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Book review – Tom Williamson: The Complete Golf Professional

05 January, 2023
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Jim McCann

Book review – Tom Williamson : The Complete Golf Professional

It’s fair to say that not too many golfers outwith the English Midlands will know of Tom Williamson, the head professional at Hollinwell for more than fifty years. Retired surgeon Nick Jones, author of seven medical books and three poetry publications, has just written a biography entitled Tom Williamson: The Complete Golf Professional which attempts to make more widely known the many golfing achievements of a man who was never, in the author’s words, one to “blow his own trumpet”.

One of five children born to parents Edmund and Lillian in 1880, Tom was a modest man who devoted most of his adult life to one golf club, while at the same time overseeing the development and modification of more than sixty courses within a 50-mile radius of Nottingham. He left home at the age of fifteen to learn club-making with J.H. Hutchison in North Berwick before returning a year later as the first professional at Notts Golf Club, as it was then known.

Williamson played in his first Open at Hoylake in 1897 and he would go on to compete in that competition until the age of 67 in 1947. Over the years, he managed Top 10 finishes on six of the forty-nine occasions he qualified to play in the event. A founder member of the PGA in 1902, Tom also represented England eight times in the prestigious annual professional match against Scotland between 1904 and 1913.

The “Course Design” chapter lists all the courses that Tom laid out or altered from the early 1900s onwards but it only goes into detail on the modifications and improvements made to his home club. That’s fair enough, but it would have been really interesting to read about his involvement at the other Midlands clubs he worked at – and there must surely be a story to tell about how he came to design the course at Zürich Golf & Country Club in the late 1920s!

Embellished with around 300 photographs, maps, advertisements and newspaper clippings, the book tells the tale of a man of integrity, a devout Methodist who never worked on a Sunday, a Free Mason who became Master of his local Lodge, and a humble man who was well-respected by everybody he met. Hard-working and assiduous in all his undertakings, Williamson is a hitherto unsung golfing pioneer whose exploits deserve further scrutiny in this book.

Tom Williamson: The Complete Golf Professional can be purchased from Peter Grunwell at Fine Golf Books.

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