GOLFIKA
ARNAUD MASSY
 
  Significant additions made in March 2007 (see also Golfika Magazine #5, Spring 2010)
 
   
 
A. Massy   Arnaud Massy, born July 6th, 1877 (Biarritz), passed away April 16th, 1950 (Etretat). Son of Marie, nee Lauga (28 years). His parents married in Biarritz but his mother was not from that city. They reared sheep at a farm near where Arnaud was born.
He started work on a sardine boat and then, at the age of 14, was employed as a caddy on the Biarritz golf course, carrying the bag of many good players. Among them Horace Hutchinson, Charles Hutchings and Everad A. Hambro.
   
  Like many caddies he learnt to mimic his employers' game and quickly showed himself to be a good player. In 1883, at the age of 16, he won the "Prix des Cadets", a caddy competition, and received a fine golden Louis and a gold medal. Many years later, he still had them, cherishing them as souvenirs
   
  A few years later, in 1898, Sir Everard Hambro sponsored Arnaud and took him to North Berwick.
   
 

As a self-taught player, he starting playing left-handed. He had then to rebuild all his technique. He played with an open stance and a "two hands" grip. At the top of his backswing, he made a small loop called "the Massy's pig tail". He was a strong and tall man, broad-shouldered, and soon became an excellent cleek player and a rather long driver - even if not outstanding.

  Massy swing
   
  On the North Berwick links - were he spent six summer seasons teaching - he met the greatest players of that time and Ben Sayer senior became his best friend.
   
  Massy's first appearance at The Open was in 1902, wearing the colours of the Biarritz Golf-Club. He tied 11th.
   
  On October 28th, 1903 he married Janet Henderson, daughter of Captain Henderson, in the church of Edinburgh and six monh later, on April 7th, 1904, in Biarritz, he had a "civil mariage" - as in France, religious wedding are not officially recognised (see scan at the bottom of this page).
   
  At The Open in Saint Andrews in 1905, he represented North Berwick and finished 5th, winning £7-10s.
   
  As early as 1902, Pierre Deschamps, a leading figure of golf in France, tried to get Massy to become a pro at Paris Golf Club. He had to wait until the Autumn of 1905 before Arnaud resigned from Biarritz to join La Boulie. During the Spring of 1906, he won the inaugural French Open (the then "Grand Championnat Omnium"). The greatest British players were not present indeed, but Tom Vardon, Ray, Reid and also Kinnel and Gray were competing.
   
  This same year, he finished 6th at The Open in Muirfield.
   
  During the Winter of 1907, the Grand Duc Michel invited Arnaud Massy and nine of the greatest British players to compete in Cannes - which he founded in 1891. James Braid, Rowland Jones, Sandy Herd, Edward Reid, Ben Sayers, J.-H. Taylor, Tom & Harry Vardon and Jack White made the trip to the French Riviera. This competition offered £150 in prizes and another £150 in expenses. Arnaud Massy won the stroke-play tournament as well as his foursomes match with Jones.
   
  Massy's brilliance was confirmed in 1907 at Hoylake. On Tuesday June 18th,he won the qualifying rounds with 147 (73+74) - five strokes ahead of the second, Sandy Herd (71+81).

The weather was awful, hard blowing winds and lashing rain. On Thursday June the 20th, Massy surprised everyone by finishing the first two rounds in 157 (76+81), one stroke behind J.H. Taylor (79+79). On the following day, he increased the gap, finishing with a total score of 312 (76+81+78+77), J.-H. Taylor second with 314 stokes and Tom Vardon, 317.

This was an historical success as he was the first non-Britain to win The Open.

   
  On being presented with the Claret Jug, he learnt that his wife had given birth to their baby girl christened Margot and they gave her the second name of Hoylake.
   
  After this victory, back at North Berwick, he was welcomed by a crowd in celebratory mood and crossing the town, the town band was playing "See the Conquering Hero".
   
  When he returned to France a week later to play the second holding of the French Open, the Paris Golf Club committee was present at the train station to welcome him back. This time, as if to make it a point of honour, most of the greatest British players were present at La Boulie but Arnaud Massy won again. One stroke behind ... Jean Gassiat, another French player. The first Britain was third : James Braid, then Harry Vardon, E. Reid, G. Duncan, E. Ray and Tom Vardon.
 
 
  Click on image to enlarge

Three extremely rare gold medals which were attached to Massy's watch. The red-gold one was offered bt the Grand Duke Michael Michailovitch (the MM crest) after the premonitory success in Cannes, January 1907.

The "Hoylake 1907" medal was presented to him by the Paris GC committee when Massy came back to France after his victory. The other side says "Arnaud Massy Champion du Monde" (World Champion - as was often called The Open).
He got the last smaller one in 1946.
   
  In 1908, Massy was winner at Blackpool, Turnberry and Pitlochry and finished 9th at The Open in Prestwick.
 
 
  In 1910, he won the first Belgian Open, played at the Royal Golf Club, five strokes behind Vardon and Herd.

Click on image to enlarge

   
  In 1911, at Sandwich, he failed to renew his historical success in the Open, sharing the lead with Harry Vardon after four rounds. In the play off he conceded at the 35th hole.

Before WWI, in The Open, he finished in the top ten, three more times. And once again after the war, in 1921 at Saint Andrews.

   
  In 1911, Massy's book was published with the support of Pierre Deschamps and editor Pierre Laffitte. This was the first significant golf book ever published in France. It has to be noticed that this book is certainly the only example of a French golf book translated into English !
   
  At that time, Massy left Paris to share his time between La Nivelle (near Biarritz) during the winter season and Deaville in the summer.
   
  In 1912, the Spanish Open was founded in Madrid and the winner was ... Massy !
   
  On June the 30th, 1913, the first international meeting between France and the United States was launched. France was represented by its "four musketeers" : Arnaud Massy, Jean Gassiat, Etienne Laffitte and Louis Tellier. The United States selected their four best players : John McDermott, Mike Brady, Alex Smith and Tom McNamara. The French quartet won all their matches.
   
  After the WWI (during which he was wounded in Verdun) Massy came back to the Basque coast, in La Nivelle, teaching as a pro.
   
  In 1926, he took a voyage to the States where he met the great Bobby Jones. Partnered with Compston, Massy won 3 & 2 the first match against Jones and Watts Gun - thanks to his amazing putting.
   
  In 1928, he joined Chantaco (few miles from La Nivelle) a new golf club just created by the Lacoste family (Rene Lacoste, the tennis player and Simone Thion de la Chaume, his wife, the first French lady to win the LBO). Raymond Garaialde, father of the great French player Jean and Massy's pupil tells how amazed were the members of the club sometimes seeing Arnaud teeing off ... in clogs !
   
  Despite so many successful years, he faced some difficulty in becoming attached to a club because of his rather gruff and at times even irritable nature. In the 30's he went to Marrakech, Morocco where he met up with Gustave Golias, who had been his assistant in 1911 at La Boulie (Paris).

In 1933, together with Bouchaib Stitou, Massy and Golias redesigned the golf course. This course was initially built by Gustave Golias in 1926. Inaugurated in 1927, it was expanded to nine holes during the next year.

   
  After having spent some time in Edinburgh, were his two daughters (Margot and Lena) were living, he went back to France to retire at Etretat (Normandy).He passed away, in poverty, on April 16th, 1950.
   
 
  Click on image to enlarge
Death certificate
Courtesy G Jeanneau.
  Marriage declaration
Courtesy D Seaton.
  
 
  Many thanks to Malcolm Wadsworth who kindly offered his help, correcting this English translation.
Douglas Saeton made extensive research in Edinburgh and provided valuable information. His excellent web-site is a source of information on North-Berwick golf history:
North Berwick - At the heart of golf in Scotland
Georges Jeanneau, with his son Nicolas, wrote an excellent book on Massy:
"1907: La victoire d'Arnaud Massy au British Open" edited by "Federation Francaise de Golf".
 
 
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