involved in the first matches between France and the United States in 1913, and he wrote a book titled "Golf" which was translated
into English in 1914. |
During the First World War he joined the French Army and was wounded at Verdun while attached to a grenade company. Following
the conflict he continued his duties as pro at La Nivelle, St Jean de Lux and returned to North Berwick in July 1919. According
to an article in the Sydney Morning Herald, the military training Massy received before WW1 gave him a stiffer, straighter build
than most golfers who had a crouching gait and posture. Massy walked from the tee to the ball with a quick, regular step of the
military man, and when he came up to the ball he did a right-wheel and presented his club, and played the second with a quickness
and lack of hesitation in which he was only second to George Duncan. Massy's putting, especially in the most difficult of all putts,
those from five to nine feet was really remarkable. He stroked the ball into the hole as though it were the simplest thing to do.
In 1921, Massy finished 6th in the Open Championship at St Andrews while living at 118 Findhorn Place, Newington, Edinburgh. In 1924,
Mlle Simone de la Chaume who was coached as a child by Arnuad Massy played in the British Girls' Championship. She defeated Dorothy
Pearson in the final to become the first foreign player to win the Girls’ Championship. Three years later Simone entered the British
Ladies' Amateur Championship at Newcastle County Down and amazingly her opponent was again Dorothy Pearson who she beat in the final.
Simone de la Chaume was a member of Saint Cloud Golf Club in Paris and she married Rene Lacoste the tennis player.
On 9th October 1925 Massy won his record fourth French Open after a play-off with Archie Compston, the British PGA Champion. During the
championship at Chantilly Golf Club, Massy made a hole-in-one at the par-3, 165 yard, ninth and the following day he won the
French Native Championship. On 23rd December that year Massy and Compston sailed from Southampton to New York to play in a series
of exhibition matches in the USA.
They took a winter position at St Augustine G.C in Florida and their first match was played on New Years Day 1926 against Bobby
Jones and Watts Gunn, the winner and runner-up in the US Amateur Championship. Watched by a record gallery, the Europeans won
3 &2 and despite Massy being outdriven by Compston and Jones, the Frenchman's chip shots and putting were so accurate that Massy
posted the lowest individual score. Later in January, Bobby Jones got his revenge beating Massy and Compston 8&7, this time Jones
was partnered by Tommy Armour the former Scottish Amateur Champion.
| Massy set a new course record 68 on the Kings Course at Gleneagles
during the Glasgow Herald 1000 Guinea Golf Tournament in 1921 |
On 1st November 1928, Massy was appointed the first pro at Chantaco Golf Club in the shadow of the Pyrenees at Saint-Jean-de-Lux owned
by the Lacoste family. Reno Thion de la Chaume's daughter Simone was a very good golfer and she married Rene Jean Lacoste one of the
four French Musketeers of tennis. Massy represented Chantaco in his last Open Championship at Hoylake in 1930. Arnaud and Jinty Massy
had two daughters born in Harmony Cottage, 7 Forth Street, North Berwick, Margot Lockhart Hoylake Massy (1907) and Lena Marie Lauga
Massy (1909). A third daughter born in 1919, Marthe Davelli Massy married Jindrich Veverka, a Company Director and they lived at 9
Lennox Street Lane, Edinburgh. Margot married George Edgar in the Caledonian Hotel, Edinburgh in 1929. Edgar was a member of Watsonians
Rugby Club. The marriage ceremony was conducted by Rev. James R. Burt minister of St Andrews Parish Church in North Berwick. Among those
present at the wedding was former Open Champion Jack White. |
Their mother Janet Punton Henderson moved to Edinburgh and was living at 118 Findhorn Place while Massy was working at Chantaco Golf Club,
a few miles from La Nivelle in southwest France. Jiny died on 28th April 1935 in a private nursing home at 22 Moray Place, Edinburgh.
Massy returned to France in 1940 after several years as the private professional to the Pasha of Marakesh in Morocco. A memento from that
period is a photograph taken by Arnaud of Winston Churchill and William Gladstone when they visited Morocco. Massy had a spell at Biarritz
before moving to Rouen in Normandy. Cabbage and black bread was generally his routine diet under the German occupation and he was forced by
hunger to part with such treasured mementoes as the gold cuff-links given by the Duke of Windsor when Prince of Wales. He lost all his
possessions but fortunately his prized championship medals were safe in Edinburgh. Following WW2 Arnaud went into semi-retirement teaching
at Golf D' Etretat in Normandy, where he had previously extended the course to 18 holes in collaboration with architect Julien Chartepie.
In 1946, Massy aged 69 years was almost destitute and wrote to the R&A requesting assistance but they refused. In 1950 he was lodging with
a lady friend in a mansion house at 40 Rue Notre-Dame, Etretat when he suffered a stroke and died three weeks later on 16th April 1950.
Arnaud's daughter Margot had his body returned to Edinburgh and following a service in St Columba's R.C. Church in Upper Gray Street,
he was buried beside his wife Janet Henderson in Newington Cemetery. When Margot died 27th June 1955 she was also buried in Section P,
headstone 114 beside her parents.
Arnaud Edgar, grandson of Arnaud Massy was assistant to James Brash at Prestonfield for four years before being appointed assistant
to Maynard Goldsmith (listed above) pro at Royal Cape Golf Club, South Africa. Jinty's nephew Watson Henderson became a professional at
La Nivelle (Saint Jean-de-Luz) (1926-28) where Massy was employed. Watson moved to England and was pro at a club in the London area.
Jinty's brother James Henderson was a joiner and boat builder to trade and a fine golfer winning several Bass Rock Golf Club trophies
at North Berwick.
In 2005, Arnaud's second daughter Lena Massy who married Alex Bellamy, left a legacy of £39,000 to the English Ladies' Golf Association Trust.
Lena was a keen golfer and kept up her membership of a golf club in the Edinburgh area until late in life. The Bellamy Bursary continues to
be awarded annually to a student studying a golf related subject from Golf Course Management to Greenkeeping.
The headstone over the Massy grave was replaced in February 2013 and a service of commemoration was conducted. In attendance were
members of the French Golf Federation (FFG) including Francois Illouz, who won the Scottish Open Stroke Play Championship at
Blairgowrie in 1989 during his amateur days. Also in attendance was Pierrie-Alain Coffinier the French Consul in Edinburgh and
representatives of the European Association of Golf Historians & Collectors, chief among them being Jean-Barnard Kazmierczak the
founder of that organization and its first president. EAGHC were principal in raising the funds to replace the headstone. The board
of the French Golf Federation especially Georges Barbaret (president), Pierre Massie (secretaire general), and Christophe Muniesa
were strong supporters. The R&A Heritage Committee made a contribution to the new headstone.
Arnaud Massy remains to this day the greatest French golfer ever.
"Et maintenant, a vous la parole, mon cher Massy; continuez votre brillante car- riere, jouissez de votre belle gloire dont nous
sommes tous fiers, comme Golfeurs et comme Francaise a cette heure, ou tant de links s'ouvrent chez nous, pour répondre aux besoins
d'enthousiastes sportsmen, puis- sent d'autres professionnels de notre race suivre votre exemple, unique encore dans les fastes du
'Royal and Ancient game,' et contribuer a faire de ce sport un jeu na- tional dans notre beau pays de France." Pierre Deschamps 1907
Francois Illouz at Newington Cemetery
© Greg Macvean
Arnaud Massy and Ben Sayers
The tapestry featuring Arnaud Massy in The Scottish Diaspora|
Exhibition at Prestongrange Arts Festival in June 2014. Sticher Kay
| Copyright © Douglas Seaton 2017, All Rights Reserved. |