Greystones History: Brad the Bottler


To call the great Irish golfer Harry Bradshaw a bottler does the great man a disservice. But there is no doubt that the shards of one empty discarded beer bottle had a great role to play in his destiny.
We are sometimes more famous by what we have just failed to achieve and some bad fortune unfortunately clouds our memories of one of Ireland’s greatest golfers.

The story of Harry and the bottle has gone down in the legendary lores of lost Opens. It was not the most spectacular of losses with the final hole dramas of the collapses of Norman and Van der Velde and the tap in miss by Doug Sanders probably outstripping Bradshaw’s loss. His downfall was caused by certainly one of the most bizarre events in golf’s history.

After four rounds, Bradshaw tied with and lost the playoff to South African Bobby Locke who was far too strong for the Delgany man in the playoff rounds and cantered to victory.
But it was events on the fifth hole in the second round that perhaps denied Delgany its first Open Champion at Royal St Georges Golf Club. His drive on the par 4, although just off the fairway in the semi rough ended up in the shards of a beer bottle.

Perhaps the greatest downfall of the genial Wicklowman was that he was too nice and too easygoing.

Rather than take the drop he probably was entitled to, Harry with his eyes clenched firmly attempted an outlandish shot with his wedge from the shards of glass – perhaps akin to the feats of a certain young Senor Ballesteros in his day. Although he skillfully extricated the ball from the bottle he only moved it a few feet to a worse lie than he would have got from the drop. He went on to have a double bogey six, and dropped the shots that probably lost him the championship.

Harry Bradshaw, the leading Irish golfer of his generation, won the Irish Professional Championship in the years from 1941-57. And he was twice British Masters Champion in the 1950s. With Christy O’Connor senior he won the 1958 Canada Cup (now the World Cup) in Mexico.
Harry Bradshaw was Assistant Professional at Delgany Golf Club from 1933-40.

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