Alex Hay honoured by Scots PGA

Distinguished career of ex-pro and commentator

Alex Hay honoured by Scots PGA

The lilting Scottish brogue of Alex Hay still echoes through golf commentary several years after he moved aside to allow the likes of Gary Lineker, Wayne Grady and Sam Torrance to try to step into his shoes. So I was delighted to hear that the 77-year-old has been honoured by the PGA with an award to recognise his services to golf.

I have spent many hours with him at various events I had asked him to speak at and once hired him to record a cover-mounted give-away tape to play in the car on the way to golf to help prepare golfers for their round. It proved hugely successful and helped to sell over 100,000 magazine copies.  I wish I’d kept a copy.

I also recall asking him to give a golf lesson to his fellow golf presenter Steve Ryder at Woburn for a magazine feature. Not the most successful hour’s tuition for the nervous Ryder.

Poulter’s parking spot

Many, attending the presentation in Glasgow were surprised to learn that Hay’s involvement with golf goes far deeper than merely observing the Tour pros competing for millions of pounds around the world. He was an apprentice clubmaker to the legendary Ben Sayers in Musselburgh, was an assistant PGA pro and still has a car park spot at Woburn Golf and Country Club where he was director of golf for many years.

“There’s one for the Duke of Bedford, one for me and a double-lined one for Ian Poulter because he has one of those American racing cars with big doors so we had to give him extra space. It’s not because of the size of his head,” Hay told the enthralled gathering.

“Ian Poulter came through the PGA training school. He’s an outstanding man and a wonderful golfer. He’s not a classic swinger but he is a wonderful player with an outstanding confidence.

“Like Paul Lawrie, he came in the hard way and Leighton Buzzard [where Poulter was assistant pro] was not a prosperous club. It used to be nine holes and was made up to 18. His attitude then was that he was going to become a successful tournament player – and he did.”

Started at Musselburgh

Hay was educated at Musselburgh Grammar School and after joining Sayers approached the secretary of the British PGA, who then had a desk in a workshop at Kilmarnock Barassie, saying he would like to become an assistant professional. This was 1950 when he was still in the RAF.

“I got a reply saying: ‘We do not consider clubmakers worthy of becoming professionals’, he recalled.

“I took the letter to Ben Sayers and three days later received a reply from the PGA saying I had been accepted.

“I asked Sayers what he had done and he told me he written to say ‘Where the hell do you think we all came from?’ People didn’t throw clubs in the bin then like they do now – they had them repaired,” recalled Hay, who was an assistant to Bill Shankland at Potters Bar, then pro at East Herts and Dunham Forest. For 13 years he was the professional at Ashridge before moving to Woburn. A talented artist he also wrote and drew for Golf Illustrated for 17 years.

“I’m a bandit, aged 77

Today, aged 77, he admits he’s a senior golfers equivalent of a bandit.

“I play about four days a week. I play off five and, yes, I’m a bandit,” confirmed Hay. “A few of the members in this room would confirm that.

“Bill McLaren went to 79 and was distressed he didn’t make 80. I think Alliss will go through the 80 barrier. He’s  an institution at the BBC and to me he’s the one worth listening to. We get on well and we had a long partnership.”

Sponsored Posts