Born in Aberdeen, Scotland, on September 2, 1868, Tom Bendelow began to play golf as a child. At age 24, he moved to New York to work at The Herald. Bendelow recognized America’s growing interest in golf, as well as its limited facilities. In association with A.G. Spalding and Brother, sporting goods manufacturers, Bendelow developed many courses in the New York region.
Bendelow's reputation as a golf authority grew. In 1898, the New York City Department of Parks hired him to redesign and enlarge a public golf course in the Bronx. He took an unusually active role in the design, construction, and maintenance of the course. Bendelow's success in New York convinced Spalding and Brother of his value, and they hired him to work in their Chicago headquarters, from which, over the next two decades, he designed over five hundred courses. Often known as the Johnny Appleseed of American Golf, he was responsible for the availability of facilities in small towns and cities across the country.
In 1920, Bendelow joined the American Park Builders as chief designer, undertaking some of his most ambitious projects, including country clubs in Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Louisiana, and Illinois, considered by many the finest examples of his work. He retired in 1933 and passed away in 1936. Through regular lectures at the University of Illinois, Bendelow influenced the young academic field of golf course design. Two of his courses, in Baton Rouge and Denver, are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.