Every winter I used to spend at least five separate weeks in either Spain or the Algarve playing Pro-Ams. Only won once and this was at “Vilamoura Old Golf Club” where we all won a TV, I gave mine to a local family. After the competition was over my Pro, Chris Smith got a bit drunk and the next thing I know is that he had bragged himself and I into a match the following day for £50. It was against Jimmy Hulme, the Scottish Pro from Gullane and his amateur partner Alistair. We duly lost the money on the 17th, but Jimmy was very impressed with my game that day and he invited me to partner him in a Eurogolf tournament at Royal Birkdale, where I won another framed collection of all the famous golf courses on cigarette cards. I have since given this prize and another I won of all the famous old golfers on cigarette cards to the VGS as prizes at one of their tournaments held at Pine Ridge.
After the trucking business was sold I moved to Spain in 1980 with my wife of four years and bought an apartment behind the sixth tee at “Almerimar Golf Club”, El Ehido, Almeria. I only had to walk down the sixth fairway and I was in the golf hotel. I got a handicap with the Spanish Federation of 3 handicap and I played most of my golf with the resident professional, a guy named Juan Parron. He was the most incredible ball striker I had ever seen, not a pretty swing but was he accurate and long. He hit the ball low, just like I always did, but of course one only has to hit the putting surface for it to stop in Spain. I must have played probably 70 rounds of golf with him and he used to give me three shots and take my money apart from about three times when I beat him.
I asked him why he never played on the tour because I felt that had I his talent then I would have made a fortune as I had the temperament for the cut and thrust of competitive golf. He replied that he always played in his national, the Spanish Open but he always seemed to suffer with nerves. A great pity in my opinion, because he was a beautiful striker of the ball.
We came back from Spain in 1983 and after buying a house in Clacton, I joined “Frinton on Sea G.C”, which is a very nice links course. Nothing special happened apart from the club competitions and the annual match against Cambridge University. I was still 3 handicap but treated golf as just a game to play with friends.
We then moved down to Rhoose, South Wales and I joined “Brynhill G.C.” in Barry, but I hated this club. The members just don’t like foreigners and I really upset them when I drew their star player Stephen Dodd, Welsh International and now a Pro golfer in the club knockout. I beat him on the last with them all out by the eighteenth supporting him. That rather made my day, another scalp to add to the belt.
The victory at The Belfry in 1985 for the Ryder Cup when Tony Jacklin was Captain, gave me the opportunity to speak to him again and congratulate him on a great victory, suggesting tongue in cheek that perhaps he might bring the trophy down to the West Region PGA for our annual dinner. The Dinner was held at “The Cadbury Country Club” Yatton, Somerset which was owned by a very good friend of mine, Trevor Joyner, a member at Long Ashton Golf Club and with a handicap of 10.
Tony graciously accepted my invitation to attend, where he very kindly made a speech and it was at this event that I had the photo taken that is now my avatar.
My wife hated it living in South Wales so we moved back to familiar territory in London, where we stayed for 20 years.
I went down to Richmond Park for a game as it is possible to just turn up and they make you up into fourballs, I was put with three other golfers on the “Princes” and on the first tee, they introduced themselves as Irish priests. One of them said to me “You should have seen the guy we had with us last week, he was like Seve Ballesteros, went round here in 78, and there’s me thinking that if I go round in 78 I will not be a happy bunny. As it turned out I posted 33 each half for a 66 and they thought I was Jesus Christ. I played a lot of golf there because being on my own I could always get a game. I later shot a 67 on the same course and a 67 on the Dukes, which was marginally more difficult, I would say.
I would say both courses were tremendous value for money as they were always in very nice condition. The greens were always in tip top shape which lends itself to decent scoring.