Massy was born in Biarritz, Pyrénées-Atlantiques, France. The son of a sheep farmer, he worked on a sardine boat and supplemented his income by caddying at the new Biarritz golf course where a great many of the best professional golfers from Britain came to practice during the off-season in the warm climate of southern France. Blessed with natural abilities, he learned from these pro golfers and in 1898 traveled to North Berwick, Scotland to develop his skills for a professional career.
In 1906, Massy won the first edition of the French Open played at a Paris course. The following year he won it again, defeating a strong contingent of British players including the great Harry Vardon. But Massy wasn't through, he followed up his French national championship by becoming the first non-Briton to win The Open Championship (British Open). His victory raised the profile of the game in his native France, and with three other major players, he put on exhibition matches in various European cities that contributed significantly to the increased popularity of golf on the continent.
In 1910, Massy won the inaugural Belgian Open and in 1911 was the runner-up at the Open Championship to Harry Vardon. That year, Massy completed his book on golfing that was successfully published in France then translated into English for the British market. In 1912, he won the first Spanish Open ever played.
Massy's golfing career had to be put on hold as a result of World War I. While serving in the French army he was wounded at Verdun but at war's end was able to return to golfing. At age 41, he had lost four prime years and struggled to compete. Remarkably, in 1925 at age 48, he won the French Open for the fourth time and then won back-to-back Spanish Opens in 1927–28. When his career finally wound down he worked as a pro at courses in England, France and Morocco. Married to an English woman, he lived in Edinburgh, Scotland during the Second World War.
Massy retired in Étretat, Seine-Maritime in Upper Normandy where he died in 1950 in poverty. He remains the only French golfer to ever have won any of the four men's major championships. He was also the only golfer from continental Europe to win a men's major championship before Seve Ballesteros won The Open Championship in 1979.
He is buried in Newington Cemetery in Edinburgh, where a new headstone was recently erected by the European Golf Association, Golf Collectors and the R&A. However shortly after the ceremony it was discovered that the actual burial site was located nearby in the cemetery. Despite this discrepancy, the headstone remains in its incorrect location.
Note: This list may be incomplete.
|Year||Championship||54 holes||Winning score||Margin||Runner-up|
|1907||The Open Championship||1 shot deficit||76-81-78-77=312||2 strokes||J.H. Taylor|
|The Open Championship||T10||T37||WD||T5||6||1||T9||T35|
|The Open Championship||T22||2||10||T7||T10||NT||NT||NT||NT||NT|
|The Open Championship||T29||T6||WD||WD||WD||T41||CUT||CUT|
Note: Massy only played in The Open Championship
WD = Withdrew
NT = No tournament
CUT = missed the half-way cut
"T" indicates a tie for a place