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Williams, Harry Llewellyn (1915–1961)

by A. G. L. Shaw

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 12, (MUP), 1990

Harry Llewellyn Carlington Williams (1915-1961), golfer, was born on 12 July 1915 at Elsternwick, Melbourne, son of Eric Llewellyn Williams, manufacturer and importer, and his wife Emma Madge Dagmar, née Halfey, both Victorian born. Educated at Brighton Grammar School, Harry began playing golf at Elsternwick at the age of 10 and was elected a junior member of Commonwealth Golf Club in 1927. He won his first monthly medal next year with a gross score equal to standard scratch and also played in the club's senior pennant team. In 1931 he resigned from Commonwealth and joined Victoria Golf Club and that year won both the Australian and Victorian amateur championships. His great rival was the New South Wales junior, Jim Ferrier: during the 1930s Williams showed his superiority by winning six of their seven individual encounters, though Ferrier beat him in the Australian Open and amateur championship in 1939.

His inheritance from his father who died in 1933, together with his mother's income from the estate of her father, enabled Williams to practise and to play continuously. He won the Victorian amateur championship again in 1934, 1935, 1936 and 1939, and the Australian amateur for the second time in 1937. He never won the Australian Open, but was runner-up to Gene Sarazen from the United States of America in 1936. Urged by Sarazen to go to the U.S.A. as a professional, Williams refused. Apparently his mother, a possessive woman, dissuaded him from taking up an offer which would probably have made him a millionaire, as she did his touring Great Britain with an Australian team in 1938. Perhaps his heart was not in the game. In one competition against 'bogey', he is said to have been 8 up after nine holes, when he left for the races, marking a loss against the remaining nine—though in the event his score of 'one down' left him the winner. Tall and lean, Williams hit a very long ball and was in 1937—in Sarazen's judgement—the greatest left-hander in the world and the greatest Australia had produced.

Chronic asthma cut short Williams's army service with the Citizen Military Forces (1940-42) and he did not play golf seriously after World War II. He and his mother seem to have been poor financial managers, and the family fortune dwindled as rising prices, the turf, alcohol and unemployment took their toll. He died with his mother by carbon monoxide poisoning in their flat at East Kew on 13 December 1961. Harry Williams was cremated at Springvale.

Select Bibliography

  • D. Lawrence, Victoria Golf Club 1903-1988 (Syd, 1988)
  • Age (Melbourne), 15 Dec 1961
  • Sun (Sydney), 8 Jan 1980
  • Herald (Melbourne), 4 Jan 1986.

Citation details

A. G. L. Shaw, 'Williams, Harry Llewellyn (1915–1961)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/williams-harry-llewellyn-9113/text16071, published first in hardcopy 1990, accessed online 23 August 2019.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 12, (MUP), 1990

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