Taylor's Gold

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Taylor’s Gold charts the extraordinary life of a true sporting superstar.


It tells how John Henry Taylor rose from abject poverty in a rural North Devon backwater to the very highest echelons of the game of golf.
His five Open Championship triumphs in 1894, 1895, 1900, 1909 and 1913 – incredible in their own right – are only part of the story.

‘JH’ changed the face of golf for ever as the founding father of The Professional Golfers’ Association and a tireless champion of golf for all the people through the formation of the Artisan and Public Golf Course movements.

Taylor’s Gold, published by Royal North Devon Golf Club, follows his amazing journey from an 11-year-old caddie at Westward Ho! through spells as the professional at Burnham and Berrow, Royal Winchester and Royal Wimbledon until his arrival at Royal Mid-Surrey, where he remained for 47 years.

The book not only acknowledges the astonishing achievements of RND’s most famous son but also offers in words and previously unpublished pictures a tangible flavour of JH Taylor the man and the era in which he bestrode the world of golf.

The club is particularly indebted to Judith and Roger Plumtree, and John Taylor – three of his grandchildren – for their fascinating insights into life with the great man away from the fairways.

With family permission, the book reproduces many of JH’s own recollections in his autobiography, Golf: My Life’s Work, because, nearly 50 years after his death, they still provide the best perspective on what it took to become, and remain, a true giant of the game.

Proceeds from Taylor’s Gold, which is available now, will fund a major programme of events leading up to Royal North Devon’s 150th anniversary celebrations in 2014.

The Club would like to thanks Peter Gompertz, Editor of ‘The Long Game’, journal of The Golf Society of Australia for the following review of the book:

Taylor’s Gold – The life and times of a golfing superstar.
A Royal North Devon publication with words by Jim Hopkins and pictures by Patrick Noonan

John Henry Taylor ( 1871-1963 ) known as ‘Wig’ as a boy on account of the colour of his hair but today, always referred to as ‘JH’, was born into a very poor family ( ‘once you’ve felt the cold chill of poverty it is something you never forget’ ) thirty six years into the reign of Queen Victoria.  His father was a labourer who took what work he could get in an era when no work meant no pay. His mother took in washing and occasionally, as a last resort, accepted “parish pay“, a donation from her local church.  Before he died in his early 90s, JH became the Champion Golfer five times, designed golf courses and clubs, travelled to Europe and America, played golf and dined with Kings, Prime Ministers and assorted aristocracy but always stayed true to himself, his family and his reputation as ‘the peoples champion’; somehow finding the time to help establish The Artisans Golfing Association, The Professional Golfers Association and encourage local councils to open up public golf courses for the working man. He also captained a winning Ryder Cup team!

Taylor’s Gold is a well assembled book of short but fascinating chapters, wonderfully illustrated with a lot of, previously unseen by many, photographs of JH and some of the interesting people that he associated with on his journey from ‘odd boy’, ‘boot boy’ and ‘caddie’ to becoming one of Clement Flower’s ‘The Great Triumvirate’ and, in his retirement,  President of Royal North Devon Golf Club, into whose clubhouse he would not have been invited as a young man. Many of the words are his own as he was an accomplished writer, but there are major contributions from his daughter Phyllis and his four grand children, as well as his golf colleagues. Bernard Darwin wrote of JH ‘he was a natural speaker, a natural fighter and a natural leader. He would have made his mark in any walk of life’. He chose golf, or did it choose him? either way his life was an awe inspiring journey of the best kind, and well worth reading.

Peter Gompertz

Editor of ‘The Long Game’, journal of The Golf Society of Australia