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Bob Walker B.E.M

No history of Cairndhu would be complete without significant reference to one man – Bob Walker.

Bob was born in 1920, one of ten children to Robert and Sarah Walker who lived in Donaghadee. Bob left school at 14 and for a while worked in a grocer's shop but his real passion, which he’d had from an early age, was for golf. It was not long before the professional Ernie Patterson took him on at Donaghadee Golf Club, where he learned how to make and mend golf clubs and developed the skills required to become a professional golfer including green keeping which was an essential requirement in those days.

The Second World War began and Bob was determined to do his bit. He enlisted in the Royal Air Force joining the military police and spent most of the war in the Middle East. It was here he met and fell in love with a young attractive Egyptian girl, Helen, known as Madge, whom he married. Bob and his new wife arrived home to Donaghadee in 1945, and during the next few years daughters, Joan and Betty were born making the imperative of Bob finding a job all the more important.

On July 20th, 1947 Bob was appointed golf professional to Larne Town Golf Club at the Craigyhill course. The accommodation was still difficult to come by and for the first few seasons in Larne he bunked down in the clubhouse, traveling home only at the weekends. In 1949 he was given the first of the aluminum bungalows being built beside the golf course and at last his family was together permanently. In those days green keeping was an essential part of the professional’s duties thus preventing him from getting the necessary practice to make his mark as a tournament professional.

However, there is little doubt of Bob’s natural golfing ability. He and Dr. Ken Maguire were runners-up in the Christie Flag. He took Fred Daly, Open Champion in 1947, to a tie hole in the semi-final of the Ulster Championship which Fred, at the height of his brilliant career, went on to win. Bob also played in the British Open at Hoylake in 1952 sponsored by a few club members. He recalls their generosity was such that he fared financially better than many of the higher placed professionals in the competition.

Head greenkeeper

In 1970 he took on the additional responsibility of head greenkeeper, a position he held for over 20 years. As if that was not enough he also did relief barman in the early evening shift for many years. Meadowbank to the right of the 9th fairway has been the Walker family home for the last 38 years and, appropriately, the 9th Hole has been renamed in recent times as “Bob’s Garden”.

Bob was awarded the British Empire Medal in the New Year's Honours List in 1992 for services to golf, which he received in person from the Lord Lieutenant at Hillsborough Castle. A tribute pro-am was held for Bob in 1987, voluntarily supported by his fellow professionals from all over Ireland including the great Christy O'Connor himself. and on the occasion of his 80th birthday, Ulster Television featured him on their sports programme.

Bob retired as Club professional in 2004 having held the post for a mere 57 years. His last day in situ was the final day of the Pro-Am. When the event was over Bob, his successor Paul Russell, the Captain and Hugh Logue played the 9th hole as one last hurrah. For many people, their enduring image of Bob will be him striding up to the 9th green which was surrounded by applauding members and fellow professionals alike. With former Ryder Cup star Philip Walton caddying this was a fitting finale for a great man.

Bob was made an Honorary Lifetime Vice President of the Club in 2005 and his booming and infectious laugh rang around the Club for several years until he sadly began a steady decline into ill-health. Despite his best efforts, this proved to be one thing that he couldn’t overcome and he passed away peacefully on 8th January 2015.

The presence of senior officials and players from the Professional Golfers Association (Ireland) along with the huge number of Club members at his funeral was a true testament to the respect and affection in which he was held.

It was a send-off he truly deserved and was a fitting tribute to the man known as “Mr. Cairndhu”.

Cairndhu Golf Club Ltd
Day Min Max Wind Weather
Mon
23rd
15°C 23°C
SSW

11 mph

Tue
24th
13°C 22°C
WSW

7 mph

Wed
25th
16°C 20°C
S

10 mph