Thoughts on Jim Barnes, first PGA Championship Winner

by | May 13, 2019 | News

Jim Barnes and Walter Hagen

As all eyes turn to this year’s 101st PGA Championship at Bethpage Black, golfers can reflect on the winner of the first two PGA Championships (1916 and 1919), England’s Jim Barnes.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of Barnes’ 1919 PGA triumph.  Barnes also won a U.S. Open at Columbia Country Club in Maryland(1921) and an Open Championship at Prestwick(1925) in match play. Those four major championship titles put Barnes on the list of 17 golfers who have won at least three of golf’s four professional majors.  Only, Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, and Tiger Woods have won all four professional majors.

Barnes is the least well known of the players on that list. In 1925 Barnes was the host pro for the Florida Open which was contested at the Tom Bendelow 1921 designed Temple Terrace Golf & Country Club which is part of the Florida Historical Golf Trail and the only Florida 18-hole golf club listed on the National Register of Historic Places from Florida.

It can be argued that Barnes — and Walter Hagen — deserve to be members of the career Grand Slam circle of major championship winners because both Barnes and Hagen won the Western Open and the North and South Opens, both of which were considered ‘majors’ before the creation of the Masters.  Barnes won three Western Opens and two North and South Opens.  Hagen won five Western Opens and three North and South Opens.

Barnes was actually invited to play in the first Masters tournament, but didn’t play.  There’s no official reason why he chose not to travel to Augusta for that inaugural event.  Barnes may not have accepted the invitation because of his somewhat advanced age – 47. During his long and distinguished career Jim generated 28 tournament wins and was an inaugural inductee into the PGA of America Hall of Fame in 1940, and then again in the World Golf of Fame in 1989.

Barnes, born in 1886, grew up in Cornwall and was introduced to golf at the Lelant Golf Links, which is now known as West Cornwall Golf Club. He originally worked as a caddie then became an assistant club maker. After having some success as a golfer Jim moved to the United States in 1906 to pursue his craft. His success as a professional golfer in those early days prompted Golf writer Herbert Warren Wind once to refer to Barnes, Hagen, and Sarazen as being the “American” Triumvirate, discounting amateur Bobby Jones. At the West Cornwall Golf Club the members still celebrate him with Jim Barnes Trophy in a Stableford match ever year.

Now you know the rest of the story.



About the Author

<a href="" target="_self">Mike May</a>

Mike May

Mike May is a freelance golf writer based in Wellington, Florida. Mike, a frequent golfer, and travel writer is the editor-in-chief of the Indiana Golf Journal, a correspondent for Golf Central Magazine, a senior writer for Team Insight Magazine, a contributor to Midwest Golfing Magazine, and a correspondent for both the Michigan and Ohio Golf Journals. He is also a member of the Golf Writers Association of America. Mike traces his roots as a golf writer to The 1983 (British) Open Championship which was held at the Royal Birkdale Golf Club near Southport, England. He attended all four days of the event and then voluntarily wrote his own account of that major championship. In addition to being a golf writer, Mike is a broadcaster for high school sports in Florida, officiates high school soccer in Florida, and works in the scoring division of R2 Innovative Technologies, which implements and oversees scoring at LPGA golf tournaments. As an avid exercise enthusiast, he also serves on the board of directors of PHIT America, which is focused on bringing daily P.E. back to all U.S. schools. Mike is a 1985 graduate of the University of Florida, where he earned a degree in broadcasting. Mike can be reached by email at: