Archie Compston – THE BACKGROUND
The 1920s might have been considered a golden age for boxing but, on the golf course, but Archie Compston clash with Walter Hagen packed just as many punches.
The Haig was a stellar matchplay exponent and had won his fourth consecutive PGA Championship – then played as a knockout – the previous year. Compston was no slouch when it came to one-on-one golf combat. The Englishman had twice won the British PGA Matchplay Championship before his head-to-head dual with Hagen.
Moor Park, in Hertfordshire, was packed with spectators for this 72-hole clash. Hagen only arrived 48 hours before and was reported to have taken the winter off from practice. It was billed as an unofficial ‘bout’ to decide the matchplay champion of the world.
The flashy Hagen was perhaps overconfident. He had won 29 straight matchplay contests at the PGA. Stateside journalists following the match were said to be cabling the results to New York “hole-by-hole”.
Hagen was out-classed from the start and fell to a remarkable 18&17 defeat. Fourteen up after 36 holes, Compston had equalled and then broke the course record with two rounds of 67 and 66. Following his loss, the heaviest of his career, Hagen said: “I am the victim of the finest golf player anywhere.” But Compston’s joy was shortlived. When the two met again at the Open, at Royal St George’s, he had to settle for third as Hagen walked off with the Claret Jug by two strokes.