Joe Carr, who was born in Dublin, started playing golf at a very early age at Portmarnock Golf Club.
Carr won his first major tournament, the East of Ireland Amateur, at the age of 19 in 1941, which started one of Ireland’s greatest golfing careers. He went on to win twelve East of Ireland titles, twelve West of Ireland titles, six Irish Amateur Close Championships, four Irish Amateur Opens, and three South of Ireland titles.
Carr won The Amateur Championship three times, in 1953, 1958, and 1960, and was runner-up in 1968. He was a semifinalist at the U.S. Amateur in 1961, and was low amateur at The Open Championship in both 1956 and 1958 (and finished 8th overall in 1960). In 1967, he became the first Irishman to play in the Masters Tournament (making the cut). Carr received the Bob Jones Award in 1961, the USGA’s highest honor, which is given for “distinguished sportsmanship in golf”. He was the first non-American to win the award.
Internationally, Carr represented Ireland in numerous amateur golfing events. He was a member of a record eleven Walker Cup teams from 1947 to 1967, including non-playing captain in 1965 and playing captain in 1967, amassing a record of 5-14-1. After several years of playing against the United States’ top-ranked players, he was moved down in the order for the 1961 event — only to be paired against Jack Nicklaus (who won the match). He played and captained on multiple Eisenhower Trophy teams, and represented Ireland in the Home Internationals every year from 1947 to 1969. Carr retired from competitive golf in 1971, after his son Roddy played for the winning Great Britain & Ireland Walker Cup team.
The course he has designed himself, Old Head at Kinsale Cork, asks different questions with a breathtakingly beautiful promontory furnishing 13 of the 18 holes with fairways rimming the cliffs. In the knowledge that he could never work with another site quite like it, Carr refused to take on any further assignments.
He had heard it said that the Old Head at Kinsale course could be among the top 50 in the world. Yet had he been asked to pick just one course where he could play the rest of his golf, it would be no contest. He would choose St. Andrews, scene of his ’58 win and the course where, at one time, he held the course records on both the Old and New Course.
In 1991, Carr was named Captain of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews, the first Irishman to hold the post. In July 2007, Carr was elected to the World Golf Hall of Fame in the Lifetime Achievement category, and was inducted in November 2007.