Harry "Lighthorse" Cooper
Cooper was born in the town of Leatherhead, England. His father Syd was a professional golfer who had served as an apprentice to Old Tom Morris at St. Andrews. His mother, Alice Cooper, was also a golf professional, a very rare career for women in that era. His family moved to Texas when Cooper was young, and his father took a job as a club professional in Dallas.
Harry Cooper was the first “Texan” to successfully play the emerging pro golf tour. His father, Syd J. Cooper, was a winter pro in Texas as early as 1913 and by 1923, when the elder Cooper was head professional at Dallas’ Cedar Crest CC, an 18-year-old Harry had won his first professional event, the Texas PGA Championship at Galveston CC.
Cooper won his second PGA event on his home course in Dallas in 1924. Known through his career as “Lighthorse” for his speed of play, Cooper said his nickname among Texas professionals was “Pipeline” because of driving accuracy. Early on, Cooper went from having one of the longest swings to one of the shortest; a change necessitated by hand injury.
In 1925, Cooper was runner-up to fellow Texas Golf Hall of Fame member Jack Burke, Sr., in the Texas PGA and a semifinalist in the National PGA tourney. He was the first LA Open winner in 1926 and also won the Del Monte Open the same year. The next year he won four times and was runner-up in three events. In 1934 Cooper won the Western Open in Chicago – then considered a major – and it was noted he had finished no worse than seventh in scoring average for the previous six years. In 1937 Cooper won his second LA Open, the Houston Open, and two other events. That year he became the first Vardon Trophy winner with 500 points and was leading money winner with $14,138.69.
After he retired from competitive golf, he became a well-regarded instructor, into his 90s. In his long golf career, he had 30 PGA Tour victories and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1992.
Birthplace: Leatherhead, Surrey, England
Born: August 04, 1904
Died: October 17, 2000