Tommy Armour was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, and educated at Fettes College and the University of Edinburgh. During his service in World War I, Armour rose from a private to Staff Major in the Tank Corps. His conduct earned him an audience with George V. However, he lost his sight to a mustard gas explosion and surgeons had to add a metal plate to his head and left arm. During his convalescence, he regained the sight of his right eye, and began playing much more golf. Armour won the French Amateur tournament in 1920. He moved to the United States and met Walter Hagen, who gave him a job as secretary of the Westchester-Biltmore Club. He became a U.S. citizen at this time. He competed in important amateur tournaments in the U.S. before turning professional in 1924. Armour won the 1927 U.S. Open, 1930 PGA Championship, and the 1931 Open Championship. With Jim Barnes and Rory McIlroy, he is one of three native Europeans to win three different professional majors. His 1930 campaign was overshadowed by Bobby Jones’ Grand Slam, and Armour seems to have been overlooked. Tommy Armour also won the Canadian Open three times, a feat exceeded only by Leo Diegel, who won four. At the Shawnee Open in 1927, Armour scored the first ever “Archaeopteryx” (15 or more over par) when he made a 23 on a par 5, for 18-over par. This still stands as the highest score on one hole in PGA history. This historic performance happened just one week after winning the U.S. Open.
Tommy Armour retired from full-time professional golf after the 1935 season, although he competed periodically in top-class events for several years afterwards. He taught at the Boca Raton Club in Florida, for $50 a lesson. His pupils included Babe Didrikson Zaharias and Lawson Little. He was also a member at the Winged Foot Golf Club in suburban New York City, where he spent much of his summers. During World War II, Armour played in exhibitions for USO and Red Cross. Armour co-wrote a book How to Play Your Best Golf All the Time (1953) with Herb Graffis. It became a best-seller and for many years was the biggest-selling book ever authored on golf. A series of 8mm films based on the book was released by Castle Films including Short Game parts I and II, Long Hitting Clubs, Grip and Stance. Armour is succeeded by his grandson, Tommy Armour III, who is a two-time winner on the PGA Tour and currently holds the record for the lowest total score on 72 holes (254), which he set in his second PGA Tour victory at the Valero Texas Open. Tommy Armour died in Larchmont, New York, and was cremated at the Ferncliff Cemetery in Hartsdale, New York, but is not interred there. Some modern golf equipment is still marketed in his name. Armour was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1976.
- September, 24, 1895
- Edinburgh, Scotland
- September, 09, 1968
- Larchmont, New York