Fergus Bisset: End of an era

There was sad news as competitors arrived for yesterday's Alliance meeting at Ballater Golf Club.

There was sad news when we arrived for yesterday's Alliance meeting at Ballater Golf Club. Ron Menzies, secretary of the North East Alliance, died at his home in Portlethen on Tuesday night. Ron, who was 80, had looked after the North-East Alliance for almost 16 years and was president of the North-East District Association of the Scottish Golf Union. He was a kind man who was generous with his time. He loved golf and was extremely knowledgeable about the game.

A member of Royal Aberdeen Golf Club, Ron was a qualified referee and an expert on the rules. He ran the Alliance with great dedication and patience and will be sorely missed by all the members. As a mark of respect, next week's meeting at Cruden Bay has been cancelled.

Ron would have approved that those who made it to an icy Ballater for yesterday's competition went out to battle against the tricky conditions. The first snowfall of this winter had left a slushy layer of white across the course making play very challenging for the early starters.

Former Walker Cup player Sandy Pirie proved it was still possible to return a good score however. He was one of the first off and played most of his game before the snow had melted. He managed to get round in an excellent 67.

I was pleased with my 71, particularly given it included two chip-ins. I can't remember the last time I chipped in once during a round, let alone twice.

It was strange to return to the clubhouse and not find Ron entering the scores into his computer and printing out, "in the running," leaderboards. I always enjoyed a post-round chat with him. Sometimes about my game (if I could bring myself to talk about it) and often about articles of mine he'd read in Golf Monthly. I was always slightly nervous about those conversations as Ron knew a great deal more about golf than me and, I'm sure, could have pulled me up on various inaccuracies. He never did though.

Fergus Bisset
Contributing Editor

Fergus is Golf Monthly's resident expert on the history of the game and has written extensively on that subject. He is a golf obsessive and 1-handicapper. Growing up in the North East of Scotland, golf runs through his veins and his passion for the sport was bolstered during his time at St Andrews university studying history. He went on to earn a post graduate diploma from the London School of Journalism. Fergus has worked for Golf Monthly since 2004 and has written two books on the game; "Great Golf Debates" together with Jezz Ellwood of Golf Monthly and the history section of "The Ultimate Golf Book" together with Neil Tappin , also of Golf Monthly. 

Fergus once shanked a ball from just over Granny Clark's Wynd on the 18th of the Old Course that struck the St Andrews Golf Club and rebounded into the Valley of Sin, from where he saved par. Who says there's no golfing god?