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Butten boy, Ryder cup player and Senior champion
16 June 1941 – 7 December 2017
Born in St Helens, Merseyside and moved to Jersey in 1945 to be brought-up and educated on the island.
He won a total of nine European tour events, most of which were in the seventies. His career really started after the "Butten boys" training program finished in 1964. From there Horton went on to nearly win the 1965 Silent night Tournament played at Moor Allerton, Leeds.
The swing of Tommy Horton is fairly representative of the methods used by the Europeans in the sixties. This meant he was slightly more active with the hands in the contact area than his American counterparts.
Horton was recognized as a very good iron player, and I wonder how much his overall game would have improved if he had been a little more passive with the hands.
Otherwise, Horton had a sound motion that held center throughout and finished perfectly balanced at the end.
See the effects of the small ball on another post.
One of the bigger highlights of Tommy Horton`s career was his selection to join an elite group with the objective of winning the British Open.
The Butten boys- from left to right; Brian Barnes, Allen Ibberson, Iain Clarke, and Tommy Horton.
In 1964, tired of watching American golfers win the British Open, British businessman Ernest Butten decided to try and change the process: He would select a handful of the most promising young British professionals, pair them with a top teacher of the game, and experts in physical fitness and psychology, and develop a training program to create a winner. Although common today, albeit with much younger participants, the immersive training program was seen as a revolutionary idea by the golfing public of the time. Horton, Alan Ibberson, Iain Clark, and Brian Barnes were the golfers selected for the program, and they became known as the Butten boys. Max Faulkner, the 1951 Open winner, was hired as the instructor.
Visionary Ernest Butten was one of the founding members of P.A. (personal Administration) in 1943. The consultants took personal management to a new level by creating an educational program to develop higher performance and efficiency in normal factory workers.
The group continued to innovate from its beginnings and by the sixties had moved into advertising (It was at this time that the Butten boys were created).
By 1970, when Butten sold his shares in the company, the group was still entering new markets and fields. More recently P.A. sold 65% of its value for 2 billion dollars.
Butten built the training facility at Sundridge park using a significant portion of his own personal wealth. Each year Butten would invest another 15,000 pounds (A large amount in 1964) to ensure all programs were properly maintained. Trainer Max Faulkner would receive 5,000 pounds per annum and each player would be allowed 15 pounds of pocket money. Although 70% of the students' winnings would be put back into the scheme the very young players could keep the other 30%. No corner was left unturned as businessman Butten left little to chance. Butten hired eye surgeons, osteopaths, and organized specialists on personal finance and public speaking to educate his budding stars.
The procedure was years ahead of its time as all top players of today are accustomed to receiving the same approach.
The project was doomed to failure(some say the later wins of Horton and Barnes made it a success) from the start simply because its sponsor, Ernest Butten, was overbearing in opinion, and very impatient concerning the time required to achieve such a result. He expected one of the boys to win within a year! After the first year was behind them Butten began to interfere with the programs, and, like an over-attentive golfing father started to make his team nervous. The program was stopped in 1965 after Max Faulkner quit.
Ryder cup career
Ryder cup 1997:Horton, in the middle, was a very respected coach and would prove very helpful to all concerned.
Horton also played in two ill-fated Ryder Cups, 1975, and 1977 ( This was the last year without the Europeans taking part).At the 1997 event European Captain, Seve Ballesteros chose Horton as one of his assistants.
The beginning of the senior European tour was very close to Tommy Horton`s fiftieth birthday in 1992. Perfect timing for Horton. He became that tour's first star and first-best player. He won three times in 1993, four in 1996, six tournaments in 1997, and three more in 1998. Horton led the Senior Tours order of merit five times, in 1993, 1996, 1997, 1998, and 1999.
At the time of his final senior win in 2000, his 23 wins were the tour record. That number stood until Carl Mason passed it in 2011.
In 2000, Horton was awarded an M.B.E., and in 2012 he was made an honorary lifetime member of the European Tour. He was 76 years old when he died in 2017.