Tommy Armour

Profile of the 3-time major championship winner and famous name

Tommy Armour
Tommy Armour (left) accepts congratulations - and prepares to accept the Claret Jug - from the Earl of Airlie after winning the 1931 British Open. Central Press/Getty Images

Tommy Armour was a 3-time major championship winner in the 1920s and 1930s, who later became one of the most-respected golf instructors. His name is still used as a brand name of golf clubs.

Date of birth: Sept. 24, 1895
Place of birth: Edinburgh, Scotland
Date of death: Sept. 11, 1968
Nickname: The Silver Scot

Tour Victories:

25

Major Championships:

3
• 1927 U.S. Open
• 1930 PGA Championship
• 1931 British Open

Awards and Honors:

Member, World Golf Hall of Fame

Quote, Unquote:

  • Tommy Armour: "It is not solely the capacity to make great shots that makes champions, but the essential quality of making very few bad shots."
  • Author Ross Goodner on Tommy Armour: "At one time or another, he was known as the greatest iron player, the greatest raconteur, the greatest drinker and the greatest and most expensive teacher in golf."
  • Armour: "In golf you've got two continuously merciless competitors: yourself and the course."

Trivia:

• Armour is believed to have coined the term "yips" to describe the nervous affliction that makes short putts treacherous for some golfers. He said of the yips, "Once you've had 'em, you've got 'em."

• In the 1927 Shawnee Open, Armour posted a score of 23 on the par-5 17th hole. This is regarded as the highest single-hole score ever in a PGA Tour event, and is believed to be the highest such score on any of the world's major professional tours.

• Armour's grandson Tommy Armour III was a longtime PGA Tour golfer, from the 1980s into the 2000s, and a 2-time winner.

Tommy Armour Biography:

Tommy Armour's name remains one of the most recognizable in golf decades after his death and decades more since the height of his fame. Why? Because of Tommy Armour golf clubs, a brand which has been sold nearly continuously since Armour's heyday.

Armour's amateur golf career took off while he was living in his native Scotland. After winning the French Amateur in 1920, Armour decided to head for America. On the boat ride across the Atlantic, Armour met Walter Hagen, who was returning from the British Open. After Hagen and Armour disembarked in New York, Hagen helped Armour land a job at the Westchester-Biltmore Club.

Soon, Armour was developing a reputation as a great teacher of golf, not to mention as a great player of the game.

Armour jump-started his playing career when he won the 1927 U.S. Open, defeating "Lighthorse" Harry Cooper in an 18-hole playoff. Armour went on to win the 1930 PGA Championship and the 1931 British Open, becoming just the third golfer (after Jim Barnes and Hagen) to win all three of those titles.

Other big wins included the 1929 Western Open (then considered a major) and three Canadian Open titles. Armour also played on the American team in a U.S. vs. Great Britain match prior to the 1926 British Open, a competition that some consider the "unofficial" start to the Ryder Cup (see Ryder Cup history).

As a player, Armour was considered one of the finest iron players of his - or any - era.

Armour retired from competition following the 1935 PGA Tour season and turned full-time to teaching.

He worked with many great players, including Lawson Little, Babe Didrikson Zaharias and Julius Boros. But he also taught ordinary golfers, charging some of the highest rates of the time.

In 1952, he published the seminal instructional book, How to Play Your Best Golf All the Time (buy it on Amazon), which is considered one of the classic golf instruction books. Shortly thereafter, Armour filmed a golf instruction movie as a compantion to the book (watch it on YouTube).

Tommy Armour joined the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1976.

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Your Citation
Kelley, Brent. "Tommy Armour." ThoughtCo, Jun. 28, 2016, thoughtco.com/tommy-armour-biography-1563768. Kelley, Brent. (2016, June 28). Tommy Armour. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/tommy-armour-biography-1563768 Kelley, Brent. "Tommy Armour." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/tommy-armour-biography-1563768 (accessed November 19, 2017).