Dec 13th, 2016
Representing For The GolfPunks: Sir Henry Cotton
Loose cars, fast women and Open Championships
Words: Iestyn George Photography: Getty Images
Bi-planes and flash Mercs didn’t come easy in the 1930s; it did help if you were the greatest British golfer of your age.
Henry Cotton enlivened a particularly unexciting period for the game. Far from being the haughty aristocrat he might appear, here was a character who turned his back on privilege at 16, walking out of Alleyn’s Public School after an argument with his cricket coach.
He worked as a professional in Brussels early on in his career because he couldn’t stand the way British pros were looked down on by gentlemen players.
He also mucked about with the regimented dress code of the time, leaving the jacket and tie back in the dressing room where it belonged. But the fondness for champagne, caviar and unusually flamboyant modes of transport made him one of the most charismatic characters of his generation.
Cotton’s first step into the big time came in the 1929 Ryder Cup (he would captain the team on a further two occasions), but he’s best known for his hat–trick of Open victories, which started in 1934 at St George’s. In 1937 he beat every member of the US Ryder Cup team at Carnoustie to cart off the Claret Jug a second time. He joined the air force during World War II and his third Open title came in 1948.
Now he was famous – as famous as any British golfer had ever been. His non–conformist streak never deserted him, but it took on a cuddlier guise as he performed tricks at variety shows, had several books published and designed courses in the UK and Europe.
Dragging the professional golfer out of the caddy shack, Henry Cotton never did anything but live up to his own philosophy: “To be a champion, you must act like one.”
Watch Henry thrash three women Open Champions at once!