In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, British golf was dominated by Hoylake’s John Ball, arguably the greatest, homegrown amateur of all time.
Born in 1861, he was the eldest son of John Ball, owner of the Royal Hotel which served as Royal Liverpool’s first clubhouse until 1895. ‘Johnny’ took up the game at an early age and, with a fine, challenging golf course literally on his doorstep, made rapid progress. In 1878, aged just 16, he finished fifth in The Open at Prestwick.
A decade later he won the first of his eight Amateur championship titles and, in 1890, The Open, once again staged at Prestwick. Ball’s career was remarkably long - he notched up his first Amateur win when he as 26, and his last when he was 51.