Renton Laidlaw to step down at St Andrews

Renton Laidlaw and, below, in 1964
Renton Laidlaw and, below, in 1964
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Tom Watson isn’t the only legendary golfing figure bowing out of The Open at St Andrews this week.

After 11 years in the post, Renton Laidlaw has just stepped down as president of the Association of Golf Writers.

“As is the case with most of the top players, it is nice to end your time at St Andrews,” said Laidlaw, a former Edinburgh Evening News golf reporter who went on to become one of the most recognisable voices in the sport.

“I’ve been in role for more than a decade and felt it was right to give someone else an opportunity.”

The media centre at St Andrews this week is a far cry from the one Laidlaw experienced when he first covered the game’s oldest major.

“My first Open was at Muirfield in 1959, when Gary Player won,” he recalled. “I think there are just over 700 press people here this week and it’s a huge operation.

“On that occasion, we just drove into the Muirfield area, we parked our cars beside a small tent big enough to hold 15-20 people and we covered The Open.

“Every now and again either the R&A secretary or the Muirfield secretary would come in and say, ‘we’ve had a good round from so and so, I think you’d quite like to speak to him’.

“It has grown out of all proportion since then. In many respects, you might argue that it was more pleasant covering The Open in the old days. Now it is very much a frenzy.”

Fittingly, it was at St Andrews where Laidlaw, a one-time Royal Burgess and Dalmahoy member, experienced the highlight of his career covering The Open.

“It has got to be Seve Ballesteros winning here in 1984,” he said of the Spaniard holing his birdie putt at the last as he won by two shots.

“I was very lucky because in those days I was working for the BBC and the commentary box was on top of the stand behind the 18th green – it was in the perfect position – as was the case when Tom Watson won his ‘Duel in the Sun’ with Jack Nicklaus in 1977. That was another memorable Open experience for me.”