Inside Hickory Golf: The Jim Barnes connection to the Northwest

Updated: April 3, 2017

Probably the most forgotten of the hickory era golfers is Jim Barnes. We’ve all read about Walter Hagen, Gene Sarazen, Francis Quimet, Vardon and Ray but few have any knowledge of Jim Barnes.

Barnes was born in Lelant, Cornwall, England in 1886 and emigrated to America in November 1906 and in 1910 he moved from the San Francisco Bay area to Washington State and worked at Spokane Country Club before moving to the Tacoma Country and Golf Club. He would leave Tacoma in 1914 and go on to win four major titles. This was in an era best known for the exploits of Walter Hagen and Gene Sarazen. He never became an American citizen.

Barnes’ Northwest connection includes Vancouver, B.C., Spokane and Tacoma. He was known as “Long Jim” because he was 6-feet 4-inches tall, and he was long off the tee. He won the inaugural U.S. PGA Championship in 1916 and then again in 1919, the U.S. Open 1921, and the Open Championship 1925.
Barnes’ two PGA titles were the first in the event as there was no tournament in 1917 or 1918 because of World War I. His winning margin in the 1921 U.S. Open was nine strokes, a record which was not broken until Tiger Woods won by 15 strokes in 2000.
Barnes was one of the most prolific tournament winners of the first few seasons of the PGA Tour, which was also founded in 1916. He won 21 times on the tour in total. He led the tournament winners list for four seasons.

Barnes was honored as one of the 12 golfers to be inducted in the PGA’s inaugural Hall of Fame. He was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1989.

In 1913, following Francis Ouimet’s win at the U. S. Open in Brookline, Harry Vardon and Ted Ray traveled west to play in a series of matches against the best golfers that local golf courses had to offer. They stopped at the Tacoma Country and Golf Club on November 4, where they were matched in a fourball match against Barnes and Robert Johnstone, the club professional at the Seattle Golf Club. In a closely contested match over 36 holes, Vardon and Ray prevailed 2 and 1.

To honor Jim Barnes’ contribution to Northwest golf, the Ap National Hickory Players is hosting the Jim Barnes Legends Cup at Tacoma Country and Golf Club on April 24, where competitors play with hickory clubs. The event welcomes new players.

Sources for this article: World Golf Hall of Fame,, & Wikipedia).