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Chapter 16. The Twilight of a Professional Career

The focus of my post-war golf career was on the local scene and I was active in the formation of the Northumberland and Durham Professional Society (later to become the Bernard CookeNorth East PGA), serving as the first Chairman and Captain. The secretary was Bernard Cooke, who became a noted golf teacher and writer on the subject. Together we travelled around the area, mainly to golf clubs, giving lectures illustrated by film of Bernard, myself and local pros – Bill Dixon and Bill Waugh and followed by question and answer sessions. One time we went to the Milvain Hall in Newcastle, which could have got us into hot water as the hall did not have an ‘entertainment’ license.

A discussion between Bernard and myself led to him abandoning his experimentation with a new idea - the ‘deliberate early release’ system and he wrote about this in his book: Golf: The Professional Approach:, also saying: “ I was always fascinated by Bert Gadd’s ‘take-away’, for he seemed, like Lee Trevino, to take the club back outside the target line when he started back”. I told Bernard that it was actually along the target line, and his movie sequence proved me right. Like Trevino my open stance made it appear that I was ‘outside’ the target line. It “helped to confirm my original principles” wrote Bernard.
Our new association was instrumental in the foundation of the Northumberland and Durham Open Championship – a difficult undertaking. I approached the two County Unions with a view to making it a joint effort, but neither was interested and expressed the view that such an event would not be welcomed. We decided to go it alone and I wrote to the Captains of every club in the two counties, asking if they would be willing to make a contribution to get it off the ground. This brought a fair response and we were encouraged to make a start. It was our intention to play the event on Saturday and Sunday, an idea that the Unions had ridiculed – who would give up their course on a Sunday they asked? We found a club, South Moor, who were happy to host the first event and went ahead. The handicap limit was set at 9 and we attracted an entry of nearly ninety – almost too many for 36 holes. Prizes were awarded for the amateurs and cash was put up for the pros. My work in setting the tournament up was rewarded when I took the title. It proved to be a very popular fixture, always heavily supported and there was never any difficulty in getting a club to take the championship. It was good for them too!

The post war Ryder Cup matches had seen the British go down to two depressing defeats and, in 1951, as our team prepared to depart for Pinehurst, North Carolina to meet a team containing playing captain Sam Snead, the US PGA Champion and that year’s Masters and US Open Champion, Ben Hogan, I wrote in my regular newspaper column: “If goodwill and wishful thinking could win this match, I am sure our team would be home and dry. Unfortunately, they have to deal with a team of tournament tough Americans, who would in all probability be a match for a ‘Rest of the World’ team and I am afraid that our boys are going to take a beating”. I said this after watching the performance of ‘the chosen few’ at the News of the World Matchplay Championship at Hoylake, where most of them went out in the early rounds, as did I. I lost a tight third round match at the 19th to J. H. Ballingall. It was long awaited revenge for Hamish who, with his partner the future Ryder Cup player, Tom Haliburton, had suffered defeat by me and Don Curtis in the 1938 Llandudno Trophy. (Two years later Ballingall won the Northumberland & Durham Open, interrupting a Gadd hat-trick).

Only John Panton and the finalists Jimmy Adams and Harry Weetman were impressive at Hoylake. Apart from these three, I wrote, the team does not inspire a great deal of confidence. The ‘backbone’ of the side - Dai Rees, Charlie Ward and Ken Bousfield were all out of touch. Jimmy Adams, who had been second in the tournament in 1937 and 1946, was runner-up for the third time. I was sorry to see him come second yet again when he lost to Weetman, but Harry was undoubtedly the golfer of the