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US Open

This club is famous for… producing the first US Open winner

Horace Rawlins' win in America's first national open has secured Mid Herts a place in history...
 

When Mid Herts celebrate their 125th anniversary next year, the centrepiece will be a newly commissioned statue of their most famous son.

It isn’t for anything Horace Rawlins did at the Hertfordshire layout that he is remembered.

It is true he was the club’s first professional when the course, which can be found six miles north of St Albans, was opened in 1892.

But he is also the winner of the first US Open.

Mid Herts was established after the owners of Gustard Wood Common, the Lords of the Manor who were the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, gave permission for golf to be played on the land.

Except on Sundays.

Charles Thom, the pro at West Herts, and Rawlins, who had arrived as the first groundsman/professional from the Isle of Wight, laid out nine holes.

Rawlins, who was still a teenager at that time, was paid 17 shillings a week.

After then learning the art of clubmaking at Raynes Park, our hero emigrated to America.

He joined Scotsman Willie Davis at Newport Country Club, in Rhode Island, as an assistant professional.

It was at his own club that, in October 1895, the first national golf tournament was held.

Played immediately after the 3-day US Amateur, what became the inaugural US Open saw Rawlins beat the favourite Willie Dunn by two shots.

He shot 91 and 82 for a total of 173 in a 36-hole tournament that was held over one day and saw four loops of Newport’s 9-holes.

He had been two back at the half-way point before completing his second 18 with consecutive scores of 41.

A first prize of $200 was awarded but a quarter of that was deducted for the cost of the gold medal awarded to him.

Any suggestion that Rawlins had fluked his win were ended when Rawlins finished runner-up at Shinnecock Hills in the second US Open a few months later.

Click here for the full ‘This Club Is Famous For’ archive

Steve Carroll

Steve Carroll

A journalist for 25 years, Steve has been immersed in club golf for almost as long. A former club captain, he has passed the Level 3 Rules of Golf exam with distinction having attended the R&A's prestigious Tournament Administrators and Referees Seminar.

Steve has officiated at a host of high-profile tournaments, including Open Regional Qualifying, PGA Fourball Championship, English Men's Senior Amateur, and the North of England Amateur Championship. In 2023, he made his international debut as part of the team that refereed England vs Switzerland U16 girls.

A part of NCG's Top 100s panel, Steve has a particular love of links golf and is frantically trying to restore his single-figure handicap. He currently floats at around 11.

Steve plays at Close House, in Newcastle, and York GC, where he is a member of the club's matches and competitions committee and referees the annual 36-hole scratch York Rose Bowl.

Having studied history at Newcastle University, he became a journalist having passed his NTCJ exams at Darlington College of Technology.

What's in Steve's bag: TaylorMade Stealth 2 driver, 3-wood, and hybrids; TaylorMade Stealth 2 irons; TaylorMade Hi-Toe, Ping ChipR, Sik Putter.

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