John Henry Taylor, known as “JH”, won the first Open held outside Scotland. The land for what would become Royal St George’s was spied from the tower of St Clement’s church in Sandwich by Dr Laidlaw Purves, a Scot living in London.
He was looking to create a links comparable to those he grew up on and the club was founded in 1887. Only five years later it hosted the Amateur Championship and, with The R&A looking to expand the rota for The Open, staged its first Championship in 1894.
Reduced rail fares were negotiated to encourage the Scottish professionals to make the trip and 14 did, while 21 Scots attached to English clubs also played. Far from a reduced entry, as feared, the 94 starters were a new record for the Championship.
Old Tom Morris, who had only travelled down intending to watch, was among them but withdrew after scoring 100 in the third round.Taylor, 23, was the first English professional to win The Open, following victories for the Hoylake amateur John Ball in 1890 and Harold Hilton in 1892.
Taylor learnt his golf at Westward Ho! and was tenth on his Open debut the year before. This was the start of the Great Triumvirate dominating The Open, Taylor, Harry Vardon and James Braid winning 16 times in two decades.
Sandy Herd led after a first round of 83 but Taylor ended the first day ahead after scores of 84 and 80.
Only two players broke 80 for the week, both in the second round with 79s for Douglas Rolland and Andrew Kirkaldy.
Taylor’s one-stroke lead turned into three after 54 holes and he won by five from Rolland and by six from Kirkaldy. He closed with two rounds of 81, for a total of 326, the highest ever to win The Open.