The 1938 Open Championship was the 73rd Open Championship, held 6–8 July at Royal St George's Golf Club in Sandwich, England. In terrible weather conditions that caused scores to soar, Reg Whitcombe prevailed by two strokes over runner-up Jimmy Adams to win his only major title. The purse was £500 with a winner's share of £100.
It was planned to play the Championship at Royal Cinque Ports but in February 1938 abnormal high tides caused severe flooding to the course leaving it like "an inland sea several feet deep". The venue was switched to Royal St George's. Prince's replaced Royal Cinque Ports as the venue for one of the qualifying rounds.
Qualifying took place on 4–5 July. Entries played 18 holes at St. George's and 18 holes at Prince's. The number of qualifiers was limited to a maximum of 130. Ties for 130th place did not qualify. The qualifying score was 157 and 120 players qualified. John Fallon led the qualifiers on 142. A maximum of 40 players after 36 holes made the cut to play on the final day. Ties for 40th place did not make the cut.
Dick Burton, Jack Busson, and Bill Cox shared the 36-hole lead at even par 140, with Whitcombe two strokes back after consecutive rounds of 71. In the last two rounds, however, the weather turned from challenging to treacherous. Gale force winds ripped apart the large exhibition tent and scattered debris for a mile around. Alf Padgham drove the green on the 384-yard (351 m) 11th hole, while Cyril Tolley cleared the water on the 14th only to have the wind blow his ball back into the hazard. Only seven sub-80 scores were recorded in the final round. The leaders suffered terribly in the conditions: Burton finished 78-85, Busson shot 83-80, while Cox went 84-80. Whitcombe's scores of 75-78 were enough to post a 295 total, two ahead of Adams and three clear of defending champion Henry Cotton.