Llandrindod Wells Golf Club

Harry Vardon

We are most grateful to Julian Hoppit, Department of History, University College London, for this piece on Harry Vardon.

Few golf courses have had a champion such as Harry Vardon as their architect. Indeed, Llandrindod Wells golf course was designed not by a winner but by a legend. Open champion for an unmatched six times and of the US Open once, between 1896 and 1914 he was the leading member of the magical 'Triumvirate' of Vardon, Braid and Taylor who dominated golf in its first age of widening public appeal.

Harry Vardon

Today he is widely remembered as the greatest advocate (though not inventor) of the Vardon grip and of the Vardon prize awarded by both the European and US professional tours to those with the lowest stroke average over a season.

Llandrindod Wells particularly remembers him as the architect of a delightful upland course that with the railway and the spa made the town a complete late-Victorian and Edwardian polite resort.

Vardon was by all accounts a natural athlete with remarkable powers of concentration. It will not surprise those who have played Llandrindod Wells that he played not with fade or draw but 'with' straight. Length of tee shots unimpressed him and putting was always the weakest part of his game (later he developed the 'yips').

What mattered was the almost impossible task of hitting a gutta percha ball straight with hickory-shafted clubs. And no one did that better than Vardon. As his obituary in The Times put it, 'He did what only a very great player can do; he raised the general conception of what was possible in his game and forced his nearest rivals to attain a higher standard by attempting that which they would otherwise have deemed impossible.'

In the history of golf Vardon's achievements are best compared to those of Bobby Jones and Jack Nicklaus. Llandrindod Wells may not be Augusta or Muirfield Village, but like them it is a course and a club that matches the peerless character of its creator: elevated, winning and full of charm.

Nationality: British
Born: May 9, 1870
Died: March 20, 1937
Open wins: 1896 - Muirfield
  1898 - Prestwick
  1899 - St George's
  1903 - Prestwick
  1911 - St George's
  1914 - Prestwick

Llandrindod Wells, Powys, LD1 5NY
Tel: +44 (0) 1597 822247