Famous Five legend Gordon Smith was something of a reluctant golfer – but he became obsessed with the game. Initially, Smith told his Hibs team-mates he wouldn’t play on their outings until he knew more about the game, taking lessons at Longniddry, Braid Hills and Gullane.
But in July 1949 he was introduced to Bobby Locke by Stanley Matthews just prior to the Open at Royal St George’s Golf Club in Kent, the South African going on to win the championship four times.
Locke won his first championship by two shots over Ireland’s Harry Bradshaw following a play-off.
Roberto De Vicenzo finished third, the Argentinian a huge football fan and Smith had great delight recounting stories to him as the trio dined together the night before Locke’s play-off victory.
Smith and Locke instantly clicked and became firm friends, and over the following 25 years the Hibs player would take every chance he could to watch him in action, going to every Open and to many other tournaments around the United Kingdom and Europe.
The pair were to remain in close contact until Locke’s death in 1987 but his influence on Smith was such that he began playing golf alongside his Hibs team-mates, his practice having unquestionably paid off.
Jimmy Kerr and Bobby Combe were the club’s best golfers but Smith, who insisted he was “going to master this royal and ancient past-time,” was, along with Sammy Kean, hot on their heels.
Golf had gripped the Hibs players and it was talked about continuously at training and even on match days and following their playing days many of them got together on a regular basis to enjoy a round of golf.