J.H. Taylor, a British Golfing Giant

5-time British Open winner J.H. Taylor pictured in 1908
J.H. Taylor was a 5-time winner of the British Open. Hulton Archive/Getty Images

John Henry Taylor, commonly known as J.H. Taylor, was one-third of the "Great Triumvirate," that trio of British golfers who dominated the sport in the late 19th/early 20th century. He won five Open Championship titles and set records that still stand today.

Date of birth: March 19, 1871
Place of birth: Devon, England
Date of death: February 10, 1963

Major Championship Wins

5

  • 1894 British Open
  • 1895 British Open
  • 1900 British Open
  • 1909 British Open
  • 1913 British Open

Among Taylor's other significant victories are these:

  • 1891 English Challenge Match Play
  • 1901 Tooting Bec Cup
  • 1904 British PGA
  • 1908 French Open
  • 1908 British PGA
  • 1909 French Open
  • 1912 German Open
  • 1921 Roehampton Invitation
  • 1929 Dutch Open

Awards and Honors

  • Member, World Golf Hall of Fame
  • Captain, Great Britain Ryder Cup team, 1933

Quote, Unquote

"Always remember that however good you may be, the game is your master." - J.H. Taylor

J.H. Taylor Trivia

  • Taylor's Open-winning score of 326 in 1894 is the highest 72-hole total in tournament history.
  • Taylor was the first English golfer to win an Open at St. Andrews, doing so in 1895.
  • Taylor won both the 1900 and 1913 British Opens by eight strokes. To this day, that remains tied for the largest margin of victory in any post-19th Century Open Championship.
  • Taylor is one of three golfers (the others are Harry Vardon and Gary Player) to win the Open Championship in three decades.
  • Taylor is the only person to serve as a Ryder Cup captain without ever playing in the Ryder Cup.

Biography of J.H. Taylor

John Henry Taylor formed Britain's "Great Triumvirate" of golfers along with Harry Vardon and James Braid. The trio dominated the British Open, with Taylor and Braid winning five times each and Vardon six times in the late 19th/early 20th centuries.

J.H. Taylor did not come from wealth, and his father died while he was just an infant. Taylor began working at a young age to help his family. One of his jobs was that of caddie at Westward Ho golf course near his home.

He gradually moved up the ranks at Westward Ho, joining the greenskeeping staff and learning about golf course layout and maintenance. He also honed his golf game during these years, and by age 19 was ready to turn pro.

Taylor's first Open Championship victory followed four years later, in 1894, and he won again the following year. Three more victories came after the turn of the century. His final British Open win was in 1913, 19 years after his first. That 19-year gap between first and final Open wins is a tournament record.

From 1893 through 1909, Taylor never finished outside the Top 10 in an Open. After falling to 14th in 1910, he later added another six Top 10 finishes, the last in 1925.

As late as 1924, at the age of 53, Taylor finished fourth at the Open. Taylor's six runner-up finishes are second-most in Open history (behind Jack Nicklaus' 7) and he shares the tournament record (with Nicklaus) for most career Top 5 finishes (16).

During his heyday, Taylor won other big tournaments such as the French Open, German Open and British Professional Match Play.

He also finished second to Harry Vardon at the 1900 U.S. Open (one of only two times Taylor played the U.S. Open).

The World Golf Hall of Fame described accuracy as the hallmark of Taylor's game:

"Taylor's accuracy was legendary. At Sandwich, where he won his first Open by five strokes in 1894, he would have the directional posts removed from the blind holes out of fear that his drives would hit them and carom into bunkers."

In 1933, he served as captain of the Great Britain team in the Ryder Cup, the fourth time the Cup was played.

While Taylor spent many of his years following his playing career designing and remodeling golf courses around Britain, his biggest contribution came as a driving force behind the formation of the Professional Golfers Association in Britain. Taylor's public speaking helped raised the profile of the organization and of pro golfers in general.

Taylor was the last survivor of golf's 19th Century champions; he died at age 92 in 1963.

Books By J.H. Taylor

  • Golf, My Life's Work
  • Taylor on Golf: Impressions, Comments and Hints