Wimbledon Common Golf Club is a humble club set on the edge of the common about a mile from Wimbledon Village. I was lucky enough to have a short spell as the assistant pro working for their long standing professional Jeff Jukes. In the late 1970's and early 80's the club was able to claim the voice of tennis commentary on the BBC, Dan Maskell as a member. Also there during that period was TV actor James Bolam, famous at the time for his role as Terry Collier in the Likely Lads and Jack Ford in When the Boat Comes In.
Dan Maskell in particular was a revered member, with a table always set aside after a game for him to enjoy his post round tea and coffee with his partners. As a rather young, impetuous youth, it was always an intimidating affair playing alongside him, but despite the stiff and brusque exterior he was a warm and engaging partner. Always full of stories about the tennis players of the day (Nastase, Connors etc) if anyone in his fourball hit an outstanding shot, he sometimes used his most remembered and best loved catchphrases such as "Oh, I say!" or "What a peach". He talked as he commentated and the first time he popped out with one of these I have to admit I was gnawing on my golf glove trying hard not to giggle too loudly. He was a lovely, lovely man and even into his 60's played off a 12 handicap and was as tough as iron to beat.
|Dan Maskell doing his day job|
James Bolam, was another famous member. Not a frequent a visitor due to filming he was another with whom a round of golf was a very enjoyable experience and a man with few airs or graces. Indeed as we share the same birthday (16th June) I use to receive a birthday card each year for a while until he moved to another club. He was another with many a tale to tell, from filming the cult comedy series that made his name to various escapades as a jobbing actor. He was a staunch supporter of charity events and regularly gave up his time. He appeared on the BBC show "Pro Celebrity Golf" which paired two celebrities with two famous golfers of the day for a filmed nine holes usually at somewhere in Scotland like Turnberry or Gleneagles. I actually sold him the pair of shoes he wore on his Pro Celebrity TV appearance during my time as the assistant pro.
|James Bolam - hopefully he didn't get blisters from the shoes I sold him|
|James Hunt - Mr Laid Back - until he stepped onto the 1st tee|
|Godfrey Evans - England wicket keeper and fond of a G&T|
|Bernard Cribbins - kids favourite, housewives favourite and all round Mr Nice Guy|
|Me and Monty at Silvermere|
|Tom O'Connor - one of the funniest guys I've ever met and not a swear word in sight|
|Sandy Lyle - hit it a country mile even with a balata ball|
We got to one hole and I asked Faldo what he planned to hit for his second into the green. We were only about 150 yards away and he said six iron. Now I'd have fancied my chances of getting there with a six iron but this was a golfing icon. "That's way too much club" I cheekily suggested. "No, it's a 6 iron" he replied. He hit this thing and it started off at tree height and then rose like a rocket upwards and landed softly on the green some six feet away. "Yeah, I thought it was a six iron too" I said to him as he walked up to the green. To this day I don't know why they were there. I wanted to get their autographs and the only thing I had was my club diary so both Lyle and Faldo signed the inside cover.
|Nick Faldo - awesome display of ball striking|
Celebrities too can put on the smiles and make playing partners feel wanted. Its all for charity and everyone is there for a good time. However, meet a few up close and in their personal time and they prove that despite the publicity and wealth, deep down they are ordinary golfers who just share the same love of the game as everyone else.
I'm sure many of you will have your own encounters over the years. Feel free to comment and let me know who you've played with either by leaving a message at the bottom of the page or via twitter at @mbedboro. Lets see who's played with the biggest star or best golfer.