Famous Lanarkians

Johnny Fallon

Johnny (front row, second from left) was a respected figure in the world of golf.

Lanark Golf Club is widely regarded by players as one of the finest courses in Scotland and it also helped to shape the career of Lanarkian Johnny Fallon, who went on to become a Ryder Cup player and captain.

Fallon was born on 29th April 1913 and grew up in St Leonard Street. He honed his skills as a golfer at the local course. He was still in his teens when he was given the opportunity to become a professional at Huddersfield Golf Club in 1931 and he quickly made an impact at the Yorkshire club.

In the 1939 Open Championship at St Andrews the 26-year-old went into the final round leading the championship by four strokes and was the favourite to lift the trophy but Fallon recorded a disappointing score of 79 to finish third, four strokes behind the winner Dick Burton.

Fallon had to wait seven years to once again participate in an Open Championship and finished in eighth place in the 1949 event.

In 1954 Fallon won the British PGA Matchplay Championship and the following year he just missed out in winning the Open Golf Championship after finishing two strokes behind five times winner Peter Thomson from Australia.

In 1955 the selection process for the Great Britain Ryder Cup team changed and was now based on points according to placing in major tournaments. On the back of his strong finishes Fallon was included in the team that travelled to Palm Springs, California.

The team was captained by the Welsh golfing legend Dai Rees and also included another Scotsman; Eric Brown. The great Arnold Palmer, who was one of the biggest names in golf, was the United States captain and also played in the match.

The match format featured four foursomes and eight singles and on the first day of play John Fallon and John Jacobs were the only British pairing to win, defeating Jerry Barber and Chandler Harper at the 18th hole.

The following day there were eight singles with John's foursomes partner John Jacobs, fellow Scotsman Eric Brown and Arthur Lees winning their games as the Great Britain team lost the match 8-4.

The Lanarkian’s popularity and high standing in British golf resulted in him being appointed the 1963 Great Britain non-playing Ryder Cup Captain in Atlanta, Georgia. Fourball foursomes were introduced and the competition was played over three days for the first time.

In Fallon’s team were well-known players of their time such as Peter Alliss, Christy O'Connor, Neil Coles, Bernard Hunt and Harry Weetman.

Fallon’s team went up against a United States side captained by the legendary Arnold Palmer who was also the last golfer to be classed as a playing captain. His team boasted players such as Tony Lema, Gene Littler and Julias Boros.

The Ryder Cup featured 32 matches and despite the scores being level after the opening morning foursomes, the USA went on to claim a convincing 23-9 victory.

A special dinner in the Royal Oak Hotel was organised by the Royal Burgh of Lanark Town Council to recognise Fallon’s achievements.

Fallon died on 7th December 1985 and members of Lanark Golf Club compete annually for a trophy named in his honour.