Jim Tom Blair was born in Jefferson City and graduated from Jefferson City High School in 1949. He attended Oklahoma A&M College, where he was the captain of the golf team. Blair’s amateur golfing career took off upon his graduation from college. He competed in the Missouri State Amateur Championship nine times beginning in 1951. He won the event twice, was a three-time medalist and was a four-time runner-up.

Though Blair never became a professional golfer during his golfing career, he has plenty of trophies, awards and accolades to go around. He did compete on the PGA Tour in fifty-one events as an amateur, making the cut forty-two times. Blair also qualified and competed in the U.S. Open Championship six times. The recipient of the 1954 Knute Rockne Award for Outstanding Amateur Golfer in the U.S., Blair won the California State Fair Championship, New Orleans Invitational, Northern California Amateur Upper New York Championship and the Scarborough Invitational, among many others.