Notorious gangster who loved to play golf

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Al Capone. Photo: Colleen Lane
Al Capone. Photo: Colleen Lane

During the US prohibition, from 1920-1933, the notorious Al Capone was a wanted mafia leader who made billions of dollars on the illegal trade of alcohol. Despite allegedly remaining in the US in the 1920s, a new book written by Capone’s grand-niece has revealed that he made secret trips to St Andrews.

The biography, Uncle Al Capone, The Untold Story from Inside His Family, reveals how Capone travelled to Scotland to negotiate the import of whiskey to the US, but, incredibly, also to satisfy his love of golf in St Andrews. Capone, who ordered the St Valentine’s Massacre in 1929, was able to buy himself false papers and a boat trip to Scotland, at a time when he was earning an estimated $28 million annually from his illicit bootlegging.

Deidre Marie Capone, Capone’s grand-niece told The Saint: “Al Capone loved the game of golf for the challenge it gave him in strategy and critical thinking. Of course, St Andrews and Scotland was the birthplace of golf. To visit and play there was more than a vacation.”

Ms Capone said that she seemed to remember that Al Capone stayed in a hotel when he came to St Andrews, but could not recall which one in particular. The Courier said that whilst in Scotland, Al Capone had: “… hand-picked professionals who apparently pocketed large fees for giving him lessons — and, if they recognised their student, kept their mouths shut.”

She said that although her uncle never played golf with her, Capone and his brother, Ralph – Deidre’s grandfather – used to play regularly.

When asked how she found out about what her uncle had done, Ms Capone explained: “Uncle Al died on my 7th birthday. I was able to read all of the many allegations in the newspapers.”

“I asked my dad if that was all true. My dad said no but there was nothing that we could do to stop them. We wrote to the publishers and begged them to stop.”

The book, however, reveals another side to Al Capone when he was away from the murderous dealings in the US and in Scotland enjoying the beautiful scenery at the home of golf.

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