One of the longest-serving PGA professionals in the Lothians is retiring at the end of next month.
John Gray first walked in the door of the pro’s shop at Longniddry in 1968, when he started as assistant to Gordon Durward.
After a spell at a club in Oxfordshire, he then took over from Durward in 1977 and has served members and visitors alike for the past 40 years.
“It’s not always been a bed of roses as I had my moments with the club and committees, as I am sure is the case with pros at a lot of clubs similar to Longniddry,” said Gray. “On the whole, though, I have definitely enjoyed it.”
One of the highlights was getting to play with the legendary Sam Snead in 1972 as the American prepared for the World Seniors Final.
“That was a real treat as Sam was quite a chap and a very powerful golfer,” recalled Gray, who turns 70 next month.
He actually started out as greenkeeper, having been the first official apprentice in that industry at Dunbar. “Not a great claim to fame,” he said, laughing.
Gray has good reason, though, to be proud of seeing so many of assistants go on to do well for themselves both close to home and halfway around the world.
Derek Scott, for instance, is now general manager at Craigielaw while Paul Wardell is a successful coach based in North Berwick.
Mike McLaren, meanwhile, now runs his own golf facility in Thailand and Justin Fiddler is the head pro at Royal St George’s.
“I was at the wedding of one of my assistants and someone counted up to 17 having gone on to become head pros, which is quite amazing, really,” admitted Gray.
He intends to enjoy his retirement with wife, Dorothy, in Longniddry.