Date of Birth - 1915
Died - 1975
Place of Birth - Rhu, Dunbartonshire, Scotland
Turned Pro -
Son of Mr and Mrs Robert Haliburton, he was born Thomas Bruce
Haliburton in Ardencaple Cottage, Rhu, and lived there for some years
before the family moved to Loudon Cottage, Shandon, where he
learned to play and love golf.
He once recalled: “I used to play around Shandon when I was quite
young, and my playing took me into the vicinity of Shandon golf course
which fascinated me.
“Shandon golf course was a very good course for learning on, and it is a
pity that it has disappeared now. I can remember a big petition was
drawn up when the course was threatened, but it was not saved.
“I went to Hermitage School in Helensburgh, and when I was 15 years-old
I left school and began to learn the skills of a professional golfer.”
Tom became assistant to the professional at Haggs Castle in Glasgow
and was there for four years, then moved on to Prestwick St Nicholas. He
was also chief assistant to Henry Cotton in London for some time as well,
being attached to Knowle, North Middlesex, Ashbridge and then
He made his competitive mark in 1938 when he won both the West of
Scotland and the Northern Open Championships.
When the Second World War broke out he joined the Royal Air Force as a
physical training instructor, and when he married in 1941 he had attained
the rank of Corporal. After the war ended he went back to his golfing
He was a very successful tournament player, winning the Daily Mail
Tournament in 1949 and finishing runner-up in the PGA Matchplay
Championship in 1957. He also won the Yorkshire Evening News
Championship in 1963.
In 1952 he established a world record of 126 strokes for two rounds during
the Spalding Tournament at Worthing. He had rounds of 61 and 65 in
setting a British tournament record which has never been equalled.
Two years later Tom played for Scotland in the Canada Cup, and also to
celebrate 50 years of golf at the Cardross club, he took part in an
exhibition match with Dai Rees (South Herts), Fred Daly (Balmoral) and
Peter Alliss (Ferndown), setting a new professional course record of 66.
In 1961 he played in the British Ryder Cup team which lost 14.5-9.5 to the
United States at Royal Lytham and St Annes, and two years later he was
in the British team which lost 23-9 at East Lake Country Club in Atlanta,
In the first match he had the honour of playing the legendary Arnold
Palmer in the singles, and lost 2 and 1. In all he played four foursomes
and fourballs, but never registered a win.
He said: “I had a good year for playing in 1963 and won a lot. I thought
then that I had had enough and would retire from competitions while I
was still at the top.”
In 1963 he carded 29 for the inward half at the Open at Royal Lytham,
and he remains co-holder of the record for the lowest nine-hole score in
In 1969 he was captain of the Professional Golfers Association, and in 1973
he was the non-playing captain of the British Club professionals team
which played the United States.
He was professional at the exclusive Wentworth club at Virginia Water in
Surrey from 1952 until his death in 1975.
The club website says of him: “Tom Haliburton was a professional typical
of his generation in that he combined his duties at the club with a long
and successful professional tournament career.”
Tom established for the Wentworth club its professional line of succession
in 1969 after he met Bernard Gallacher playing in his first Ryder Cup
match at Royal Birkdale at Southport. But the circumstances of the
handover in 1975 were uniquely tragic.
Aged 60, he had been thinking of retiring and had recommended
Bernard to the club as his successor. Having just started a Saturday
practice round with him on the club’s east course in February, he
collapsed on the first green and died. He was survived by his wife and a
He was considered an excellent coach of young players and was always
keen to encourage them, and his name is remembered every year
when the junior golfers of the Cardross and Helensburgh clubs compete
for the coveted Tom Haliburton Trophy.
Ryder Cup 1961, 1963
World Cup 1954
1938 West of Scotland Champion
1938 Northern Open Champion
1957 PGA Match Play Championship Runner-up
1963 Yorkshire Evening News Champion
1949 Daily Mail tournament Champion
Souvenir Programme and Scorecard from an Exhibition Match at Bath
Golf Club 28 August 1948 featuring Tom Haliburton, Alfred Padgham,
Sam King and E Beecham