Bobby Locke Putter.

The Road Downhill.

Clovelly Country Club Fish Hoek Cape Province SA.

Bobby locke Accident.

In 1960 Bobby Locke was playing with his nephew Alfred Pratt at Clovelly Golf Club near Cape Town when his wife Mary gave birth to a girl – Carolyn. Rushing back to Johannesburg, Bobby Locke’s car was hit by a train on a level crossing. 

A train was passing and his driver started over the track but was hit by an obscured SAR train coming in the opposite direction. They pulled him out of the trunk of the car. He was left unconscious for two days.

The accident ended Bobby  Locke’s days as a competitive golfing force as he suffered regular migraines and problems with his sight. His behavior over the following years became unusual to say the least and he disappeared from the public eye.  His behavior which had always been the epitomy of courteousness and goodwill took a 180 degree turn. He became moody, bad tempered and forgetfull.

Bobby Locke lived in Johannesburg in his prime, when he was a match for any golfer alive, even Ben Hogan. Locke stayed in a two-bedroom cottage that still sits at the back of the building of Apartments that he owned.  "I have made more than a comfortable living," Bobby Locke wrote in 1953, when in a moment lit by hubris he prefaced his autobiography. "Frankly today at thirty-five I am glad to say that I am practically independent. One of the solid assets golf has enabled me to acquire is a block of flats in Johannesburg, with my own home adjoining, a home I named Sandwich in honor of my first Open victory."
Foreward from Bobby Locke on golf Country Life 1953.

The building is 1950's South African and was built with tiny rooms and an Ablutions block on the roof to house 14 servants for the Apartment block. 

Bobby Locke Widow.

Bobby Locke' widow Mary and daughter Carolyn lived here until 2000.

They were a curious pair, 80 years old and 40 years old in 2000, but virtually of one mind. They had been living up
here for 12, maybe 13 years, apart from a brief period when talented Musician Carolyn was married to the Black Soweto businessman Mike Paledi from 1996 until 1998. Carolyn played the keyboard in her Band which she had held together for 20 years.


Inter Racial Marriage.

They'd met at a party. Mike came from about as far on the other side of the tracks as is possible in South Africa.  Yet something clicked, and about eight months later they moved into the cottage behind the Apartments. 

Bobby Locke 500


They had a ceremony in the Sandton Sun hotel in the posh northern suburbs where they exchanged vows. Not a wedding ceremony proper because Mike still had obstacles from his first marriage, (He was still married!)  "I never thought I'd marry, until I met this Angel," Carolyn told the journalists who showed up, and she wrapped her arms around Mike in a big hug.


Sandton Sun Hotel Johannesburg.

The relationship was as brief and troubled as the doubters had predicted. White Women don't marry Black men. If Bobby had still been alive there would have been another shooting.

While Carolyn and Mike occupied the cottage, her mother lived alone upstairs in flat 33, but as Mike says now, "It was like the
two of them were married. That was what broke us up. The mother, the building, the way they were." Mike went on his way in 1998.

Mary Fenton had talent. The daughter of a judge, she was raised in Rutland, Vt.,USA and educated at Wellesley. During World War II she served as a research analyst at the Office of Strategic Services. When she met the love of her life, she was working for the Central Vermont Public Services Corporation.

Locke had been married in 1943 to Lillian Le Roux, with whom he had a daughter, Dianne, but he struck up a
relationship with Mary as soon as he met her at an exhibition match in Burlington, Vt. in 1947. He told her to wait for him, and wait she did. 



With Lilian & Diane 1951.

Eleven years passed before they married in England in August 1958. The wedding caused a stir back in Johannesburg.
Lillian Le Roux had divorced Bobby in 1953 on the grounds of desertion, but two years later the South African newspapers had reported that Locke had married a Sheila Sanford at a Magistrates Court. Three years after that, with Mary Fenton on his arm, hot denials were issued. Nothing was ever heard of Sheila Sanford again.


Sheila Sandford

Bobby ocke 971

Mr & Mrs Locke Mark II in England in 1958.

Bobby locke honeymoon

Bobby & Mary Locke Honeymooning in Kent England in 1958.


At London Airport


In September 1958 Bobby Locke brought his bride back to South Africa and installed her in the cottage behind his Apartments on the corner of Henson and Harley Streets, in a section of Johannesburg known as Yeoville.

Yeoville was a "Dress Cicle" suburb in those days and it adjoined Hillbrow, where all the best parties were held. Briefly the Lockes enjoyed busy, glamor-soaked lives, hopping between continents. Money was easy, and nothing was hard.

Two years later, though, two events in the same week changed their lives. Carolyn was born on Feb. 17, 1960. Three days later,
Locke was nearly killed in an automobile crash. He was driving his car accompanied by Morris Bodmer, the pro from Clovelly Country
Club Cape Town, after a day's golf with his nephew Alfred Pratt and Morris Bodmer who had been the Pro at Clovelly since 1935 and was an old friend. He had also partnered Locke against Sam Snead and Norman von Nida in 1947.

It was Bobby Locke's  car  and Bobby had been drinking. Nephew Pratt was not with them having made his own way home. They came to an ungated level crossing near Southfield Western Cape  and waited for a train to pass before edging over the tracks.

However, the train that had just passed obscured their view of the other direction, and their 1959 Vauxhall Cresta was rammed by the 8:53 from Southfield. The vehicle was flung backward 30 yards down a bank and hit a culvert, and Locke was tossed through the back window and they found him in the trunk of the car. Morris Bodmer survived the accident. THE CROSSING SIGNALS WERE ALSO DYSFUNCTIONAL!

Incredibly SAR (South African Railways) served a writ on Locke claiming compensation for damages and interfering with services.

Nephew Pratt contacted Cape Town solicitors Geib & Geib to contest the writ and succeeded. Pratt also recovered Locke's famous putter which was thrown clear and found by an Asian man who was rewarded by Alfred Pratt out of his own pocket.


Southfield on Cape Flats line.


An horrific accident at an ungated level crossing.

It was a couple of days before he came to in Cape Town's Groote Schuur hospital, and a month before he could open his left eye. He had lost his depth perception because he was vrtuallly unsighted in his left eye and therefore had no "triangulation" to enable distance perception. 

This had been one of his golfing strengths. His head ached, he had double vision and he suffered from pain in both legs. Those ailments would keep him company forever more. He had lost his uncanny gift of reading Greens which had brought him fame and fortune.

He had a list of prescribed medications longer than his arm and orders not to touch another beer. The second half of his life had begun.

Outside and inside, the Apartment Building has changed over the years. After Locke's death, Carolyn got permission from the Johannesburg City Council to rename it. She held a bright little ceremony and christened it Bobby Locke Place. That was in 1988.

Yeoville and Hillbrow went downhill quickly. In the late '90s Mary and Carolyn's flat was broken into three times by armed thugs. 

The decline of Johannesburg at the end of Apartheid, the central city, where the complex was located, was caught up in a wave of crime, drugs and prostitution and white-flight from the city to the Suburbs. Squatters from the Townships went "up market" and moved into former posh areas which were simply better to squat in!.


Bobby Locke Place. Landlady's Flat was on third floor Flat 303.
Locke's boarded up Cottage in 2017. Apartment Block is on right of photo. Note Razor Wire on top of Fence and Swimming Pool under Palm Trees.

Across the street a little shack appeared, gray-painted and low-slung, and people with no jobs came there to drink coffee and
make calls on the public phone at "Edwin's Tuckshop". 


The Tuckshop.

Yeoville was suddenly full of people with no jobs. Full of Nigerians, Somalians and Sudanese fleeing their own hell, full of South Africans living in theirs.

First the problem were squatters, and then the squatters drove down the rents and the businesses left and the rents were so low that most landlords got out. Then people wandered the streets all day, and at night nobody went out because the crime rate was so high.

Locke's widow Mary had cat and dog fights about the tenants. Mary paid for an Elevator and a new Boiler for the building. It cost her "heaps" , but the place was still in decline. She didn't want to spend any more. She didn't trust the tenants, even blamed them for wear and tear. Should they leave? Mary desperadly tried to sell the place but there were no takers, not even at a bargain based price of £20,000. They were trapped. All their funds were tied up in "worthless" Real Estate!. Bobby Locke's solid asset was depreciating day by day.

But, this was Daddy's place.

When Locke came to after the accident, he had suffered severe memory loss. He wasn't well and never would be again, but for
Mary he had become everything. For Carolyn he was simply Daddy. Perhaps now he would have more time for them. Perhaps.

The medication exacted a price. The side effects were nightmarish and coupled with whatever "war combat and guilt stress" he had previously, Locke battled his daily existence. 

Bobby Locke was a sociable man. He enjoyed his Beer and Whisky too much to obey doctors' orders, but now one Beer hit him the way half a dozen might another man. Friends recall birthday parties that Mary planned for him, and he would turn up late and inebriated.

This combination fertilized a mean side of his character. One night he drove Mary to Parkview several miles away, dropped her there and let her walk home. He resented her having friends of her own or a life outside the cottage. In the '60s a group of American ex-patriots used to meet in the President Hotel in Johannesburg to talk about home. Mary, who missed Vermont, loved those meetings. Bobby grew resentful, so Mary stayed home.

With the drinking and medication, his manners became diluted. Mary and Carolyn were often called to golf clubs to take old Bobby home. Outside he was a character. At home he was a nightmare through no fault of his own. He had been dealt "a Bad Hand".

"Mary was a saint," . "She saw to everything. She saw to it that he had his tablets. She would drive him everywhere,
fetch him from anywhere. They both got a rotten deal."

What had Mary Locke to live with? Some incidents from the life of Bobby Locke:

Bobby Locke Drunk Charge.

Bobby Locke Drunk Driving Arrest. 

In May 1969 Bobby was arrested for drunken driving following an accident. The Breathlizer reading was in excess of 0.08  alcohol. The driver of the other car, (An Afrikaans speaking  Koos Van Schalkwyk) testified " Ek het nie 'n woord wat Mnr Locke het gesÍ nie verstaan". (Locke spoke gibberish).

Locke refused to let the police push his car from the road even questioning their right to apprehend him. He jumped in and attempted to drive it, but the back wheels had no traction. The police pushed the vehicle away with the Open Champion still inside it mumbling obscenities amid suggestions that they go and arrest real criminals.

Bobby Locke Assault Charge.

Bobby Locke being assaulted by playing opponent. 

In 1985 in Southbroom, Natal, Locke was playing a four-ball with a club Pro named John Cockayne. John Cockayne was the Golf Director of Southbroom Golf Club and was heavily involved in developments of Golf estates.

Early on, in his opinion Locke's swing was baulked by Cockayne standing too close to him as he attempted making a shot. The Pro stood so that his feet and legs were in sight of Locke as he commenced his downswing and he prepared to walk off just as Locke swung. By the 3rd hole the Pro repeated this and Locke realised that it was an intentional ruse and he started shouting at the Pro saying "Buddy, if you persist in doing that, I will use this Club on you".

Finally on the 17th as the Pro was addressing his ball, Locke stood right behind him and refused to move preventing him from swinging. Walking down the fairway, jostling and pushing one another like a bunch of school kids, something snapped and he hit the Pro on the elbow with his Driver handle. In reply the Pro swung his Driver, hitting Locke three times on the back and shoulder thus injuring Locke.

Bobby Locke Social Golf.

Stories are legion about Bobby's social golf at this stage of his life. It was said that:

He would play at a nearby Golf Club on weekdays and make up a random fourball with members and play for money.
It would go something like this:

If your handicap was say 16 then Bobby Locke insisted that  you would be an 8 for the day, if 10 then 5. The reason being that he was out of practise. No one would argue with Locke and they were pleased and felt priviledged to play with him.

The game would commence and when reaching the green Locke would insist on putting first. He would take his time, he was good and when he had putted out he would step back and say "hurry up lads the next group are coming up don't hold them up" or we will have to step on it to catch the 19th hole opening time. He was full of gamesmanship.

He would glare at you forcing you to concede him short putts somtimes up to 5 feet. He was Bobby Locke!

After the game the party would continue on into the night with Locke being the entertainer in chief on his Ukulele. Barmen would shudder at the sight of Bobby Locke as it meant a long night.


Bobby Locke Concede Putt.

Bobby Locke Murder Charge.

In 1978 barely a year after being inducted into The Golf hall of Fame, the Suite of Apartments needed a coat of Paint and a Professional  Painter "Big Boy" Ndlovo was hired to do the job.

Bobby Locke was not satified with the completed job.
Bobby Locke's Investment ruined!

Bobby Locke viewed his "Pension investment" with dismay.

Locke refused to pay and things got out of hand with Locke feeling threatened both physically and verbally. He decided to arm himself for protection and was obviously  prepared to fire a warning shot if necessary.

The Painter was inadvertently shot in the shoulder by Shot Gun shrapnel when a warning shot was discharged. Bobby Locke pleaded self defense. (HE DID NOT KILL A MAN IN COLD BLOOD! and HE DID NOT SHOOT A MAN IN THE BACK! as some reporters seeking sensationalism have erroneously claimed. Don't let the truth get in the way of a good story).

Locke testified, "I thought there was going to be a drama. I returned to my cottage and fetched my gun. He was about to turn
when I fired a shot. He was obviously coming back to make a contest."


Warning shot fired.

The Court could clearly see the Painter's wound. Locke was found guilty of attempted Culpable homicide (Man slaughter) and received a 3 months Jail sentence fully suspended. He was also fined and had his gun license suspended for six months. South Africa had no jury system because all jurors were White and this was unfair on Blacks and verdicts and sentences were therefore delivered by the Judge and two assessors.
Bobby Locke Court Sentencing.

Many News Correspondents visiting Johannesburg and seeking interviews with Bobby Locke in order to relive old times,
would have "no shows" after pre booking meetings with Bobby Locke usually at Golf Clubs where they would wait for him for hours on end only to be "stood up". The perception is that Bobby Locke had simply forgotten about them!


Bobby Lock 104

Near Bobby Locke Place today (2017). A 5 Star Hotel boarded up and occupied by squatters.

Bobby Locke Place was a pretty building, three stories tall, shaded by palm trees. 

Bobby Locke Daughter.

In the cottage there is a room that Carolyn's band used to call the Post Office. It was filled with junk and memorabilia.

In 1993 Carolyn went to England, to Christie's, and auctioned off most of her father's trophies to see herself and her mother through  a lean period. The four British Open medals alone fetched 
£82,800 The auction took in £178,089. (45 times what Bobby received as prize money for his Open wins). Still ,though, the place was filled with memories and mementos that couldn't be discarded. There was a picture of Mary, Carolyn and Bobby coming down the steps of an old De Havilland Comet Airplane sometime in the mid-'60s. They looked like royalty. Two pretty faces and old Bobby's solemn jowls. Bobby always looked at least 10 years older than he actually was.


Bobby Locke 567

Bobby Locke 999
Items at Christies.

Bobby Locke Death.

Bobby Locke died in a Johannesburg Nursing Home March 09 1987 of Spinal Meningitis. A disease that causes inflammation of the protective layers of the brain and spinal cord. This is usually due to bacterial infections.

He had presented a Golf Award at a local club only 6 days previously. His friends, those few who knew about the raging confusion of his final years and associated psychological problems stemming from his 1960 accident, are reluctant to talk about his medication induced failings.  It is rumored that he was living off benefactors at the time of his death.

Bobby Locke Family Suicide.

Really, it was the tidiest of endings. In September 25 2000, Mary (80) and Carolyn (40) picked up the four corners of their lives, folded them quietly in over their heads and evacuated this world. No fuss. 

Days before, Charlie, the snappy spaniel, had been taken to the vet with arrangements for his demise. Sylvia Sampson, the administrator of the women's estate, received a visit. 

They even went to the undertakers, admitted that they feared for their lives and picked out a psalm, Abide with Me.

They had their hair done and had a last lunch at Bennigans. 

Bobby Locke 106

Sadly,  Mary and Carolyn were found by the Maid and Watchman Elias who was a friend of Carolyn's former husband Mike Paledi, in beds they had pushed together and holding each other's hands. Their faces were blackened from the drugs they'd taken. They had drunk half a bottle of champagne to wash down the sleeping pills they'd been hoarding for months. The last CD recorded by Carolyn's band was on the bed. One of Mary's eyes was open, fixed into a stare at her daughter. It was sadly a suicide pact.

Their two Cars were left parked in the Carpark.

 What Tragedy! Why such desperation when their estate reveals they were solvent? The truth is that they feared for their safety in an environment that had suddenly sunk into the abyss!.


South Africa waiting to explode.



Carolyn was cremated, her ashes and the spaniel's ashes were scattered over The Family Grave.

"Grave psychological disturbances, anguish, or grave fear of hardship, suffering, or torture can diminish the responsibility of the one committing suicide" . This qualification does not make suicide a right action in any circumstance; however, it does make us realize that the person may not be totally culpable for the action because of various circumstances or personal conditions.

Only God can read the depths of our soul. Only He knows how much we love Him and how responsible we are for our actions. We leave the judgment then to Him alone. "We should not despair of the eternal salvation of persons who have taken their own lives. By ways known to Him alone, God can provide the opportunity for salutary repentance. We therefore pray for persons who have taken their own lives"

Bobby Locke Burial.


Locke Family Memorial
Westpark Cemetery Montgomery Park Johannesburg.

All that survives is a broken link. Dianne, born to Bobby and his first wife, Lillian, she teaches in a private school in Johannesburg.

Tracked down in 2000, she was regretful. Too many years and too much distance. It wouldn't be appropriate to comment on such sadness,she says politely.

The deaths of Mrs Locke and her daughter, aged 80 and 40 respectively, marked a grim end to one of South Africa's most glamorous sporting stories Bobby was the nation's greatest pre and post-war golfing hero. (Greater than Gary Player even!).

Nephew Alfred Pratt suddenly materialized in the early 2000's armed with Bobby Locke's Official War record (It appears on this Website) reportedly declaring that he had an agenda to eliminate inaccuracies about Bobby Locke's Military Service and early career implying that Locke and others had embellished his military exploits. (To what end?).

Apart from "bombing" Max Faulkner's claim that he bombed Monte Cassino because Monte Cassino took place in Jan-Feb 1944 when his record shows that he was not in Italy at the time, it merely reinforces his meritorius war service.

Images of Bobby Locke posted on this Website and the Internet prove that he was in Egypt and Rome during the war years! (The photo of him in SAAF uniform (Khaki shorts, Officers cap) playing with Tommy Bolt in Rome in 1944 and Bobby playing in uniform at Gizira Sporting Club Cairo in Egypt  prove this as does his Official War Record which appears on this Website.

Bobby Locke volunteered for service in the SAAF in World War 2. The SAAF was allied to the Royal Air Force and all who served in those forces saved us from being defeated by the architects of a new Dark Age.

If it were not for them, we would now all be speaking German and the food would be terrible.

Bobby Locke Putter.

Mr Pratt was also searching for Bobby Locke's old Putter and added:
"It would be a real sadness to find that Bobby Locke's old putter has, simple vanished," Pratt says today, "But perhaps it, secretly, went into his coffin with him." Now that would be a fitting ending to the legacy of Bobby Locke and his hickory-shafted putter. A man who many consider golf's most enigmatic player ever.

The perception is that there was never just 1 of "the Putters" but at least 7 of them (As itemised at Christies auction in 1993)  including one given to a young Bobby by his father and 1 given to him by a Mr Lighthouse in Germiston in his youth. The rest were made by Slazenger under Bobby Locke's direction in about 1955. Bobby used all of them!

The late Carolyn Locke admitted that she had misrepresented the lots at the Christies sale and that Bobby's favorite Putter had a rusty blade which she kept. Actually they had previously sold it in 1987 shortly after Bobby Locke's death.  Bobby Locke had promised it to an Auction House run by Colin Taitz before his death. It was sold to Brian Sylvester of Nelspruit South Africa in 1987 who Auctioned it off again in 2011. The Reserve price was unknown but was easily passed and the winning Bidder has it in his possession to this day. It is stamped Gradidge which was a forerunner of Slazenger and had been in business making Golf Clubs since the 1900's. It was not drop forged but hand forged.

See Mary Locke's letter of authenticity below. The gift mentioned was presumably 1 of Bobby Locke's famous Ties.

The one auctioned in 2011 was the "Rusty old Blade" with a letter of authenticity from the late Mary Locke.


The "Rusty old Blade".


Bobby had personally accumulated at least 5 others which had  the description of a "Rusty old Blade". They were all Hickory Shafted, maroon leather gripped, Steel forged Blade Putters commonly known as "Calamity Jane" Putters.

R.I.P. Bobby Locke.

The entire Locke family were Christian minded Believers and are now in God's care.

Thank you Bobby Locke for all the joy and inspiration that you gave to me as a fan and also on behalf of millions of others as well.

God Bless you and your family!

Leave a memorial tribute if you wish:


Bert Weissensee
March 2nd 2020.