Equipped with a near flawless swing that he taught himself and a scrappy confidence that carried him to a record six Open Championship titles and one U.S. Open, Harry Vardon was one of golf’s most significant champions since Young Tom Morris.
With no formal training, Vardon’s unique approach and demanding practice schedule facilitated his launch to professional ranks at the age of 20 after he entered the game as a caddie on the Isle of Jersey.
Following his first three Open Championship wins, armed with the overlapping grip created by Johnny Laidley that became known as the “Vardon Grip,” Vardon gained further celebrity by winning the 1900 U.S. Open in Chicago. Vardon traveled around the United States playing in exhibition matches, often challenging two opponents at once. His legend grew as he crushed his foes – winning 70 of 80 matches. His signature grip became the preferred choice of the golfers of his day.
A member of golf’s “Great Triumvirate” that included JH Taylor and James Braid, Vardon preferred to compete in loose-fitting short pants gathered at the knee. Without altering his wardrobe, the diminutive but powerful Channel Islands native won 62 tournaments throughout his career. He famously lost to a teenage Francis Ouimet in a three-way playoff with Ted Ray at Brookline in the 1913 U.S. Open. At the age of 50, despite a history of tuberculosis, he was runner up in the 1920 U.S. Open.
Vardon turned to golf course architecture and writing about the game later in life. In 1974 he was an inaugural inductee into the World Golf Hall of Fame. The Vardon Trophy is presented in his name each year to the PGA Tour competitor with the lowest annual scoring average.