Top 10 Brits
The British may have invented the game, but they've hardly been excelling at in recent times – particularly in the majors. Mak Lok-lin trawls through the archives to discover who really were the finest golfers from these windswept isles
(4) Harry Vardon
Not many know that Harry Vardon was actually a “Bean”, the slang term for a local on the Channel Island of Jersey where he was born in 1870. The population of Jersey at that time was under 60,000, barely that of a small town today. To find a multiple major winner born there would be a minor miracle, to discover that a second – the beefy Ted Ray – was a contemporary defies belief. Vardon is still remembered today for the “Vardon Grip”, the most popular grip in golf. He was revered by fellow pros for his effortless power, rhythm and balance, largely due to the lightness of his grip. Pedantic Scots may argue that it should be called the “Lindlay Grip”, as top Scottish amateur John Ernest Lindlay is actually credited with having invented it. Regardless, Vardon is unique in winning the Open Championship an amazing six times. The only other major of the era was the US Open, which, despite the travel difficulties involved, he entered three times with a stunning record of a win and two second places. This included losing to Francis Ouimet in the historic playoff in 1913, alongside fellow “Bean” Ray, and then losing to Ray by a stroke in 1920. Vardon was 50-years- old by that time and would have been the oldest major winner of all time had he prevailed. His name also graces the annual PGA of America Vardon Trophy awarded for the lowest average round over the season which Tiger Woods has won a record eight times. The trophy was first awarded in the year of Vardon’s death in 1937.
Written by Mak Lok-lin
44 years ago, British writer George Houghton travelled across Asia and played on 50 courses around the region, including the Royal Hong Kong Golf Club. This extract, which focuses exclusively on Fanling, is taken from chapter six of Houghton's resulting book, Golf Addict Goes East (Country Life, 1967).
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