I am constantly amazed at uncovering so many historical events.
Early Life of Tommy Armour
He was born Tommy Dickson Armour on September 24, 1896, in Scotland to George and Martha Armour. Tommy attended the University of Edinburgh, but when WWI broke out, he left school and joined the British Army, training to be a machine gunner. He served in the Battle of Ypres in 1918 when a German mustard-gas shell hit his tank. Tommy's wounds were severe, with a metal plate being put in his left arm and a plate placed in his skull. As a result of the mustard gas, he was blinded in both eyes and spent weeks in the hospital with several surgeries.
Fortunately, he regained sight in his right eye but would remain blind in his left eye for the rest of his life and remain a factor in his golf career.
Tommy was an inspiration to the golf community and would be a winner in the PGA and many other golf challenges.
After Tommy's Surgeries
Tommy was determined to improve his health and mobility, taking golf seriously. Tommy married Consuelo Cannera, a wealthy lady who quickly funded his early years as a professional golfer. Together they had two children but divorced in 1930.
Two years after his release from the hospital, he won the French Amateur Open and decided to head to the U.S. for golf. He met Walter Hagan Hagan taking him under his wing and acting as a father figure. Hagan arranged for Tommy to get a position at the Westmore-Bilton Club. After Tommy immigrated to the U.S. in 1923, in 1924, he became a U.S. citizen. By this time, he was given the nickname the "Black Scot." Later he would be called the "Silver Scot" because of his prematurely grey hair.
Tommy Armour's Golf Career
A Timeline of Armour's Golf Wins:
- 1920 Won the Irish Amateur Open
- 1927 Won the U.S. Open. The only one-eyed player to do so.
- 1929 Won the Western Open, at the time, considered a major event
- 1930 Won PGA Championship
- 1931 Won the Open Championship
- 1933 Tommy retires from competition
- 1936 Hired by Macgregor Golf Company
Tommy also won the Canadian Open three times. His PGA wins totaled 25. From 1926-to 1935, he taught golf at the Boca Raton Club and was renowned as one of the best golf instructors, charging $50. per hour. Babe Didrickson-Zaharis gave credit to Armour for her golf skills. He even gave instructions to Bobby Jones.
Tommy was a notorious drinker and a womanizer, which probably contributed to his divorce from his first wife, Consuelo. He remarried Estelle Cunningham, a widow. He reveled in socializing with celebrities like Errol Flynn, Bob Hope, Babe Ruth, and Bing Crosby.
Tommy was a complex man with a dash of indifference and a touch of class.
Armour Was A Character
Tommy often said of himself, "it's nice to be a good golfer and win championships but still, being the finest golfer never cured polio." After his retirement, Tommy spent a few years on the lecture tour, and his gift of gab and tales of golf were welcome across the lecture tour. It was said of Tommy that he was the biggest bluffer and gambler ever in golf. Armour would wager every hole, every putt, and every nine. He loved gambling. A reporter once asked him what the "D" stood for in his name, and Armour replied, "dough."
Tommy Armour And Herb Graffs
In 1952, Tommy contacted an old drinking buddy, Herb Graffs, a struggling former newspaperman, to ghostwrite his autobiography. The agreement was to split the royalties 50/50. Every day they would meet at Winged Foot in Mamaroneck, N.Y. to discuss the book. That book, How To Play Your Best Golf All The Time, was an instant bestseller making Graffs a happy and wealthy man. Later another book by Armour was based more on the mental and psychological side of the game.
Tommy died in 1968 and is buried in Ferncliff Cemetery, N.Y. His son, Dr. Tommy Armour, Jr, a surgeon in Nevada, died in 2003. His grandson Tommy Armour III was a professional golfer on the PGA Tour.
Armour was inducted in the PGA Hall of Fame in 1942 and in 1976 into the World Golf Hall Of Fame.
Quotes By Tommy Armour