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Macdonald "Mac" Smith (March 18, 1890 – August 31, 1949) was one of the top professional golfers in the world from about 1910 into the mid-1930s. He was a member of a famous Scottish golfing family. Smith is regarded, based on his results, as one of the best golfers of all time who never won a major championship. He won 24 official events on the PGA Tour.

Macdonald Smith
Macdonald Smith.PNG
Smith set up to hit a fairway wood shot
from the rough, c. 1929.
Personal information
Full nameMacdonald S. Smith
Born(1890-03-18)March 18, 1890
Carnoustie, Angus, Scotland
DiedAugust 31, 1949(1949-08-31) (aged 59)
Glendale, California
Height5 ft 9 in (1.75 m)
Nationality Scotland
 United States
SpouseLouise A. Cahill
Turned professional1908[1]
Former tour(s)PGA Tour
Professional wins29
Number of wins by tour
PGA Tour24
Best results in major championships
Masters TournamentT7: 1934
PGA ChampionshipDNP
U.S. Open2nd: 1930
The Open Championship2nd/T2: 1930, 1932
Achievements and awards
PGA Hall of Fame1954


Early life and familyEdit

Smith and his wife Louise in February 1923

Born in Carnoustie, Scotland, the son of John D. Smith and Joann Smith (née Robinson),[2] Smith learned his golf on the famous and very difficult Carnoustie Golf Links.

Immigrates to USEdit

He emigrated to the United States on March 8, 1908 at age 17 to seek better golfing opportunities, which he eventually found in America. He applied for, and was granted, American citizenship on July 31, 1918 from the Superior Court of San Diego County, California.[3] At the time, Smith was serving in the U.S. Army at Camp Kearny in San Diego during World War I.[3]

In December 1922, he was married to Louise A. Cahill (1876–1952), a woman 14 years his senior who had been widowed in 1907 when her first husband, Joseph Harvey, died.

Golf careerEdit

Smith was the club professional at the country club in Del Monte, California, where future two-time major champion Olin Dutra and his brother Mortie started as caddies.[4] Two of Smith's older brothers won the U.S. Open: Willie in 1899 and Alex in both 1906 and 1910. Brothers George and Jim also played golf at a very high standard. Early in his career, Macdonald Smith was in a three-man playoff at the U.S. Open in 1910 won by his brother Alex; John McDermott finished second and Smith finished third.[5]

Smith won 24 times on the early PGA Tour, with his five wins in 1926 marking his peak season. But he never won a major championship,[6] trailing only Harry Cooper for most wins without a major. His 24 Tour wins are also the most by any eligible player not inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame.

Play in major championshipsEdit

Smith finished in the top ten at majors 17 times, including three second-place finishes: at the U.S. Open in 1930 and the British Open in 1930 and 1932, both in England. His runner-up finishes at both Opens in 1930 were to noted amateur Bobby Jones, the winner of the grand slam that year. Gene Sarazen won the 1932 Open Championship.[7] Smith scored five more wins in significant U.S. tournaments, between 1912 and 1926, all of which came in events later classified as PGA Tour events.

Smith suffered a heartbreaking near-miss in the British Open at Prestwick Golf Club in Scotland in 1925, when he was the 54-hole leader. He shot a disappointing 82 in the final round and finished three strokes back; Jim Barnes won. Crowd control broke down (with too few marshals and no gallery roping), with the numerous spectators, many of whom had traveled to watch him, invading the playing areas, causing delays, chaotic conditions, and deflected shots.[8] His majors were primarily the two Opens; he never entered the PGA Championship, then a match play competition, and played in just one Masters, the first in 1934. His final major was the U.S. Open in 1937, where he finished in a tie for 40th place. The previous year was his last top ten, in fourth place.[7]

Western Open; Los Angeles Open; Canadian OpenEdit

Smith won the Western Open three times, in 1912, 1925, and 1933, when it was a prestigious tournament rivaling the majors in stature.[6] His four wins in the Los Angeles Open, another top event which featured strong fields, were also significant, as was his title in the 1926 Canadian Open, a national championship. Smith had a decade-long dry spell, between 1914 and 1924, without winning a tournament.

Smith's full-swing technique was much admired as one of the best of the hickory shaft era. Bing Crosby, himself an excellent player who followed golf closely, said that Smith's swing was better than any he had ever seen. Ben Hogan studied Smith's swing intently to improve his own.[9] Smith employed a strong grip, with both hands turned more to the right on the club, which produced a draw on the majority of his full shots.

Later lifeEdit

Smith became the resident golf professional at Oakmont Country Club in Glendale, California, in 1934, continuing in that capacity for fifteen years until his death at age 59 on August 31, 1949. He won a PGA Tour event, the Oakmont Open, there in 1935.[10] He continued to play a few PGA Tour events per season into the early 1940s. He was playing with Babe Didrikson at Oakmont when she scored her first hole in one in 1936.[11] Smith was inducted into the PGA Hall of Fame in 1954.[6]

Death and legacyEdit

Smith died of a heart attack[10] on August 31, 1949 in Glendale, California.[6][8] He is widely regarded as one of the best players of all time who never won a major championship. His total of 24 PGA Tour wins is the most by any eligible player not already inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame.

Professional winsEdit

PGA Tour wins (24)Edit

Other wins (5)Edit

[This list may be incomplete]

Results in major championshipsEdit

Tournament 1910 1911 1912 1913 1914 1915 1916 1917 1918 1919
U.S. Open 3 T4 WD T37 NT NT
The Open Championship NT NT NT NT NT
Tournament 1920 1921 1922 1923 1924 1925 1926 1927 1928 1929
U.S. Open T20 T4 T11 T9 T18 T6 T23
The Open Championship 3 T3 4 T15
Tournament 1930 1931 1932 1933 1934 1935 1936 1937
Masters Tournament NYF NYF NYF NYF T7
U.S. Open 2 T10 T14 T19 T6 T14 4 T40
The Open Championship T2 T5 2 T4 T18

Note: Smith never played in the PGA Championship.

  Top 10
  Did not play

NYF = tournament not yet founded
NT = no tournament
WD = withdrew
"T" indicates a tie for a place


Tournament Wins 2nd 3rd Top-5 Top-10 Top-25 Events Cuts made
Masters Tournament 0 0 0 0 1 1 1 1
U.S. Open 0 1 1 5 9 16 19 18
The Open Championship 0 2 2 7 7 9 9 9
PGA Championship 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Totals 0 3 3 12 17 26 29 28
  • Most consecutive cuts made – 26 (1915 U.S. Open – 1937 U.S. Open)
  • Longest streak of top-10s – 4 (1930 U.S. Open – 1931 Open Championship)

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Macdonald Smith". Archived from the original on 5 March 2016. Retrieved 22 August 2015.
  2. ^ "Births in the Parish of Barry in the City of Forfar". Statutory Births 274/00 0019. ScotlandsPeople. Retrieved 16 February 2015.
  3. ^ a b "Petition for Naturalization". Superior Court of San Diego county, California. Missing or empty |url= (help)
  4. ^ Darsie, Darsie L. (May 21, 1931). "Olin Dutra is West's leading candidate for Ryder Cup team". Milwaukee Sentinel. p. 20.
  5. ^ "1910 U.S. Open: Alex Smith". United States Golf Association. Archived from the original on November 1, 2013. Retrieved June 4, 2013.
  6. ^ a b c d McCord, Robert (2002). The Golf Book of Days: Fascinating Facts and Stories for Every Day of the Year. Kensington. ISBN 0-8065-2308-5. Retrieved October 20, 2011.
  7. ^ a b Brenner, Morgan G. (2009). The Majors of Golf: Complete Results of the Open, the U.S. Open, the PGA Championship and the Masters, 1860-2008. 1. McFarland. ISBN 978-0-7864-3360-5.
  8. ^ a b Barrett, Ted; Hobbs, Michael (1999). The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Golf. Toronto: Prospero Books. p. 145. ISBN 978-1552673386.
  9. ^ Wind, Herbert Warren (August 8, 1955). "Hogan reveals his secret". Sports Illustrated. p. 18.
  10. ^ a b "MacDonald Smith, golfer, dies". Pittsburgh Press. United Press. September 1, 1949. p. 39.
  11. ^ "Babe Didrikson scores first ace". Milwaukee Journal. Associated Press. May 7, 1936. p. 2-sports.

External linksEdit