Tributes paid to well-known Lothians duo John Wood and George Ballantyne

Lothians golf has been saddened after two popular and well-known administrators passed away within a few weeks of each other.

Long-time Musselburgh member John Wood served as both secretary and president of the Lothians Golf Association.
Long-time Musselburgh member John Wood served as both secretary and president of the Lothians Golf Association.

John Wood and George Ballantyne both served as presidents of the Lothians Golf Association, with the former also having been its secretary.

“Both John and George were stalwarts in the support of golf in Lothians, and their years heading the Lothians Golf Association were an important, but small, part in their total contribution,” said current Lothians president Jean Macnab.

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“They continued to attend events until very recently, and I will remember both for their enthusiastic support, coupled with a sharp and mischievous sense of humour.”

Proud Ratho Park member George Ballantyne served as president of the Lothians Golf Association.

Wood played most of his golf at Monktonhall, where he was treasurer and club captain, while he was also a member at Musselburgh Old and Gullane.

He played for the Royal Bank team on numerous occasions in the Dispatch Trophy, tasting victory at the Braids on more than one occasion.

He was a huge Hibs fan and son Neil said: “One of the conversations we had near the end was that he had at least seen them winning the Scottish Cup!”

Fellow Hibee Denys Flaherty was one of Wood’s closest friends on the Lothians Golf Association.

“I first met John when I joined the Executive and he was the secretary at that time,” said Flaherty. “At times the discussions at meetings were sometimes prolonged and could stray off the point.

“John had this knack of bringing them back on track with a pertinent interjection. He was also a very good judge of character. Those two qualities undoubtedly helped him through life.

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“Not long after meeting him I discovered that he was a Hibs supporter and through time I met with him and other members of his family before the games at Easter Road.

“The discussions we had were mainly about the upcoming game but other topics were covered as well. These gave John the opportunity to put his sense of humour to good use. He often regaled us with his memories and jokes.”

Ballantyne, a big Rangers fan, grew up in Largs, where he cut his golfing teeth at Routenburn in the company of Bob Torrance.

After a career move to London with the Royal Bank, he played at Sundridge Park in Kent before returning to Scotland in 1965 and subsequently becoming business manager for Bosomworth Livestock Auctioneers in Edinburgh.

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He joined Ratho Park in 1969, was made vice captain in 1977 and was captain between 1979 and 1981.

Graham Ewart encouraged him to get involved with the Lothians Golf Association and, after being co-opted in 1983, he was elected onto the Executive in 1985.

He served on several committees before becoming the Boys and Youth Convenor. He was elected as Vice President in 1989, was the President in 1991-92 and, after continuing to help over the following years, was made an Honorary Vice President in 2002.

While captain at Ratho Park, he joined The Society of Edinburgh and Lothians Golf Captains, becoming its president in 2010.

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During retirement, Ballantyne also joined Kilspindie but his heart belonged to Ratho Park and he was made Honorary President in 2007.

Former Lothians secretary Allan Shaw said: “I was not around when George was Lothians president so have only known him on the Lothians scene through contact at the many events that he attended and helped out at in the last 20 years.

“Latterly, I drove him to a few events and dinners and it was non-stop recalling of golfing events with amazing clarity of details and names.

“He reminded me a lot of my dad. A typical warm West of Scotland gentleman with a relaxed attitude that put you at ease.

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“It has been a huge pleasure to have known these two truly remarkable gentlemen and to have learnt so much from them.”