Born: January 28, 1907
Died: December 22, 1987
Birthplace: Holmes Chapel, England
Turned Pro: 1924
If not for a dispute with his schoolmasters, Sir Thomas Henry Cotton may have ended up an international cricket star, instead of a three time Open Champion. Cotton and his brother turned to golf as a competitive outlet after being kicked off his school’s cricket team at age 13. Four years later, at the age of 17, Cotton became a professional golfer.
Cotton was consumed by the game. His routine included long-practice sessions and obsessing about the role of a player’s hands in the golf swing. This preoccupation with mechanics led Cotton to teach and write about the game when his competitive playing days were over.
Cotton began winning consistently in Europe in 1930. He won 18 titles between 1930 and 1940. He captured his first Major at the 1934 Open Championship by five shots at Royal St. Georges. He captured his second Open Championship three years later at Carnoustie, defeating Reg Whitcomb by two strokes.
Cotton fired a 65 during his win at Royal St. Georges, a very low score during that era. Dunlop created and branded the “Dunlop 65” ball in tribute to his effort. At the time, Cotton’s 72 hole score of 283 tied Gene Sarazen for the lowest 72-hole total in Open Championship history.
World War II wiped out the Open Championship from 1940-1945, costing Cotton six opportunities to add another title.
He captured his third and final Open Championship in 1948 at Muirfield by a comfortable 5 shots over runner up Fred Daly. In all, Cotton recorded 17 top ten performances at the Open.
Aside from teaching and writing about the game when he retired as a player, Cotton had an interest in golf course design. He also established the “Golf Foundation”, a forerunner to the First Tee program.