FORMER Ryder Cup referee Mike Robinson, secretary manager of one of the few golf clubs in the North East with a waiting list for membership, Bamburgh Castle, has taken over one of the key roles in the area.
Robinson is the new northern region representative on the national executive committee of the Golf Club Managers Association, Morpeth’s Terry Minett having ended his five-year term of office.
“I am honoured to be invited to make a contribution,” said Robinson, “especially at a time when there are around half a dozen golf clubs in the region who are struggling financially.”
Robinson, 63 and London born, came to Northumberland five years ago following spells on the Isle of Man at Peel and Ramsey.
He moved because he wanted to be near his grandson, Dan Squires, a promising young footballer who was suffering from terminal cancer and who died at the age of 16 in 2008.
Robinson said about his new role: “The big thing about the GCMA is that if you have a golf related problem, somebody there will have dealt with the same problem. The GCMA always has a sympathetic ear to lend.
“Over the past ten years particularly, they have transformed themselves into a highly professional organisation and I am delighted to get more involved.”
Among many other services the association offer their members are free legal backing (from a barrister if necessary), advice on membership retention and health and safety and a massive resource in their vast on-line library of information on all matters golfing on and off the course.
Robinson is already at the heart of another successful operation. Bamburgh are one of only four clubs in the region – the others are Castle Eden, City of Newcastle and Whitley Bay – with a waiting list.
“We have many families here who have had members stretching back through generations – and the pricing aspect,” said Robinson. “You won’t find many clubs of Bamburgh’s standard with an annual membership subscription of £320 these days.” For all Robinson’s administrative skills, the six handicapper knows what the sport is really all about.
His favourite memory from his refereeing days is officiating in a Ryder Cup game featuring Seve Ballesteros and Jose Maria Olazabal versus Tom Watson and Mark O’Meara during the drawn contest at The Belfry in 1989, when Europe retained the trophy.
On the first day, the US won the morning foursomes 3-1, Europe roaring back with a whitewash of the afternoon fourballs.
“Europe won the fourball I refereed 6&5 ” Robinson said. “Ballesteros was right at his peak of his powers and he played absolutely magnificently.
“He was so brilliant I remember Watson having a really serious go at O’Meara for admiring the play of Ballesteros too much. That was on the sixth tee after Europe had won the first five holes.
“When it ended at the 13th, Ballesteros drove the green which took some doing on a 384-yard par four. He did it downwind and across the dogleg. The players in front were still on the green when the ball landed, but nobody seemed to mind.”
:: ANYBODY who would like to ask about joining the GCMA should contact northern secretary Ed Stephenson on 01434 682671 or email firstname.lastname@example.org