Born: May 9, 1870
Died: March 20, 1937
Birthplace: Channel Islands
Turned Pro: 1890
Harry Vardon was born into a cash-strapped family with a father who thought golf was a frivolous pursuit. That didn’t stop Vardon or his younger brother Thomas from playing golf and pursuing careers in the sport they loved.
At age 20, Vardon was hired as a greens keeper at a golf course in Yorkshire. From those humble beginnings, Vardon would go on to become golf’s first superstar – winning 6 Open Championships and a U.S. Open during his storied career.
Along with J.H. Taylor and James Braid, the group was referred to as “The Great Triumvirate.” This group dominated the game in the late 1800’s and first part of the 20th century. Taylor and Braid each won 5 Open Championships to go along with Vardon’s record 6 titles.
Vardon made the most of his three appearances in the U.S. Open, winning the tournament in 1900 and finishing runner up in his only two other appearances, including the legendary 1913 U.S. Open won by Frances Ouimet.
Vardon popularized the overlapping grip, a grip unanimously favored by most amateur and professional golfers today. As his playing days waned, Vardon began working in golf course design, instruction and coaching, and writing.
Later in his career, Vardon was struck with tuberculosis. Vardon had been both a brilliant ball striker and a short-game wizard early in his career. Vardon, according to some historians, suffered nerve damage from the tuberculosis and it negatively impacted his touch on and around the greens.
Vardon was among a handful of players selected for the inaugural class of the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1974.