Daughter’s tribute to local golf legend

Lionel Freedman made a huge contribution to sport in the Lothians
Lionel Freedman made a huge contribution to sport in the Lothians
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Local aficionado of hickory golf, Lionel Freedman, passed away earlier this month with his wife and eldest daughter at his side. Lionel, 82, was a dedicated husband, father, grandfather, great grandfather, friend and confidant to old and young.

He was born in London in 1934. His father was one of the Freedman Bros who ran a successful clothing manufacturing business. Educated at Bradfield College, Berkshire, he continued his ties with the school playing in their Old Bradfieldian golf matches into his twilight years and donating to their latest project up until his death.

After National Service in the late 1950s Lionel joined the Stock Exchange, starting on the floor and working his way up, becoming a successful stockbroker. By the end of the 1960s he lived at Wentworth golf course and played off a handicap of 4.

Lionel moved to Scotland where he married Beth 20 years ago. With his huge passion for golf, Scotland for him was ‘coming home’. It was here that his vision, goals and energy allowed his entrepreneurial spirit to focus on this passion.

Lionel made a huge impact as Golf Club Secretary to Musselburgh Old Course, helping to increase membership and its financial standing, a key champion to the improvement of the course.

Lionel was a golf history fanatic and a collector. In November, he donated 250 golfing books to Craigielaw Golf Club where he had been captain. The books have been curated by Scott Mcpherson, golf architect, a bespoke bookcase has been crafted and the books available on loan.

Unfortunately, a few years ago, his collection of Hickory Clubs that he had built up over many years were accidently disposed of by the council who had emptied his garage in error. The trauma to both Lionel and Beth was immeasurable, the golf clubs never recovered.

Twelve years ago, Lionel co-founded the World Hickory Open, a tournament open to golfers of all ages and standards; the current champion for the second time being Sandy Lyle. The tournament has grown to bring Hickory golfers to Scotland from all over the world including China, Japan, South Africa and USA as well as ‘local’ European and Scandinavian golfers.

Lionel was a huge supporter of junior golf and encouraged entry from all ages. It was Loretto School that won the team match last year. This year’s week-long tournament will be held in East Lothian, bringing golfers again from across the world, allowing them to experience play at Kilspindlie Golf Club, a fitting choice given its 150-year anniversary.

For someone so interested in the past, Lionel at 82 was amazingly technologically savvy. His website, personal Facebook page and WHO Facebook page are testament to that, along with over 1000 email addresses in his contacts. Facebook tributes from around the world had common themes – ‘a true gentleman’ ‘a special man’ ‘a wonderful ambassador’ so fitting for someone who was warm and welcoming to so many.

He was buried in the Jewish section of Piershill Cemetery on January 11 as is customary within 48 hours of his death.

n By his daughter Annetta Snider