Golf is a sport for players of all ages and, if you pick it up as a youngster, it is one that you can enjoy throughout your whole life.
And that’s exactly what Tom Watson has done. Back when he was just an 11-year-old boy, Tom used to cycle six miles with his golf bag slung over his back to play as a junior member at Blairgowrie Golf Club.
70 years later, he’s still playing there although he doesn’t have to endure the six-mile cycle these days! The retired dairy farmer has been a loyal member at Blairgowrie and is also a former captain of the club. The current captain, Brian Wesencraft, presented Tom with a print of the striking Rosemount clubhouse to mark his special anniversary and paid tribute to the long-time member.
“There can’t be many golfers who can boast seven decades of membership,” Brian said, “and it’s great to see Tom still playing regularly and representing the club so splendidly. There can’t be many golfers who can boast seven decades of membership.
“He is a past captain and also spent thirteen 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 still manages to play four to five rounds a week and still remembers the day he first set foot inside Blairgowrie Golf Club.
“It was on May 16th 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 right 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’ve 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 to have been blessed with good health to enjoy it.”
After retiring as a dairy farmer, Tom spent a decade working as the starter on the prestigious King’s Course at Gleneagles and has welcomed Royalty, world leaders, international businessmen, and stars of sport, stage and screen to Perthshire to play golf. I count myself lucky to have been a member here for all these years and to have been blessed with good health to enjoy it.
Although perhaps not at the same playing level as his namesake – the five-time Open Champion and eight-times major winner – he has been lucky enough to play a round alongside him and has also had the opportunity to play on many of the world’s best courses, including Augusta National where he shot an 81, Cypress Point, and Pebble Beach.
In total he has golfed on 684 courses around the world – 114 of them in the USA – but there’s one in particular that has really captured his heart.
“I have a particular fondness for Pinehurst,” he said, “as it hosted the Ryder Cup back in 1951. My wife, Ena, isn’t a golfer but she has plenty of interests so 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.”
If he does, then he could be on course to set a brand-new world record. As of 2016, the record for the world’s longest serving golf club member was set at 89 years and 198 days by 102-year-old Willie Cuthbert at Kirkintilloch Golf Club. So who knows? That record could very well come under threat from Tom Watson.
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