Johnny Laidlay

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Johnny Laidlay
Johnny Laidlay c1895.jpg
Laidlay, c. 1895
Personal information
Full nameJohn Ernest Laidlay
Born(1860-11-05)5 November 1860
Seacliff, East Lothian, Scotland
Died15 July 1940(1940-07-15) (aged 79)
Sunningdale, Berkshire, England
Nationality Scotland
Best results in major championships
(wins: 2)
U.S. OpenDNP
The Open Championship2nd: 1893
U.S. AmateurDNP
British AmateurWon: 1889, 1891

John Ernest Laidlay (5 November 1860 – 15 July 1940) was a Scottish amateur golfer. He invented the most popular golf grip used today, although the grip is credited to Harry Vardon, who took it up after Laidlay.

Early life[edit]

Laidlay was born in Seacliff, two miles east of North Berwick, East Lothian, the son of John Watson Laidlay FRSE. He became quite prominent at golf while a schoolboy from 1872–1878 at the Loretto School in Musselburgh, near Edinburgh. Following completion of his education at Loretto, he moved to North Berwick and played out of the famous North Berwick Golf Club.

Golf career[edit]

British Amateur Championship[edit]

Laidlay won the British Amateur Championship twice, in 1889 and 1891, and was runner-up three more times, in 1888, 1890, and 1893, during a six-year stretch from 1888 to 1893. He was also runner-up in the 1893 Open Championship. He won over 130 amateur medals during his playing career, represented Scotland every year from 1902 to 1911, and also played cricket for Scotland. After World War I, he moved to Sunningdale, near London, where his former caddie Jack White was the club professional at the Sunningdale Golf Club. He has been called the 'last of the gentlemen golfers'.[1]

Overlapping grip[edit]

Laidlay was using the grip which was credited to Harry Vardon for some years before either Vardon or J.H. Taylor adopted it. The grip is taken by overlapping the little finger of the bottom hand between the forefinger and middle fingers of the top hand, with thumbs pointing down and the remaining fingers of both hands wrapping around the club, with the club held lightly. The lead thumb should fit into the palm, along the lifeline of the trailing hand. Since 1900, most professionals, top amateurs, and average players around the world have adopted this grip, known as the Vardon or overlapping grip. Probably 90% of the world's golfers use it, although there are exceptions, including Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, and Gene Sarazen.

Laidlay also played one match for the Scotland national cricket team in 1878.[2]

Death and legacy[edit]

Laidlay died on 15 July 1940 at Sunningdale, England. He is best remembered as a 2-time winner of the British Amateur Championship and the first golfer to employ the overlapping grip.

Major championships[edit]

Amateur wins (2)[edit]

Year Championship Winning Score Runner-up
1889 The Amateur Championship 2 & 1 Scotland Leslie Balfour-Melville
1891 The Amateur Championship 20 holes England Harold Hilton

Results timeline[edit]

Tournament 1885 1886 1887 1888 1889
The Open Championship T13 T8 LA 4 LA 10 T4 LA
The Amateur Championship R24 QF 2 1
Tournament 1890 1891 1892 1893 1894 1895 1896 1897 1898 1899
The Open Championship T11 T20 2 LA 17 T18 29 32
The Amateur Championship 2 1 SF 2 SF R16 R16 R64 R16
Tournament 1900 1901 1902 1903 1904 1905 1906 1907 1908 1909
The Open Championship T26 T7 T37 T60
The Amateur Championship R16 R32 R16 R64 SF R64 R32 R256 R128 R16
Tournament 1910 1911 1912 1913 1914 1915 1916 1917 1918 1919
The Open Championship NT NT NT NT NT
The Amateur Championship R32 R64 R64 R128 NT NT NT NT NT
Tournament 1920
The Open Championship
The Amateur Championship R64

Note: Laidlay only played in The Open Championship and The Amateur Championship.

  Top 10
  Did not play

LA = Low amateur
NT = No tournament
"T" indicates a tie for a place
R256, R128, R64, R32, R16, QF, SF = Round in which player lost in match play

Team appearances[edit]

  • England–Scotland Amateur Match (representing Scotland): 1902 (winners), 1903, 1904 (winners), 1905 (winners), 1906 (winners), 1907 (winners), 1908 (winners), 1909 (winners), 1910, 1911 (winners)


  1. ^ History of Golf at North Berwick.
  2. ^ "John Ernest Laidlay". CricketEurope.


External links[edit]