Only Tiger Woods won more quickly and more often upon joining the pro circuit than Horton Smith, the brilliant putter nicknamed “Joplin Ghost.” At 22, Smith won seven times in five months and was put on the Ryder Cup team in 1929, and captured 13 titles worldwide before the spring of 1930. (Woods won 14 times worldwide in his first three years.) Smith, the only player to beat Bobby Jones in the year of Jones’ Grand Slam, is best known for winning the first and third Masters Tournaments, triumphs that came after he recovered from a broken arm and while he was the professional at Oak Park Country Club. He won 13 times, 40.6 percent of his Tour titles, while living in Oak Park. Made an honorary member of the club when he rejoined the tour, Smith’s career total of 28 individual tournaments and four more in team play rank him 15th in PGA Tour history, and are more than Illinois Golf Hall of Fame members Harry Cooper, Tommy Armour, Johnny Revolta, Jock Hutchison and Bob Goalby.
Deeply involved in PGA of America affairs, Smith served as president in 1952-54, during which time the tour began a long, slow move toward integration. He also pushed for continuing education by professionals, that effort honored by the introduction of the Horton Smith Award. Member of the World Golf Hall of Fame.