Harry Vardon was possessed with a talent and method so singular he was considered a shotmaking machine in the improvisational era of hickory and gutta percha. The winner of the Open Championship a record six times, he was golf’s first superstar.
Vardon was a true original. On his own, he developed the Vardon Grip, in which the little finger of the right hand is rested on top of the index finger of the left hand, the grip used by 90 percent of good players today. Wrote Bernard Darwin of Vardon, “I do not think anyone who saw him play in his prime will disagree as to this, that a greater genius is inconceivable.”
Vardon was born May 9, 1870, in Grouville, Jersey, one of the Channel Islands between England and France. The son of a gardener, he was one of six boys and two girls. When the town went about building a golf course, the children built their own, and Vardon taught himself the effortless, upright swing that would serve him the rest of his life.