Tue. Jun 6th, 2023

Summary: Michael Bonallack is a former British amateur golfer who contributed significantly to the sport both on and off the course. He won five consecutive British Amateur Championships from 1968 to 1972, served as Secretary of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews, and was instrumental in establishing the European Tour. In this article, we will explore Bonallack’s achievements as a player, his contributions as a golf administrator, and his legacy in the sport.

1. Bonallack the Player

Michael Bonallack’s name is often mentioned in discussions of the greatest amateur golfers in history, alongside legendary figures such as Bobby Jones and Peter McEvoy. His record at the British Amateur Championship – which remains the most prestigious event for amateur golfers – is unrivaled, as he won the tournament a record five times in a row. This feat is especially remarkable considering that the tournament features a grueling format of six rounds of match play over a week-long period, testing both skill and endurance.

Bonallack’s success at the British Amateur was not limited to his winning streak, however. He also reached the final on two other occasions and made the semi-finals on three separate occasions. In total, he competed in the tournament 19 times between 1959 and 1983, cementing his status as one of the all-time greats.

Beyond his British Amateur exploits, Bonallack also represented Great Britain and Ireland in numerous Walker Cup matches – the biennial competition between top amateurs from the United States and the British Isles – and was a regular contender at other major amateur events around the world.

2. Bonallack the Administrator

After retiring from competitive golf, Michael Bonallack became heavily involved in the administration of the sport. He joined the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews – the governing body for golf outside of the United States and Mexico – in 1970, and served as its Secretary from 1983 to 1999.

One of Bonallack’s main achievements during his tenure at the R&A was overseeing the establishment of the European Tour. In the early 1970s, he recognized the need for a professional tour in Europe to rival the established circuits in the United States and Britain. He took the idea to his fellow administrators and worked tirelessly to make it a reality, eventually founding the tour in 1972. Today, the European Tour is one of the most prestigious and lucrative professional golf tours in the world, thanks in no small part to Bonallack’s vision and persistence.

Bonallack also oversaw significant changes to the rules of golf during his time at the R&A. In particular, he helped to modernize the definitions of amateur status in the sport, making it easier for players to receive necessary financial support without sacrificing their amateur standing.

3. Bonallack’s Legacy

Michael Bonallack’s impact on the sport of golf cannot be overstated. On the course, he was an incredible talent who dominated the British Amateur Championship like no one before or since. Off the course, he was a visionary leader who played a key role in shaping the sport we know today.

Beyond his direct contributions to golf, Bonallack left something of a cultural legacy as well. He was known for his impeccable sportsmanship and gentlemanly demeanor, earning him widespread respect and admiration within the game. His example set high standards for amateur golfers around the world, inspiring countless others to follow in his footsteps both on and off the course.

Today, Michael Bonallack’s name remains synonymous with excellence in amateur golf and visionary leadership in golf administration. His contributions to the sport will be felt for generations to come.


In summary, Michael Bonallack is a true giant of the game of golf. His accomplishments as a player, combined with his visionary leadership in golf administration, make him one of the most important figures in the history of the sport. His legacy serves as an inspiration to golfers around the world, and his contributions will continue to shape the sport for years to come.

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