Born Grouville, Jersey, Channel Islands (1870 to 1937). The most celebrated member of the Great Triumvirate, Harry Vardon changed people’s conception of how well the game could be played. His playing method -which included an overlapping grip, slightly open stance, bent left arm and upright but effortless rhythm -was unorthodox for the times. The long, flat slashing ‘St Andrews swing’, with a loose grip at the top, was the norm. Vardon’s methods were copied. It is said that he never missed a fairway with his driver and that his faded fairway woods and long irons always covered the flag. What was truly revolutionary about the methods of Vardon, as well as Taylor and Braid, was that they held onto the club firmly at the top of the back swing.
Vardon’s peak years were 1896 to 1900 when few could cope with his mastery of the gutty in either matchplay or strokeplay events. People flocked to see him in tournaments and exhibition matches up and down the country and he made an equal impression in the United States when he undertook a strenuous tour there in 1900. He returned as US Open champion.
Shortly after winning his fourth Open, Vardon developed tuberculosis and his results declined. Eventually, however, he recovered his form and won two more Opens including a record sixth in 1914. Only a strong wind and fatigue prevented him from winning the 1920 US Open.
Open Champions at Prestwick
Extract taken from “British Open Champions” by Michael Hobbs 1991.