Ted Ray (golfer)

Edward Rivers John "Ted" Ray (6 April 1877 – 26 August 1943)[1] was a British professional golfer, one of the leading players of the first quarter of the 20th century. He won two major championships, the Open Championship in 1912 and the U.S. Open in 1920, and contended in many others. He was captain of the British team in the inaugural Ryder Cup, in 1927.[2]

Ted Ray
Ted Ray - 1920.jpg
Ray in 1920
Personal information
Full nameEdward Rivers J. Ray
Born(1877-04-06)6 April 1877
Died26 August 1943(1943-08-26) (aged 66)
Watford, England
Height6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)
Weight220 lb (100 kg; 16 st)
Nationality Jersey
Turned professionalc. 1895
Professional wins46
Best results in major championships
(wins: 2)
Masters TournamentDNP
PGA ChampionshipDNP
U.S. OpenWon: 1920
The Open ChampionshipWon: 1912

Early lifeEdit

Ray was born at Marais, Grouville, Jersey on 6 April 1877, the son of Stephen Ray, the captain of an oyster trawler, and his wife, Mary Ann Arm.[2] He learnt his golf on the Grouville Links, one of large number of local boys who later became professional golfers which included Harry Vardon, his brother Tom, the Gaudin brothers, the Boomer brothers and the Renouf brothers. Ray was a tall, well-built man who was known for his prodigious power, although his shots often landed in awful positions.[3] In addition to his prowess on the golf course, he was also useful at billiards and lawn bowls.[4][2]

Golf careerEdit

Ray turned professional in 1894 at the age of 17, initially working as a club-maker before becoming a professional near St Malo.[2] He played in the 1899 Open Championship finished in a tie for 16th place. Later in 1899 he took a position as a club professional at Churston Golf Club, Churston, Devon.[2] During his time at Churston, he was encouraged by the club's committee to enter The Open Championships from 1900 to 1902, and was granted a week's leave of absence and five pounds for expenses each year. After leaving Churston, in early 1903, he became the head professional at Ganton Golf Club, replacing Harry Vardon who had left to join the South Herts Golf Club. In 1912 he took the position of golf professional at Oxhey Golf Club near Watford in Hertfordshire.

Ray favoured an attacking style, and had to develop phenomenal recovery skills. Cartoonists usually depicted him with a niblick in hand, festooned with clumps of heather and saplings, with an inseparable pipe clamped between his teeth. Ray was admired by fans for his daring play, friendly, genial manner and optimistic spirit.

Ray was also a fine clubmaker and advertised his business while the professional at Oxhey. He specialised in the production of drivers, mashies, and niblicks.

Before World War I Ray was often overshadowed by the Great Triumvirate of James Braid, J.H. Taylor and Harry Vardon and then after the war by George Duncan and Abe Mitchell. Despite this he was one of the leading British golfers of the first quarter of the 20th century.

Major championshipsEdit

Ray had an excellent record in the Open Championship. He won the Open at Muirfield in 1912, leading after every round and finishing four strokes ahead of Harry Vardon and eight clear of James Braid in third place.[2][5][6] He was runner-up twice, in 1913 and 1925, and had 9 other finishes in the top-10. His last top-10 finish was in 1925 when, at the age of 48, he finished joint runner-up, a stroke behind Jim Barnes. Ray had the best final round of 73, despite four-putting the ninth green.[7]

Ray played in 29 successive Open Championships from 1899 and 1932, his run ending when he failed to qualify in 1933.[8] Ray's last appearance was in 1937, just after his 60th birthday. He had rounds of 76 and 81 to just make the qualifying score.[9] In the championship itself he had rounds of 87 and 88 and missed the cut by 22 strokes.[10]

In addition to his appearances in the Open Championship, Ray also played three times in the U.S. Open, in 1913 and 1920, when he was touring America with Harry Vardon, and in 1927, when he was in America as part of the British Ryder Cup team.

Ray (right) with Harry Vardon (left) and Francis Ouimet at the 1913 U.S. Open

Ray is best known for being in a playoff for the U.S. Open in 1913 with Harry Vardon and Francis Ouimet, the winner. Ray had an opening round of 79 but he rebounded with a course record of 70 in round two which electrified the gallery and got him back into contention.[3] He narrowly missed a 5-foot putt at the last that would have given him a 69.[3] His four cards for the tournament were 79-70-76-79=304.[11] Ray, Vardon and Ouimet played an 18-hole playoff the following day. All three took 38 for the first 9 holes but Ouimet came home in 34 to Vardon's 39 and Ray's 40 to win the title. Already two strokes behind Ouimet, Ray effectively dropped out of contention when he took 6 at the 15th. Vardon was only one behind Ouimet after 16 holes but finished 5–6 while Ouimet finished 3–4 to win by five shots.[12]

The 1913 U.S. Open was the subject of a 2005 Disney movie entitled, The Greatest Game Ever Played, based on author Mark Frost's 2002 book of the same name. Ray had joined Vardon on an extensive tour of North America, promoted and financed by English media baron Lord Northcliffe. The two stars travelled the continent for two months, partnering in exhibition matches against the top players in each area they visited. The tour was very successful, attracting large crowds who came out to watch the top British players challenge emerging local golf talent at a time when golf was entering a boom period of popularity, which was further stimulated by the tour. Vardon and Ray ended their tour at the 1913 U.S. Open.[13]

Ray won the U.S. Open at Inverness in 1920, his second appearances in the championship.[11][6] That victory, at 43 years, 129 days, made Ray the oldest U.S. Open champion, a record he held until Raymond Floyd, a few months older, won in 1986.

Tournament careerEdit

In addition to his wins in the 1912 Open Championship and the 1920 U.S. Open, Ray won a large number of other tournaments, although he had few wins in multi-day events. Most of his victories were in one-day 36-hole stroke-play events at which Ray excelled. Ray was also known for performing well in qualifying for the big tournaments; qualifying also generally being the one-day 36-hole stroke-play format.[14]

Apart from his Open Championship success, Ray only won one important stroke-play tournament, the 1923 Daily Mail Tournament. Ray scored 288 to win by a stroke from Len Holland and Abe Mitchell and two from George Duncan, taking the first prize of £300.[14] Ray had been runner-up the previous year, finishing four shots behind Duncan.[15]

During Ray's playing career the most important British professional tournament was the News of the World Match Play, which had started in 1903. Ray reached the final in the first season, meeting James Braid in the 36-hole final. Braid led by 1 hole after the first round. In the afternoon Braid won 3 of the first 5 holes to go 4 up and, although Ray won the next two, Braid eventually won 4&3.[16] Ray had another good run in 1907 until he met Braid in the semi-final and lost again by the same score.[17] In 1911 Ray beat Harry Vardon in the semi-final to reach his second final, meeting Braid again. Braid was 1 up after the morning round and, winning five holes in a row from the 3rd, was 6 up with 9 holes to play. Ray then won five of the next eight holes to take the match to the final hole. They halved this in 4 to give Braid the win by 1 hole.[18] Ray reached the final again the following year, 1912, meeting Harry Vardon. This was Vardon's only appearance in the News of the World final. Vardon was 3 up after the morning round but Ray had levelled the match with five holes to play. Vardon won the next two holes and, although Ray won the 17th, a half in 4 at the last left Vardon the winner by 1 hole.[19] Ray reached his fifth semi-final in 1921, played at his home club, Oxhey, where he met his Jersey contemporary Jack Gaudin. Ray got off to a bad start and was 6 down after 10 hole and, although he made something of a recovery, he eventually lost 3&2.[20]

From 1920 to 1927 there was a second big match-play event, the Glasgow Herald Tournament. Ray reached two finals, 1922 and 1927. In 1922 he met Abe Mitchell in the final. Ray led by three after 11 holes of the morning round, but Mitchell finished well to level the match at lunch. Mitchell took a three-hole lead after the first nine holes of the afternoon round and eventually won 2&1, his second successive win in the tournament.[21] In 1927 Ray met Charles Whitcombe in the final. The match was very one-sided with Whitcombe 5-up at lunch. After 8 holes of the afternoon round Whitcombe was dormie-10. Ray won the 9th but Whitcombe won the 10th to win 10&8.[22]

Although Ray failed to win either the News of the World Match Play or the Glasgow Herald Tournament, he did win two match-play tournaments, the Cruden Bay Professional Tournament in 1911 and the Roehampton Invitation Tournament in 1924. These both had the same format, with a 36-hole stroke-play qualification day after which the leading 16 played four rounds of match-play on the next two days. 1911 Cruden Bay Tournament attracted an exceptionally strong field of 44 which, as well as James Braid, J.H. Taylor and Harry Vardon, included ex-Open champions Arnaud Massy, Sandy Herd and Jack White, future Open champions George Duncan and Ray and most of the leading England-based professionals. Red led the qualifying by four strokes with rounds of 74 and 73, the 73 being a new course record.[23] Ray met Braid in the final, Braid having beaten both Taylor and Vardon in the previous two rounds. Braid holed a 12-yard putt at the last to halve the match and they were still level after a further 9-hole playoff. The match then became sudden-death and, with Braid going out-of-bounds, Ray won the match at the 28th hole.[24][25]

The 1924 Roehampton Invitation Tournament was played in early April. Ray qualified comfortably in a tie for third place.[26] The first day of the knock-out stage was abandoned because of snow and, although conditions were little better on the following day, the two rounds were completed.[27][28] The final day was again cold and wet with the players drinking cups of hot coffee at the turn. Ray beat George Duncan 4&3 in the semi-final and then 53-year-old Rowland Jones by 1 hole in the final.[29]

Before World War I Ray, like many of the other leading British professionals, was a regular competitor in the main continental open championships of which the most important was the French Open. Ray's best finish in the French Open was in 1911 when he was runner-up, 7 strokes behind Arnaud Massy.[30] In 1912 Ray twice came close to winning on the continent. In July, soon after his Open Championship success, he played in the Belgian Open, then a one-day 36-hole event. Ray tied with Tom Ball and George Duncan on 144. Despite having already played 36 holes, the three then played an 18-hole playoff in the evening. Duncan won with a 70 with Ray runner-up after a 71 and Ball taking 78.[31] The following month he played in the self-styled Open Championship of Germany at Baden-Baden which offered prize money of £500, four times that of the Open Championship. The prize money attracted most of the leading British professionals. Ray lost two balls in his first round of 75, taking 7 on both holes, 10 behind the leader, Charles Mayo. Ray took 66 in the afternoon but trailed J.H. Taylor by 8 strokes at the end of the first day.[32] Scoring was generally higher on the second day but Ray had rounds of 68 and 70 to finish level with Taylor. A nine-hole playoff was arranged in the evening. Taylor started 2–3–2 and won with an incredible score of 28 to Ray's 34, Ray taking the second prize of £80.[33]

International representationEdit

A group photo of the 1903 English golf team prior to their international match against Scotland. Ray is seated front row, second from the right.

Ray was an automatic choice for all the main internationals during his career. Before World War I, the England–Scotland Professional Match was the most important professional team competition. Ray was selected for the England team in all these matches, which started in 1903, as well as the 1911 Coronation Match. During this period the players were seeded, so that the best players played each other, while those regarded as the weakest players also played together. In most years from 1903 to 1909 Ray was seeded 4th in the England team, behind Harry Vardon, J. H. Taylor and Tom Vardon, although he played to 5th in 1905 behind Alfred Toogood and 3rd in 1906 ahead of Tom Vardon. Ray played 3rd in 1910 and 1912 and 2nd in 1913 ahead of J. H. Taylor.

The England–Scotland Professional Match was not played immediately after the war, and in fact did not resume until 1932. Ted Ray was the non-playing Captain of the England team in 1933. The first important post-war international was a match between British and American teams in 1921 at Gleneagles. Ray played 3rd in the singles, behind George Duncan and Abe Mitchell. Ray was chosen as the British playing-captain for the 1926 international match on the East Course at the Wentworth Club in Surrey. The following year, despite having passed his 50th birthday, Ray was selected for the inaugural Ryder Cup match at Worcester Country Club in Massachusetts. Abe Mitchell was originally chosen as captain but was unable to travel because of illness, and was replaced by Ray.

Death and legacyEdit

Ray died on 26 August 1943 in the Peace Memorial Hospital, Watford, England.[34][35] He had retired from his post as professional at Oxhey Golf Club on 1 May 1940 because of ill-health.[34] He is remembered as one of the United Kingdoms's all-time greatest golfers.[36]

Media depictionEdit

  • Ray was portrayed by English actor Stephen Marcus in director Bill Paxton's 2005 film The Greatest Game Ever Played.
  • In March 2018 Bill Williams authored a book entitled Ted Ray – The Forgotten Man of Golf and is about Ted Ray's life, career, and his three trips to North America in 1913, 1920 as well as 1927 when he captained Great Britain's first Ryder Cup team.

Tournament wins (46)Edit

Major championships are shown in bold.[37][self-published source]

Singles professional wins (16)Edit

Other singles professional wins (25)Edit

  • 1899 Hampshire, Isle of Weight & Channel Islands Championship
  • 1903 News of the World Northern Section qualifying at Huddersfield
  • 1906 News of the World Northern Section qualifying at Ganton
  • 1907 Hyeres Professional Tournament (France)
  • 1909 Open Championship Qualifying, News of the World Northern Section qualifying at Blackpool
  • 1910 News of the World Northern Section qualifying at Bradford
  • 1911 Le Touquet Tournament (France)
  • 1912 News of the World Southern Section qualifying at Sundridge Park
  • 1914 Open Championship Qualifying
  • 1919 News of the World Southern Section qualifying at Sonning-on-Thames
  • 1921 Hertfordshire Open Championship, News of the World Southern Section qualifying at Porters Park
  • 1922 Hertfordshire Open Championship, Daily Mail Southern Section qualifying at Sudbury
  • 1923 Hertfordshire Open Championship
  • 1924 Hertfordshire Open Championship
  • 1926 PGA Southern Section (18 holes)
  • 1928 Hertfordshire Open Championship
  • 1930 Short Course Championship (Torquay), Daily Dispatch Qualifying, Hertfordshire Open Championship
  • 1931 Hertfordshire Open Championship
  • 1933 Hertfordshire Open Championship
  • 1935 Hertfordshire Open Championship

Foursomes (5)Edit

  • 1908 Yorkshire Professional Foursomes Cup (with A. Hayles)
  • 1909 Yorkshire Professional Foursomes Cup (with H. Mann)
  • 1910 Yorkshire Professional Foursomes Cup (with T. Tate)
  • 1911 Yorkshire Professional Foursomes Cup (with T. Tate)
  • 1925 Bystander Cup £500 Tournament (with Miss Stocker)

Major championshipsEdit

Wins (2)Edit

Year Championship 54 holes Winning score Margin Runner(s)-up
1912 The Open Championship 5 shot lead 71-73-76-75=295 4 strokes   Harry Vardon
1920 U.S. Open 2 shot deficit +7 (74-73-73-75=295) 1 stroke   Jack Burke Sr.,   Leo Diegel,
    Jock Hutchison,   Harry Vardon

Results timelineEdit

Tournament 1899 1900 1901 1902 1903 1904 1905 1906 1907 1908 1909
U.S. Open
The Open Championship T16 13 T12 9 24 T12 T11 T8 T5 3 6
Tournament 1910 1911 1912 1913 1914 1915 1916 1917 1918 1919
U.S. Open 3 NT NT
The Open Championship T5 T5 1 2 T10 NT NT NT NT NT
Tournament 1920 1921 1922 1923 1924 1925 1926 1927 1928 1929
U.S. Open 1 T27
The Open Championship 3 T19 T46 T12 T32 T2 T30 T30 T33 T39
Tournament 1930 1931 1932 1933 1934 1935 1936 1937
U.S. Open
The Open Championship T24 CUT T56 CUT

Note: Ray only played in The Open Championship and the U.S. Open.

  Top 10
  Did not play

NT = No tournament
CUT = missed the half-way cut
"T" indicates a tie for a place

Team appearancesEdit


  • Inland Golf (1913) (as Edward Ray)
  • Golf Clubs and How to Use Them (1922) (as Edward Ray)



  1. ^ Extract From The Registry of Births of the Parish of Grouville 1871–1879 page 43 entry number 421
  2. ^ a b c d e f Vamplew, Wray. "Ray, Edward Rivers, (1877–1943), golfer". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/51547. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  3. ^ a b c "Ray Two Strokes Away". New York Tribune. 19 September 1913. p. 10. Retrieved 7 July 2015.
  4. ^ "Oxhey Golf Club, Herts". golfsmissinglinks.co.uk. Retrieved 8 July 2015.
  5. ^ "1912 Ted Ray". The Open. Archived from the original on 26 November 2011. Retrieved 16 October 2013.
  6. ^ a b "Great Golf By Foulis". The New York Sun. 18 July 1896. Retrieved 10 April 2015.
  7. ^ "Victory of Jim Barnes". Glasgow Herald. 27 June 1925. p. 9.
  8. ^ "Americans all safe". Glasgow Herald. 5 July 1933. p. 11.
  9. ^ "Americans dominate Open qualifying golf". Glasgow Herald. (Scotland). 7 July 1937. p. 23.
  10. ^ "Britain takes the lead". Glasgow Herald. (Scotland). 9 July 1937. p. 5.
  11. ^ 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.
  12. ^ "American Open golf championship". Glasgow Herald. (Scotland). 22 September 1913. p. 9.
  13. ^ Frost, Mark (2002). The Greatest Game Ever Played. New York: Hyperion. ISBN 0-7868-6920-8.
  14. ^ a b "£1000 tournament – Ray comes into his own". The Glasgow Herald. 4 May 1923. p. 16.
  15. ^ "Golf at St Andrews – Duncan's brilliant win in £1000 tournament". The Glasgow Herald. 12 May 1922. p. 12.
  16. ^ "Golf – The great professional tournament – Success of James Braid". The Glasgow Herald. 16 October 1903. p. 15.
  17. ^ "Golf – £240 Professional tournament – Braid and Taylor in the final". The Glasgow Herald. 17 October 1907. p. 13.
  18. ^ "Golf – The £400 tournament – Braid beats Ray". The Glasgow Herald. 6 October 1911. p. 15.
  19. ^ "Golf – The £400 tournament – Keen contest in the final – Vardon beats Ray". The Glasgow Herald. 5 October 1912. p. 15.
  20. ^ "The £750 tournament –Gaudin and Seymour in final round". The Glasgow Herald. 7 October 1921. p. 14.
  21. ^ "Gleneagles – The "Glasgow Herald" tournament – Abe Mitchell wins again". The Glasgow Herald. 12 June 1922. p. 5.
  22. ^ "Gleneagles golf final – E Ray outplayed by C A Whitcombe". The Glasgow Herald. 25 July 1927. p. 10.
  23. ^ "Golf tournaments – Professionals at Cruden Bay – Ray leads in stroke play". The Glasgow Herald. 9 June 1911. p. 9.
  24. ^ "Golf tournaments – Professionals at Cruden Bay – The semi-finalists". The Glasgow Herald. 10 June 1911. p. 9.
  25. ^ "The Cruden Bay golf tournament – A remarkable final – Ray beat Braid at 28th hole". The Glasgow Herald. 12 June 1911. p. 9.
  26. ^ "Golf – Professionals at Roehampton". The Times. 10 April 1924. p. 6.
  27. ^ "Golf – Roehampton tournament postponed". The Times. 11 April 1924. p. 6.
  28. ^ "Professionals at Roehampton". The Times. 12 April 1924. p. 5.
  29. ^ "Golf – The Roehampton Tournament – Ted Ray's Success". The Glasgow Herald. 14 April 1924. p. 13.
  30. ^ "Golf – Open Championship of France – Victory of Arnaud Massy". The Glasgow Herald. 5 July 1911. p. 14.
  31. ^ "Open championship of Belgium – Victory of Duncan". The Times. 6 July 1912. p. 13.
  32. ^ "Golf – Open Championship of Germany". The Times. 21 August 1912. p. 9.
  33. ^ "Golf – Open Championship of Germany – Victory of J.H. Taylor". The Times. 22 August 1912. p. 9.
  34. ^ a b "Death of Ted Ray". The Times. 30 August 1943. p. 2.
  35. ^ "Find a will". probatesearch.service.gov.uk. Retrieved 20 December 2017.
  36. ^ "Ted Ray, former British golf star, dies in London at 66". Reading Eagle. Associated Press. 29 August 1943. p. 11-sec 2. Retrieved 9 May 2013.
  37. ^ Williams, Bill (March 2018). Ted Ray – The Forgotten Man of Golf (First ed.). USA: Xlibris Publishing. ISBN 978-1-5434-8134-1.
  38. ^ "Vaudeville News". Illinois Digital Newspaper Collections. Retrieved 9 July 2015.