Player Feature
JH Taylor
A five-time Champion Golfer of the Year
JH Taylor

A World Golf Hall of Famer and considered by many as one of the greatest golfers of all time, John Henry Taylor lifted the Claret Jug five times before the First World War.

And his career was made more unique in that alongside being a talented golfer, Taylor was also a pioneering golf course architect – with one certain design that has influenced courses for years.

The ‘dogleg’ is now a staple of almost every golf course in the world and it was Taylor who first designed it.

But it’s his record on the course that sets him apart the most.

Humble beginnings

Taylor was born on March 19, 1871 in Northam, Devon in to a working-class family but was sadly orphaned as a child.

His first involvement in golf came aged 11 when he was a caddie at Royal North Devon Golf Club before he was hired to become caddie and houseboy for Horace Hutchinson, who went on to win back-to-back British Amateur Championships.

He turned professional in 1890, aged 19 and did not take long to start breaking new ground for himself.

His first victory at The Open came in 1894 at Royal St George’s, where he beat Scotland’s Douglas Rolland by five strokes.

And he followed it up with another win at St Andrew’s in 1895 to become Champion Golfer of the Year for a second time in a row when he saw off Sandy Herd.

Master of the links

JH Taylor

Harry Vardon emerged to claim three of the next four Claret Jugs but Taylor was always in the mix and from 1893 through 1909, her never finished outside the top 10 in an Open.

There were still three more victories for Taylor to claim too with his last win coming in 1913, 19 years after his first. That 19-year gap between first and final Open wins is a tournament record.

Taylor continued to compete at the Championship well into his 50s and in 1924, he managed a fourth-place finish before competing in his final Open in 1926, aged 55.

His record of six runners-up finishes is second only to the Jack Nicklaus’ tally of seven.

In 1933 he was named captain of the Ryder Cup team that beat the United States, and with his playing days behind him he remains the only captain to serve without playing in the competition himself.

Beyond playing

Taylor had a keen interest in designing courses as well as playing on them and is credited with contributing to courses across England including York Golf Club and Pinner Hill.

But perhaps his biggest success is Royal Birkdale, the Southport-based links which has played host to The Open on ten occasions.

The current routing at Royal Birkdale, which last hosted The Open in 2017, is still considered to be in the mould of Taylor’s design.


Taylor lived and breathed the game of golf and off the course he sought ways to make it better.

He was an integral part of the establishment of the Professional Golfers Association in 1901 and, along with his fellow professionals, took part in the first ever competition organised by the PGA at The Tooting Bec Golf Club on October 15, 1901 during which Taylor was the first ever chairman to be appointed.

He was later appointed an honorary member of the R&A in 1949. He died, aged 91, in 1963.