Friday, June 15, 2018

HE was 11 years old, cycling six miles with a bag of clubs slung over his back when he first became a junior member of Blairgowrie Golf Club in Perthshire.
Now, 70 years on, retired dairy farmer and former captain Tom Watson has been honoured by the club, receiving a print of the striking Rosemount clubhouse viewed from the 18th fairway.
Current captain Brian Wesencraft said: “There can’t be many golfers who can boast seven decades of membership and it’s great to see Tom still playing regularly and representing the club so splendidly.
“He is a past captain and also spent 13 years on the committee and played a valuable role in our Centenary sub-committee.
"We couldn’t let this remarkable milestone go unmarked as there can't be many clubs with a member who is still playing regularly 70 years after joining."
Tom, who welcomed Royalty, world leaders, international businessmen and stars of sport, stage and screen to Gleneagles for more than a decade as the starter on the King’s Course still gets in four or five rounds a week.
“It was on May 16, 1948, that I cycled the quiet back road to Blairgowrie to first become a member,” he recalled.
“It was a beautiful golf course then and while there have been changes and additions down the years it still is a wonderful spot.
“My uncle, James, was a member at Cathkin Braes and he came to stay with the family when my father was in charge of the dairy at Ballathie estate.
“I recall him telling me ‘young man you have a fine golf course on your doorstep’ and he gave me a 10 shilling note to hand to the Blairgowrie professional. I was told never to let him down by not keeping my membership going. I would be heading to the golf course after early shifts at the dairy.
“I ’m glad to say I have been golfing ever since. I love playing at Blairgowrie and golf has been very good to me. It has been a huge part of my life and still gives me so much joy.
“Rosemount in particular has such a special setting in among the trees and I count myself lucky to have been a member here for all these years and been blessed with good health to enjoy it.”
Tom, who is also a member at Elie, admits friendships forged on the first tee at Gleneagles over a 15-year period opened doors to courses around the world.
“My great hero was Ben Hogan and I saw him at the The Open at Carnoustie in 1953. He was special.
“For the rest of us golf can be a great leveller. We are all striving to do the same thing out on a golf course, with varying degrees of success.
“I contested the club championship final once, in 1980, but lost out to Bob Johnston. He tends to remind me every so often! So sadly my name isn’t up on the board in the clubhouse.”
Tom has played Augusta – he carded an 81, just for the record – Cypress Point and Pebble Beach; he has enjoyed 11 visits to Pinehurst, tackled all the Open rota venues and teed-up in Europe, South Africa, Australia and South America.
A one-time three handicapper now off 16, he has represented Blair at all the county competitions, memorably played a round alongside his namesake and eight-times Major winner at Longniddry, golfed with multiple Open winner Peter Thomson over Elie and had the legendary Bob Hope tell him ‘Tom, you have the best job in the world’ on one visit to Gleneagles.
Tom, who has been blessed with a remarkable memory for names, faces and dates, has golfed on 684 courses around the globe, including 114 in the USA.
“I have a particular fondness for Pinehurst as it hosted the Ryder Cup back in 1951. My wife, Ena, isn’t a golfer but she has plenty of interests and I like to take in a golf course whenever I am chauffeuring her to meetings and the like.
“I like to add seven or eight new courses to my list each year. Hopefully I’ll be golfing for many more years to come.”
*In 2016, the record for the world’s longest serving golf club member was set at 89 years 198 days by 102-year-old Willie Cuthbert at Kirkintilloch Golf Club.

Tom Watson (left) is presented with a framed print to mark 70 years of membership at Blairgowrie Golf Club by captain Brian Wesencraft



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