JH Taylor an appreciation of a supreme golfer

John Henry Taylor

John Henry Taylor - Credit: Archant

In reporting last week’s golfing clash between East Devon and The Rest Of The World, this reporter described J H Taylor’s ancient putter (the trophy they were hoping to win) as being of uncertain provenance, writes George Carr.

I would wish to make amends! John Henry Taylor was born on March 19, 1871 in the small town of Northam on the North Devon coast.

A working class lad, he was taken on as a caddy at the nearby Royal North Devon Golf Club. Such was his promise that at the age of 19 he was appointed as professional to the Royal Mid-Surrey Golf Club, which position he held until his retirement in 1946; he was kept rather busy meantime.

In 1901, John Taylor was co-founder and first chairman of the British PGA, the first organisation of its kind in the world.

Golfing writer Bernard Darwin (grandson of famous naturalist Charles Darwin) wrote of John Taylor at the time that he had: ‘Turned a feckless company of golfers into a self-respecting and respected body of men’ - no mean achievement!

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By 1913, John Taylor had won no less than five Open Championships; the first in 1894 at Royal St George’s was followed by victory at St Andrews in 1895 and again in 1900, the latter by eight clear shots.

He was Open Champion again at Royal Cinque Ports in 1909 and finally at Royal Liverpool - Hoylake, in 1913. In all he won 12 pro tournaments.

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In 1908 John Henry Taylor somehow found the time to come to Sidmouth and turn the then nine hole course (established in 1889), into the challenging, but lovely eighteen holes they are presently comprised of - we are deeply grateful. John died during the long winter of 1963, a very cold one it was if memory serves, at the ripe old age of 91, and quite how or why his ancient wooden-handled putter came to be hanging even yet behind the bar at Sidmouth Golf Club, over a hundred years since, I cannot say for sure; but we are very pleased to have it. Thank-you Mr Taylor!

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